Using Rhino to Model Printable Replica P-51 Mustang Engine Parts


Hi Rhino Users;

I would like to share a bit about my hobby. I have used Rhino for 10+ years, and still consider myself a “perpetual beginner” because I haven’t really mastered the software. I would say the same about using Brazil, which I use to create decent looking images of our upcoming house renovations. I wish I knew more about both softwares, but perhaps one day…

Still, I do get very good service out of Rhino. I run a 3D printer at work, a good industrial one that laser-melts nylon powder into large, strong parts. When there is unused room in a build, I add parts for my work colleagues, and for myself.

Here’s my hobby; I have most external original parts of a Rolls-Royce Merlin V-12 engine, the one that powdered the Spitfire, Hurricane, Lancaster Bomber, Mosquito and P-51 Mustang. I am also missing many of the large castings, like a complete cylinder head and cylinder block, the large heat exchanger that cools the fuel/air mixture after it’s been supercharged, carburetor, etc. Since these original parts are scorchingly expensive, and I have access to a printer, and I like 3D modeling challenges, I thought I’d try modeling these parts and printing them. So far, so good. I’ll attempt to upload a few photos of my printed parts, but as this is my first attempt on this forum, it may not work as planned. If you don’t see any images, you can see my whole album of printed parts here;

Remember, these are all modeled, quite painstakingly with Rhino (and sometimes in SpaceClaim software), corrected in a software called “Magics” by Materialise, and then printed, FULL size.

Cheers and discuss if you wish to. Tom, Ottawa.


Good job. I see you used a 3D scanner to capture the original parts. For missing parts, do you use Rhino creating nurbs surfaces based on original designs? How do you return to the meshing tolerances between mesh and nurbs? (If you can answer naturally)



Hi Simon;

Thanks for “stopping by.” I use any dirty rotten trick that gets me CAD
Merlin parts that I can then print. The V-drive, that V-shaped lump sitting
at the front of the engine,which controls propeller pitch, was reverse
engineered using rulers and photographs only. I did take my company’s
scanner to Vintage Wings in Gatineau Quebec and capture decent scan data of
the aftercooler box, and the valve covers. I had previously scanned my one
cylinder bank and head at home.

To try and answer your questions, I cannot guarantee the accuracy of these
parts at all. If I am lucky to have some scan data, I use Rhino to create
3D models, while they exist in the same 3D space as the scan data in the
Rhino desktop. I just switch the scan data on and off when I want a visual
check of the new model’s accuracy. I personally wouldn’t know a nurb from a
fuse box, but I can easily check, visually, if the 3D model that I am
creating, is very close to the scan. I can also do that in Magics software
(by Materialise) which is a robust software for working purely in the stl
world. It Booleans items where Rhino sometimes fails, which happens when a
model becomes too complex, or perhaps full of my errors.

I hope that sheds some light on my process, but bottom line, Rhino is
critical in this process, as is Magics, and other tools.

Cheers, Tom.


I understood the workflow. Thank you for sharing.