Monday, August 11, 2014

Look Ma, No Torque - Cliffs of Dover, Team Fusion Mod

The effects of "torque" have always been greatly exaggerated among flight simulator enthusiasts.

By the way, the awesome Team Fusion mod, now version 4.31, has tamed the angry birds of the original Cliffs of Dover into a stable, visually impeccable and worthy WWII flight simulator. Thanks!

Anybody who flew a single propeller aircraft  has noticed the tendency to bank, even when the aircraft is not climbing or diving. The most popular theory about that is that the "torque" of the spinning engine causes a reaction that results in the aircraft rolling and banking in the opposite direction.

Although the torque by the engine exists and poses a great danger under certain flight conditions, in near cruising conditions the banking tendency is mostly not due to torque. Try it in the Spitfire, you will find that most of the times it shows a tendency to bank to the right.

The caveats of believing the most popular explanation are masterfully explained in "Stick and Rudder", by Wolfgang Langewiesche. In chapter 8, the "other torque" effects are dissected, including the spiraling slipstream and gyroscopic precession. Much to my surprise, I've learned that old timers would use the rudder to counter the banking tendency of aircraft of that era. Not the ailerons, but the rudder ... That explains why the Spitfire has a rudder trim and not an aileron trim? I wonder.

In any case, many versions of the Spitfire's pilot manual have an explicit mention that at 200 mph, the aircraft will cruise in a very stable manner needing very sporadic inputs to the ailerons or elevator. There also a mention of staying off the rudder, giving the opportunity to stretch the legs to improve blood circulation.

I've tried that in Cliffs of Dover and there was my Spitfire, cruising at 200 mph straight and level. No hands, no feet input!

The cockpit of my Spitfire. Cruising at 200 mph. Solid as a rock. Just dandy. 
To achieve this, it was very important to adjust the propeller pitch at ~ 50%. Which makes sense given that the propeller pitch has an impact on the amount of air pushed back into the slipstream.

And that's pretty much it for today. My advice is to get the book and read it. Do your own research. Be wary of the "internet specialists" hanging out there in forums who are very good at looking important by using second hand buzzwords they don't even understand. Keep your bullshit-o-meter handy. Everywhere, including here.

And just to add some extra value to this blog entry, a couple of tips that will help you much flying aircraft in Cliffs of Dover.

Elevator trim is very important to be relied on key pressing. I mapped my elevator trim to an axis in my Warthog HOTAS. The difference between an axis and just the keystrokes is very noticeable.  In this picture I trimmed the aircraft for a very slow approach speed.

Another control to put into an axis: wheel brakes. The regular keystroke "B" is just for full braking and will most likely end in a tip over after landing. In this case I am  messing around an airbase, showing my finely tuned braking abilities.


Dimitris said...

"Be wary of the "internet specialists" hanging out there in forums who are very good at looking important by using second hand buzzwords they don't even understand."

Amen to that, brother.

Phil said...

Great stuff i got this title and installed the Team Fusion Mod after reading this post. Having a blast dogfighting. When i get some time i will take on the longer missions. Many thanks!

Gladio said...

I really enjoyed your review, especially the part about the "wikipilots" ^_^