Confused by the V-Tail? This article is for you.
This edition of the Flite Test Aerodynamics Simplified series is all about that weird arrangement of tail feathers you see on some unusual looking airplanes.
Why are V-Tails used?
The simple answer is that they can be more efficient than a conventional tail. This is because there is generally less surface area needed for a V-Tail (you have two surfaces cutting through the air, not three).
You might see V-Tails used on high-performance models, such as slope soaring or discuss launch gliders. Gliders with V-Tails can slice through the air just that little bit better when they have less draggy surface area.
How do they work?
As we all know, a standard tail uses the rudder for yaw and the elevator for pitch - so how do V-Tail arrangements achieve these two functions?
Conventional Tail Rear View
V-Tail Rear View
For the elevator, when the stick is pulled back, both ‘ruddervators’ deflect upwards much like on a normal elevator (just think of this one as having an upward bend in the middle of it). For pushing forward on the stick, as you might imagine, the ruddervators both deflect downwards to make the airplane pitch down.
(Rear view) Pitch up:
With the rudder, a right rudder input in the V-tail will lower the right ruddervator and raise the left one. This causes an up and left force from the right tail surface and a down and left force from the left surface. The effect of this is that the tail will be pushed left.
(Rear view) Yaw left:
Combining both the elevator and the rudder will, as with a conventional empennage, cause the plane to rotate around the yaw and pitch axes.
(Rear View) Yaw right and down slightly:
We hope you found this article helpful. Make sure to give it a thumbs up if you learned something!
Article by James Whomsley
Editor of FliteTest.com
YouTube Channel: www.youtube.com/projectairaviation