The typical scale tail-dragger looks great both in the air and resting on the flightline between flights. But it does require a different technique to take off and land compared to a tricycle-gear airplane. From sport planes and classic civilian aircraft to warbirds and fighters, where the little “steering” wheel is in back behind the main landing gear, the tail-dragger configuration remains very popular. Though the tail-wheel has very little effect on the model’s flight performance, the landing gear configuration does make takeoffs and landings much different from planes with tricycle (trike) landing gear. Here are some of the basics to help tame your tail-draggers and improve your takeoffs and landings.
DIFFERENT TECHNIQUES The major difference between a tail-dragger and a trike-gear model, is the relative position of the model’s main landing gear with respect to the position of the center of gravity. With a trike, the center of gravity is forward of the main wheels and, when you land the model, it should touch down on the main wheels. The nose then remains level or tilts slightly downward, until the nose-wheel comes in contact with the ground. This in turn decreases the wing’s angle of attack and helps to keep the model on the ground. With a tail-dragger, the center of gravity is somewhere behind the main wheels and so after the main gear touches down and the model begins to slow down, the nose slowly tilts upward (the tail comes down) until the tail-wheel or tail-skid comes in contact with the ground.
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