FSX/P3D Warbirdsim B-25J Mitchell Development
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Thread: FSX/P3D Warbirdsim B-25J Mitchell Development

  1. #1

    FSX/P3D Warbirdsim B-25J Mitchell Development

    As I've also just posted on Facebook, I am very happy to report that Warbirdsim has been back to full-on developer mode again, now with the dual development of both the P-39Q Airacobra and B-25J Mitchell for FSX and P3D. The B-25J has now reached the stage where it will begin gaining panel lines/rivets/fasteners and all of the other textured surface details and I thought it would be a good time to start providing some progress updates on this aircraft.

    Our goal is always to strive for the highest attainable lever of accuracy in our aircraft, and for this project the base model was lofted from the original North American Aviation blueprint ordinates, resulting in the overall skin of the airframe being accurate to the same 1/1000 of an inch measurements of the real aircraft, at every key station, nose to tail, wing root to wing tip joint, and the entirety of the tail surfaces - you can't get any more accurate than that! Everything else, produced by North American, has been built completely to the blueprints with the same level of accuracy/precision. The wings and tail surfaces of course have all of the precisely accurate airfoils as that of the real aircraft, and like many aircraft of the era, there are two different airfoil designs incorporated in the wing, transitioning from a conventional thick airfoil at the root to a thin concave airfoil at the wing tip joint (which actually resembles an airfoil of the WWI-era). Both the tail surfaces and the wings are mounted at the correct angles of incidence in relation to the fuselage. The lateral angles of the wing arrangement, producing the gull-wing shape, are accurate to what is called out in the drawings, including the precise angle and location at which the outer wing and inboard wing sections and skins meet at station 157.

    Here are just a few examples illustrating the precise nature of this model down to the smallest detail:

    - The exact widths of each section of framing for the windscreen, nose, canopies, waist gun windows and turret are each individually accurate (3/4", 1", 1-1/8", 1-1/4", 1-1/2", 1-5/8" and 1-3/4"), and most importantly those dimensions are maintained through all of the curvatures of the framing.

    - Not only the length and widths of individual parts, but the exact widths of spacing called out in the drawings between every joint/intersection of the control surfaces, landing gear doors, bomb bay doors, entry doors, emergency hatches, etc., are depicted.

    - Accurate to the real design, the main engine cowling isn't symmetrically round as it may first appear. As it tapers back from the forward cowl ring, it becomes elongated along the bottom and rather flat along the top.

    - Each cowl flap is accurate in individual width and length - there are several different sizes of the cowl flaps. Whether opened or closed, they also have the proper amount of spacing between the inner side of the cowl flap and the outer surface of the inner cowl ring.

    - Contrary to most depictions of the B-25J, the cowling was not a mirror image from the left to the right, it was the same unit mounted on both sides - so the unique arrangement of the exhaust stacks are not mirrored, nor is the unique arrangement of the cowl flaps - for instance, one cowl flap in particular is about 3-inches larger than the rest, and can be seen on the outboard-facing side of the left engine cowl but on the inboard-facing side of the right engine cowl.

    The Hamilton Standard prop hubs are the correct 23E50 type and the blades are the correct (quite massive) 12-ft 7-in diameter 6359A type. The turret (only the shell made thus far) is accurate to the late Bendix type installed on the B-25H and B-25J and has all of the proper contours from which ever direction/side you look at it (a rather complex unit). I haven't begun really working on the armament yet, but the gun barrels you do see are modeled to the correct dimensions based on accurate plans drawings for the Browning .50-cal machine guns (that I picked up when I was working on the gun bay details of our P-51D's). The blast shields on the top turret barrels are a North American part and therefore modeled to the drawings, and they fit just like a glove over the barrels. I have yet to begin working on the Bell M-7 tail turret gun mount, but for that I do have design plans to go by. The R-2600's will be added shortly as well as the various antenna equipment.

    What you see built thus-far is representative of a mid-production B-25J. Going forward, we may include specific production variants with individual production changes. In addition to the stock-production engine cowling/exhaust/carburetor scoop arrangement, we are also working right now on reproducing the larger post-war Bendix-Stromberg carburetor scoop and exhaust collector ring modifications for more options/different configurations (post-war service and modern restorations). In the near future we will also be adding the 8-gun "strafer" nose. For now our focus is just on the J-variants, but the B-25H will certainly be in our sights in the future.

    We will keep you posted on continuing progress - the external model, base textures and materials are scheduled to be finished by the end of the year (and in-sim), followed by the start of the VC next year. With a good amount of motivation, the P-39 will be completed within the year ahead as well (really very little major left to do, and we now have more resources than ever to finish what is remaining).












  2. #2
    A few more showing the under belly:








  3. #3
    Senior Administrator Roger's Avatar
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    Great news John!
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  4. #4

  5. #5
    A great need fulfilled by a fantastic developer. Thanks for the update John. Looking forward to any news of future progress.
    Regards, Tom Stovall, KRDD


  6. #6
    Senior Administrator huub vink's Avatar
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    Thanks for the update John. Models done by you are always good news. Therefore I'm sure many look really forward to this model, but I'm slowly losing all hope to see an early B-25 in FSX.

    I know its something personal, but we Dutch flew the early versions with Dutch 320 sqn (RAF) and later with the Dutch Navy from the airfield at 6 miles from my home.

    Cheers,
    Huub

  7. #7
    Thank you Tom and Huub!

    Tom, I think I'll plan on making monthly updates until the aircraft is done. What I consider having been the most challenging 600-hrs or so of development work is now out of the way, and for the time being now I can sort of relax a bit with just being concentrated on texturing. The texturing is utilizing the blueprint drawings as well, since I can just layout the drawings over the wireframes, which were made with segments at key station points, and then just place rivets, spot welds, screws and fasteners everywhere there is a mark for one. Using the original factory drawings will continue to be quite wonderful as well, since they indicate which type of rivet was used in each region/spot on the airframe, whether it would be a flush rivet or a dome-head rivet.

    Huub, I have looked into the early B-25's as well (trying to gain as much knowledge of these aircraft as I accumulated with the Mustangs). If we were to do one, the major work involved would be taking the rear half of the fuselage off (from the center section back) and making that whole aft fuselage/empenage section new (though the tail surfaces could remain largely unaffected, just mounted differently). I have the ordinates for the B-25B/C/D as well, and following those the top of the rear fuselage on the early B-25's tapers down quite a lot compared to the later H and J, and of course the tail end of the fuselage is very different. The forward top turret section of the model would be easy enough just to fair over. Numerous little details were different - for instance, the elevator trim tabs were shorter on the early B-25's than they were on the H/J - but wouldn't be that difficult to do (especially the rear fuselage work by comparison). The inboard flaps were also of a different design, having a notched/angled corner, but at least for that I'm going to have to make them anyway for the H, since it was a design feature all the way up until the second batch of B-25J production before they started making them the way I have portrayed. An early B-25 would look nice flying with the P-39! Just keep motioning me in that direction and I'm sure I'll go there. ; )

  8. #8
    SOH-CM-2018 Quicksand's Avatar
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    Awesome news, John! Your model is breathtaking!

  9. #9
    Thank you Jim, I appreciate it!

  10. #10
    With regard to early vs. late Mitchells, it has been fascinating going through the parts catalog and parts/drawing numbers, as it is easy to note from which parts remained the same throughout production and which ones were constantly being updated/improved, since you'll either see one drawing for a single part or you'll see multiple drawings referenced for the same part. The earliest factory drawings all have the prefix of "62", which is in reference to the earliest production B-25 contract, which included the B-25-NA, B-25A and B-25B production. Then there are drawings with the prefix of "82", in reference to the B-25C contract, followed by drawings with the prefix of "98" from the B-25H contract, followed lastly by drawings with the "108" prefix from the B-25J contract. Most of the parts have at least two drawings - the original "62" earliest design, followed by the modified drawing for/during whichever later contract the second version of the drawing was made or updated. It is however really interesting to find numerous parts that did not change at all and the first/earliest "62" contract drawing was the only one that ever had to be made. Then you also have parts that were created during a production contract but then were changed again during that same contract, so in those cases you are provided with two different drawings for the same part where the prefix is the same but the last 5 or 6 numbers are different - in the drawings it tells you at what serial numbers the early part stopped being used and when the new version of the part began being used. Keeping it all straight is part of the adventure. ; )

    BTW, the B-25 is what started my passion for warbirds (one of my earliest memories is being lifted up inside one to have a look around when I was three), and during most of my "formative years" the B-25 was my absolute favorite warbird, well and above the Mustang - I would fill sketch books with drawings of the B-25... trying to get the nose to look right from various angles/perspectives. So it is wonderful to be able to spend time focusing on this fantastic beast of an aircraft again.

  11. #11
    Having spent three days with CAF's "Maid in the Shade" last week on its visit here, this is GREAT to see.

    Thanks!

    Mike

  12. #12
    This is great news! Knowing the quality of your work it will be a "must have"! Is it the "Miss Mitchell" that you have close by at KSGS to refer to for details? Being a Navy guy a PBJ 1 would also be welcome.
    Jay
    "Fly it like you stole it!" (Check out my other interest - http://trainstore.j-traxtrains.com/ )


  13. #13
    Outstanding news John! Canít freaking wait!

  14. #14
    SOH Staff .."Bartender" AussieMan's Avatar
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    ​This is indeed great news John. The news will be even better if there is an RAAF paint in the final release.


    Cheers
    Pat


    "Some people might say that freedom is being alone in the bush with the only sounds being the murmurs from the birds ... but I believe freedom is at 5000 feet with no other sound than the engine roaring."- William Hutchison, a young man taken from us far too young (16).

  15. #15
    John, those previews look great, thanks for sharing and the update. Do you mind me asking what software you use for this? I always put my blueprints into AutoCAD and modeled the wireframe in AutoCAD then moved it into 3DSMax. Mainly due to my extremely limited knowledge of 3DSMax. Do you make the everything in 3DSmax or some other software?

    Regards,

    Ken

  16. #16
    Oh, Man!!!! Best news I have heard in AGES!!! Looks amazing... Can't wait!

  17. #17
    John, this is awesome! I love your Mustangs, and the B-25 will be a great addition too!
    Mark


  18. #18
    Thank you gentlemen, I appreciate the kind words greatly!

    Jay, yes, I've spent many years very close to "Miss Mitchell" - just short of actually volunteering with the CAF (though I know I should). I have a couple friends that have been pilots that have flown it and one in particular that was among the original group that restored it through the 1980's (a lot of great information funneled to me). It is a very special aircraft to me and of course to many that live in Minnesota and enjoy warbirds. It was the first B-25 restoration to have a correct and functioning Bendix top turret installed (many have non-accurate Martin top turrets, or just a shell, or even in a couple cases B-17 top turrets). It also has a fully functioning tail turret, bomb sight, bomb release control panel, bomb-release computer and working bomb shackles/releases - all functioning and work in unison. There are a lot of wonderful stories that tie into the paint scheme/original wartime "Miss Mitchell" as well. I've also been to see Pat Harker's B-25J "Lady Luck" on a few occasions over the years (it is also a fantastically detailed restoration and among the few today that still has the life raft compartment - just about the only thing left that "Miss Mitchell" doesn't yet have added back in, though it will be). The other Minnesota-based B-25 is the Fagen's "Paper Doll", and I've seen it once at one of their airshows but also got to photograph it when it was under restoration at Chino 4-years ago. I wish I could share the photos I have (am under the condition that I cannot) that I took when I also got to visit Aero Trader's desert storage yard and took a lot of photos of the 7 B-25 airframes they had stored out there and thousands of B-25 parts. Of course as those familiar with B-25's know, after WWII most of those that remained in service with the USAF were converted by a select set of companies, and during the conversion processes to try and make them a bit quieter, about half of the upper short stack exhausts were removed and a half-ring collector exhaust was installed, and as a result, today most B-25's still operate with the collector ring rather than the complete set of original short stacks. Well, if you ever wondered where all of those short stack exhausts wound up, I found them in the Aero Trader yard - literally hundreds of them all in a giant crate. Also it was incredible to see something like 40 individual B-25 vertical stabilizers all stacked in rows, various nacelle sections and 8-gun noses, crates full of the bomb release mechanisms, etc. And yes, a PBJ-1 will be doable!

    Pat, I will aim to include an RAAF paint scheme. I was looking at some camouflaged RAAF B-25J schemes just the other day that would be great to pick from - especially one I saw with green upper surfaces and black lower surfaces.

    Ken, I just end up doing everything right in 3DS - the only thing I do outside of it is clip sections of the blueprints in photoshop to be saved in squared dimensions for use to be applied to square planes within 3DS to model the part from. The most integral part of the project is in the initial creation of the overall airframe using the ordinates (hundreds of charted dimensions, but that can be translated to x/y/z points). This is an important step, as many of the blueprint drawings are always referencing the information from that ordinate model and stations in order to produce the part to the correct dimensions and fit it in the correct location. Through the 600-hrs or so of modeling I've done to-date on the B-25J, and over 200+ blueprint drawings I've used so-far, there were really only two drawings I can remember where the image/lines of the drawing turned out not to be the same as the part that was actually produced (and those were the escape hatches for the nose and cockpit canopy, where the framing drawn in the blueprints was no where near the same as was actually manufactured - in that case, I went by dimensions and photos superimposed). I also recall there was a section of the nacelle drawings where one of the ribs is supposed to be at station 312.625 (number of inches back from the zeroed imaginary reference point just in front of the nose of the aircraft), and when marking off the drawing in 3DS Max, matching it to all of the other rib stations, the draftsman had put the rib in the drawing at one inch farther forward than it was supposed to be and indicated to be (the rest was all spot on). However, it is amazing how accurate the blueprint drawings generally are - so much so that often times, even if the drawing is scaled to only one dimension, the drawing is spot on accurate in all dimensions - and how so many times a drawing for a single part is spot-on accurate to the same part drawn in the overall assembly drawing. I have so much respect for the draftsmen and the work they did. It is always fantastic to see the different names of the individual draftsman and the 1940's dates they created the drawings on, on each drawing you pull up.

    By the way, for the B-25 experts, you'll notice that it appears as though a couple frames are missing from the nose escape hatch, a couple frames are missing from the cockpit escape hatch, and one frame is missing from each side of the tail turret side glazing. Well I can assure you those parts are all there, they're just hidden for the time being. Those particular frames are only on the inside of the plexiglass and didn't have external skins (except for when if added post-production, as I've noticed on some). So when the internal details of the external model are ready to be shown, and the glass is clear, you'll see that framing through the plexiglass.
    Last edited by Bomber_12th; August 9th, 2018 at 18:56.

  19. #19
    SOH-CM-2018 Cees Donker's Avatar
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    Great news John! Looking great!

    Cees

  20. #20
    Stunning work John.
    This is exactly why I love WarBirdSim models. The attention to detail is second to none.

  21. #21
    Senior Administrator huub vink's Avatar
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    Thanks for your extensive reply John. So there is still hope left Looking very much forward to the Aircobra as well, as that will be something really special to fly.

    Cheers,
    Huub

  22. #22
    Great info, John, thanks for taking your time for these in depth-replys. Looking forward!


    Cheers,
    Mark
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  23. #23
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    Ho, Ho, Ho, a B-25 That would be great!! My MAAM-Sim Briefing Time is still airworthy. but getting long in the tooth. Great news!

    Joe

  24. #24
    John, you are going to have a couple of popular releases with the B-25 and P-39.

    Looking forward to more development progress. Thanks for the update.

  25. #25
    Great! Simply great!
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