Briefing File: Lift devices

BRIEFING FILE: Under the skin of aviation technology and tactics


An aircraft’s aerofoil design is a compromise between efficient shapes at differing speeds. Changing the wing’s shape in flight increases the viable speed regime. Ailerons, when drooped symmetrically, create a more efficient wing at low speeds. An improved version was developed and patented by Richard Fairey as the ‘Camber Changing Wing’ to get floatplanes off the water under difficult ‘unstick’ conditions. Otherwise, the primary flight controls — ailerons, elevator and rudder — sometimes limited the physical space wing lift devices could use. Here, the aileron and flap were combined, the aileron drooping with the flap, but retaining the ability to rotate further for roll control.

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