If you follow the development, you probably noticed that I haven’t posted many pictures of the cockpit until now. The reason is obvious: it wasn’t ready yet. In this blog post I want to share with you why it took so long and give you further insight on the research and development process for this aircraft.
When researching an aircraft, we need as many drawings, photographs and documents as we can get our greedy hands on. The development process of any add-on is accompanied with countless hours of digging through archives, communicating with curators of aviation museums, image searching and reading through hundreds of pages of documents. The Boeing 247 is almost 90 years old and considering that she didn’t operate for a very long time and was only adopted by very few airlines, documentation like technical drawings, manuals and equipment lists were hard to come by.
On the other hand, United Airlines operated a Boeing 247 until only a few years ago and consequently, there’s a plethora of pictures of the aircraft, inside and outside. There’s even a 3D tour over at Matterport, which has been of some help in figuring out the geometry of some components.
However, as you’re surely aware of, Wing42 tries to replicate the aircraft’s operation and looks as closely to its historical counterpart as possible, which is why you won’t find a modern avionics suite, let alone a GPS in our aircraft. Therefore, the utility of photographs of a modernized aircraft is somewhat limited and for the most part, I rely on historical sources to get the instrumentation and controls of the cockpit right.
The reason why I left the cockpit last is simply that I didn’t have enough information to get it done. It was different for the main instrument panel – we found some great high(ish)-resolution photographs from the 1930s that show the layout and instrumentation clearly. But that’s only one small part of the cockpit’s geometry. To give you an idea, here’s a list of questions that needed answers:
- Where are the trim levers? (you won’t believe the answer!)
- What type of radios were commonly used in the 247D?
- Where are the deicer-controls?
- What’s the mechanics of the rudder pedals and toe brakes?
- What are the three warning lights on the main panel?
- Where are the audio-jacks?
- What are those switches on the center pedestal for? (it’s complicated…)
- What are the three controls on the floor just in front of the pedestal?
- Where are the gust locks?
Without knowing the answer to those question, the respective geometry of the cockpit can’t be finished up. After months of looking, most of those questions have been answered, however some are still open, but at some point you just have to stop and get things done. I figure that if we can’t find an answer to a question after looking for it for months, 99% of our users won’t know either. In other words: some artistic license in our final product is inevitable for the type of aircraft we are creating.
Long story short: I finished up the geometry of the cockpit and textured everything! Apart from some details that will be added bit by bit over the next few weeks, the 3d model is finished! I do, however want to point out that all the screenshots posted here are still a work-in-progress and the final product might look differently once we’re finished. At the moment, there are a LOT of 4k textures used in the model and I am not entirely sure about how this impacts the performance of the aircraft on mid to lower end computers. Accordingly, I might have to downscale some of the textures in the long run – especially for less important parts, like the seat-belts.
I hope you like what you see!