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DD_Fenrir's Takeoff and Landing Tips


DD_Fenrir
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Hello chaps,

 

After some time with this module I am now able to get off and on the ground without melodrama so I thought I'd provide some hints, tips and advice as to how I came to this.

 

Lets just start with the obvious - it's hard.

 

DCS WW2 aircraft are all tricky in their own rights but the Spit has it's own foibles particularly in ground handling and takeoff and landing, which no amount of Il-2 or CloD can prepare you for.

 

Compound this with some very flexible control set-up options and our differing hardware can mean that everyone's control system is peculiar to them (particularly regards curves etc), with the result that one person's experience can differ from another and thusly their advice - whilst completely correct for their set-up - is not always helpful to others.

 

With this in mind the best place to start is with some genuine tail-dragger instruction and behaviour primers; the best I have found are on the following threads and will provide you with some excellent insight as to WHY the aircraft is behaving the way it does:

 

Essay, PART 1: Why taildraggers are tricky and how to overcome it!

 

Essay, PART 2: Getting the tail up...

 

ESSAY, PART 3: Landing and stopping.

 

Some are incredulous at the Spitfires behaviours but if you have read the above you can see it DOES exhibit characteristics familiar to all taildragger aircraft. Do bear in mind we are at Beta-release so some refinements are always in the workshop.

 

What I can tell you is that it IS manageable, almost (!) predictable and once you have figured out what you're doing wrong, can be consistently and safely taken off and landed. I had trouble myself on the first few takeoffs, and landings were a nightmare.

 

However, by thinking through the issues logically as to why the aircraft was behaving in such a wayward manner I managed to adjust my technique to narrow the error margins and make takeoffs and landings a much less fraught affair.

 

TAKEOFF

 

First and foremost:

 

ALWAYS ENSURE YOUR TAIL WHEEL IS STRAIGHT BEFORE COMMITTING TO TAKEOFF!

 

As you make your final turn on to the runway and come to a stop around the centreline, if possible, go to external and check the tailwheel. Chances are it's pointing the direction you just turned from! If you power up now, guess which way you're gonna be headed? That's right - into the grass!

 

As you get to the runway heading you should already be applying brake/rudder opposite to your turn in order to stop the a/c on the desired heading; the trick is not to stop dead once you've got her lined up but let the momentum carry you forward and roll a few yards/metres to ensure your tailwheel is pointing straight down the back of the tail.

 

Now for the power up and takeoff roll:

 

Your most fundamental mistake and the main cause of your woes will be over controlling, mainly on the rudder. Small and sharp inputs, of a high frequency are demanded. When in doubt remember MANY SHORTER INPUTS ARE BETTER THAN ONE LONG ONE! You'll practically be dancing on the rudder pedals.

 

Example:

 

Take good note of his rudder technique. Do bear in mind his rudder deadzone that he applies in this video is applicable to his pedals and set-up and is not a guaranteed cure to your issues unless you have a spiking input or some slack around the 0 point of your rudder pedals. As such I would not recommend that everyone mimics his curve profile.

 

These aircraft have significant inertia - as such you have to pre-empt the airplane and the inputs have to be ahead of what's happening. Hold an input too heavy and/or too long and by the time you realise that it's effect has taken hold you have too much acceleration and inertia in the direction of that first control input for any countering input to be of any use.

 

This is where Il-2 and CloD show their inaccuracy with small planes with big engines; as one who has soloed powered gliders I can confirm that the rudder inputs required in DCS on prop powered planes is significantly more realistic. Ergo what you are used to in Il-2 or CloD is significantly easier than real life.

 

Trust the visual cues and your judgement; if you even suspect or sense the nose is moving left a bit then get a quick stab of right rudder in; if it still seems to be going then get another in, then another; you might put one too many stabs in and you sense the nose coming right now - but because the input was small and you're acting quickly you should only require a stab of left to correct. Short and sharp. It will take some dings and a few attempts to get the knack of this and actually takeoff. It will take even more till that take-off becomes a clean, elegant affair but at least you will be airbourne!

 

I will strongly suggest everyone has their elevator trim set at at least 0 or -1 for take-off to avoid the sudden nose up tendency as the aircraft lifts out of ground effect.

 

As Phil suggest use a maximum of +8lb Boost (red ringed gauge to RH side of dash) - this gives the nicest balance of acceleration and manageable torque forces. By moving it up promptly it will give your rudder better bite thanks to the propwash being blown over it's surface.

 

That's it for now, the rest I leave to you. It will be frustrating, you will curse, you may even cry. However, as long as you can evaluate what is going wrong, why it's going wrong and what you're bringing to that equation, you can figure what you can do to correct it.

 

PRACTISE and CONCENTRATION are two absolute bywords when getting the Spit off or back on the ground.

 

Good luck chaps. Next time we'll discuss landing.


Edited by DD_Fenrir
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Now for the hard part... ;)

 

LANDING

 

Hands down the trickiest module to land cleanly in DCS, with the 109 coming in a VERY close 2nd. However it can be done, and done so consistently.

 

Practise, practise, practise.

 

However, you need to have the correct procedure to practise with and at the moment whilst you'll probably being doing the right things you'll be doing them at the wrong time (mostly too soon).

 

I shall elaborate.

 

Part 1: The Prep

 

First off is the approach - the adage goes that a good landing always starts with a good approach. This is doubly true of the DCS Spitty.

 

Coming straight in from a long way out is just making life difficult for yourself; the curved approach give you much better visibility of your runway positioning down to the point at which you flare and cut. Long straight approaches - if done correctly - will hide the runway under that honking great nose and could mean lots of last minute corrections if you find yourself off centreline, with all sorts of potential for over correction and spurious energy in the aeroplane as you try and pull her back to centreline which will only make the flare and cut a more hurried affair, increasing your workload and making an awkward landing all too likely.

 

If on straight in approach you can see the runway all the way in you're coming in damn steep and will make judging the flare all the more difficult.

 

There's a reason that real Spit pilots adopt the curved approach - I would suggest you adopt the same procedure as a matter of course.

 

As shown here from 19:15:

 

 

Part 2: Touchdown!

 

Many of you will be getting down in one piece (mostly) but having a very alarming experience doing so. Wingtips slapping the tarmac, no particular bias, left or right, but either way you're off in the grass, generally facing the wrong way perhaps with a prop strike and maybe some clipped wings. Sound familiar?

 

Me too.

 

I was having exactly the same as you chaps, until I tried cutting later and flaring at a lower alt; I suspected the wing drop was coming from having too much sink on contact with terra firma and the energy from this, whilst not enough to cause a bounce, was still more than could be absorbed by the u/c. With no airspeed/lift to get back up it threw the load into momentum about the u/c contact points thus one of the wings is thrown down.

 

All this behaviour will be exacerbated if you have any side-slip or side load on the a/c as you touch down. Bootfuls of rudder should not be required at this stage in low cross-wind conditions (check your crosswinds by the way; if you're in a mission where you're trying to land in heavy crosswinds then have a rethink. Trying to run before learning to walk is only going to frustrate you). If you're making large corrections in any plane to get on centreline then GO AROUND. Call it quits and try again. It's that simple.

 

So what's the lesson? Cut later and flare lower. Keep rudder input to a minimum.

 

By deliberately flaring at a lower altitude we reduce the height at which we drop from = less energy. By cutting power later the aircraft settles rather than stalls, thus again reducing sink rate = less energy.

 

The flare itself I make very gently - hence the later power cut - as the low longitudinal stability of the spit and the stick sensitivity makes it easy for the nose to end up higher than desired.

 

Get all this right and you should be rewarded with a gentle settle onto the ground and a satisfying squeal of rubber on asphalt. As you see in the video, my mains touched first followed by the tail wheel a fraction of a second later, so it does not have to be perfect three-point. It's just that the margins are narrow for getting it wrong. Currently your major issues will be flaring too high and cutting too early; just hold off a bit longer on both and it should make life easier.

 

 

 

Part 3: The Straight and Narrow

 

You've touched down with no wing drop! Hooray! However, the Spitfire is not yet done trying to find ways to embarrass you and inattentiveness at this stage will end up with you in the grass with some major airframe components likely scattered around you.

 

FLY THE PLANE! You are not done till you're sitting back at the pan with the engine off! All those issues you had at takeoff with directional instability are just waiting to throw you off the runway.

 

Stick back in your lap once you're sure she's down and staying so.

 

Get on the rudder like Michael Flatley (Lord of the Dance/Riverdance for those who need a point of reference) - just avoid brakes! You'll have plenty of airspeed for the rudder to be effective during the early part of the ground roll. Just like takeoff, keep the inputs short and sharp! Adding brakes too soon will throw you into the grass.

 

As you slow you'll start to feel that rudder alone isn't quite cutting the mustard; your inputs to keep her straight will become larger and longer; it's at this point you start bringing in a dab of brakes to help keep her in line. But keep dancing!

 

Finally you'll come to a stop, engine still running, pointing the same way and with all major and minor structures still attached. And it's now that you are allowed to breathe! Congratulations! Flaps away and get out the god-damn way cos someone's likely to be making their final approach and could do without worrying about bumping into you!

 

Getting this right takes practise - it took me a good number of attempts to hit the right formula and get it right more than I got it wrong.

 

However, I'm able to do this consistently now - as long as I concentrate! - so I assure you it's not impossible.

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