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Spitfire Ground Handling?

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, dburne said:

 

Fully agree.

I cut my Spit teeth on DCS first as I had it before IL-2's Spit came out, and taming the ground handling was quite a chore.

I eventually got it but it can be a handful getting used to it.

I had zero problems with the IL-2 GB Spit , in fact when I fly PWCG I use cold start and taxi to runway missions.

 

DCS Spit requires constant braking and seems to have very low reponse to airflow going through rudder. Based on what Zacharias has been explaining for months now, I tend to prefer IL2 Spit ground handling, though it has its own quirks

Edited by kalbuth

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Taxiing the Il2 Spit is childsplay compared to the DCS Spit IMHO. I still struggle with that one with the takeoff after month of trying to get it right. Landing her however seems easier than the one in IL2. Im no expert, but I doubt that this DCS behavior would have passed official acceptance. I find the IL2 Spit more in the line for of average pilot skills.

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9 hours ago, cellinsky said:

. Im no expert, but I doubt that this DCS behavior would have passed official acceptance. I find the IL2 Spit more in the line for of average pilot skills.

 

My thoughts exactly. "Hey there, new recruits. Behold, the mighty Spitfire. Most of you are going to get killed just taking off in the thing, but those of you who manage the feat will have a delightful time flying it."

 

If the real thing was anything even close to DCS behavior, someone, I'm sure, would have insisted on a few ounces of cable and a pin for a tailwheel lock. In a war of attrition, the last thing you want to do is lose half a fleet of your fantastic flying machines to taxi and take-off mishaps. Not to mention the pilots you've spent months training.

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Posted (edited)
On 3/16/2020 at 2:20 PM, ZachariasX said:

Not on these aircraft IRL. If you use brakes for things other than a gentle full stop, you are not able to operate them, lest get them airborne. These aircraft are from an age where GA aircraft didn‘t have wheel brakes at all, hence using them for your purpose wasn‘t even intuitive. Besides, you would burn your brakes in just a couple of sorties.

 

 ...

 

This is why you don‘t pass antique mechanics to just anyone, even though they might be simple. They are just not what you‘d expect it to be today.

 

 ...

 

I really don't understand these statements, are you a taildragger pilot or even a mechanic?

 

Concerning Klaus Plasa's test flying of Flugwerk 190 built by GossHawk:

"WN: How does the FW-190 handle in comparison to other WWII-era fighters you have flown?

KP: Similar to a Mustang in terms of stick and foot forces, whereas cockpit visibility from a Mustang may be just a little better. Compared to all American fighter airplanes, the biggest difference is the cramped cockpit space due to its tapering fuselage cross-section which makes shoulder and headroom almost touching the structure. The ground handling characteristics of the airplane are rather docile due to its wide track landing gear design (again, similar to a Mustang). The brakes which differ from the original drum brake design, modified by GossHawk to [ed.Red Line] disc brakes, make the airplane handle on the ground without difficulties."

 

http://warbirdsnews.com/warbirds-news/fw-190-flight-gosshawk-unlimited.html

 

A number of flying 109s (mainly Buchons) also have been modified to disc brakes and even WW2 aircraft that still use drum brakes use modern brake materials to significantly improve braking force, fade resistance and durability. 

 

Concerning John Romain's flying of the 109E:

On landing "The risk of ground-loop becomes more pronounced as the airspeed decays to the 55-65 km/hr range, and the pilot will need to be quick on the brakes to counter a departure.  The Bf 109E's original brakes will only give full strength for around ten seconds before they begin to fade, appreciation of which is essential during the landing roll.  "There's a minute change between acceptable brakes and non-existent brakes", John adds wryly.  "The original brake system is horrible, and any prolonged use on landing or taxiing will overheat them to the point that they are completely ineffective."  Modified brake systems on the FHCAM Bf109E, and on the Buchons, have improved the aircraft's functionality and operational capabilities to no end."

 

https://vintageaviationecho.com/bf109e/

 

Lately I've been reading about the Stuka (another aircraft that couldn't do high power ground runs without noseover) and Capt. Eric Brown's notes on the type are interesting.  Noting that the Stuka "needed controlled braking to manoeuvre and was sensitive to any crosswind" and "... had a reputation for standing on its nose in an entirely different context -- during a landing!"  went on to say "View for landing was excellent, the brakes proved powerful and could be applied almost immediately after a three-pointer, and the landing run was very short indeed."

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by chuter
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Posted (edited)

I work on classic and antique cars for my living.  Even when equipped with modern kevlar/carbon type linings, the drum brake cars from the 40s can't come close to even the first generation Girling or Dunlop disc brakes found on English cars, which were the first to go to discs in the 50s.  Yes, the modern linings do extend the number of hard stops you can make with the older cars, but they are still barely adequate compared to any vehicle with disc brakes.  And, as ZachariasX said, properly setting up 40's design drum brakes is not just a matter of slapping in some pads and off you go.  The drums have to be perfectly true, and the shoes have to be machined to the precise inner circumference of the drum they work against to have any chance of them not pulling one way or the other, not to mention precise centering and adjustment of the shoes, and proper actuation of the hydraulic cylinders.  All of which is all the more difficult because machine shops that are willing and able to do proper drum brake truing work are now few and far between.

 

In short you cannot compare today's flying WW2 birds, that have upgraded brakes, to what was standard service equipment in the 1940s.

Edited by BlitzPig_EL
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5 hours ago, chuter said:

The brakes which differ from the original drum brake design, modified by GossHawk to [ed.Red Line] disc brakes, make the airplane handle on the ground without difficulties."

 

5 hours ago, chuter said:

A number of flying 109s (mainly Buchons) also have been modified to disc brakes and even WW2 aircraft that still use drum brakes use modern brake materials to significantly improve braking force, fade resistance and durability. 

 

5 hours ago, chuter said:

The original brake system is horrible, and any prolonged use on landing or taxiing will overheat them to the point that they are completely ineffective."

 

Thank you for making my point. If the above is the case, bakes are clearly not a mean of directional control that you depend on for continuous operation.

 

Btw., IIRC, a couple of todays Mustangs habe been retrofitted from todays disc brakes to the original ones, as with todays brakes, you can make a Mustang stand on its nose.

 

If you have a car with a manual, mechanic handbrake (getting less common these days), think of that handbrake as the best you could expect from regular brakes in the 40s. All quotes from people back then should be taken in that context. Else you misread those statements.

 

While I keep on insisting that brakes should not be used to taxi the aircraft, I was never saying you don‘t use them at all. You use them to stop the aircraft.

5 hours ago, chuter said:

the brakes proved powerful and could be applied almost immediately after a three-pointer, and the landing run was very short indeed

You can also can use them as help to pivot turn your aircraft to where you want to go. In this case, the aircraft is at or almost at a standstill. Then, drum brakes have no problem being effective enough for function as well as potential asymmetric brake effect (Drive a first series GTO on a highway then hit the brakes and see what happens. I hope you have a great heath insurance.) to not matter. Also you brakes will live for some sorties.

 

You will not find Spitfire pilots today that use brakes for regular directional control. You have the rudder for that. Using brakes, there will be, as you work your rudder a great lot during taxi, always some differential braking applied, but you will also moderate this because the chance that you dip your nose in the ground are VERY high in the real aircraft. This is extremely discouraging for using that bicycle lever „just to go left here“.

 

When a Spit is operated regularly, they won‘t even use them on landing, but just let it roll along until speed drops almost to zero.

 

As for me, I‘m lucky enough having the chance of flying vintage aircraft including the Spitfire and vintage cars are an expensive hobby of mine. This makes one automatically intimately familiar with their innards, as this this not only gets you home, but also keeps you alive in todays traffic.

 

I very much agree with @BlitzPig_EL‘s comment. Safe operation takes a lot of knowledge that is not obvious anymore. The most important part for safe operation is the right attitude. Mindset. In principle, most teenagers with some dozen hours in a Tiger Moth and a Magister can operate a Spitfire. At least what taking off, flight and landing in fair weather is concerned. It is really not that difficult. BUT with the wrong attitude, neither pilot or aircraft will be safe on the longer run, regardless of the skill. This is why today, you mainly give these warbirds to accomplished test pilots. They have proven that they can fly an aircraft as it should be flown, not as how it can be flown.

 

Same with classic cars. You wouldn‘t give, say, your Ferrari 250 GTO just to anyone for a ride. The question is not if the person can drive. Almost everyone can do that sufficiently. But it is about if the person has the attitude required to safely operate the car. If you pass that test, you can have a great day at the track. Same with aircraft.

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@ZachariasX,

 

since my closest experience with ground handling in a Spitfire is based only in desktop sim experience 🙂 I wonder if I shoud infer from your words that indeed IL.2 has caputred the characteristics of ground handling better than "the other sim" where it is simply impossible to taxi without using differential braking because, unless you have your power set for takeoff, the propwash is not sufficient to give enough authority to your rudder.

 

In Youtubes I see pilots taxiing Spitfires, Me 109s and Fw 190s using rudder, but some say they only do this to creat mommentum, and the turns are still done using mainly differential braking.

 

In IL.2 I can taxi the two models using mostly the rudder.

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2 hours ago, jcomm-il2 said:

and the turns are still done using mainly differential braking.

Now define turn. If your aircraft is stationary and you want to go left or right, then you surely use A LITTLE, I'm talking about not half of the brake pressure you'd have at hand to get the tail around. This comes mainly as a function of the differential brakes. Throttling up a bit while holdeng her on the brakes will inevitably make use of the brakes for steering. So yes, there is sone braking involved. But you'd be very careful with that bicycle lever. Once you're rolling you control her by the rudder alone as touchung the brake in a rolling Spitfire has everything you need to ruin your day. The sources you state are certainly consistent to what I am saying.

 

Those brakes were good for holding statonary vehicles plus add some braking power when you are moving, but not reliably so. Then again, it always compared to NOT having brakes. hence people had a rather relaxed apporoach to barkes. Hence also the commonts about certain aircraft "having really good brakes". How unusual.

 

If your aircraft is expected to last four missions, then nobody cares what you do to those brakes and you don't care much either, as this is not your main problem. So yes, you can do as you please, as long as you don't make her stand on the nose. If however you operate a vitage aircraft and you have some fart flying it that forces you to adjust the brakes after every sortie and makes you buy new brake pads after five flights or so, you probably won't let him in that cockpit again, especially since he is quiet obviously also tiptoeing around putting the Spit on her nose.

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I think it is essential to point ot that the gamne is exactly that: A game. And people don't act as if they are actually damaging taxpayer-property when taxiing around at warp-speed.

That includes myself. I'm really doing a lot of "negative training" in terms of procedure-adherence, when compared to real life.

 

From my (albeit limited, as still single-digit hours) tailwheel experience in real life, I can say the following:

Taxiing aircraft is easier in real life. Mostly for two inherent limitations of any game:

You don't have your butt as probably most important instrument about the inertial properties of your mount. And second, you don't have your peripheral vision, allowing you to combine your butt-meter with your visual picture. Also, we don't have *time* in game. IRL, you'd taxi in idle and intently keep the aircraft at crawling speed so it won't get away from you.

 

IRL, a developing swing is much easier to detect early on. Keep in mind you're constantly manipulating the controls and that control-pressures allow you to be a lot finer with your inputs.

In game (unless you have a stick-extension), your inputs tend to be too coarse and to high-rate and PIO/APC is very easy to set up.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Bremspropeller said:

I think it is essential to point ot that the gamne is exactly that: A game. And people don't act as if they are actually damaging taxpayer-property when taxiing around at warp-speed.

That includes myself. I'm really doing a lot of "negative training" in terms of procedure-adherence, when compared to real life.

 

From my (albeit limited, as still single-digit hours) tailwheel experience in real life, I can say the following:

Taxiing aircraft is easier in real life. Mostly for two inherent limitations of any game:

You don't have your butt as probably most important instrument about the inertial properties of your mount. And second, you don't have your peripheral vision, allowing you to combine your butt-meter with your visual picture. Also, we don't have *time* in game. IRL, you'd taxi in idle and intently keep the aircraft at crawling speed so it won't get away from you.

 

IRL, a developing swing is much easier to detect early on. Keep in mind you're constantly manipulating the controls and that control-pressures allow you to be a lot finer with your inputs.

In game (unless you have a stick-extension), your inputs tend to be too coarse and to high-rate and PIO/APC is very easy to set up.

 

Another factor is the impression of speed as depicted on a monitor (I don't have VR so maybe it makes it more realistic?). What in real life is a reasonable (and prudent) taxi speed becomes EXCRUCIATINGLY SLOW when flattened out into 2D on a monitor. Especially when, as you pointed out, peripheral vision is impaired. Most sim pilots are probably taxiing WAY faster than they should.

 

It's like with racing games: "Why do I keep careening off the track in turn three?!?! Arggh!!! Oh, wait, maybe because I'm going 130 mph on wet pavement!"

Edited by GrislyAccord
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I'm slowly getting the hang of it now, and I think it's actually quite a bit more manageable than, say, the N.17 in RoF. That's like riding a one-wheeled Vespa on an ice rink after a few too many pints.

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It must be pointed out that how brakes are used (or freaking never used) on a Spitfire has very little to do with how brakes are used on different aircraft, particularly a 109.  The Spit's close proximity of main wheels to CG means three things, 1) the Spit is considerably less directionally unstable than some taildraggers (all taildraggers are unstable to varying degrees), 2) the plane, therefore, has a relatively very effective rudder (and steerable tailwheel if equipped and a tailwheel lock being unneeded), and 3) the plane is much more prone to noseover.  With the Spit's superior directional control very little, if any, correctional braking would ever be required in the first place and the aircraft's consequent ease of noseover would shy a person away from using the brakes, hard anyway.  The 109, on the other hand, has main wheels well ahead of the CG which means, again, three things, 1) the 109 is considerably more directionally unstable than some taildraggers, 2) the plane therefore, has a less effective rudder and, if equipped, steerable tailwheel (and more likely to be equipped with a locking tailwheel), and 3) the plane is very much less prone to noseover.   With the 109's less effective rudder and a much reduced possibility of noseover it can be expected that hard use of directional braking may be expected during takeoff and landing, the Spitfire be dammed. 

 

Also, it should be pointed out that contemporary restrictions about hard brake use was not to prevent noseovers but to prevent brake wear and overheating.  If someone has a poor taxiing technique routinely relying on hard brake use resulting in high brake temps they may find themselves in a situation where they need corrective braking but the brakes aren't there because of those temps.  And then there's the frequent brake change expense. 

 

I've only flown a handful of taildraggers with drum brakes but two I will mention, a 1946 Aeronca 7AC 65 (with 8.5 x 6 tires) and a PA-22/20.  The 7AC was not a serious noseover candidate in the first place and in the second it had crappy cable operated heel brakes so it should be noted without surprise that I would occasionally land that baby beast with the brakes HARD ON before touchdown (I frequently off-roaded that thing) without consequence.  The PA-22/20, on the other hand, was rather light tailed (and someone else's plane) so brake use wouldn't begin until after tailwheel landing, but, while straight braking was limited because the tail would want to lift, side braking could be somewhat aggressive.  A PA-22/20 with discs was the same way only more-so, care in straight braking but I could be much more aggressive in steering.  The big advantage of the discs is that the braking effect was absolutely consistent. 

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40 minutes ago, chuter said:

1) the Spit is considerably less directionally unstable than some taildraggers (all taildraggers are unstable to varying degrees)

With that trolley on the back? On hard tarmac she needs constant hard work on the rudder while taxiing. Any imperfection in the tramac or taxiway will make her veer of course, same as old cars are affected by the quality of the pavement and require corrections to stay on course. That is why you see Spitfires "fluttering" their tail when taxiways to line up for takeoff or returning to the apron.

 

45 minutes ago, chuter said:

2) the plane, therefore, has a relatively very effective rudder

Yes indeed, I find it is relatively effective. Once you have her established straight, you can throttle back and let her roll until she stops. She won't do the swing like she does in game when letting her roll slowly and power off to a fullstop "hands off". It is also noticeable that at lower revs you get some enough rudder authority to control her. You're actually fine not working the brake lever that much and risking your sortie to come to an aprupt end. Just keep that stick all the way back when rolling.

 

48 minutes ago, chuter said:

(and steerable tailwheel if equipped and a tailwheel lock being unneeded)

That's actually what they told me at the Heritage Hangar in Biggin Hill. Supermarine supposedly was experimenting both with retractable as well as lockable tailwheel configuration, but then deemed it not worth the bother.

 

49 minutes ago, chuter said:

Also, it should be pointed out that contemporary restrictions about hard brake use was not to prevent noseovers

Ehm, maybe it was expected that pilots understand by themselves that having their propeller drilling the ground looks bad, while almost anything other than that was acceptable? On top of that, the were instruchted to please take care and don't burn the brakes!

Two seater Spits that do passenger flights have their brake lever as well as the gear lever removed.

 

54 minutes ago, chuter said:

If someone has a poor taxiing technique routinely relying on hard brake use resulting in high brake temps they may find themselves in a situation where they need corrective braking but the brakes aren't there because of those temps.  And then there's the frequent brake change expense. 

This!

 

55 minutes ago, chuter said:

I've only flown a handful of taildraggers with drum brakes but two I will mention, a 1946 Aeronca 7AC 65 (with 8.5 x 6 tires) and a PA-22/20. 

That's cool! :)

 

Anyway, I mean in the game people are free to do what works for them. I find the Spit easy to taxi after some practise. When you can handle her without the need of brakes, the brakes give you just that little extra you need when being careless. In this game I drive the planes like a pig and whatever works, works. But if you have problems with the plane I think it is not a good way to have a habit that robs you of some added margin provided by the brakes.

 

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I have not given the ground handling a thought. Flying DCS taildraggers I really not noticed any problem here. 
No cfs got ground handeling right. Cod is the easiest in no wind. With wind it is a joke. 
I think ground handling and simulation of it is not as easy as we think. I think ( because I haven’t the faintest idea) ground handling will never be authentic in any cfs. It is connected to torque effect, weather and game engine. 
I honestly have no more problem with the spit than the HS 129 and Ju88. Latter is actually a bit historical correct. JU 88 was demanding in ground handling and take off. 

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"A lady in the air, a bitch on the ground." ~ one of Spitfire test pilots

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I must admit that I don't find the IL-2 Spit a problem but the DCS one is a work in progress. I can just about run down the runway but invariably claw into the air to one side or the other and it can hardly be called elegant flying.

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7 minutes ago, Georgio said:

I must admit that I don't find the IL-2 Spit a problem but the DCS one is a work in progress. I can just about run down the runway but invariably claw into the air to one side or the other and it can hardly be called elegant flying.

 

Yeah spend some time with the DCS Spit ground handling, and you will come to really appreciate the IL-2 Spit ground handling.

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An interesting document just popped up in my AirCorps Library account, which deals with the topic of wheel brakes. It's appropriately titled "Use of Landing Wheel Brakes" and dated 14 April 1944. I found paragraph 3 and following especially interesting - apparently, the USAAF was getting quite tired of its pilots blowing out their wheel brakes:

 

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Edited by LukeFF
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On 2/19/2020 at 8:11 PM, R3animate said:

Anyone else having issues with the Spitfires spinning a bit too easily? It really feels like it has two separate issues:

 

1. It feels like it takes an excessive amount of throttle to get it rolling... this one seems to be a lot of planes.. way more throttle than I’d ever expect to get them rolling.

 

2. Runaway tail wheel seems to happen a lot faster than expected and at really low speeds. In some cases I’m barely even moving forward and it’ll spin around.

 

I mean I’ve never flown a tail dragger IRL but even just watching the videos of people online.. the MkV and IX just seem off. Anyone else having similar issues? Just finished the 4th mission of Achtung Spitfire, even the AI can’t land them cleanly..

 

This sim fails monumentally all aircrafts ground handling physics I've tested. It would need a major overhaul for it.

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