Notes on the stalling of vertical tail surfaces and on fin design

Thompson, F. L., Gilruth, R. R.

A discussion is given of the important aspects of the stalling of vertical tail surfaces. The type of instability encountered is described and the possibilities of inadvertent occurrence are noted. The influence of directional flight tests on the behavior of a airplane when the tail stall takes place is discussed. In this connection, flight tests of a twin-engine airplane in which the vertical fin area was increased are cited. The reasons for inadequate directional stability in certain modern designs are accounted for and the properties and applications of dorsal fins are discussed. In addition, the chief factors regulating the requirements for conventional area are given, in which connection simplified criterion for directional stability is presented. It may be concluded that the stalling of vertical tail surfaces is not in itself a dangerous condition. Provided sufficient directional stability exists at large angles of sideslip, the tail stall may occur with modern airplanes, as with those of the past, without the knowledge or concern to the pilot.

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