Spitfire tailwheel

Discussion in 'Other Mechanical Systems Tech.' started by greybeard, Feb 22, 2016.

  1. greybeard

    greybeard Member

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    "No mark of Spitfire ever had a lockable tailwheel", I read time ago. And I think it's true, since I couldn't find mention of a "tailwheel locking" on any Spitfire manual. Same for Hurricane, btw. On the contrary, all their contemporaries seem that did have lockable tailwheel (and its use was mandatory: e.g. P-47 manual warned about risk of ground loop at takeoff without it) or similar devices (like friction on P-36).

    I wonder why British fighters, and namely the Spitfire, disregarded this gadget.
     
  2. greybeard

    greybeard Member

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    OK! It seems the reason of this odd choice will remain buried forever into Reginald Mitchell's (and Sidney Camm) mind...
     
  3. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    The reason is that that both aircraft were designed for operation from broadly circular grass aerodromes where it would always be possible to take off and land into the wind. This made the need for a locking tail wheel unnecessary (in the eyes of the designers at any rate, ground loops still happened).
    It is surprising that even later Marks of Spitfires, including those with retractable tail wheels, operated from made runways never had a tail wheel lock either. I believe that they did have a self centring mechanism for retraction, but that's not a lock.

    When Bf 109 Es first operated from made or wooden strips in Norway there were so many accidents that a locally devised tail wheel lock was fitted.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  4. greybeard

    greybeard Member

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    Thank you very much for exhaustive answer; they took off according to wind direction, where applicable. I hadn't focused that.

    Also, I didn't know early variants of Bf 109 were devoid of a locking device for tailwheel.

    Regards,
    GB
     
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