The Making of the Fairchild 24 Series
I had originally created a 'freeware' Fairchild package many many years ago, either in the FS2002 or FS2004 days, (I cannot remember) and
had many versions that came with it, from the Ranger long nose to radial versions with and without the cowling bubbles on the cowlings. So,
here, many years later, I wanted to create a totally revised, new, ground up build that would have as many details as I could squeeze into the
model. I wanted to go all out with the panel, but keep it as Fairchild 24 looking as possible. I didnt want alot of model versions with clutter, but
the 'pure' version that would be a Factory look from back in the day. The exterior also had to be the 'norm' of Fairchilds. There were many
versions, many cowlings, 2 versions of rudders, slight changes here and there, so I had to go in and figure out which versions of cowlings to go
with, which rudder, what all could be in two later year versions of Ranger and radial version Fairchild 24's that were most popular.
As you can see, these are the models I went with.
A short while into the project, my computer began acting up for the second time, with an new hard drive, it was getting terribly slow and instead of
going through the effort of fitting it with another drive and loading everything over again, I opted for a new computer (Alienware) and then
decided to make the tall purchase also of getting 3DS Max.
This meant that the Fairchild project had to be imported into Max from Gmax which was enabled by Arnos brilliant MCX program. Once I had
begun rolling smoothly with learning Max and its many features, I was again able to start going along with the Fairchild.
One of the brilliant things Max can do, which was one of the things I wanted it for, was for shadows. Max can do amazing shading called Ambient
Occlusion, so I was finally able to start doing shading of parts with Max instead of trying to do this manually. The program can take a mapped
seat and nicely shade all around the seats edges, blending them nicely and all automatically. Things that can cast shadows over area's like
parts on the panel, parts on the overhead wing-caps in the cabin, seat shadows, are all burned in via this new Ambient Occlusion system.
Another nice feature with Max is that they have amazing, new mapping tools. These can map seats and complicated parts in record time with
things like Pelt mapping.
Beginning the project, was a search for blueprints. With the few blueprints and 3-views found online, and having found that alot of these are
done for publications and are not exact, I decided to create the fusealge off of an actual photo and found a brilliant side view I had found online
that had almost zero perspective effect in it.
Details on the fuselage include the right amount of ribs along the top, sides and belly. There is a very fine radius or curve on the outside edge
of the front side windows, so that was included with a technique of welding in a tube created from the window opening, (a rare technique). The
Windscreen was a pretty difficult endeavor. Its not easy to blend a 2 axis curve windscreen (front side windows in the perspex area) into the
Cowling line 'nicely'. I fought with this for quite a long time, matching it with the side photo in the background with the mesh, front views, etc. It
took alot out of me, but finally got the structure right.
Next came the wings. These were to have exact ribbing details with cut edges actually done in the skin of the mesh, dividing the edges that
make the peak top of each rib in the skin and having dipped curved valleys between each rib 'with' the right amount of ribs in the structure.
Another detail put in is the fuel tank covers. These had raised flat surfaces and 3D screws (correct counts from what I found in photos online)
and fuel caps. The control surfaces in the Fairchilds wings have unique cutout area's into the wings, both are different from the ailerons to the
flaps. The ailerons have a S-curve cutout, while the flaps are a 'split-flap' surface with the top being the wing top area (fixed, not moving, smooth
with no opening cuts on the top) to a flap assembly on the bottom. The ailerons are fitted with dual counterweights. Then the assemblies were
topped off with era style nav lights which I had a set of from the Pasped Skylark, which were done off of nice photos I had luckily found online a
I then covered the skin area's around the fuselage with 3-dimensional access discs and also screws which are located on the cowling, rudder
area, and wings. (Remember, the bulk of this aircraft is mostly fabric covering, so not alot of the 24 has aluminum surfaces for screws).
You'll kind of see a familiarity of the Fairchild 24's landing gear with the famous WWII German Fiesler Storch landing gear. The landing gear was
designed to be able to land in rough fields without issues. I also wanted a Bush version with the classic wheel fairings removed, so I used some
nicely sophisticated code that can hide one landing gear and bring out the other landing gear in the blip of a switch. This was carried out and
came out nicely.
Next came the cabin area. I studied a LOT of photos of cabins of the F-24 and began working on the seats and the cabin shell. The interior was
designed by famous car designer and industrial designer Raymond Loewy. The cabin is fitted with many automotive appointments such as
automotive like, high comfort seats, car door knobs inside and out, windows that roll down, vehicle hand cranks (for elevator trim and windows)
and car knobs for the heater controls and other bits and pieces. I began to populate the cabin with all of these 1930's tidbits, sticking as close
as possible to photographs. Later in the build, I was able to add texturing to graphics and gave the interior a mix of variations in the coverings,
from leather to tweed fabric.
The Radio held alot of importance as it is right up there on top of the panel in sight. I scoured the web looking for a radio of that era that was
high tech and common and found the Narco Mark 12 with radical giant knobs for dialing in frequencies.
Some other features of the interior are the arm rests in the side of the cabin, built in the sidework. They have a nice, angled edge towards the
front, and are curved inward. Very modern for that era. Another is the floating hand straps at the front A-pillars. These animate with the plane's
manuvers, banking and nosing up or down, they will move about. If someone should grow tired of this, clicking the spun-aluminum button above
them will cause the straps disappear.
Some nice, vintage, 1930's luggage will appear outside of the plane when you have shut down the aircraft and turned off the battery.
The Instrument Panel was created off of a drawing I found that looked like the owners manual. I wanted it as exact as possible. There were
several versions, so I picked the one that I thought looked best. Some had a map box in the top center, some on the bottom right, some on the
top right, some with no map box at all. I selected the map box version at top right. I then had to go about creating the openings in the panel for
the gauges. In the old days, we would 'hover' the gauge polygons over the surface of the panel, but I like to make actual openings and in this
case, the openings had 'curves' in them, so I created a quick technique for making the curves in the panel. Its alot of work and also requires you
to 'flatten and stretch them' to map them (later) and then put them back into shape. Not an easy task, but do-able and the final effect is brilliant
and has some photo realism to it.
Later, when the panel was being painted, I had wanted to do variations of panels for factory versions, restored high quality versions, messy bush
versions, and also military variants. What ended was a plethera of amazing panel variants that range from high quality to really beat up, chipped
and scratched and weathered. The gray versions are military, one having green in the mix as there were some that had green interiors instead
of gray. I guess the panel on top was to match the cammo green color so they would mix that in. Some were all dove gray. So many panels.....
One of the cool things I found (I love discoveries in making all these planes) was the rare liquid float Whiskey compass in the Fairchilds. They
were called a Bendix B-16 and had a wild and sophisticated shape to them. I was able to recreate it and nicely shadow it in 3DS Max. You'll note
it has a doughnut shape to it in the center and is mounted on a face plate that runs up into the top of the cieling where the perspex begins.
To top all of that off, there is glass fixed into the panel over the gauges for a nice, realistic, visual effect.
[FLOAT PLANE VARIANTS]
The floats were taken from the Piper Pacer project. I had found a popular float company that made these floats in that era back then and made
them as exact as possible, down to the rivets and access cell caps with bolts, rudders and cables. All animations work. I transplanted a set of
floats to the Fairchild. Inside, I included a pull handle that raises the water rudders. This is only visible when you are in a float plane (floats must
be attached). It sets next to the flaps pull handle. Another feature I wanted for the float plane was a nice, cool, classic, laminated canoe. I
placed such a canoe under the belly of the plane on top of the floats cross struts and found it contacted the X-wires that go to the vertical float
struts, so I had to mount it to the outer side of the right float vertical struts. I had seen pictures of bush planes with canoes mounted this way,
which was what opted me to do this. Lastly, a small fin for under the rudder/tail area which appears with float planes as well.
[AIR FILES AND PERFORMANCES]
Wayne is our guy for doing airfiles. He is a pilot and has flown some of the classics. His work is amazing and he really wanted to get into the
engine side of the Fairchilds. You'll find that their performance should be correct. They are based on cruise settings with a fixed pitch prop. The
idea was that with the end of the war, many people fitted their planes with upper grade, higher performance surplus engines. In our case the
F24 Ranger model is fitted with a 200 HP straight six, and the radial with a 165 HP Super Scarab Warner engine. These are the best of the 24
Series which is what I wanted. The planes should be able to do just over 400 Nautical Miles at cruise settings or 75% power at 4,000 feet. Full
flaps should also enable you to drop over the tops of trees into a short field strip in a forest region. With the added bit of power, this makes also
for great take-offs. The power and low speed stall landings of just over 50 MPH make it nearly a STOL aircraft, great for Bush runs.
Alot of people never read my manuals. I put alot of work into them, making them very graphic with lots of screenshots and diagrams and even
make them related to the era they came from, which in this case, the older Fairchild manual looks like old, weathered paper and black and white
photos. But, what I have been wanting to do is have the manuals located 'in' the aircraft. This way, they are found and can be read and systems
learned rather then complaints surfacing of how to work things, or people never finding out about cool features (like how to make the canoe
appear). So with the Fairchild, I have the manual popup when you select Shift-6 and the Checklist board appears when you select Shift-7. The
Checklist board is similar to the Pasped Skylark, with Fairchild stationary, typed vintage fonts, old WWII style photos, etc. There is also a cool
pattern angle (degree) computer in the back.
There are some cool sound effects for things like switches, wind noise, and things. A 'floomp' noise for when you tap on the wing struts on the
right wing which cause the canoe to appear. Some 1930's Zeppelin (zekret) technology hidden Autopilot buttons reveal a Ding Ding sound
when arming the system, and a buzzer sound when cancelling out the AP system. The manual has 'page folding paper sounds', and the engine
sounds are simply brilliant. A squeak comes from the map box door, and the window cranks also make a squeaking sound as they crank up and
down the windows. Wind noise from the vents and overhead vents only come at speeds over 40MPH. Some nice little details to help seat you
virtually in one of Americas Golden Aviation classics!
By Bill Ortis
|All parts visible in the project. All of the Fairchild live in a single
scene in the Max system. Parts are hidden and parts unhidden to
which provide each model variant. This is why you see the floats,
bush landing gear, classic fairings landing gear, canoe, radial
engine and straight six Ranger engine versions.
|Super high mesh detail work of the instrument panel showing all
the curves and radii going on in that structure alone. Note how the
'tablet' like raised sub-panels also have nice curves on them.
Knobs sport high-curvature, high-poly count structures as well.
|Warner Super Scarab radial engine model.
|Warner Super Scarab radial Engine model.
|Another shot of the entire package in one shot.
|The entire package in one mass of parts.
|Another shot of the mass of 'all' parts in the package. A LOT
|Shot of the interior showing the Bendix B-16 Compass, the
clickable overhead air vent, and the floating, animated hand strap.
|This is the instrument panel. As you can
see, it is elaborate with complexity. Trying
to get it with no odd shading is quite a task.
|This screenshot early in the build process
shows you the windshield (front perspex).
Man was that difficult!