Designing in CAD
Time is high for a little update, so lets get right into it.
Progress on the LiteFighter development drives on, with the immediate goal to get the fuselage for the P40 fully clad in aluminum and ready for the next step. It's a multi-front effort to get there, CAD is being done at the same time as parts are being made and fit. Since this is an initial build prototype, there are a lot of things that are being figured out on the model first, then worked back to the computer. I suppose the best way to cover what's going on is to dive into each aspect and go to brass tacks.
Being a CAD guy, I enjoy dealing with the 3D modeling on this aircraft project. And I enjoy taking a design from the screen to the workbench. But having gone through plenty of design over the years I'm getting to be more pragmatic with what needs detailing and what doesn't. In some cases its quicker and just easier to cut parts out by hand. But there are still a lot of parts on this thing where the accuracy, complexity, function, or visual detail of the parts, really do justify the time taken to make sure everything is fully realized in the CAD model first.
As the 3D model was originally made when we intended to have a fabric-covering, some stuff has been done in the real world and then I've had to backtrack those parts into the CAD model.
As things progress, the windscreen frame and tracks are likely the next parts to be fabricated so I've had to spend some time coming up with a decent set of geometry. Actual construction of the windscreen structure was a subject of discussion, and while there's undoubtedly some great ways to do it, we settled on a method we already knew and liked from the Hellcat mockup; using 1/2 inch steel square tube. It's easy to bend and form, and to weld into a single structure, so while we can revisit the concept in the future, for now it's simple and its strong and it works.