Dicta Ira

Albatros D.Va Fuselage Profiles

By: Mark Miller


Albatros DVa Fuselage Part I

The biggest challenge here is the map for the fuse. The map is first generated in Corel then exported to a jpeg file then modified in Photoshop then mapped to the fuse geometry in Microstation. My first attempt looked horrible. I used an assortment of plywood images I got off the web. Unfortunately the result had a "shanty town" look because of the variation bettween the panels. I then took some pictures of some high grade plywood and used those to generate the individual panels, I think it looks much better. The map could use some work - I think it is still a little to red and the plywood grain is a little to pronounced.

The green cast on the bottom is supposed to represent reflected light (grass)

Albatros DVa Fuselage Part II

I'm pretty well into this assembly by now. I'd say that about 90% of the wood parts are done. I wimped out on the internal structure in the tail section. So I can't yet render out a full internal image.

The external surfaces on the tail itself has been the most challenging (and time consuming) geometry on this project so far. Getting all those curved surfaces to fillet together smoothly was a tedious and laborious task. I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out - it takes maps well and renders out nice.

The rest of the fuse was a snap to model. This is primarily due to the fact that it has a consistent elliptical cross section from front to back. All I had to do was define the centerline, top bottom and side edges and then places ellipses, which intersected these lines at appropriate places along the length of the fuse. The big challenge on this part of the fuse is the map. Think of a "map" as a big piece of shrink-wrap - like a tube of material that you slide over the fuse and shrink down to fit. One of the problems is that towards the back the diameter is about a third of what it is at the middle - so you get a distortion, which can be real pain to deal with. The Maltese cross took me about four tries before I got it close, if you look you can see that the right arm is still a little longer than the left. I have tried to minimize these problems so that it should be a pretty easy task to generate multiple schemes, but some fiddling will be necessary. Another problem arising from this map is that render times have gone up considerably and my laptop is starting to feel the strain. The engine rendered out to a 2 meg .tif file in less than 3 minutes. The fuse takes 10-15 - I guess I really shouldn't complain, I can remember not so long ago when I had to render everything overnight! When the wing maps go on I'm sure this problem will get much worse.

Now I'm focusing on the cockpit. The details on the right wall are all in, and the stuff to the left shouldn't take to long.But all that stuff on the floor looks a bit more complicated. And I realize that I don't have anything that shows how the rudder bar is mounted. And ever since I put in the fuel/air control panel I've had this perverse desire to put in all the tubing - which I also have insufficient reference for. And then there's the fuel tanks which I already input - but am not quite happy with, I think I need a photo which show some surface details and fittings, and I know it had to be riveted somewhere.

I'm afraid that I have found a couple of blind spots in my references that I'll have to deal with. My primary reference has been the Mikesh book which is WONDERFUL, I can't praise it enough, especially the plans by Bob Waugh. Without it this project would have been much more difficult. Its shame that it is out of print - my copy fell apart years ago and is now kept in a file folder. The WW1 aero mags also have some very useful information : No 128 has a lot of archival photos, some of the B. Waugh plans and a plan of the radiator which will be extremly useful, No 156 has a plan of the control stick and associated fittings. The Wylam plans for the Albatros are just about useless, I did use his plans for the engine though, and they seem to be pretty accurate. In any case I think it is time to order the datafile.

I should be done with the cockpit within a week or so I'll send in a more complete set of images as soon as I can.

Have fun

Albatros DVa Fuselage Part III

Albatros Fuselage DVa - Part IV

Physical model : If you take a critical look at the images there are some obvious omissions (seat belts, throttle, plumbing, etc.) which would be expected on a model of that scale. Truth is, you could, conceivably model every last detail down to 1/1000 of an inch. so you have to draw the line somewhere, and I guess this is about it for me Well. Sort of.

The bottom is still not done, those round inspection plates aren't right and I haven't put in the drain holes which run down the bottom of the fuse. And then there's the bolt pattern on the front cowl which I attempted to put on the bump map but which just don't work for me, and that fitting which sticks out just aft of the spinner where the wire attaches from the wing, what is that for anyway? I haven't modeled the starboard top cowl yet and it has that indented area to clear the exhaust , and I didn't make a bump/surface map for it yet so it's just a mirror version of the port side cowl so I have inspection plates on both sides.

The spinner has a mismatch between the bump/surface map and the modeled geometry, which causes that annoying half-moon shape at the front of the cutout for the prop.
And on and on....

The propeller itself is another issue, which I have been studiously avoiding, I honestly am not sure how to model it and properly show the laminations, definitely a complicated piece of work. But creative problem solving is half the fun.

Fact is I'm tired of the fuse and want to make the wings I'll get back to some of these outstanding issues later.

All whining aside I must say that I've enjoyed this project tremendously and am very happy with the quality of images I've been able to produce. I've used this software professionally for about 15 years now and have always been frustrated by time/budget constraints, which require you to "just get it done". But I must admit, this is a very time consuming effort and it is understandable that a program manager would not want to pay for the effort required to take a model to this extreme level of detail and realism.

But I always knew the potential was there, and it's gratifying to see it realized. These are definitely the best computer generated images I've ever made.

Albatros Fuselage DVa - Part V


Albatros D.Va German fighter of World War 1 by Robert C. Mikesh, Smithsonian Institute Press - Drawings by Bob Waugh
WW1 Aero No 128, May 1990
WW1 Aero No 156, May 1997

Profiles courtesy of and copyright Mark Miller.