The elimination of dead center in the controls of airplanes with thick sections

Thomas Carroll
November, 1922

In several instances where control flaps are placed in the trailing edges of thick sections, it has appeared that a dead center (slackness or lack of control) exists about the neutral position. The condition was also experienced in the rudder action of the XB1A observation airplane. Examination of smoke pictures of the airflow around struts and airfoils indicates what may be the cause of the phenomenon. The streamwise airflow about the thick fin does not follow the surface of the rudder, and consequently the rudder can be moved between the boundaries of the intervening turbulent zone without developing an aerodynamic force. In order to alleviate this condition, a modification was designed and built for the XB1A. The modified rudder was intended to remedy the condition by thickening the section sufficiently to fill in the zone of turbulent flow and thus eliminate the dead center. The positive results of flight tests are given.

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