While working on the FSX MDL reader for ModelConverterX I came across something interesting. I had some models that showed up a bit weird to say the least. It turned out that I was reading both their exterior model and their shadow model. But wait, did you say shadow model there?
In the MDL format it is possible to define a special shadow model, with its own vertices, triangles, etc. For complex models this can be used to improve the performance, by using a less complex model for the shadow calculations. In the FS2004 format this was also possible already now that I think of it, but it was not a very accesible option. I am not sure if it is easier to add your own shadow model with the new gamepack, I can’t remember seeing much about it in the SDK. Maybe this can be a nice new feature for ModelConverterX later on.