• Plane Maker Tutorial Part 3

    Plane Maker Tutorial Part 3

    How to Create a Simulated Aeroplane for use in X-Plane

    By Ray Hill

    Undercarriage, Engine And Canopy

    Start Plane Maker, open your *.acf file and go into "standard/landing gear". If you play around with the "gear type" drop downs you will see a variety of options. Most light single engine planes will have a three single wheels either in tail dragger or tricycle arrangements. Military aircraft, particularly Navy types may have doubles in order to absorb higher impacts during landings on carriers, or others if they are carrying heavy weapon loads. The main gear always needs to be behind the C of G and the wheels need to be of a size and number that supports the maximum weight of the aeroplane that was put in for Part 1. If it's wrong for the C of G then X-Plane will always make the plane sit on its tail. If the undercarriage is too small X-Plane will unceremoniously dump it at start on the ground with the wheels buried and won't allow engine start.

    You need to consider the direction that the wheels retract. Nose and tail wheels usually move longways forwards or backwards. Fuselage mounted wheels usually move outwards whereas wing mounted wheels often move inwards or outwards. A fair amount of Spitfires and Messerschmitt 109 pilots had crosswind problems with undercarriage mounted near the wing root. In some respects Typhoon and Focke-Wulf 190 pilots had it far easier, apart from the more powerful engines giving much greater torque on take-off.

    Since this is a basic tutorial we will make life simple by having a nose wheel retracting backwards and a pair of single wing mounted wheels retracting inward, wheels being hidden in the fuselage. A word of warning if the wing wheel moves outwards the wheel will sometimes be too thick for the wing and you also need to remember to account for any anhedral or dihedral within the wing design.

    Probably obvious but nose and tail wheels need to castor for steering and main wheels need brakes.

    So in the following panel we have set three single wheels and their long arm positions. The lateral position for the nose wheel is zero (centerline), whilst the outboard positions of the main wheels are set to -4.2 for the port and +4.2 for the starboard. The main wheels are set vertically to -0.2 to allow for the wing vertical elevation and also the dihedral at the leg hinge point. All long and lateral extended angles are zero, nose wheel long angle retracted goes backward so is set to -90 main wheels retract outward so are set to -90.0 and +90.0, closing inwards so we do not need to consider dihedral.

    The next four columns have two sets of boxes for each undercarriage position. The leg length is set to determine how your aeroplane sits on the ground, hence the wings angle of attack during take off. The tire radius and semi-width (half width) determines the dimension of the wheels. You then need to set nose wheel steering maximum angles for slow speed taxiing and high speed on the runway. The cycle times determine the time it takes for the gear to open or close.

    The last two rows of boxes need ticking as shown. Brakes are the left boxes and castoring is activated by the right. In this case all legs will need to retract. Fairings are often used on fixed wheel types to reduce drag, such as on the default Cessna 172 that comes with the product.

    Plane Maker Tutorial

    Here the work, so far, is shown in wireframe mode. I particularly want you to take note of the grey ball in the middle that shows the position of the C of G.

    Plane Maker Tutorial

    Now we need some power. There is a choice of many types and quantity which you may mount anywhere you like. For example you may have a pusher piston engine to the rear and two small rockets on the wingtips. However since most simple setups will not allow separate engine throttling it is best to use one type because you really do not want different powers developing at different thrust lines. So here I will spice it up by shown a front engine(s) with contra-rotating propellers. I will also work through adding a small jet engine above the elevators to show the principles. This model does not fly well with the jet because the thrust line from the jet is higher so the net result is an undesirable nose down pitch particularly when landing; since we do not have independent throttle controls this cannot be corrected.


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