If you want to make a really awesome gunsight for your DCS World flight module, I will show you how I approached the challenge for the Community A-4E. The gunsight pattern depends on the Collimator model used in the particular airframe. In my finished vector file, I still have the capability to tune certain details of the gunsight, namely the line weight. It seemed crucial at an early stage when working in a team, I want to have editing capabilities in case someone sees a discrepancy.
Here you can see the existing reflective sight. An excellent placeholder, but I’d like to make sure we have something that matches the original.
Research the Original, Scour for Reference Photos
In the case of the A-4E gunsight design, I really lucked out, with some incredible footage I found in a Youtube video which I was able to grab with some screenshot software.
Librascope Reflector Gunsight used in early Douglas Skyhawks
In the early fifties, the Librascope Co. designed a Reflector Gunsight that was used in the early versions of the Douglas A4D Skyhawk. This Sight had been in production since about 1953 and the quantities manufactured probably numbered into the thousands. Up until 1969, only a few subtle changes had been made such as, moving the turn and bank indicator up to the bottom of the reflector plate for improved visibility and changing the reticle pattern (probably partial instead of complete circles, and vertical and horizontal radii). In 1969 major changes were made in the mils depression knob, reflector plate support strut, locking lever, etc. by the Naval Avionics Facility, Indianapolis, Indiana. They produced a number of kits for modifying the old sights to the new configuration. In 1970, these changes were incorporated into new sight production.
Jackpot! Got Lucky with IRL Video Footage
Finding a clip like this seems awfully lucky. With an aircraft from the sixties, we’re really pushing the limits of what’s available as far as video. This youtube video has several seconds of really close footage where the gunsight fills most of the screen. I took screen captures of this video at key points and placed those reference shots directly under my vector illustration.
Next Up: Part II Transforming the Reference to an Editable Vector Illustration
In my next addition to the series, we look at how to transform some of the reference screenshots into an editable vector. Creating a vector illustration makes the resulting graphic more precise, and the tools allow us to constrain important angles. We’ll import the reference, and create some guides to help plan the angles. Since some of the markings have different widths, we can use ‘stroke’ thickness to really fine tune the look after the initial layout gets drafted.