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cema_ga

Spitfire MkIX typical flap position on the ground

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Hi!

What was typical flaps position on the ground? Lowered or closed? 

 

Thanks in advance!

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In the RAF closed, unless being serviced. Otherwise a ‘fine’ was imposed for the benefit of the Mess bar!

 

Trevor

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Flaps were closed as soon as landed, firstly because the edges were vulnerable to damage but more particularly because cooling was marginal and the flaps interfered with airflow through the radiators.

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Max and Malpaso are right. Flaps were/are up.

 

It's in the pilot's notes to raise flaps even before taxying.

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The flaps would always be raised upon landing, both to assist with the airflow through the radiators, but also to avoid damage to the flaps from debris thrown up by the propeller which could lead to changes to the stalling characteristics of the damaged wing. In other words any damage done to the flaps could cause one wing to stall before the other, which could then cause the aeroplane to spin in at low speed when landing. When I learned to fly, I had this hammered home to me by my old flying instructor, if he saw me taxi in with the flaps lowered, I had to buy the beers. 

 

Edited by cngaero

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Taxiing or parking an airplane with the flaps down (and thus, significantly increased lift on the wing) is asking to be turned upside down with a good wind gust or prop/jet blast.  

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Yep, the flap are blown down by compressed air and raised by spring tension. Unlike some hydraulically-powered flaps, they don't drop under their own weight. I always wonder why people model Spitfires with the flaps down for that reason.

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On ‎11‎/‎12‎/‎2018 at 2:30 PM, cngaero said:

The flaps would always be raised upon landing, both to assist with the airflow through the radiators, but also to avoid damage to the flaps from debris thrown up by the propeller which could lead to changes to the stalling characteristics of the damaged wing. In other words any damage done to the flaps could cause one wing to stall before the other, which could then cause the aeroplane to spin in at low speed when landing. When I learned to fly, I had this hammered home to me by my old flying instructor, if he saw me taxi in with the flaps lowered, I had to buy the beers. 

 

To quote Susan York in the BoB movie, "Don't you yell at me, Mr. Warrick!"

Mike

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Flaps closed, so don't waste money on all those flap detail sets sold by PE companies.

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10 hours ago, Bell209 said:

I always wonder why people model Spitfires with the flaps down for that reason.

You wouldn't park your Spitfire with the canopy open either!

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You might, if you'd just gotten out, or were preparing to get in.  Remember that there would be ground crew somewhere about who are responsible for the aircraft, and also want to (one hopes) make life easier for the pilot.  Or, the pilot makes that assumption!  I can't imagine a scramble where the pilots run out to their Spitfires, slide back the hoods, open the doors...

 

Flaps, on the other hand, for this aircraft type, were "always" up unless they were specifically wanted down (which pretty much means landing only, aside from maintenance).  Yes, you CAN put them down on the ground, but it is NOT the normal position.  As to why people do it?  Because the kit comes with flaps that can be down, it is an additional element of busyness, they bought the fancy looking aftermarket flap set, they don't know any better, and/or some other reasons, I'm sure.

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41 minutes ago, gingerbob said:

and/or some other reasons, I'm sure.

Airfix had a temporary obsession with optional raised or dropped Spitfire/Seafire flaps optional parts....  probably from seeing lots of models which could because of AM? 

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On 11/12/2018 at 7:38 PM, Max Headroom said:

In the RAF closed, unless being serviced. Otherwise a ‘fine’ was imposed for the benefit of the Mess bar!

 

Trevor

My father only got caught once with this, although many others on his squadron were "fined"quite a few times.

Stories went around that unpopular pilots or crews would have the flaps left down on the aircraft after inspection by the ground crews so that the resultant "fines"kicked in.

The usual "fine" was a days flying pay.

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16 hours ago, Welkin said:

You wouldn't park your Spitfire with the canopy open either!

You certainly wouldn't if you were leaving it alone, and definitely not if it were raining, but you would leave it opened up at dispersal if you're loafing around nearby at readiness for a scramble, or were leaving it in the care of a ground crew while they re-arm it and you run to the loo and a cup of tea from the NAAFI van.

 

We have a bit of a built-in bias as modellers. Of course we want to see all the interior we've slaved over, and that's fine. Equally we're a bit conditioned to photography. Most decent photography of WW2 combat types taken on the ground is either posed shots organised for press, propaganda or other official purposes, or naughty personal snapshots, often taken by pilots and members of ground crew. And most of the opportunities for pilots and members of ground crew to take those snaps come when you;re either getting an aeroplane ready to fly, or after flight before you've zipped it up and/or put it away.  So the times when a photo is most likely to be taken of a WW2 combat type are not representative of how it spends most of its hours parked on the ground - closed up, in a hangar if available, possibly with covers on of it has to be left outdoors in poor weather or for any length of time.

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On 11/21/2018 at 1:16 PM, Welkin said:

You wouldn't park your Spitfire with the canopy open either!

The spring and summer of 1940 were noted for having especially fine weather :)

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Overnight the canopy would be shut, on a reasonable day the erks would probably leave it open for easy access for their checks and the pilot.  On a sunny day a closed cockpit would become a furnace - I managed about 30 seconds in the Canberra cockpit at St Mawgan last year!

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In the early war period with a Spitfire squadron, if it was on "readiness" with the aircraft dispersed around the aerodrome ready for takeoff in under five minutes (normally two to three) and with the pilots waiting at dispersal ready to do so in flying kit, then the aircraft would have the canopies open. Sections, flights or squadrons on "standby" would obviously already have them open as pilots were seated in the aircraft ready for immediate takeoff. Squadrons at "available" would have canopies closed, unless of course groundcrew were working on them, when their status moved up to "readiness" they would be readied for operation, one of the things being to have the canopy open. When the war progressed and Fighter Command pursued a more offensive role, a squadron on a planned operation would have their canopies opened just prior to the undertaking of the op.

 

It was actually preferable if possible to keep canopies closed if possible to keep out leaves, dirt, dust, insects, etc which could distract a pilot during flying.

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I thought that the "fine" was to shout drinks in the mess that night - the loss of a day's pay would have been cheaper ...

 

For modelling purposes, if the aircraft's on the ground the flaps are closed, unless you have a squad of erks beavering away inside the flap enclosures. My understanding is that it would have been extremely unlikely for an aircraft to have been left unattended with the flaps down.

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This "fine" for leaving the flaps down was never an official regulation, but it was a common practice.  And my understanding is that it varied depending on the squadron: round of drinks in the mess, payment into some non-public squadron fund, or whatever. 

 

To give another example of flaps being raised, the DH Chipmunk pilot's notes clearly stated that flaps were to be raised immediately after landing; if there was a tailwind component during taxying, it was apparently possible for the flaps to move in such a way that the operating cables slackened and came off their pulleys.  In any case, isn't it simply good airmanship?  As a final thought on that type, anyone else who's ever flown a "Chippie" will appreciate the difficulties of entering and exiting the cockpit with the flaps down.

 

And beware: if you ever post a model of a Spitfire with flaps down, you won't get a fine, but chances are that I will ask you "Flap lever a bit sticky, was it, Sir?"  😉

Edited by MikeC

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