Chasing Tail

Most people think the V-tail empennage was invented by, or unique to, Beechcraft Bonanza airplanes. Not true. The first V-tailed Bonanza did not roll off the assembly line until 1946. It was in 1930 that a Polish engineer named Jerzy Rudlicki created the first V-tail configuration. He designed the concept of ruddervators. The combined flight control system performs the same function as a tail with a horizontal elevators and a vertical rudder, with fewer control surfaces and slightly less weight. The pilot cannot tell any difference in handling between a V-tail and conventional tail.

Ruddervators are the control surfaces on an airplane with a V-tail configuration. They are located at the trailing edge of each of the two airfoils making up the tail of the plane, and control the airplane’s pitch and yaw.

V-tailed Bonanzas have always been unique and sexy, and easily distinguishable from the ground when in flight. Even a non-aviator will not confuse a V-tail for a Cessna. Pilots who own V-tail Bonanzas feel that they’ve reached the peak of the single-engined airplane pyramid, except for the conventional tailed A-36 of course! Aviators who don’t own a V-tail, aspire to.

 Here is a twin-engine variant of the Beech V tail, a Twin Bonanza built in the 1950s:


 Here is a V-tail on a Davis DA-2A Homebuilt V Tail:


Here is a V-tailed glider, an experimental Schreder HP-11A. This sailplane was built in 1968 according to the mfg data plate. It looks just as sleek today as it did when it was designed.



And finally, here is a photo of the concept aircraft V-tailed Eclipse jet, although it is doubtful if it will ever go into production:


I keep thinking of the Kia commercial with the urban hamsters rapping:

“You can go with this, …..or you can go with that!”

The V-tail empennage configuration is the prettiest and sleekest out there. I mean, would you really want to be seen flying one of these?!?

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