P-59 Airacomet : America's First Jet Fighter [updated 13/06/2006]

P-59 Airacomet : America’s First Jet Fighter

http://img99.imageshack.us/img99/9205/fronthighrightfinal6kg.th.png http://img106.imageshack.us/img106/3307/frontlowleftfinal9no.th.png

“The P-59 was the first US jet aircraft. Developed in secrecy, its genesis came at the personal direction of Gen. “Hap” Arnold. Bell Aircraft was chosen for the project in part because of its location near the General Electric engine plants in New York and Massachusetts. Aircraft flew almost exactly a year after development began. To ensure secrecy, the XP-59 was fitted with a dummy propeller whenever it was towed on the ground. Col. Laurence C. “Bill” Craigie became the first USAAF pilot to fly a jet when he made the type’s “official” first flight on October 2, 1942. First jet flight made by a USN aviator came on April 21, 1943, when Capt. Frederick M. Trapnell flew the XP-59 at Muroc AAF, Calif. The 412th Fighter Group became the first USAAF jet fighter unit when it was formed in 1943 and stationed at Bakersfield, Calif., and then later at March Field, Calif. This unit primarily served as a jet pilot training unit. The P-59 was never a great performer and was quickly overtaken by development of other jet aircraft, mainly the P-80 Shooting Star. Only in operational service for about a year, the type was phased out of service by 1949.” (source: http://www.military.cz )

The Sighting:


"During the test program, a formation of P-38 Lighting, on a training mission over the Mojave Desert was overtaken by an Airacomet. The P-38 pilots were puzzled when they saw the plane with no propeller. Stranger still, the Airacomet pilot was wearing a derby hat and had a cigar in his mouth. After a few seconds, the jet pilot tipped his hat politely and pulled away from the formation. This was the first time that Air Force personnel, except for a select few at the test base, had ever seen a jet propelled airplane. " (source:http://www.aviation-history.com/bell/xp59.html)
Reference picture: http://img65.imageshack.us/img65/8936/p38lightingformation3ky.jpg

I decided to give the plastic model idea a try and it turned out really nice. Here is the HDR Yafray render. Thanks for the idea :slight_smile:

Old Comic style picture:

I modeled the plane using references from The-Blueprints.com and from the few available pictures on the net of this aircraft. I started modeling last sunday. The bump map and color map were made using a combination of inkscape and gimpshop. The final renders were made in Yafray and took about an hour each. I’m planning future renders and a few scenes (and maybe an animation) which I will post in this thread when they are complete.

You can follow the progress of the creation of this model in the Focused Critique Thread: http://blenderartists.org/forum/showthread.php?t=67974

Thanks for taking a look and feel free to post your opinions

realy nice modelling and texturing… i think the shadows are really smooth :slight_smile:

great work

Thanks a lot Narven. I’ll post the new compositions as soon as I’m done with them in this thread so expect some more stuff to come it

I’ve added the first of my composition resulting of the use of my model. I’ll post the others when I’m done with them of course. I’m not going to beg but I’d really like some feedback and comments on this work because I’ve put a lot of effort in this one and I’m getting an odd feeling of inexistence

I’ve added another of my post pro compositions in the first post.

Overall it’s very well modelled and textured.

Though the panel lines are way too think and only a bump map. Maybe model some of the larger panels into the fuselage so they look like they are actually there. Try and scale down the line weights for the others and it will really help. Depends on what size your texture map is though too.


The map is about 2000pixel wide. I had already double it’s size from a similar comment in my Focused Critique thread. I think the width comes from the UV map layout in blender. The nose area is a bit small so it probably due to stretching. I’ll remember that for my next project (probably the P80)

I was looking at your chattered UV map and I’ll try learning a thing of two from your work

Thanks for the reply BgDM

I really love the color map you have there. Did I miss info on whether this is supposed to be a lifesize or a modelsize plane? To me it looks modelsize, but the rope around it suggests it is supposed to be lifesize.

One thing are the tyres/tyre covers and the landing gear. They look really perfect-CGI-flat. Even a random bumpmap would help IMO.

Hey slep!

Are you planning on using that in any animation or project? That would be freakin’ sweet.

Very nice. Im a big fan of ww2 aircrafts. Question though, how did you go about doing the panels? Is that a texture? If so where do you get it at?

RJii>> Thanks. The color map took me a while but I’m very happy with the result. Especially the nose art. It sorta ended up in model style because I didnt get into all the tiny details and the bump map is too thick. I’ll work at a highter texture resolution next time (2000x2000 looked big at first)

JoeSchmoe>> I have a vague idea of an animation with the plane in mind. Probably some airshow style thing or something of the like. I’ll see after my exams are finished

P51: The panels are made using a bump map. You can’t find it anywhere because I painted them myself in the Gimp and it depends on the UV map of my model. they are lossely based on the blueprints I had from : http://www.the-blueprints.com/

I was thinking maybe a dogfight or something. but do what you want.

I have added a model size render of the plane as many of you suggested. I must say it turned out great :slight_smile: