My interest is 1/35 scale WWII armor but I’m guessing that this question applies to many other scale model genre. As I was deciding what kit to build I was amazed by the detail provided by kit makers like Rye Field, Trumpeter, Dragon and Takom. The kits provided by these makers with full interior detail are impressive. As I slowly work through the assembly and painting of the many many parts I keep asking myself how it is that these kit makers have acquired the information about the detailed specifications for these parts. And, how is it that they can transform that information into the highly detailed bits, some of which are too small to be securely held by my tweezers. I know enough about CAD software to have some insight into the second part of my question but I would sure like to know how the kit makers acquire the information necessary to produce these wonderfully detailed scale models. Can anyone, including the kit makers themselves, provide some insight into this non-trivial process?
I would guess that they often work as we would with a scratch built project, start with a few known dimensions ( the more the better) & work out the sizes & locations of other components based on these. In other words, educated guesswork. CAD makes it all the easier to make adjustments here & there until everything looks right & we all know they sometimes still manage to screw things up .
Companies send a representative to photograph and measure a tank in some collection or museum to help in the design work. The original vehicle measurements are collected from manuals and design specifications. As the molding capabilities improve so must their accuracy in data and measurement increase. The more precise the measurements the better the engineering and accuracy will be.
I wonder if 3D scanning is also used given the excellent details of today’s kits?
I’m sure it is along with the other things as mentioned.
My late brother in law owned a heavy equipment company and was often invited to shows hosted by the manufacturers- chief among them Caterpillar.
Snoopers from other manufacturers had graphic cameras with grids in the lens and laser distance measurement capability so the images could be scaled and entire machines planned and built . I would assume that the same technology is available and used by kit makers.
On the other hand I watched a video about Model Factory Hiro , a Japanese company that makes exquisite multimedia kits of vehicles and they work largely from photographs in books.
I am just guessing but if I was to build a scale model to manufacture I think I would find a set of blueprints from when they built the original. That kinda information is not to extremely hard to find and the blueprints would give you most everything you need to build a detailed kit. Maybe some of the newer kits might use some 3d scanning but it’s pretty expensive and you would have to have the tank to scan ( not always easy to find ). Blueprints seem to be a more cost effective way to go.
Well watching the TV series on Yesterday (the TV channel) over this side of the pond about Hornby the owners of Airfix, if they have a new subject they want to have as a model they send a team to a museum with 3D scanning equipment, they also work from photos, measurements etc and combine the results.
Blueprints need to be transferred into the CAD-system. Blueprints for manufacturing of the real things need to be interpreted to figure out the outside shape of the real thing. Consider a gearbox, the housing is made of more than one part, smaller covers, bits and pieces are attached to the housing. The various bits and pieces are spread over several blueprints and those blueprints are full of internal details.
Lots of manual work to convert the blueprint into a shape that can be moulded in styrene.
A 3D-scanner feeds into the 3D-design system. Add some semi-automated tweaking of the scans and the shape is ready. The gearbox in the example above can be completely scanned in less than an hour. It would take many hours just to get hold of all the relevant blueprints …
Here’s a link to the Hornby episode on Youtube which includes how they go about designing a model, although in this case it’s for Corgi.
I’ll go back to my original question regarding WWII armor kits with a full interior. There are levels of detail in those kits that can’t have been derived from photographs or 3D scanning. Parts are hidden inside other parts. And the accuracy required to generate a scaled reproduction of the actual part seems like it would be difficult to achieve from anything short of actual design and production drawings. I have to think that this kind of information must be available, although perhaps not widely or publicly available. I’m also thinking that this same information is being used by those that are restoring vintage vehicles. This work often requires the machining of a replacement part from scratch. I think this could only be done with production drawings in hand.
The Hornby video provides some good insight into the thought process and desire for accuracy that must be driving many of the model makers. That video focuses on the production of a die cast reproduction. I imagine the work and discussion related to the creation of a 1/35 or 1/16 scale model would be considerably more complex.
So a couple of thoughts, I spent time in several archives and museums doing research and internships during college. I’d see them make various items accessable via requests to researchers. I’m guessing many museums still do the same, a rep of a company contacts and says “we are doing a kit of a tank in your collection, can we make arrangements for a detailed study?” Remember a museum’s purpose is education and preservation and display. Thankfully we aren’t modeling a 5000 year old mummy but a chunk of machined iron so the eisure of a trained professional detailing nuts and bolts and photographing is much different than say academic research on the pitch used on a 2000 old viking shop recently resurrected.
These same museums usually are a treasure trove of technical manuals also which they typically have had transferred (I’m dating myself) to microfilm or fishe to provide as needed at a nominal cost. That’s how I ended w two Rolls of 8th AF operations records courtesy of Maxwell AFB back in the early 90’s for my senior thesis when completing my bachelor degree oh so many decades ago.
I think we tend to think it’s overly difficult to obtain the info as the general public doesn’t get to crawl around. But like in my case when my dad was still alive he volunteered at the Naval Air Museum in Pensacola and hung out w several of the volunteers in restoration. When I went to visit we hung out in the hanger for a few hours and those guys let me crawl thru everything to my heart’s content so sometimes getting info is a matter of “knowing a guy”.
You’re probably right MontanaHunter. Just because this information is not readily accessible does mean you can’t get your hands on it. I’m guessing most museums and archives are very happy to give access to their information to those that are interested in their collections. In a sense, that is why they they exist. There purpose it not to hold information but to share information.
I doubt there is a single answer. My guess a combination of original blueprints. Hands on measurements and 3d scanning. The likes of RFM simply put more effort into their research. The amount of research is often reflected in the end price. But in the short time I’ve been modelling AFV in 1/35 scale I’ve come to realise that even the best companies have cockups. And to be fair I doubt there are many ‘as built’ subjects out there to research. But that’s where the after market guys come into their own. There’s few excuses now days.