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Single-tail, twin-tail?

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#1 Double T

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Posted 19 June 2005 - 10:57 PM

Am I the only one that wonders what factors dictate a single or twin-ruddered tail in aircraft design?
For example, would the Me110 been a better aircraft with a single tail-rudder... as opposed to the twin-configuration Willi Messerschmidt gave it?
Would be Me262 been more manueverable with the Heinkel twin-rudders?
Maybe a twin-tailed TigerCat in the spirit of the original XF5F-1 Skyrocket?
Would the B-25 Mitchell, or the Lancaster have benefited from a single rudder? Imagine a B-17G with a twin-tail. They could have given the tail-gunner his own ball-turret, aka the B-24 Liberator.
It it simply a matter of styling, or did engineers really gain something by using a single or twin-tail design? In fighters? In bombers?
Just don't change the P-38 Lightning. It is perfect just as it is!


#2 Che_Guevara


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Posted 20 June 2005 - 02:44 AM

Hey Tim,
don´t have some answers for your questions, I´ve another question.

Why did the Mancester have both a twin and a single tail??

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#3 Tony Williams

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Posted 20 June 2005 - 02:05 PM

Single tails are structurally more efficient and create less drag. Twin tails were used for one or more of the following reasons:

1. To provide better low-speed handling in multi-engined planes, by putting the rudders in the propwash.

2. To provide a better field of fire to the rear for mid-uppper gunners.

3. To reduce the total height of the plane (possibly useful in carriers).

There may be other reasons...

Tony Williams
Military gun and ammunition website: http://www.quarry.nildram.co.uk

#4 Ricky



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Posted 20 June 2005 - 04:34 PM

And, of course, the CANT Z 1007bis was produced in single and double fin versions!
(with no identifying mark number to seperate them, either)

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#5 Mark J

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Posted 20 June 2005 - 07:17 PM

Nice photo's Ricky
Can you tell me what harbour they are flying over?


#6 Lightning


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Posted 20 June 2005 - 08:27 PM

Hi Ricky,

Not to get off subject, but that camouflage pattern on those CANT bombers is the most effective I have ever seen! They're hard to see against the surface background even when in flight. I can imagine how well they would blend-in with the ground features were they on the ground.


#7 Romantic Technofreak

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Posted 20 June 2005 - 11:11 PM

Double fins increase the stability of an airplane, by adding fin surface, and the controllability of an airplane, by adding rudder surface. E.g. this supposedly was the reason to convert the Bloch MB 161 from the Bloch MB 160, see our GOT topic:


You also can gain survivability, like when using one more engine, because if one rudder surface gets badly shot up, the other one still may work! In reverse, the double rudder causes more drag.

A twin-tail design generally causes weight and drag. On the other hand, I think the resistance of such a design against distortion can be better than with a single tail (speculative), because it is able to "swallow" centrifugal powers. Also, you gain space!
But, everything double is in any way more expensive than something single. In our times, when economy is everything, double fin designs have a difficult stand.

There are still advantages of the double-tail design that are not too easy to see. E.g., it can turn too accurate AA aiming into a disadvantage:

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or make your plane deal with the situation if the climb rate of your small-built opponent is way too high:

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#8 Ricky



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Posted 20 June 2005 - 11:50 PM

I got the photos from www.finn.it
I simply googled for "cant z" and up they popped.

#9 pmjwright


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Posted 21 June 2005 - 01:12 AM

B-24 Liberator was mentioned above...that's another aircraft line that was built in both twin and single tail versions, the latter being the PB4Y Privateer. Consolidated found the single fin was more stable, so it better met the Navy's requirements for a low altitude maritime patrol bomber.

Seems to me that stability would have also been desirable in a strategic bomber...

And if we're asking the question of single vs twin tails, well, what about 3, as in Lockheed C-69 Connie? Besides its incredible good looks, what performance advantage was there for the Connie to have 3 fins?

#10 Trexx


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Posted 21 June 2005 - 03:46 AM

Great stuff. Seems that you've covered the bases just fine...

The Constellation tail was one of the early projects of the young Clarence Johnson. (Designer of the P-38, U2, SR-71...)

Ever see the movie Alien? The spaceship that the hapless investigators stumble upon unmistakably has a Constellation tail... Check it out. No B.S...

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