V-tail is the arrangement of aircraft tail control surfaces. V-tail replaces the traditional fin and horizontal surfaces with two surfaces which forms a V-shape configuration. The aircraft has the same stabilizing forces as a conventional tail system
This article highlights the pros and cons of using a V-tail configuration.
1. Lighter: V-tail-designed aircraft is lighter compared to the conventional tail configuration of other aircraft designs. The under-sized surfaces used in designing the V-tail make it lighter and faster. The configuration has fewer surfaces than the conventional T-tail system.
2. Surface area: V-tail design have a less wetted surface area as it has only two control surfaces compared to conventional aircraft which have three.
3. Reduced drag: Reducing intersection surfaces from three to two leads to the reduction in drag as it eliminates interference drag.
4. Reduces wear: To avoid placing the vertical stabilizer in the engine exhaust, a V-tail configuration is used. This ensures the flow of the exhaust is not disrupted and also reduces the wear on the stabilizer.
5. Increase stealth: The canted surfaces of V-tail configuration reflect radar away from the source leading to increased stealth.
6. Reduce infrared signature: V-tail design allows the engine to be mounted above the fuselage. This helps reduce infrared signature from below.
7. Improve safety: Placing the engine above the fuselage, not only reduces infrared signature but also improve the safety of the aircraft and reduce cabin noise.
8. Better span: A properly sized V-tail have the same wetted area as conventional tail systems. It leads to a better span since the area is spread over two surfaces instead of three.
9. Optimize fuselage: V-tail allows you to optimize the aircraft fuselage and put the aircraft mass lower than T-tail. This makes the aircraft more damage-resistant.
10. Different options: V-tails are either all-flying or removable allowing you to choose one based on your preferences.
1. Cause Snaking: To prevent snaking/yawing, V-tail aircraft need to have a longer rear fuselage compared to the conventional empennages.
2. Induced drag: Making certain movements during the landing of the aircraft, may cause some induced drag. The right rudder aircraft can yaw right and vice versa,
3. Complex control system: V-tail aircraft configurations require a complex control system since the two surfaces of the design have to move together and this can be a bit challenging to pilots used to flying conventional aircraft.
4. Increased load: More load is required to design a robust aircraft compared to designing a conventional system.
5. Require more control forces: V-tail aircraft system requires a lot of control forces in order to effectively operate the aircraft. This makes it difficult for the aircraft to be flown by just any pilot. V-tail designs need a lot of control.
6. Constant fiddling: When using radar in a thermal turn, sometimes the V-tail keeps on stalling and you have to keep fiddling it to have the right differential. If not fixed, it can cause some “up’ elevator effect.
7. Not full flying: V-tails are not full-flying if you’re looking for decalage.
8. Unstable: If the V-tail has the same size of stab + elevator at the top view and the same size in the side view with fin + rudder, then this causes an undersized V-tail and poor stability.
9. Failure tolerance: In V-tail design, it is difficult to maneuver the aircraft if one of the lifting surfaces has issues or malfunctions.
10. Less control surface: In V-tail, there is no control surface that is directly proportional to the desired force vector used in pitching.