X-15 Design and Build

Discussion in 'Aircraft & Aviation' started by exzealot, Nov 5, 2008.

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  1. I'm dreaming of a black Christmas, going 4000mph:mrgreen:
    Cheers, billy
  2. dhanners

    dhanners Member

    This is first-class work and it's a joy watching a talented designer/builder at work. These photos are a real tease....
  3. mor54

    mor54 Member

    Hi Kenlwest,

    This model and the building thread are amazing !!!

    I have an un-build Geli model, but the one you are building, looks more detailed and acurate. Hoping that your design will be relased soon.

    Attaching a drawing, scaned from the book World Greatest Aircraft, that has a chapter on the X-15. Hop it can help you, if you need a better resolution, send be a mail.



    Thanks for the thread,

    Shalom Mor
  4. exzealot

    exzealot Member

    I just finished up the left chine.

    A couple of things to note: First, I designed the corrugations to look like photos of the real thing. They are subtle but they do add to the authenticity. Also, I can see that there is a gap between the front and back chines. I will be correcting this too. The ink and paper that I am using gives the plane a sheen just like the real machine.

    So far, things are moving along quickly.


    Attached Files:

  5. Robot Exodus

    Robot Exodus Member

    Man, oh man, this is so epic.

    Keep up the great work.
  6. dhanners

    dhanners Member

    The corrugations look very good, and accurate. I like the whole thing.

    I'm wondering though -- and again, I've never designed a model so I have no idea if this is doable or even appropriate -- what about depicting the panel lines as rows of small dots to replicate rivets? One thing that always strikes me in photos of the X-15 is how the rows of rivets really stand out -- more so, it seems, than actual panel lines.

    Just a thought and I don't mean any criticism in offering it. This is a GREAT model so far, and I can't wait for it to be done and ready for the rest of us to build. I don't think it is an understatement to say that it will be a very important addition to the card modeling world.
  7. Nando

    Nando Designer Extraordinaire

    kenlwest, I totally agree with dhanners. Every post that You
    add, It makes my astonishment to increase more and more

    Best Nando

    PS Christmas is too far away for me :twisted:
  8. exzealot

    exzealot Member

    To all,

    I am so glad everyone likes this so far. The final version will be even better - I promise.

    I am experimenting with how to create rivets. They will probably be added last so that they are applied over the top of everything else. I was thinking about skipping this, but dhanners is right - rivets really stand out on a black aircraft; an X-15 without rivets will not look right. My design steps are as follows:

    1. Build a shape verification buck (that's the blue model)

    2. Build a graphics model (that's what you currently see), to be used to develop added-on details and marking alignment, and to tighten up loose ends.

    3. Design and build final version that incorporates corrections from model #2.

    4. Develop assembly instructions and make available!

  9. It looks like the rivets are not on top of the surface( like WW2-planes and ships) but are little dents, but they are grey or aluminim coloured:mrgreen:

    Attached Files:

  10. cdavenport

    cdavenport Member

    Remember to restrain yourself on the rivet detail. At this scale, too much detail can overwhelm the model. Also, remember that the rivet detail stands out in the sunlight when you are up close to the real thing. But at 1/33 scale, the model is the same size as a real aircraft if you were standing somewhere in the vicinity of 70 feet (somebody correct me on that distance estimation, but you are a fair distance away).

    When viewed in more subdued lighting, say at the National Museum of the USAF, they are far less pronounced.
  11. cdavenport

    cdavenport Member

    Oh, one more thing about surface details. I find designers make the same mistake over and over. National insignia, letters, placards and warnings are either appliques placed on the aircraft or painted on. It really is not a usual thing to see pronounced panel lines underneath especially in modern aircraft. This is even more true as we move towards increasing use of composite structures.

    In older aircraft, what we represent as panel lines are actually skin deformation due to the manual riveting process. You have to get up close to a modern aircraft to see panel lines and rivet detail.

    In fact, this whole argument about panel lines has raged in IPMS for decades. The simple fact is that at the scales we are working at, you cannot see pronounced panel lines on the real aircraft. What really appears is the subtle gradations in color, reflectivity, and metal deformation from one panel to the other.

    In representing a predominantly black aircraft like the X-15, the last thing one wants to do is texture it in pure black. Subtle shades, with pure black used only sparingly, will make the model pop with realism. As far as the rivet detail goes, the X-15 was meticulously hand-made with extreme attention paid to ensuring metal deformation due to riveting was held to a minimum...all for somewhat obvious reasons owing to the research mission of the machine.

    My opinion only and not directions to the guy doing all the hard work!
  12. dhanners

    dhanners Member

    I'm sure Ken will come up with a great-looking model; his track record is a pretty good one and I'm impressed with what he's done so far.

    And while I agree with Maj. Davenport's views on the tendency of some modelers to overdo panel lines (and don't even get me started on "pre-shading") I would posit that there's a difference when it comes to X-15s and rivets. The Jenkins/Landis books contain dozens of photos of the X-15s taken from more than 70 feet away -- many of them air-to-air shots -- in which rivet detail is clearly discernible.

    From a photo standpoint, about the only time rivets aren't visible on the X-15s are in shots taken of the vehicles immediately after they've just rolled out of the factory.
  13. exzealot

    exzealot Member

    Good discussion on panel lines and rivets. :thumb:

    As I mentioned before, my first inclination was to forego the rivets (just like I did on the Thunderjet) for the very reasons Cdavenport mentions.

    But in my opinion, the X-15 is really an exception - especially in the nose section. In fact, many of them are not rivets at all; they are turn-type fasteners for quick access. The model I am building depicts a brand new (un-scorched) rollout where most of the fasteners are not really visable. Most of the rivets will be a very subtle (90 percent black); almost invisible, but they will be there is you look closely (to make the rivet counters happy), but will be invisible as you casually look at the model.

    As far as panel lines are concerned, I use .5 mm line width at 1/32 scale - I found that anything less will blurr in with the black and vanish.

    After I finish this round of design, I will be adjusting panel shades to match the X-15A-2 rollout.

    I have built plastic models for years, and nothing will destroy the authenticity of a model quicker than overdoing the weathering, and over-highlighting subtle details.

    Thanks for the input - it really does help to ensure that this will be the best X-15 model out there!

    Question.... I have several pictures of the A-2 rollout, and it is unclear to me as to whether or not the white "X-15" marking is on the right-hand side of the nose, or a mirrored copy of the yellow and blue NASA arrow from the left-hand side. ???

    Thanks again,

  14. exzealot

    exzealot Member

    Here is a quick experiment to see how the rivets might look. The light gray would be used for the prominent fasteners in the nose and the darker gray would be for those rivets that tend to blend in.

    I may need to go even darker.

    What do you think? Also, ignore the scale - just color assessment.


    Attached Files:

  15. exzealot

    exzealot Member

    The right hand side of the fuselage is finished.

    You can see the change in height of the canopies between models in the first picture.

    The pictures hopefully speak for themselves.

    Keep checking back - it's a 4 day weekend!


    Attached Files:

  16. dhanners

    dhanners Member

    I think your idea of differentiating the rivet colors from nose to tail is a worthwhile one. I think. But it might be one of those things I have to see in practice, though.

    As for my thoughts on your work so far, that crack sound you may have heard was my jaw dropping to the floor. Great work. My X-acto knife is itching to get to this one....
  17. dhanners

    dhanners Member

    I know you're probably swimming in research material, Ken, but some chap over at the Yahoo space modeling group just posted these so I thought I'd supply the link in case you hadn't seen them....


    And it would seem I should retract my comments (and offer an apology) about the corrugated section on the fixed portion of the vertical stabilizer just aft of the "66671." One of the photos clearly shows corrugated detail you had incorporated. In all of the other photos I've seen of other X-15s -- including some of the X-15A-2 -- that section appears smooth, even in close-up photos. Maybe that section was a later addition.

    I guess one thing we all have to keep in mind is that the X-15 was a research vehicle, and bits and pieces and panels of it changed over time, often from flight to flight. I know the markings did.
  18. exzealot

    exzealot Member


    No retraction is necessary. I "think" all of the exterior panels were smooth coming out of the factory. But over time, the internal structures started to show through, and that is what I think we are seeing on the X-15 shown in these pictures. In any case, my early attempt at corrugations was a bit overdone. If I add them back in, they will certainly be toned down considerably.

    One of the quandries I have now is whether or not the external tanks were present at the rollout. If they were, they were bare metal; not the red/white/black version. Since the model is depicted at "rollout", I need to be careful about mixing and matching from pictures taken over a period of 3 years. Another problem is whether or not to replace the NASA meatball/arrow on the RH side with the white "X-15" logo. :confused:

  19. dhanners

    dhanners Member

    If it'd be of any help, I can look through my stuff to see about the tanks at rollout. My recollection seems to be they were a later addition after the rebuild and stretch, and that the X-15A-2 made several flights without tanks. And I'll see if I have anything on the meatball/arrow/X-15 thing.
  20. exzealot

    exzealot Member

    The wings and elevators are attached. I experimented with panel shading on the ailerons (hopefully you can see this). Panel shading will add alot to the realism. It's starting to look like an X-15!


    Attached Files:

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