Simanaitis Says

On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff


PIONEER AIRCRAFT MODELS are fun to build on the computer. Not just sleek shiny tubes, they have everything hanging out to admire. My rendering of Henri Deutsch de la Meurthe’s 1911 Blériot Type XXIV is an example of this, indeed, to a fault in more ways than one. Today in Part 3 of this saga, it’s occasionally back to the drawing board, er, computer screen, because of conflicting data, inexplicable GMax limitations, and the propriety of fleur-de-lis designs.

Rendering Necessities. Modeling an aircraft calls for at least two decent views: top and side. GMax has a construction viewport for front as well, though wing camber and, occasionally, wheel placement are the only criteria not easily determined in front and top views.

Image from Jane’s All The Worlds Aircraft 1913.

Sources: Some Bulletproof, Others Not. My primary (and most bulletproof) drawing of the Blériot Type XIV came in a side view from 1913 Jane’s All The World’s Aircraft. Alas, this authoritative source offered no top view.

Another source offered a top view, but proved misleading. In particular, it showed a single-bank rotary engine, a square floor plan for its cabin, and control hardware for the rear stabilizer. 

Early on, I caught the first two of these. Its engine text agreed with other sources: a Gnome two-bank rotary, though the drawing shows a single-bank engine. Also, though my model initially had a square-floor cabin, this conflicted visually with the rare photographic evidence. 

Window proportions contradict the square floor plan.

A Russian Source. Another source also misled with the rear elevator and single-bank rotary—and only two windows per side. The Google Translate version of its caption didn’t offer illumination.

Its caption reads, loosely, “Four-person Blériot XXIV. Many researchers say this plane is the first airliner in history. On February 4, 1911, it sent 10 people aloft. After that, it got named air bus. Though not a regular airliner, it was used for ‘flights.’ ” 

I caught my model’s faux rear “elevator” only when writing yesterday’s Blériot Limo description. (It’s easier to delete GMax details than originate them….)

Here’s my current Deutsch de la Meurthe Limousine, rendered with GMax for Microsoft Flight Simulator.

A GMax Limitation. Rotary engines are fun to model, as they rotate with the prop.Their GMax construction is aided by its cloning and rotation operations: Model a single cylinder, its head, its pushrod, its spark plug, its wiring and its intake and exhaust, then clone and rotate for the other cylinders.

The Blériot’s twin-bank, 14-cylinder, air-cooled rotary. Its rotational trick is 51.4 degrees, 360÷7, then 25.7 degrees for the second bank.

Everything went fine until the model was well along. Then, when adding Henri Deutsch de la Meurthe and his daughter Suzanne, I got a dreaded GMax “mdl not found” error and a failure to compile.

Henri’s daughter Suzanne, 1892–1937, continued support of aviation, worked as a volunteer nurse in World War I, and is remembered for restoring Moy-de-l’Aisne, a war-torn French village.

 A good head-puzzler: Various combinations of Henri or his daughter would compile, but both and the complete plane nada. Human forms are multi-faceted, but I had never reached a GMax limit on elements. 

Aha. But its “prop_still” and “prop_slow” objects each involved the complexity of an animated 14-cylinder rotary. Replacing the “prop_slow” with a simple rendering solved the problem. 

My Personal Fleur-de-Lis. What with Rothchild coachwork and all, opulence seemed warranted for the Deutsch de la Meurthe cabin. However, my Internet search turned up fleurs-de-lis for sale or licensed use. Rather than given Henri a scammed wallpaper, I set out to fabricate my own.

Initially, I tried sketching a fleur-de-lis, but this proved well beyond my artistic ken. But GMax came to my rescue: Its Primitive Shapes include cylinders, the shapes of which can be proportionately deformed, transformed into accessible vertices, with unneeded ones deletable.

Above, my GMax fleur-de-lis. Below, the cabins’s fleur-de-lis wallpaper.

I copied my fleur-de-lis to Paint Shop Pro, where multiplication and placement yielded the cabin’s wallpaper.

When I started GMax time-gobbling, I never realized its widespread applications. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2021 

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