Northrop P-61C Black Widow project
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Thread: Northrop P-61C Black Widow project

  1. #1

    Northrop P-61C Black Widow project

    Hi all,

    With the Reporter now released ( and the #1 download at Simviation for 3 days now! ) I'm switching to the P-61C Black Widow. This is not intended to get in the way of the SoH P-61B project - I just don't think you can have enough Black Widows and we've been without a good one in flight sim for far too long.

    The fuselage exterior modelling is complete, and I'm at work on texture assignments and interior modelling. With the rest of the airplane essentially identical to the Reporter, it's a bit of an easier job with only the FDE to be altered to account for the much heavier airframe.

    The time frame for this project is quite short, as I'm effectively getting two planes out of one project. I'm hoping to have a BETA out within about a month, and the v1 release out shortly afterward. Wish me luck!

    P.S. The RF-8 Vought Crusader project will begin as soon as the Widow is complete.

    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails P61Fuselage.jpg   P61Cb.jpg  
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  2. #2

    additional crew

    With a third crew member I wondered what your thoughts were for the radar observer position in the aft..?
    In particular what avionics could be placed there.
    Will you go with an animated hatch opening as well.?

    With the fun I've been having with the reporter, I'm looking forward to your newest model.

    Thanks...

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Seahawk72s View Post
    With a third crew member I wondered what your thoughts were for the radar observer position in the aft..?
    In particular what avionics could be placed there.
    Will you go with an animated hatch opening as well.?

    With the fun I've been having with the reporter, I'm looking forward to your newest model.

    Thanks...
    I'm looking into including a basic radar screen for both pilot and RO, along with TacPack compatibility, that will allow the Widow to fulfill a night-fighter role as per its real world operations within flight sim. Although the radar will be a basic affair, it'll be enough to go hunting for Zeros at night

    Cockpit hatches will be animated in the normal way - the Widow's opened down through the oleo wheel bay and had a folding ladder. Not tough to include that.
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  4. #4

    paint schemes

    Some interesting paint schemes and history.

    https://comradeloganov.deviantart.co...tory-448200013

    https://www.deviantart.com/tag/rf61c




    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails finnish_rf_61f_reporter___utti_air_races_by_comradeloganov-d7k4sq0.jpg   northrop_f_15a_reporter___naca___ames_laboratory_by_comradeloganov-d7euhcd.jpg  

  5. #5
    Yes, he does some amazing artwork. I was going to use his images as a reference when doing the Reporter's textures, but I learned that mostly they're "what if" schemes with fictional histories rather than actual aircraft. Only the NACA Reporter actually existed from his images. Shame, as the Reporter would have looked quite nice in camouflage schemes!
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  6. #6
    Just asking a question of folks here regarding the Reporter's VC ( upon which the P-61C's VC will be based ): include instrument bezels, or not? They look fab, but there does seem to be an appetite for users to switch the gauges out for others and this can be tricky if the new gauges have dials and knobs that protrude or are obscured by neighbouring bezels.

    I'm modelling these aircraft as freeware for the community so I'm happy to go with the flow. What would folks prefer?
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  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by DC1973 View Post
    Just asking a question of folks here regarding the Reporter's VC ( upon which the P-61C's VC will be based ): include instrument bezels, or not? They look fab, but there does seem to be an appetite for users to switch the gauges out for others and this can be tricky if the new gauges have dials and knobs that protrude or are obscured by neighbouring bezels.

    I'm modelling these aircraft as freeware for the community so I'm happy to go with the flow. What would folks prefer?
    If I ever swap gauges out I just size them to fit the panel (usually takes a few tries to get it right) so having a bezel there doesn't bother me. I've only run into the protruding knob problem on the IRIS MiG-27. I just tell myself "Meh, it's free." and go flying!

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Seahawk72s View Post
    I do like the Gee Bee texture on the nacelle/boom! It would make an interesting racer! One thing I've been wondering about the canopy frame. I was flying it from the VC and didn't see the bow where the rear of the canopy meets the forward half then looked around and saw it over my shoulder. Thought it was a mistake so I looked at an exterior view and then some photos. YES! It really is that far back! Makes for great visibility but my question is this... How does the pilot get out? Does he have to squeeze between the canopy bow and the top of the seat or does the seat unlock and slide backwards?

  9. #9
    I do enjoy the 3D effect the hard modeled bezels give but I've also found a set of 2D gauges where the bezel
    art work gives a 3D effect. Another factor is the replacement size of some gauges definitely needs more space
    then fixed bezels allow. There is a set of Sperry III gauges, very accurately modeled with great art work that need more room.

    Thanks...

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Seahawk72s View Post
    I do enjoy the 3D effect the hard modeled bezels give but I've also found a set of 2D gauges where the bezel
    art work gives a 3D effect. Another factor is the replacement size of some gauges definitely needs more space
    then fixed bezels allow. There is a set of Sperry III gauges, very accurately modeled with great art work that need more room.

    Thanks...
    With 3D bezels, you might as well make the entire gauge part of the model. You can't count on the fact that every person who wants to set up his own gauges will find ones that fit within the modeled bezels. Also, I can guarantee you that tweaking ones own airplane VC is widespread and rampant, lol. . .so for me either make them all 3D and fixed so no one can go changing things to suit their own preferences or make them 2D and let the tweaking begin, but half and half is not a good idea.
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  11. #11
    Love the P-61, so will be following with vested interest!
    Have you seen the video from the era that details her flight characteristics, starting the engines and so on? looks like a great resource. As for the gauges, I am an out of the box flyer, I rarely mod panels and so on, so my vote would be to go full 3D gauges, if possible, as they look and work better overall.

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  12. #12
    Thanks for all the responses! It sounds like a bit of a mixed bag. Ideally I would create custom gauges for the entire airplane so that nobody would have to alter anything but that's a lot of extra work and I'd like to move on from the Northrop airplanes soon. I may include the option of making the bezels invisible using a custom XML code and one of the un-used cockpit switches, thus effectively giving users the choice of either the flat panel or a 3D one. That's probably the easiest solution to the issue.

    I'll also look into third-party WW2 gauges and see if there are any freeware out there that can be used to fill in the gaps
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  13. #13
    I have always voted for dual models. One with a fixed, 3D panel that replicates the original aircraft and one that has a flat panel to allow the user to create a customized panel.
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  14. #14
    DC,
    I have some reference material on the P-61, including detailed photos and drawings of the cockpit layout and flight manuals. If you think it would be helpful, PM me and we'll figure out how to get a zip file to you.

    mal

  15. #15

    fuel tanks and dive brakes

    I was wondering if this was accurate and would be included...?

    The P-61C was equipped with perforated fighter airbrakes located both below and above the wing surfaces. These were to provide a means of preventing the pilot from overshooting his target during an intercept. For added fuel capacity, the P-61C was equipped with four underwing pylons (two inboard of the nacelles, two outboard) which could carry four 310 gal (1,173 l) drop tanks.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Seahawk72s View Post
    I was wondering if this was accurate and would be included...?
    Yes, two on top and two on the bottom of each wing the upper ones opening aft, the lowers forward. (To the vertical no less!) The ones on the bottom were twice as tall as the ones on top. Even though they existed, the speed brakes were disabled on all units leaving the line after a P-61C was lost testing them.

  17. #17

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by mal998 View Post
    DC,
    I have some reference material on the P-61, including detailed photos and drawings of the cockpit layout and flight manuals. If you think it would be helpful, PM me and we'll figure out how to get a zip file to you.

    mal
    Thanks Mal! I've got the manuals and photos from my original research and a "history of" book I bought, but if you have anything unusual or rare that would be awesome. I'm porting the Reporter's VC into the Widow, with a few changes, and adding the other seats and positions once everything's in place.

    Regarding the air brakes, yes they will be modelled and animated in full to replace the low-wing air brakes fitted to the Reporter. I'll leave it to Pam to handle their effectiveness, but by all pilot accounts they stopped the Widow almost dead in the air!
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  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by DC1973 View Post
    ......

    Regarding the air brakes, yes they will be modelled and animated in full to replace the low-wing air brakes fitted to the Reporter. I'll leave it to Pam to handle their effectiveness, but by all pilot accounts they stopped the Widow almost dead in the air!
    Thanks, that is good news, it will be an impressive effect.
    Do you think there is a chance for droppable wing tanks..?

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Seahawk72s View Post
    Thanks, that is good news, it will be an impressive effect.
    Do you think there is a chance for droppable wing tanks..?
    I'm not sure at this point. I know that the sim is capable of it but it's not something I've studied yet. I'll keep it in mind.
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  21. #21
    After a bunch of travel I finally got a chance to install your wonderful F-15 Reporter, so I'm really psyched to see the P-61 is next!

    On the panel, I fly with VR goggles most of the time, so I'm definitely a fan of the modeled instruments as the flat ones look like an animated cartoon when viewed in VR. But I won't be picky!

    And the RF-8 after that? Awesome! Have you read Crusader: Last of the Gunfighters? There's an awesome story in there about a recon run during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by DC1973 View Post
    Just asking a question of folks here regarding the Reporter's VC ( upon which the P-61C's VC will be based ): include instrument bezels, or not? They look fab, but there does seem to be an appetite for users to switch the gauges out for others and this can be tricky if the new gauges have dials and knobs that protrude or are obscured by neighbouring bezels.

    I'm modelling these aircraft as freeware for the community so I'm happy to go with the flow. What would folks prefer?
    Thanks for you contributions; great stuff! :-)

    I prefer a mix on the gauges because most of my projects have lots of them; too many to do 3D gauges on all.

    So, my approach preference is shown here on my current project.

    I do 3D Cages and Bezels lifted just off the background panel. (No cuts to the panel background surface)
    The circular back of the bezel I detach for the gauge face which is mapped separately for simple Panel Studio gauge size and placement of 2D gauges.

    The cages and bezels are textured as one part.

    See the examples in attachments.

    So, for those who like to swap gauges, it's a simple matter.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails ms-2018-may-20-007.jpg   ms-2018-may-20-008.jpg   ms-2018-may-20-005.jpg   ms-2018-may-20-010.jpg  
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  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by Milton Shupe View Post
    Thanks for you contributions; great stuff! :-)

    I prefer a mix on the gauges because most of my projects have lots of them; too many to do 3D gauges on all.

    So, my approach preference is shown here on my current project.
    Thanks Milton, your approach does seem to be a good compromise. I think on the Reporter it was inexperience on my part - some of the gauges I put too closely together, whereas others are fine - like my old teachers used to say, I should have paid closer attention

    I think I'll follow your example and make sure that anything with protruding knobs ( such as altimeter, artificial horizon etc ) get the full 3D treatment, the rest just bezels for the surrounds - that way folks should be able to switch things out any way they want.
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  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by DC1973 View Post
    ........I think I'll follow your example and make sure that anything with protruding knobs ( such as altimeter, artificial horizon etc ) get the full 3D treatment, the rest just bezels for the surrounds - that way folks should be able to switch things out any way they want.
    When appropriate can you share what you see as the P-61C panel layout..?
    Thanks...

  25. #25
    The P-61C cockpit looked like this;



    I'll be altering the existing Reporter VC to match in terms of general layout, and of course will include both the gunner and radar operator positions. My version probably won't look quite as "busy" as the real thing.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails WidowC.jpg  
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