• Building the Hawker Hunter Virtual Model

    Building the Hawker Hunter Virtual Model

    By Ray Hill

    The X-Plane community offers an extensive range of freeware models. However many users will not have much of an idea of how they come into being and the amount of skill that is required to build the various components.

    This write-up concerns one of the most technically demanding models I have built to date, the Hawker Hunter. Regardless of what 3D-CAD tool you choose to use, the methodology mentioned here will need to be broadly similar. This brief overview really just covers the visual aspects of the airframe (not cockpit details, flight tuning component animation, etc. which all come later).

    So next time you pick up a piece of freeware which may not look as good as some payware offerings (but sometimes flies better), do spare a thought for the many days, weeks, months that the author may have invested in it so you can enjoy their work.

    "Per ardua ad astra"

    Let's start by looking at an image from some factory engineering documentation which shows an exploded view of the major sub-components.

    Building the Hawker Hunter virtual model

    The reason why I chose to build the model from the above basic sub-assemblies was because:

    a) to make smaller 3D-CAD components which could more easily be rotated on the screen for visualisation and positioning of various cutting blocks (more on that later).

    b) to get a better insight into the real design and assembly processes involved in the actual fabrication.

    The following is an image of the construction of the front end of the center section, where the starboard intake can be clearly seen.

    Building the Hawker Hunter virtual model

    This image shows the prototype Hawker (WB188) under construction in the Kingston on Thames factory.

    Building the Hawker Hunter virtual model

    I have now reduced my toolset down to ViaCAD pro for initial solid production, then exporting to Wavefront.obj, deleting the *.mtl files that come along with it. I then import them to AC3D where I pull the various sub-assemblies together for fine tuning of dimensions, animation and pre-texturing.

    The Hunter has essentially a circular fuselage cross section with wing sections almost symmetric of chord/thickness ratio of about 9:1. Remember the actual aerodynamic profiles and hence flight model must be pre-built and tested in Plane Maker and then all made invisible. I would urge people to get a rough up working well from a preliminary Plane Maker build, i.e. so it flies properly before spending time on fancy graphics. So what I am making here is for visualisation only, it is in effect just wallpaper over what becomes an invisible Plane Maker aerodynamic machine.

    Whilst Plane Maker enables one to export a (non OBJ8) Wavefront OBJ file of the whole Plane Maker model, this is regrettably not convertible to a solid in ViaCAD, so I had to go back to three view scale drawings, measured in various dimensions and scale them up. I also had to get angles for all flying sections and intakes.

    It was easiest to make the center section first. I went into ViaCAD's 2D model section to draw a box with a height of 2 feet (radius) and desired length. I then went into 3D mode, selected the box and used the "make surface" tool. Then choosing the "lathe solid" tool I created a 180 degree, volume of revolution. I then used the "shell" tool to empty the inside and then the "push" tool to remove the central face. This was because I wanted to later insert a front section, so the curve away to the engine bay through the intake "might" be seen.

    I only made most assemblies for one side and then mirrored them to do the other side, this saves a lot of duplicate work.

    Tags: hawker, hunter

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