WW2 fighter aircraft wings

Non-naval discussions about the Second World War. Military leaders, campaigns, weapons, etc.
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WW2 fighter aircraft wings

Postby paul.mercer » Mon Apr 09, 2018 5:39 pm

As you know the Spitfire was built with what I believe were called elliptical wings, whereas almost all fighter aircraft on all sides had conventional rounded wingtips and even the last Spitfires has the end of their wings 'clipped', was this an admission that the original design was not as good as it might have been?

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Dave Saxton
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Re: WW2 fighter aircraft wings

Postby Dave Saxton » Tue Apr 10, 2018 3:21 pm

The P-47 and the Zero had elliptical wings.

The clipped wings versions of the Spitfire was done to increase the rate of roll. The Spitfire without clipped wings had a slow rate of roll, which put it at a disadvantage against the FW-190, particularly. The FW-190 had the highest rate of roll of any WWII fighter. Even the clipped wing versions of the Spitfire could not match it.

Other advantages of clipped wings was a reduction in drag, and a much quicker response to the controls when changing direction. Fighters need to cut a balance between stability and instability to be capable of rapid air combat maneuvering. Stability makes them easier and less fatiguing to fly, but it also makes it slower to respond to control inputs.

The main trade off of clipped wings was less lift and higher wing loading, which in turn would reduce the rate of turn, possibly the rate of climb depending the power to weight ratio, and certainly increased the stall speed and reduced the allowable angle of attack at stall. The clipped wing versions would be less forgiving to fly, requiring greater pilot skill and experience to attain the best performance compared to the elliptical winged versions.
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