Updated: June 20, 2022
About thirteen years ago, I posted the one and only guest blog post on Dedoimedo, created by my friend Mr. D, no puns intended. It featured a 3D model of a giant mechanical spider, inspired by the steampunk contraption from Wild Wild West and the Stargate TV show. Very nice.
A few days ago, deeply entrenched in my recent 3D drawing and rendering spree, I decided to revisit this idea, the artistic part, that is. I decided to create an insect of my own, a large, combat-capable, pseudo-modern yet somewhat steampunk in spirit, mechanized dragonfly. The concept is very similar to Spiderbot, the inspiration largely the same, but with some twists and extras. Well, let us explore, shall we.
Will it fly?
My would-be insect has a multi-segmented body with a varying thickness/breadth, eight legs attached to the torso, a tail section, a nose section (plus would-be pincers), and a pair of wings that ought to allow it to take flight in a manner reminiscent of a typical dragonfly.
Now, I am well aware that an 85-meter insectoid stands no chance of flying in this manner, 'cause physics, but I still thought it would be cool to create a complex gearing mechanism that would supposedly power these wings in an insect-like figure-eight motion. Indeed, the wings (and the articulated legs) were the most complex part of the design. The wings are canted in and forward, with a significant dihedral. The vertical seesaw motion is provided by a giant pair of scissor-like levers attached to the spine of the insect's body, each moving the opposite wing across. The fine oscillation motion, which would provide speed and direction rather than just lift is done by a set of eight cylinder-like levers in front of the main pair of scissors.
In addition to being able to (supposedly) fly, the Dragonfly can also move on the ground, with each leg capable of swinging left/right, back/forward, and to some degree, up/down. Like the wings, the legs have multiple segments, cogs, levers, shocks, and a whole bunch of hydraulic lines snaking up and down. They are also attached uniquely to different segments, all of which adds a bit of color and variety to the model.
Creating a mechanical dragonfly with no purpose would be silly. After all, dragonflies are excellent predators, and so, my mechanical thing has its array of stings and barbs and pincers. I gave it a large pair of "eyes" in the front, in the form of two gun cupolas. Now, there is another cannon barbette on the insect's rear body, effectively forming a "stinger", plus a ventral cupola, which is designed to protect the insect's vulnerable underside. Each of these double-rotating units is supposed to house a quad 57mm autocannon. I went for a somewhat Command & Conquer: Red Alert mix of weapons. I didn't want the stuff to be too modern, but also not too archaic.
You can also see the command cabin in between the "eyes", where four members of crew can sit and control the Dragonfly. They can also shoot a three-barrel 37mm autocannon mounted in a rotating pod under the cabin. Similarly, they can aim and independently fire two six-barrel 30mm cannon fixed to the swiveling pincer-like arms attached to the front sides of the insect's body, giving it a good, all-angle protection and attack capability.
The last piece of weaponry are four 18-tube 220mm unguided rocket launchers, mounted under the front body. They cannot be aimed for trajectory only azimuth, so the idea is to use them for frontal attacks or saturation while moving on the ground. I modeled the launchers after the old Soviet Mi-24 57mm rocket pods, and hopefully, I've done a decent job of it.
A fine line between detail and clutter
Once I added a bunch of searchlights and some engine fans (go figure), my Dragonfly was pretty much ready to go. At this point, I decided, contrary to my typical self, not to overdo it really. I could have easily added more and more engineering elements, like tubing and pipes and cylinders and hatches and guns and whatnot, but I thought the Dragonfly needs some clear elegance - to stand any chance of flying. I also decided not to add jet engines, as this would make it too similar to the my recently completed VSTOL gunship model. We do need a bit of variety, don't we, and a simple model might just be the key. And so, all that is left is to showcase a few more images ...
Now, the same thing, only in different colors:
It is very silly to actually talk and discuss one's own work, and even worse to use adjectives, but I do have to say that this huge mechanical insect slash dragonfly looks a bit scary. There is something primal in humans, which does not respond well to multi-segmented, multi-legged things. We are born to dislike exoskeletal life forms, and even more so when it comes to giant armed mechanical replicas.
Overall, I am pleased with the Dragonfly. It's not my most complex model, and I've not tried to create any faux-realistic apocalyptic scenes with it (yet). I kept it relatively simple and humble, also to avoid repetition when comparing to the previous 3D designs I've done recently. But I might try to make a slightly more complex scene sometime in the future. We shall see. Hopefully, this was entertaining and perhaps even a wee inspiring. Perhaps. See you around, fellas.