F/A-20A Hammerhead

A while ago a Royal Danish Air Force Lieutenant Colonel, “TIB” Guilbert, contacted me about making a prototype stealth fighter to demonstrate a concept he described as being a small, but very maneuverable jet fighter with limited stealth capabilities. I did several drafts and kept the project going as a fun pass time when I wasn’t teaching or working with hard deadlines. During June / July 2022 I discovered there was a possibility to implement the model I had created in MS Flight 2020 – and now it’s almost fully functional – it’s lacking a few things in the cockpit, but exterior wise it’s pretty cool – even comes with thrust vectoring and multi rudder controls. Needless to say the Lt. Col. is very happy with the result 🙂

You can check out the F/A-20A Hammerhead exterior test here, as long as you forgive me for being a super bad pilot when I’m steering the plane from that angle

Thrust vectoring and multi rudder controls are functional! 🙂
Modding MSFS is easy in the beginning, but then it gets super detailed and the SDK support is a little flaky at this point ( it is getting better by every update though ).

The aircraft design itself is based on the YF-23 ( you can tell by the pelican tail ) the F-16 ( small size, big engine ) the SR-71 ( the chines around the nose ) and the F/A-18 both in multi rudder functionality, but I also had to lend a great deal from the F/A-18 in MSFS to emulate a jet fighter, especially the afterburner. – and finally the F-35 ( thrust vectoring idea from the B model, nozzle design and the diverterless intakes ). Here’s a few sketches and pics from the development process:

One of the final concepts of the Hammerhead, seen here in “beastmode” with exterior weapons mounted and a Su-75 looming ominously behind it!
A very early concept blueprint
Fusion 360 render after CAD modeling was done ( note the small droptanks – these were later increased in size to hold 300 gallons each ).
Early concept with a very short airframe, this was lengthened ( but only to 12 meters / ca. 39 feet ) which makes the jet extremely agile, but shortens its effective range significantly, hence the droptanks and conformal tanks that are present in most images and videos of the aircraft 🙂
Speed painting of the jet in a FOB ( Forward Operations Base, basically a highway with a fuel truck ) – the silly characters are part of a cartoon universe I’m creating that also uses the jet – you can find out more about that here

Here’s a preliminary study on how the control surfaces would work in conjunction with each other:

3D printed version, I really wanted to know if I could make a DIY kit that would allow users to print their own, paint and display it as a model at home – the landing gear was the hardest part, but it works 🙂

PLA print with airbrushed camo scheme – decals are “stolen” from an F-16 model.

I also did an airflow study, sadly the digital wind tunnel was only able to emulate relatively slow speeds, so the study only really shows that the design would generate lift while on the approach ( which is ofcourse, a good thing 🙂 ):

As you can tell – the canards are missing here, they were added later to ensure the high level of maneuverability that the Lt. Col. requested.
There’s still a few things that need fixing before the jet can be released on the MSFS 2020 marketplace, but hopefully during 2023 it will appear as an item on there 🙂 – naturally we want to syncronize the release with the other related merch and the board game, so stay tuned 🙂

I’ll leave y’all with a short desert test flight 🙂

Low and fast 😀

Geospatial photography

I’ve had the good fortune of being invited to help out on projects with Phase One for several years now and for some time now I’ve been working on the iconography for their iX Suite. What is it? – it’s the exciting world of aerial photography, a field that makes perfect sense for the high quality cameras and software developed by Phase One and I’m honored to have worked on the GUI for their new airborne products. A new challenge in this project was working with both the Danish and the Israeli branch of Phase One during Covid. The challenge led to some pretty intense “live” Adobe Illustrator sessions on Teams, luckily humour and jargon is shared broadly between the involved offices 🙂

Always be learning right? – an additional challenge in this project was the color guides laid down by the Federal Aviation Administration ( FAA ). Which is really an expansion of signal colors, for instance: Red ALWAYS signals critical system or emergency in an aircraft interface, pilots are trained to scan the instrument panel as often as possible and any red in the interface / instruments will prompt them to act immediately. Yellow is a warning, brown! means the ground ( blue is sky ofcourse ) … And the Phase One camera faces downwards, so in the beginning it made sense to have the interface background be brown when not using a rolling map. But the pilots interpreted this as the aircraft pointing nose down, so back to the drawing board 😀

The iX Suite comprises 3 programs which are:

iX Plan: Route planning software, what area to capture and what overlap tolerances are wanted ( particularly important when there’s a risc of coulds in the area ) – putting an aircraft somewhere to capture the landscape below is expensive and missing part of that landscape because of a cloud or missing overlap is even more expensive..

iX Flight Pro: The onboard software that helps the pilot and camera operator stay on the planned track and make sure the aircraft attitude remains within defined tolerances ( yaw, pitch and roll ). The pilot has a small display that is mainly information, whereas the operator has a larger display where things can be altered and images previewed.

iX Process: The camera is a an oblique camera which means it consists of multiple single cameras, in this case 6, 2 pointing straight down and 1 set at an angle forwards, port, starboard and aft. That means that the amount of pixels captured is immense. So much so that the hard drives onboard the plane needs to be physically removed and delivered to where they’re going to be processed. So Terabyte amounts of data.. iX Process helps sort through the many many images and allows the user to discard possible poor quality captures.

I’ve learned a lot working with Phase One over the last 10 years, this project was particularly educational in a good way and my thanks goes out to Søren, Anatoli and Oodi for being such great and talented guys to work with 🙂

below is the official product video:

Phase One iX Suite

Oh boy! New toy!

So a while back I posted about the ship I designed for Eve Online and the article got a bit of attention. Enough for a fan to make me aware that a third party SLA printing company named Mixed Dimensions are now selling the Eve Online ships as scale models. Naturally I had to get the one I helped conceive and whad’ya know, it arrived today, Hussah, my very own toy! – You too can pick one up by vising their website here.

Some time further back I was also made aware that the ship stars in the Valkyrie spin off from Eve, you can see it several times in the youtube film below. As a science fiction fan I am thrilled to have been a part of the process, hopefully more space ship projects will come along in the future 🙂

Posted below here is a quick photo of the toy standing on the poster I received when the winners were selected, along with CCP team member signatures. If I wasn’t motivated to get my hands on a resin printer before, I surely am now, just look at that quality – it even does surface colors 😀

SLA Gallente Talos ship with Work in Progress poster signed by the art department from CCP

Phase One XF Camera

This is really an old story, but still a case we’re quite proud of. The XF camera and the digital back created by Phase One are among the leading products in mid range photography and our ongoing interaction with Phase One lets us be part of the creative process, at least for the Interface part of their brands journey.

We’ve been working closely with the hardware team for well over 8 years now and the XF Camera / iQ digital back series is just part of the exciting products we’ve helped develop user interfaces for.

The adventure isn’t over and we hope to be able to reveal more exciting cases from Phase One in the near future, but until then, the official commercial for the XF Camera will have to do, enjoy 😉

XF Camera and iQ digital back, we helped device the UI