DrMarlboro

Early aircraft and beating the T1 runway.

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After reading one of many threads on how the t1 runways is too hard to use, and since there are many threads that talk about plane design but leave out the importance of gear layout and it's affects on take off and landing, I decided that I would Rectify that here. 

So first, lets talk about the differences between tailwheel and nosewheel aircraft.

First,we have Nosewheel:

CZX2lUB.png

Nosewheel aircraft are easier to steer on the ground due to the pivot point being ahead of the main gear and CoM causing the plane to resist the turn causing what is known as understeer. The downside to this, is that the plane will have a lower angle of attack and require more speed to take off, as well as making the plane less stable on rough landing sites which can cause the front wheel to break, or allow the craft to roll to one side. This type of undercarriage layout is perfect for smooth surfaces like the T2 runway and above, but can be (and is) devastating on the rough T1 runway and doesn't bode well for landing elsewhere on Kerbin.

 

Next, we have Tailwheel aircraft:

3LT1ZGl.png

Tailwheel aircraft (or taildraggers) are known for their performance on less than stellar landing conditions. Having the main gear ahead of the CoM makes the plane more stable on uneven surfaces, and having the single wheel to the back of the plane lessens the impact of bumps and imperfections on the runway. It also allows for lower take off speeds due to the high angle of attack making it perfect for the T1 runway. The draw back of this is that since the pivot point is behind the CoM it causes severe (and harder to control) oversteer, making this undercarriage layout less suited to landing on high traffic runways where Nosewheel would be prefered. One benefit (but unrelated to ksp) to Tailwheel is that it allows more clearance for a propeller. 

All of this is why you will see African, Alaskan, Australian, etc. bush pilots flying Tailwheel aircraft. And this type of thinking still applies in KSP. 

Another issue with landing i've seen is that people try to land with the front wheel first, or on all at the same time. This is a bad habbit and is going to cause lots of frustration on the T1 runway. Always make sure that you are tough down with your main gear first. This is will require lower speeds and higher AoA on Nosewheel planes, but a shallower AoA on Tailwheel. Getting this down is important, and unfortunately I am not fast enough to grab the screenshot on touchdown, so I may edit this with a short video later on. I also highly recommend removing the traction control as it can cause the gear to lockup and flip the plane when using the LY-01 gear.

If you are still having trouble taking off/landing another good alternative Is going to an Inverted Gullwing design with the LY-10 gear.OQfUmUz.png

This will get you more ground clearance, a wider main gear layout, and you will have sturdier gear. And inverted gullwings look amazing. 

 

All in all I hope this helps some of you who may struggle with early planes, and make you love the dirt runway as I do. It's probably the last thing i upgrade. 

Edited by DrMarlboro

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I actually went the opposite path. T1 runway difficult to launch from and land on? I don't then. I use the smallest solid booster early on as a RATO system when launching from a launch clamp so they I'm never even on the runway. And them I use chutes to set down when I'm done.

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45 minutes ago, PanzerAce said:

I actually went the opposite path. T1 runway difficult to launch from and land on? I don't then. I use the smallest solid booster early on as a RATO system when launching from a launch clamp so they I'm never even on the runway. And them I use chutes to set down when I'm done.

The info here doesn't only apply on the runway. It also helps when choosing a place to land away from KSC. With a tail dragger you will have more choices for landing spots, and is something i've taken advantage of many times.

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Just a note, I've never seen real world landing gear configurations referred to as "nosewheel". The normal name for it is "tricycle". (There is also the rare "bicycle" configuration, such as used by the U-2.) "Taildragger" is a commonly used term, but it's also known as "conventional" landing gear (even though in modern airplanes the actual popular convention is to use tricycle gear).

Some sailplanes use a single wheel close to the CoM, but I don't know what the name for that is.

Edited by mikegarrison

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7 minutes ago, DrMarlboro said:

The info here doesn't only apply on the runway. It also helps when choosing a place to land away from KSC. With a tail dragger you will have more choices for landing spots, and is something i've taken advantage of many times.

Well, IRL I'm sure you're right. But in KSP I don't think I agree. Any sensible person uses the grass and not the T1 runway, of course.

But beyond that, there is a major question of your purpose of getting into the air.

Now, if all you are going to do is take some scientific readings in the air and then land at KSC again, then you have a free choice of what to build.

But if you are going to be landing in the wilderness, climbing out of the water onto the land, or driving any distance over the land, then there is a huge problem with a taildragger design. That is, terrain changes on Kerbin are very sudden and very steep. You absolutely need a wheel under the nose, or you are going to go nose-first into the first mound you come across. Generally, the main gear in a taildragger design are too far back to get your nose up in time. If you use something like that gull-wing design then you run the risk that any time you go over a sharp peak, the fuselage of your plane is going to hit the ground.

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13 minutes ago, mikegarrison said:

Just a note, I've never seen real world landing gear configurations referred to as "nosewheel". The normal name for it is "tricycle". (There is also the rare "bicycle" configuration, such as used by the U-2.) "Taildragger" is a commonly used term, but it's also known as "conventional" landing gear (even though in modern airplanes the actual popular convention is to use tricycle gear).

Some sailplanes use a single wheel close to the CoM, but I don't know what the name for that is.

It may be a regional thing. But yes, nosewheel and tricycle are interchangeable and I have heard them. I've had teachers refer to them as both, but at least for me, Nosewheel is the commonly used term around here. And tailwheel/conventional seem to be interchangeable (once again, seems to be dependent on location).  And i believe the configuration you are referring to is called single main gear like the U-2 dragon lady which is directly under the CoM. Bicycle gear is farther ahead of the CoM like in the Martin XB-51. 

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21 minutes ago, DrMarlboro said:

It may be a regional thing. But yes, nosewheel and tricycle are interchangeable and I have heard them. I've had teachers refer to them as both, but at least for me, Nosewheel is the commonly used term around here. And tailwheel/conventional seem to be interchangeable (once again, seems to be dependent on location).  And i believe the configuration you are referring to is called single main gear like the U-2 dragon lady which is directly under the CoM. Bicycle gear is farther ahead of the CoM like in the Martin XB-51. 

I don't know any region that doesn't call tricycle gear "tricycle gear" (in English, anyway). Could you tell me which region that is?

You are right about the U-2, though. I was thinking it was more like the B-47 than it really is. The B-47 is a nice example of bicycle gear. (The U-2 is just a strange airplane in many ways. It's basically a high-altitude jet-powered sailplane.)

Edited by mikegarrison

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24 minutes ago, bewing said:

Any sensible person uses the grass and not the T1 runway, of course.

Careful who and what you call "sensible" around here.  Given that the tier 1 runway is eminently usable by low-tech planes built with an eye towards "sensible" use of the parts you shouldn't have any issues with me telling you to "LRN2KSP", I assume?

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4 hours ago, DrMarlboro said:

All of this is why you will see African, Alaskan, Australian, etc. bush pilots flying Tailwheel aircraft. And this type of thinking still applies in KSP. 

It's not wholly exclusive, for what it's worth. I've seen bush planes riding tricycle, it's just less common given the benefits for STOL and not dinging your prop. :P

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I'd still argue that the T1 runways only true gameplay purpose is to convince players to spend funds on the T2 runway.

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18 minutes ago, klgraham1013 said:

I'd still argue that the T1 runways only true gameplay purpose is to convince players to spend funds on the T2 runway.

yup

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The land surrounding the t1 runway is more smooth than the runway.

I get that an early runway might be quiet shorter or much narrower, or soft - but bumpier? Let me spend funds to widen or extend  yea, I like that... Or to increase the load capability. 

Even in WW1 aircraft had smooth landing fields with no tarmac at all.  Ok they were light.

T1? Senseless.  

But hey, a game.

 

Edited by Wallygator

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I'll say it since no one here has:

Thanks for the tip!
Anyone knows that the surrounding grass is smoother, but that does not dismis your good advice for going into the wild lands of Kerbin.
In fact, I'm going to try this out this evening.

Though perhaps some mod can move this thread to the tutorials section, so people will perhaps be a little bit more appreciative.
 

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I have always built planes with one wheel at the front. Following this allowed me to take off with my new plane. I still have to taxi off of the runway, or it's a fireworks show, but with the new wheels I frequently had fireworks even off the runway before making a tail dragger.

 

Thanks for the great tip!

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2 hours ago, Wallygator said:

I get that an early runway might be quiet shorter or much narrower, or soft - but bumpier? Let me spend funds to widen or extend...

 

This is what I thought Squad would do.

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Part of the problem is how smooth the ground is in the rest of the world. Terrain-scatter debris or soft dirt that can catch a wheel and flip an aircraft should be much more common.

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8 minutes ago, Jarin said:

Part of the problem is how smooth the ground is in the rest of the world. Terrain-scatter debris or soft dirt that can catch a wheel and flip an aircraft should be much more common.

Well, that still wouldn't justify why the runway is basically a little tiny mountain range.  They really do need to smooth it out.   It doesn't have to be perfectly smooth, just.. not quite so violently bumpy.  Also, they should get rid of the broad green shoulders it has; they're almost as wide as the dirt part and perfectly smooth (may not be possible from a technical point of view, although I'd like a detailed explanation of WHY~).

Also they need to have moar tiers of all the buildings with smoother progression, but that's a rant for a different thread.

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3 minutes ago, Renegrade said:

Well, that still wouldn't justify why the runway is basically a little tiny mountain range.  They really do need to smooth it out.   It doesn't have to be perfectly smooth, just.. not quite so violently bumpy.  Also, they should get rid of the broad green shoulders it has; they're almost as wide as the dirt part and perfectly smooth (may not be possible from a technical point of view, although I'd like a detailed explanation of WHY~).

Also they need to have moar tiers of all the buildings with smoother progression, but that's a rant for a different thread.

Oh, I agree. The dirt needs to be mostly smooth. But the key is, if it's not perfectly flat, 80% of the rest of the world will still be a better runway than the actual runway. General terrain should be difficult to land on, so even a slightly-uneven tier-1 dirt runway is a better option than grass. This can be a combination of bumps, obstacles, and friction-based wheel grabbing grass to make landing difficult.

Edit: and yes, the VAB jump from 30 parts to 255 is kinda crazy. And the science center should unlock a tier at a time.

Edited by Jarin

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I've never heard the name 'nosewheel' before.  It's usually just called Tricycle Landing Gear.  Also another name for taildragger is just 'conventional landing gear'.  There are more than just those two styles also, you can have tandem gear and outrigger wheels such as the B-47.  You can have quad wheels, these are more common on planes used with removable pontoons, or pontoons with extendable wheels however, the B-52 also had quad wheels.

Edited by Alshain

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Just don't take him up on the offer of a nosewheel ride.

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9 hours ago, klgraham1013 said:

Incidentally, nosewheel is the name of my fancy mustache.

"Never trust a man who has never cultivated interesting facial hair" - Wallgator.

 

 

Edited by Wallygator

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I've always found the T1 runway too rough for takeoff/landing so I always takeoff westwards, completely ignoring the runway.

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Given that I'm starting a couple of new rounds of the Caveman Challenge, this thread is a timely reminder. Many thanks for posting it, DrMarlboro

Edited by JAFO

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