Firefox MIG-31 movie aircraft

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Firefox3D

Well-Known Member
Hi all,

Been a lurker here for a while, created a new account as couldn't remember my old one!

Always loved the Firefox plane after seeing the movie at age 14 in '82, thinking someone has got to do a kit of it, but it never happened. I picked up a Studio 2 kit many years later, but it was miles off right. I contacted Kurt at the thinkinrussian website about it and he kindly supplied me with 2D plans he had. Spent some considerable time working those into accurate vector (Coreldraw) drawings to make slices to build new sections for the Studio 2 model. In doing so realised how bad the Studio 2 kit was and after a week or two of work building a new nose and new engine section, realised how much more was wrong and gave up on it.
Was further disappointed that the other Firefox model here http://www.therpf.com/showthread.php?t=681 never made it to sale

So decided to take matters in my own hands and build an accurate model myself. In trying to create isometric drawings from the 2D plans I realised they were probably only a quickly drawn starting point for the model builders since areas from the side to top and bottom views didn't actually line up, not much out but certainly not a finished plan. I think they were the plans drawn that appear on the table when Baranovich is talking to Gant about the plane, "Remember to think in russian Mr Gant, you cannot think in English and transpose, do you think you can do that", yes I have watched the film a few times...

So have spent many, many hours with screen grabs from the bluray release, a very useful early copy of Cinefex magazine, and some excellent photo quality movie pics picked up from good 'ole ebay. I was able to get enough references so I could see where it needed tweaking. There are not many places in the film where you get a true flat top, side and bottom views and you hardly see the back at all, but luckily there are some good reference pics from Cinefex, not sure I can post these here?
It is possible to "fix" some images by perspective correcting in Photoshop so you can get at least get an accurate front to back or side to side relative dimensions.
Once I was happy that it was about as close as I was going to get without an original filming miniature to hand, I started a 3D model.
Had been using Google Sketchup for other work so was fairly competent with it, and there are so many incredibly useful plugins you can do just about anything you can do in the more expensive packages easier and possibly faster, certainly cheaper.
I still have a way to go, most it it past where the wings meet the fuselage is just roughed out at the moment so I can get the same view as reference pics and clear screen grabs and overlay them. In doing so realised I probably didn't need to spend so much time on the 2D plans as there were still parts that were not right when viewed in 3D, live and learn.
I'm hoping to be able to 3D print most of it as I invested in a 3D printer for other prototyping work, and had wanted one for ages anyway, so was a good excuse :)
As it's a 3D print it can be any scale really, but want a big sucker so going for 1/24 which makes it about 31 inches or 80cm long, still tempted to do a full 1/12 63" studio scale one, but I don't know where I would put it.
I have done a couple of test prints of the nose, which is a bitch to get right, and having it in my hand helped me see where it was still slightly off, so have made adjustment and I am confident it's pretty damn close to perfect, tell me what you think.

Few screengrabs showing the starting 2D plans and where I am currently, last one shows the canards swung back, which you see for all of about 3 seconds in the film, but looks cool.

Thanks

Jon
Firefox plans.jpgFirefox 1.jpgFirefox 2.jpgFirefox 3.jpgFirefox 4.jpg
 
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JediG60racer

Sr Member
Cool! A few years ago someone put in the time to make a movie accurate model, but then had some tragic family circumstances arise which precluded him from taking it to kit form to share with us. I still have all the pictures saved of his work in progress.

Would love to see a well done, accurate kit made of this incredible plane.
 

Firefox3D

Well-Known Member
Yes, I saw the thread about a year or so ago when I discovered the RPF. I was following a thread on the construction of the model kit the same guy was doing on scale model aircraft forum, which was before he did the 3D model. I guess after the family tragedy he just didn't have the time to work on it. I did try to contact him from his old website at the time but got no reply.
 

Firefox3D

Well-Known Member
Thanks for the encouragement, I actually have to finish this as I promised Kurt at the thinkinrussian.org website I would do it as he has wanted an accurate model for years like me.

Was trying to get the model in exactly the same alignment as one of the clearest screenshot points in the film, couldn't quite get it spot on. possibly never will as there is probably a small degree of lens distortion going on that I can't correct for, maybe a bit of perspective bend in Photoshop might do. Anyway I can tell the arse end is not quite right, which I kind of knew. But can see what needs altering now, I think the top of the engine section needs a bit more curve to it and and the rear mid section needs to be lower in relation to the engine pods.

The sweep of the wings doesn't line up quite at this angle but they do match with a plain top and side view so I guess it must be perspective distortion, and yes the tailplanes are definitely not right yet. The front nose shaping also look slightly off here but again they line up with other less distorted shots.

Firefox comparision.jpg
 
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rbeach84

Sr Member
Aye, you're getting very close now! Canted tail 'feathers' have been biting draftsmen for ages; look what Monogram did with their F/A-18 kit (1/48 scale) - too short top fins. At least the landing gear will be easy! IIRC, they used F-4 Phantom landing gear for the 'full scale' prop... keep up the good work.
R/ Robert
 

Firefox3D

Well-Known Member
Hi Robert,
Yes, I too am a total nerd when it comes to to Firefox info :), already have the F4 undercarriage courtesy of a free to use model from 3Dwarehouse, just have to get it the right size as the drawing wasn't to scale. I couldn't find any model of the Phantom that had been produced in 1/24 to use as a donor, only 1/32 I think by Tamiya and maybe Revell.

I think the ejector seat was from the same plane, not sure if I read that somewhere or assuming it. I know some of the cockpit display parts were from an F4.

Thanks Roboto, there are some fantastic free plugins out there, the one that has proved the most useful is Curviloft which will build meshes from curve to curve or skinning by selecting an outline, example below. The blue object was built from selecting the outline then just clicking skin.
Firefox curviloft.jpg
The wings were built in a similar way, create cross section slices and then skinning in between, took quite a few attempts to get the starting slices right though. You could build something complex real fast if you had the outlines of the slices through an object like a loaf of bread using this tool.

Jon
 
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Firefox3D

Well-Known Member
Did a test print to check some new filament. Discovered you can't print super thin edges to wings, partly a limitation of the print nozzle and partly the slicing software. Couple of other glitches which was caused by me wanting a fast print so there was no infill or overhang capture hence the missing bit top of the canopy.

The second pic makes the relief from the printing look worse than it really is, I know after a light sand and primer coat it smooths out.

DSCF0469.JPGDSCF0473.JPG
 

Martin-El

Well-Known Member
Jon -

What you've done already looks amazing and I sincerely wish you every success with this, my grail piece that (not unlike yourself by the sounds of it) I've been disappointed/let down by time and time again. I also owned the Studio 2 and while I enjoyed the scale the nose was so completely wrong that whilst trying to modify it I managed to ruin the kit completely lol.
By the rendering of the nose/cockpit alone you've convinced me you're the right guy to see this through so I hope it goes all the way to kit as I will be the first in your queue. While the 1/24 would be ideal I can't help thinking one roughly 14" would look great in a Detolf.
I have been building a picture file of this plane (though there's so little out there) for some years and would like to share it with you even if you have most of it already. I also just noticed you're in my hometown!!
Please keep us updated and anything I can do to help shout me up - lets get it done this time..!
 

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Firefox3D

Well-Known Member
Hi Martin,

I just had to look up what a Detolf was, thought it was some sort of acronym I hadn't heard of - my brain came up with DETailed Oversize Light Firefox!

The model can be printed any size, I started off building it at 1/24 in software, then realised it was easier to make little adjustments with it full size. I scale it back down to print as I think it makes it easier for the printing software to handle.
The 1/24 scale was partly because it's half the 1/12 studio scale ones, and details such as panel lines should be printable, still need to do some testing for that. Also details such as the thickness of the cockpit frame and the engine intake vanes come out almost exactly 1mm in 1/24. I have done test prints around 1/32 scale that still looked good, a 15" or 1/48-ish one should work.

I will set up a photobucket (think that's the one?) album with some of the rare pics I have accumulated, including my Studio 2 rebuild pics. I have done many web searches going back quite a few years, but you might have something useful I don't have.
 

Martin-El

Well-Known Member
Jon -
Your version of Detolf sounds far more interesting to be fair, lol.
As the cabinet of choice for most collectors displays these days I thought you may sell more kits with buyers knowing in advance they can display it.
That being said, sign me up for both that and a 1/24 :)
I know its early days but you should also consider a helmeted pilot figure. Will's was nice but the proportions made it look a bit cute.

Anyhow - here's a link to everything I've collated over the last 10 years -
https://www.dropbox.com/sh/63mprs4azkw3lbp/AABKOC6ifPDFhajWRWW1ZE2fa?dl=0

Much of it is random but things like the only surviving example of the large miniature at the WB museum is worth having. You'll also see my Studio 2 buildup having passed it over to a really talented painter friend of mine. The finish was great but I'd sanded the nose down to the point where it was too soft to save.
And has thinkinrussian.org closed? Couldn't find it at all during a search last night.

Anyhow - hope this is of some use and do keep posting your progress here knowing you have your first order in place :)
 

Nwerke

Master Member
This is fantastic. So pleased to see another accuracy-focused FF build at long last! Great work Jon, and heck yeah for 1/24 - or 1/12, even more so.

You should be able to print the wings with a pretty acceptable edge, for 1/24. I'd print them in a vertical orientation with the leading edge downwards, probably using raft and maybe putting a sprue between them for stability. What machine and slicer software are you using, and what's your nozzle size? Obviously, the smaller the better for thin pieces.

Same history here - Firefox tragic since I was 15. I think we pretty much all obsess over the stuff that was cool when we were that age for the rest of our lives. FF is an itch I need to scratch, dammit. :)
 

Firefox3D

Well-Known Member
Hi Martin,

Thanks you for the WB Museum pics, really useful, had no idea it was there. It would be a bit of a trip for me to see it, bugger....
Do you live over there now and take those?

They have confirmed one thing, that there is a small taper on the bottom flats of the engine section after the undercarriage doors towards the exhausts. It's not much but one of the big poster prints I have show it also, it's so subtle I thought it was camera lens bend.
Talking about the engine exhausts in the first pic it almost looks like they are made from painted cardboard as they are so thin and warping with time

Have posted a variety of pics, there are a few organized subfolders, I cleaned up one of your pics - the polaroid of someone with the studio model outdoors as I thought it was worthy of a better look.

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0Bz-XCi-Q52kXeE1ONlFLUHhjUTQ?usp=sharing

Don't like to criticize any ones work but Wills Gant pilot figure was a bit off in proportion, chances are he would have reworked it I think. I hadn't thought about the pilot figure yet, maybe I can find a similar "donor" model to work on.

An X-wing pilot might be a place to start but has anyone done one?

Hi Nwerke,

Excellent avatar btw :) Been reading the thread about the studio scale Narcissus you are involved with if I have that right, haven't got to the end yet!

Have a working partner/friend who lives just inland from Brisbane, haven't been over to see him yet, but he has been to the UK a few time, he came from here originally about 20 years ago.

Printer is RepRapPro Ormerod 2, seemed to be the case if you didn't mind having to build it yourself from a kit and the fettling/swearing involved setting it up, and a few cheap mods afterwards, you can print as well as something 5 times the price.
Also I know if anything goes wrong it's easy and inexpensive to fix myself. Plus the build size is pretty big, in fact I am going to mod it so I can print up to around 40cm high, currently about 19cm max.
Did some fettling today, changed the cooling fan to something that doesn't sound like an aircraft on takeoff, and installed custom firmware which has added some really useful print controls so you can change the print speed and extrusion while printing. I think it also runs smoother and tracks corners more accurately now.
Have been playing with software, Slic3r seems to be the only one that works 100% with my printer. There are some plugins for Cura 14.01 that will work and I briefly tried KisSlicer, but they both causes some scary mad actions with movement that had me rushing to hit the stop button!
The latest experimental version of Slic3r does seem very good, has just about all the features you could ever need. I was tempted to buy Simplyfy3D, but a couple of people have reported issues with the Ormerod due to it using relative extrusion, which is also the issue with Cura.
I have only been printing about 2 months so am still learning, things like silver filament looks cool, but is a bitch to get to stick to the bed, probably whatever colouring makes it silver also makes it set slower and behave more elastic than other colours. It printed a 1/32 test Firefox nose pretty good, there's a pic in the 3D print folder.

Currently running with the standard 0.5mm nozzle, I probably will get a 0.3mm as I think at 1/24 scale it should be possible to do enough detail for the cockpit, hopefully.

The test print was done as two pieces and glued together. The seam is around halfway through the canards, with the seamline being the base of the print for each piece. I do have the canards super thin, at the thickest point where they contact the body they are about 3mm max vertical thickness. You get a bit of flex there, but they are strongly attached since they are part of the print, and you wouldn't have the nightmare of trying to glue them on level!
Beefing them up a bit will work, even it they require a bit of smoothing by hand to the edges. Could possibly leave hollows to push something like 1mm round steel though to give more stiffness?

Printing the main wings shouldn't be a problem as they are not razor thin, and it's just the case of orientating the print so subtle/shallow angle changes don't happen from one layer to the next as it can look ugly, such as the shoulder or top of the head of a figure.

Haven't mentioned this yet but planning on having an aluminum subframe for the 1/24 as I think it will need it, especially if someone wants a landing gear down version. Essentially a round or rectangular section tube front to back, with a cross spar that lines up with the rear landing gear bays, that way all the landing gear will go into metal.
 
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Firefox3D

Well-Known Member
Just looking at the WB museum pics now and can see the canards are drooping with age

.... aren't we all :)


This isn't particularly relevant but the ice landing model built by another team is different in subtle and a few major places.

The canards are much lower down and the side windows deeper and wider, it could be an illusion but the body section looks a bit thinner also, that could just be the fact it's not a composite shot so there's no edge bleed. Also little surface detail and looks almost black.
 
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Martin-El

Well-Known Member
"Firefox tragic" is a great term lol.
I wish the WB pics were mine (I would've shot hundreds more!) but apparently its part of a VIP tour where photography is not permitted so those are the only proof I've seen. Did you also notice the helmet in the acrylic case below? Really pleased that still exists.
As far as the miniature is concerned I'm amazed it's still in such good condition although Jon you have a very keen eye for all the idiosyncrasies which is really encouraging-
For the pilot base figure I would suggest looking at '60's era astronauts as Gant's helmet was a modded NASA one as I recall...
 

Firefox3D

Well-Known Member
Hi Martin, if you are not too far away you are welcome to pop round to see the work when I am further along.

I did see the helmet, I hadn't thought about it but it does look like the ones the X series test pilots wore. Did have a quick look for pilots and found a free to use X-wing pilot which might work as a starting point.

Spotting the idiosyncrasities is just a byproduct of starting at pics of the plane, yes "Firefox tragic" does seem very fitting, LOL
 

Martin-El

Well-Known Member
I'm in the Tyseley area so would love to see it when you're further in if that's ok :)

Just found this - not news exactly but some decent shots of the clamshell and a positive ID -
http://www.michaelmcevoy.net/flight-helmets.html

Thanks for all those great shots from your archive - the Atari game is surprisingly well-rendered. Do you have the Japan Program? There are some nice shots I can scan up for you from there...
 

Firefox3D

Well-Known Member
Unbelievable, you are about 3 miles from me, I am in Great Barr.

The Atari games pics were screenshots from playing the game on a PC emulator called MAME, is that the one you mean?
I think I lost it with a hard disk crash. It was hard to play even with a games controller as I could never get the calibration right. Loved it in the arcades, had top score on one in Newquay when I was on holiday, remember getting looks of respect from some older girls in the arcade who must have been watching me play, was going to act all suave then I stood up out of the game and discovered they were about 6 inches taller than me. Decided just to act cool and leave...:facepalm

I think Atari must have either guessed what the back of the plane looked like, or just couldn't be bothered with the tricky bit between the engines.
 

Martin-El

Well-Known Member
It gets weirder -
I was born & raised in Great Barr lol.

Seen pictures of the Firefox arcade game but never saw it in real life - probably for the best as I'd have to have been wrestled out of it :)
I'll scan some pics of the Jap Programme and post them up.
 

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