We were approached by a client who commissioned us to assist in the design and build of a model of the US Navy’s Convair YF2Y-1 Sea Dart from the 1950s.

The Little Jet Company make bespoke large scale replica remote controlled aircraft for those that are inspired by a love of aviation, and had decided to take on the challenge of reproducing this unique sea plane.

The PES Scanning team used our high-fidelity 3D optical scanner to capture data of the 4-metre-long Master Model produced by Fighteraces. The GOM ATOS 3D scanner is impressively accurate. For example, a 600mm measurement volume can produce a 250-micron (0.250mm) point spacing/resolution.

The engineers at PES Performance then began the process of taking the scan data and surfacing this, so that the body could be shelled to the desired thickness. The engineers also used original photos and drawings to ensure the airframe geometry, surface data and structural detail were correctly designed. They also made sure the internal framework was structurally sound and met the client’s specifications.

It soon became apparent to the engineers that the sea plane’s skis were going to be a challenging part of the design. This is because the skis formed both an aerodynamic and hydrodynamic surface i.e. they had to be a smooth surface on the aircraft when it was in flight and also act as landing skis when they were deployed for take-off and landings.

When the skis are deployed they mimic an almost water skier style position. When retracted they raise back into the body to perfectly close and seal the ski well opening. This would have been a huge challenge for the engineers in the fifties, who designed and built the original Sea Dart without the modern technologies utilised today.

Another interesting fact the engineers found was that the original design drawings and the scans of the actual aircraft differed from each other. This shows that changes were applied to the original prototype aircraft during testing to ensure it worked correctly.

Once the entire CAD model was complete, detailed drawings of all the machined and fabricated components were then produced by the PES Performance engineers. This enabled the project’s manufacturing partners to produce all the necessary components required to complete the build of the Sea Dart replica.

The model will include components manufactured from a range of materials, including aerospace grade carbon fibre, aluminium, stainless steels, titanium and other composites.

Currently, the Little Jet Company are in the process of assembling and testing the model and the Sea Dart is due for its maiden flight later in the year.