P-38 Lightning

Previous thumbnails…

Re-working an old model to take advantage of Blender’s improvements over the last couple of years. Currently improving the mesh and remapping UVs.


Looks great! Really like the panel work.

Ha, ha… seriously… you make real panels? Very nice work. Love to see this beauty finished soon.

Making panels actually makes many things easier. I greatly simplifies UV layout and each panel’s topology can be customized for its needs (as opposed to having lots of edge loops all over the place.)


Great work as always! Do you put anything behind the gaps between your panels to avoid seeing through to the other side at certain angles?

Very nicely done!very detailed,and accurate. looking forward to seeing this textured!

I try to tighten gaps where I can, but when I can’t, I often put a flat black object inside to prevent light from going through. I’m still working on fixing the old geometry. Hopefully the gaps will get smaller over the next few days.

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Little gaps - lumpiness can add to realism. On some photos of airplanes is visible bumpiness, even on modern airplanes. Texture will make surface more even anyway. Couple months ago I watch one video where dude talk about this topic. He make uneven surface around every rivet and this bumpiness spread across entire panel. He say that this even have specific name. Anyway this is visible only in super close look, with specific angle and light. From “normal” distance airplane look smooth, only there and here are visible some break in reflection. btw. he make modern civil airplane, so WWII military airplane for sure allow much more “freedom”.

Going to give this a try on a little BD-5 model I started yesterday. Maybe I’ll revisit the F-86k panels after that if I have time.

Learning about shrink wrapping panels onto an underlying base mesh changed everything about my modeling. Of all the techniques I’ve come across, nothing has come close to being as significant as cutting panels on a shrink wrap model.

do you mean this one

Cg master / avoid pinching

can you explain the things on top of hull ?

nice work

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I agree 100%, I’ve made quite a few models now that would’ve taken months prior in about three days with shrinkwrapping. I wish I learned that skillset a lot earlier in my Blender career. Still, ya live and learn!

I’ mhappy to see you’re getting more confident with your modelling!


Good luck with the BD-5. If you have time, I think you might enjoy paneling your F-86. One of the nice things about using individual panels (instead of bump maps) is there is no limit to the resolution. Close-ups always look crisp.


Yes, that video shows the technique I use to cut panels.

The thing on top of the P-38 boom is a turbosupercharger. Other countries used their own versions of them, but this particular type (made by General Electric) was used on many U.S. aircraft.


interesting video

would be interesting if you make a high res model for this turbo charger

turbo charger are still use today on most diesel engine and there are list
of advantages and disadvantages

still very useful for high altitude on air planes

happy bl

They were great in hotter climate. In europe they self destructed due to icing and the P38 was replaced as a recon aircraft by Spitfire, even for the USA.

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here is a link explaining the turbocharger thing


it would be interesting to make a new thread for models and explaining these
turbo or super charge ventilators LOL

happy bl

Ricky, Thanks for the link to the supercharger article. Interesting stuff. This model will have a pretty detailed version of an Allison V12, so there may be more engine talk later.

Alain, thanks for the link to the Spitfire video. It was a great story and I really enjoyed it. I think “replaced” might be too strong a word for P-38/Spitfire usage. P-38’s served in all theatres of the war from beginning to end. I think it is fair to say that every combat pilot’s favorite plane will be the one that brings him home. The pilot of the recon Spitfire had very justifiable reasons for loving that plane.

general notes from wiki

the P-38 accounted for 90 percent of the aerial film captured over Europe
In the European Theater, P-38s made 130,000 sorties with a loss of 1.3% overall,
comparing favorably with P-51s, which posted a 1.1% loss

in EU mostly used for photos - still very important data gathering.

The turbo was limiting the speed of response as a fighter which was recognize by the UK but not the US
I mean some people can’t stick to the facts !

note: there was a lot of bad decisions made in WWII
for whatever reasons
relying too much on older technologies which was changing almost
each month !
but this could take another thread to elaborate on.

looking at WWII lost on wiki i got the airplanes losses

    loss  airplanes

Germany 76 000
UK 42 010
Soviet 106 000
US 94 000
Italy 5272
Japan 35 000 to 50 000
Netherlands 81
Poland 398
France 892
China 2 468
Finland 603

Total 339,724

happy bl

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What I’ve always thought of as the Achilles heel of the P-38…its engine…

I really wish they had gotten a Merlin installed in 38’s. I think that would have been as much as game changer as it had been for the P-51.


the US military wanted to build large group of engineers in Aviation stuffs
and this during war time may have been another mistake and it costed billions of dollars

another example was the design of the B-29 costed like 3.5 billions in 40’s
what a waist of time and money

for the P-38 there was a lot of design problems took years to settled these
it worked fine in 1945 but before that just another experiment on how to waist money time and lives i think

can you show some dimensions just to get an idea
may be compare it to the merlin engine too if you can
i can sent you a rough model of the merlin let me know

happy bl