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‘Tail-less’ and ‘tail-first’ aeroplanes

‘Tail-less’ and ‘tail-first’ aeroplanes


  • The reader will probably have realised by now that the existence of this auxiliary plane – the stabiliser, as the Americans rather aptly call it – is a necessity rather than a luxury, because even if the four main forces can be balanced for one particular condition of flight, they are not likely to remain so for long. What then of the so-called tail-less type of aeroplane?
  •  This type has had followers from the very early days of flying – and among birds from prehistoric times – and although the reasons for its adoption have changed somewhat.
  •  a common feature has been a large degree of sweepback, or even delta-shaped wings, so that although this type may appear to have no tail, the exact equivalent is found at its wing tips, the wings being, in fact, swept back so that the tip portion can fulfil the functions of the tailplane in the orthodox aeroplane.
  •  In fact, it is true to say that the ‘tail-less’ type has two tails instead of one!  More unusual is the tail-first or canard configuration aeroplane.
  •  A most important historical example was the original Wright Flyer, which is generally accepted to have made the first controlled power-driven flight.
  •  Like many early ideas, the canard has recently made something of a come-back (overleaf), and examples are now found for many types of aircraft, but particularly for missiles and highly manoeuvrable fighters such as the Eurofighter Typhoon.
  • A tail in front can hardly be called a tail, and this surface is commonly known now as the foreplane.

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