Cessna 02 Cockpit — Looking Slightly Askew

Having decided to build a proper simulator panel in the style of the Cessna 02, I began serious homework duties. If you wanted to build a 172 this would be easy, peasy. You'll just download an accurate panel template and start work. However, if you really want to build something altogether more interesting, then you are faced with many dilemmas, such as attempting to fathom as accurately as possible the panel width, height and shape.

As you can see the 02 panel is really three panels. There's the main panel, the lower switch panel which is set at an angle below the main panel, and a shock panel carrying the more delicate flight instruments which is set about half an inch clear of the main panel on the pilot's side. The shock mounts are bolts threaded through rubber cushions.

To accurately assess the true panel dimensions you must have something of known dimension to work from, and for this I used the only measurement possible — that of the standard Cessna large instruments which have 3 1/4 inch bezel width.

This dimension is useful, but you will find very few pictures of cockpits that are taken head on and I could not find one anywhere. For some reason the photographer always takes pictures of the cockpit from an angle and this skewed view means that you cannot easily gauge the true panel dimensions by using multiples of the known measurement of the bezels.

I imagined that it was about 3 inches wider than my maximum cockpit width and somewhere around 10 inches high so if my imagination was correct then I knew that I must scale down a little to fit. This would mean that I would also be forced to scale down the instruments too. Maybe three inch bezels rather than 3 1/4...

This worried me endlessly.  

I settled on a panel 40 1/4 x 9 1/2 inches. 

Then started work using a high quality pine plank sourced from a set of old bookshelves. The curved top was created with little bit of paper that was placed on the computer screen to trace the outline of the only fairly accurate plan view I could find. That supplied by a RC model maker!

This was eyeballed onto the plank. It was close enough!

The first curve was cut on the bandsaw above the drawn line leaving a bit of extra wood to play with when shaping later. Then a cardboard template was cut to shape around it, flipped over and the shape drawn on the other side. This shape was cut and then the panel was painted with household emulsion in the same grey-blue colour used for the ever evolving flight sim currently occupying the cockpit space.

The result was OK. But I couldn't help feeling that something or other was wrong. Just a little something but an important something looking slightly askew.

Never mind. The truth will out as it always does...


Popular Posts