The cockpit III
 
After drawing up the instrument panel on paper I transferred that to a piece of litho. Using a pipe punch I stamped out all the holes for the various instruments, cut out the separate panel for the autopilot and applied rivets. I made a template to get all the screws that fasten the instruments right. A couple of placards were also glued on.  Than the whole was painted in a satin black paint.
 
           
 
Now for the fun part. Putting in the lights, knobs, text, etc. For the warning lights on the right hand side of the panel I used pieces of LEGO. The colors of those building blocks are very nice. I cut small rectangles with the Dremel and then filed them to size. For the small lights I cut tiny pieces of clear plastic tubing. In Holland there was a rage amongst kids last summer called Scoubidou. They braided these plastic ropes to bracelets, keychains etc. I used some of these plastic ropes for the lights.
Some of the instruments have knobs to make adjustments, like the altimeter, the autopilot, the clock and horizontal gyro. I made those out of styrene rod. The toggle switches were made with soldering lead. I'll come back to that later.
 
Finding good pics or illustrations of the instrument dials proved to be a hassle. I thought that searching the net would provide ample examples, but it didn't turn out that way. There are companies that sell instrument dial decals but they are usually of a bigger scale, like 1:4 or 1:5 and the instruments are more modern. Others I found were drawn in black and white and that looked fake.
Until I stumbled onto a flight simulator website. There is a whole, previously unknown to me, world out there where people are very seriously flying the Microsoft simulator. Many volunteers around the world build planes and paint-schemes and landscapes and provide these, mostly at no charge to the flightsim community. I found pictures of people who had recreated entire full size cockpits in their home with working instruments, yokes and throttles all linked to their computers. There are on-line air traffic controllers that monitor the planes flying on-line and giving them directions. Fantastic!
 
Anyway, I found a site called www.dc3airways.com and they had a screenshot of a DC-3 panel drawn by a fellow countryman of mine, Jan Visser. I contacted him and he sent me a high resolution file with these instruments. I printed those in different scales and cut them out.
The black panel was glued onto a piece of plexiglas with the same shape and behind the plexiglas I glued all the cut-out instruments. This sandwich was glued onto a piece of plywood and presto, a C-47 instrument panel that looks not bad at all. I'm happy!
 
 
 
 
  
 
This is how it looks in the cockpit.
 
The overhead electrical panels. The panels with most of the switches for lighting, and all other systems, prop feathering, etc. First I made a roof lining from litho and on that came the 2 "slant eyed" panels, also from litho. I again use a scan from the original C-47 manual and combined it with a good picture of an actual C-47. I drew the lay-out on paper and fixed that onto the litho. Then I marked the position of everything by pushing a pick through the paper, leaving small indentations in the litho. After filing of the "rivets" that formed on the backside of the panel, I sprayed them in the same satin black as the big panel. Then both were fixed to the overhead liner.
 
               
 
 
I drilled small holes through both the panel and the liner where the  switches had to come. These I made out of soldering lead. I just happened to have the kind with a resin core, but the other kind will work the same. Heat up the end with a cigarette lighter and the moment the lead melts pull back the flame. That way you get a tiny droplet of lead on the tip. Cut it of leaving a bit of stem and there's your switch. Put them through the hole and glue with CA. You can put them in the of or on position before the glue hardens.
 
        
 
The ammeter and voltmeter were stamped out with the pipe punch and glued on. In the middle between the 2 panels is the magneto switch. I again used a piece of soldering lead for these switches. A small end was pinched between a pair of pliers  to get the stripes of the pliers in the lead then turned it 90 degrees and pinched again.
The head liner was contact glued to the inside.
 
 
  
 
The DC-3/C-47 has sliding side windows on both the pilot as well as the copilot side. I wanted mine to slide as well. Therefore I made a frame with brass U shaped strips with the U being 2 mm wide. The perspex is 1 mm so even if there is a small curvature in the frame the window should slide easily.
I taped 2 strips of the brass in the right width onto the worktable and glued a wide piece of litho onto them. This gave a very sturdy frame. The litho bit will not be seen in the cockpit because it will be behind the cockpit bulkhead in the cargo/radio-officers space. I had to sand 2 flat bits on the inside of the fuselage to get the brass U's to fit comfortably against the inside. I had to bend everything a little bit because of the tapering of the fuselage. When that was done I glued the frame with CA to the inside.
The perspex window was put in and sanded until the front fit exactly to the front window rim. It slides like on roller-bearings. I left the protective film on for now.
 
 
           
 
 
Update March1, 2005.
 
The cockpit forward bulkhead. Again this was covered with the insulating material. So that goes on first. There are usually various items mounted on the bulkhead. This differs between each plane. I chose a fire extinguisher, first aid kit and an oxygen regulator for the captains side and a load adjuster and oxygen regulator for the copilot's side. The oxygen regulator was easy. I have a couple of plastic modeling kits lying around and I found something that with a little adjustment and painting would resemble the regulator.
The load adjuster, which originally has a leather sleeve is again made out of litho. The fire extinguisher was made from polystyrene rod and some litho as was the first aid kit.
 
Later on there will be oxygen masks and headsets hanging from the bulkheads. These come from 2 beautiful action figures I bought. These are in scale 1:6 so they will have to get plastic surgery to make them smaller and fit the cockpit and I have to make them civilians. They are now WWII RAF fighter pilots So some things have to change. But their oxygen masks, peaked hats, sunglasses and maps are perfect to use with some minor modifications.
 
I will use their flying caps to cover the base of the steering column. Pics come later.
 
 
 
  
 
           
 
 
 
 
 
  
 
The side of the copilot's bulkhead houses a variety of objects. A couple of placards, a looking glass for the hydraulic fluid, a filler for that fluid, a valve, and 2 big levers. Again I used some items from the plastic kits. They are not 100% but come very close. Close enough anyway. The side was of course made from litho as well as the placards and the panel.
 
 
     
  
 
In the corridor leading from the cockpit to the passengers cabin are a couple of shelves and a small table for the radio operator. The shelves are for stowage of luggage and private stuff of the crew.
Than there is a bulkhead with a door to the pax cabin. I will make that a closed bulkhead. The door won't open. I'll explain why. I cut of the front of the fuselage and that has to go back on again sometime. It has to be epoxied back to the rest of the fuselage and that has to be done from the inside with glass cloth. When I start on the pax cabin I will make another bulkhead and space the two app 2-3 centimeters apart, leaving just enough room to apply the cloth and use a brush to get it epoxied. The bulkheads don't go below floor level so that leaves me  a small space to work from underneath. I might have to break or at least dislocate my wrist but it will work.
 
But now the shelves. Litho again. The topside of the shelves has a plate with a lot of lightening holes. I made a paper form and spray glued that onto the litho and punches it out with the pipe punch. I tried a couple of holes first to find the correct strength with what to hit the punch and to use which material underneath so it would leave a nice inward edge. The underground was straight MDF and the strength........... Find out yourself. some bends for glueing and some rivets and this is the result.
 
 
        
 
 
It's almost a shame to paint.
The shelves were also made from litho as well as the standing column. The last 3 shelves that go towards the forward bulkhead will come in later and painting will have to wait until the end of the week. My aerosols were all empty and I had to order some more. I will also have the table and the rear bulkhead ready by then.
 
 
   
 
 
Here is the bulkhead between the office and the pax cabin. I made the edge around the door with soldering lead glued with CA. I first scratched a small hollow where the lead should go and then bent it in. This gave a nice straight edge. Add some rivets and it's ready for painting.
 
 
Update, March 14 2005.
 
The new aerosols are in. That changes a lot.
 
     
 
In the mean time I started on the inside crew door. I chose not to make that it opening. Why I don't really know. Maybe I'll regret that later, we'll see. Anyway it is bare aluminum on the real plane so back to the litho. It has all kind of text written on it in Swedish painted by hand so that's what I did also.
 
     
 
The cables are made out of wire and painted them white. When the paint was still tacky I used my dirty hands and some steel wool filings to make it look old. The door-handles are made out wire.
 
It was time for the flight crew. There is a very limited choice in pilots in scale 1:8. Most of the suppliers and manufacturers make them larger, like 1:5 or 1:4 and some in 1:6. Even then they are mostly made out of plastic, or latex and need to be painted. Not only the face but also the clothes and accessories. I wanted something more real and dived into the world of action figures.
There are a lot of people out there who collect these action figures. Let's call them the grown up's Barbie dolls. I was amazed with what I found, not only the quality and detail but also the variety and especially the darker side of this. Apart from a lot of military figures from WWII like soldier, sailors and airman, there are exact replica's of people like Hitler, Himmler, Goering and their friends. Not easily found on Google, but the stuff is there and I find it a little scary.
 
Anyway, I found a company called Blue Box Toys. These people have a fantastic aviation collection. From WWII up to the present day. The detail on these figures is unbelievable. They all come with a lot of acessories like parachutes, guns, watches, sunglasses and what have you. Unfortunately no civilian flyboys so I had to modify something.
 
I went for 2 pieces of Keith Gordon, RAF pilot in WWII. I chose these because they had a uniform I could change, nice acessories like a peaked hat, watch, map and oxygen mask. I bought these in Holland through Toys Unlimited. Check out their site and you will see what is offered by other manufacturers as well.
 
  
 
The only drawback is their size. They come in scale 1:6 and I need 1:8. That means the figures are about 7 cm to big so they need plastic surgery, hehe. I stripped them naked and using a Dremel saw blade cut their arms legs and body into pieces. I felt like Frankenstein and had a ball!
 
       
 
I glued the pieces together with 5 minute epoxy because they didn't fit very well and that glue is thick as molasses and bridges large gaps. All the joints still work so I can position the boys any way I like. I christened them Keith, the captain and Gordon, the Co-pilot.
 
The uniform was "civilianized". I cut of the breast pockets and belts and shortened the trousers and jacket arms. The RAF insignia were painted over with gold paint and I added 4 gold bars for Keith and 3  for Gordon on their shoulders. The crest on the peaked hat I painted gold and the visor gloss black. I had to cut of the shafts of the boots because of the length of the leg. The only thing I couldn't change was the size of the heads. But it isn't very obvious that they are a little to big.
Because the heads are exactly the same I went for some optical tricks to get rid of the likeness. Keith got the peaked hat and silver sunglasses, Gordon's eyes were made brown, I made him a headset with boom mike out of the speakers of their original soft flying cap with the boom hiding his chin and mouth and gave him a gold colored pair of sunglasses. I also accented the lines around his nose and gave him an very, very slight hint of a mustache.
 
        
 
The boys are fastened to the seat with a screw through the seat bottom and up to where the sun doesn't shine. That should hold them in place!
 
Oxygen masks came with the dolls. The seat-belts I made out of elastic band used for sowing. I soaked the band in tea for 24 hours and had it lying on my workshop-floor for a couple of days. I made sure that I stood on it as much as possible. It looks nice and old and a little bit scuffed.
 
The hardware I made out of wire and litho.
 
I also made some sleeves to go around the bottom of the steering columns using the boys' leather flying caps.
 
     
 
Keith I put in the flying position: left hand on the yoke, right hand on the throttles, Gordon is in charge of communications and navigation. He holds a map of Scandinavia (thanks to Blue Box) in his right hand and with his left he fiddles with the switches above his head.
 
So gentleman: CHOCKS AWAY and READY FOR TAKE-OFF.
 
 
 
 
Please Email me at:
dc3@propellor.tv