Landing Warbirds and Tail-Draggers…

Warbirds require careful control at landing. 2-Point better than 3-point!

Landing Tail-draggers takes some practice!

This article excerpted from the Model Airplane News blog.

In general, our models are not difficult to land. Even most of our “heavy-metal” warbird models are so lightly wing loaded that they really don’t qualify as a “difficult” to land aircraft. However, even though they don’t have high wing loading, the fact that many of them are tail draggers makes this the “trickiest” class to land so we will focus here.

So, what qualifies as a good landing with a tail-dragging warbird? To me, it is a nice, 2-point touchdown with no bounces and a controlled rollout. The most common mistake we make, as modelers, is not carrying enough speed when landing our warbirds. Just because the wing will fly down to a walking pace does not mean that is the speed we should land these models. Landing too slow will cause the bounces and uncontrolled rollout previously mentioned.

I will first address airspeed. I like to land my models about 5 to 10mph above stall speed. This keeps enough airflow traveling over the vertical fin and rudder to control yaw on touchdown as well as over the horizontal stab and elevator to keep enough pitch authority to minimize bouncing.

The next point of conversation is the attitude of the model. Unlike the 3D aerobatic planes we want to come in with the nose fairly level. Try to avoid coming in nose high like a jet fighter. This just leads to trouble.

The third bullet point would be the flare. Since we have ample airspeed to keep the plane flying the flare is going to be more of a leveling out. I like to flare at about 6 inches above the runway. Once I level the plane off at this altitude, I will pull the throttle back to idle and allow the plane to slow. As the wheels get to the point of contact with the tarmac I will slowly release the back pressure on the elevator lessening the tendency of the tail to drop which creates a positive angle of attack of the wings, which will ultimately lead to the model taking to the skies again unintentionally.

Once the main wheels are solidly on the ground, I focus on my rudder control and be sure to keep the model tracking as close to the centerline as possible.

Read the whole article on the Model Airplane news website!