Vertical stabilizer
The vertical stabilizers, vertical stabilisers, or fins, of aircraft
An aircraft is a vehicle that is able to fly by gaining support from the air, or, in general, the atmosphere of a planet. An aircraft counters the force of gravity by using either static lift or by using the dynamic lift of an airfoil, or in a few cases the downward thrust from jet engines.Although...

, missile
Though a missile may be any thrown or launched object, it colloquially almost always refers to a self-propelled guided weapon system.-Etymology:The word missile comes from the Latin verb mittere, meaning "to send"...

s or bomb
A bomb is any of a range of explosive weapons that only rely on the exothermic reaction of an explosive material to provide an extremely sudden and violent release of energy...

s are typically found on the aft end of the fuselage
The fuselage is an aircraft's main body section that holds crew and passengers or cargo. In single-engine aircraft it will usually contain an engine, although in some amphibious aircraft the single engine is mounted on a pylon attached to the fuselage which in turn is used as a floating hull...

 or body, and are intended to reduce aerodynamic side slip. It is analogical to a skeg
A skeg is a sternward extension of the keel of boats and ships which have a rudder mounted on the centre line. The term also applies to the lowest point on an outboard motor or the outdrive of an inboard/outboard...

on boats and ships.

On aircraft, vertical stabilizers generally point upwards. These are also known as the vertical tail, and are part of an aircraft's empennage
The empennage , also known as the tail or tail assembly, of most aircraft gives stability to the aircraft, in a similar way to the feathers on an arrow...

. The trailing end of the stabilizer is typically movable, and called the rudder
A rudder is a device used to steer a ship, boat, submarine, hovercraft, aircraft or other conveyance that moves through a medium . On an aircraft the rudder is used primarily to counter adverse yaw and p-factor and is not the primary control used to turn the airplane...

; this allows the aircraft pilot to control yaw.

Often navigational radio
Radio navigation
Radio navigation or radionavigation is the application of radio frequencies to determine a position on the Earth. Like radiolocation, it is a type of radiodetermination.The basic principles are measurements from/to electric beacons, especially...

 or airband
Airband or Aircraft band is the name for a group of frequencies in the VHF radio spectrum allocated to radio communication in civil aviation, sometimes also referred to as VHF, or phonetically as "Victor"...

A transceiver is a device comprising both a transmitter and a receiver which are combined and share common circuitry or a single housing. When no circuitry is common between transmit and receive functions, the device is a transmitter-receiver. The term originated in the early 1920s...

Antenna (radio)
An antenna is an electrical device which converts electric currents into radio waves, and vice versa. It is usually used with a radio transmitter or radio receiver...

 are placed on or inside the vertical tail. In most aircraft with three jet engines
A Trijet is an aircraft powered by three jet engines. Early twin-jet designs were limited by the FAA's "60-minute rule", whereby the flight path of twin-engined jetliners was restricted to within 60 minutes' flying time from a suitable airport, in case of engine failure. In 1964 this rule was...

, the vertical stabilizer houses the central engine or engine inlet duct.

Vertical stabilizers, or fins have also been used in automobile
An automobile, autocar, motor car or car is a wheeled motor vehicle used for transporting passengers, which also carries its own engine or motor...

s, specifically in top level motor sports, with the concept making a resurgence in both Formula 1 and Le Mans Prototype
Le Mans Prototype
A Le Mans Prototype is a type of sports prototype race car most notably used in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, American Le Mans Series and Le Mans Series...


Conventional tail

The vertical stabilizer is mounted exactly vertically, and the horizontal stabilizer
Stabilizer (aircraft)
In aviation, a stabilizer provides stability when the aircraft is flying straight, and the airfoil of the horizontal stabilizer balances the forces acting on the aircraft....

 is directly mounted to the empennage (the rear fuselage). This is the most common vertical stabilizer configuration.


A T-tail
thumb|right|Grob motor gliderA T-tail is an aircraft tail stabilizer configuration in which the horizontal surfaces are mounted to the top of the vertical stabilizer. Traditionally, the horizontal control surfaces are mounted to the fuselage at the base of the vertical stabilizer...

 has the horizontal stabilizer mounted at the top of the vertical stabilizer. It is commonly seen on rear-engine aircraft, such as the Bombardier CRJ200
Bombardier CRJ200
The Bombardier CRJ100 and CRJ200 are a family of regional airliner manufactured by Bombardier, and based on the Canadair Challenger business jet.-Development:...

, the Boeing 727
Boeing 727
The Boeing 727 is a mid-size, narrow-body, three-engine, T-tailed commercial jet airliner, manufactured by Boeing. The Boeing 727 first flew in 1963, and for over a decade more were built per year than any other jet airliner. When production ended in 1984 a total of 1,832 aircraft had been produced...

 and Douglas DC-9, as well as the Silver Arrow
Silver Arrow
Silver Arrow may refer to:* The Silver Arrows, a number of German racing cars* The Pierce-Arrow Silver Arrow, a luxury car* A former rail/air service between London and Paris , jointly operated by Silver City , British Rail and SNCF...

 small airplane, and most high performance gliders
Glider (sailplane)
A glider or sailplane is a type of glider aircraft used in the sport of gliding. Some gliders, known as motor gliders are used for gliding and soaring as well, but have engines which can, in some cases, be used for take-off or for extending a flight...


T-tails are often incorporated on configurations with fuselage mounted engines to keep the horizontal stabilizer away from the engine exhaust plume.

T-tail aircraft are more susceptible to pitch-up at high angles of attack. This pitch-up results from a reduction in the horizontal stabilizer's lifting capability as it passes through the wake of the wing at moderate angles of attack. This can also result in a deep stall condition.

T-tails present structural challenges since loads on the horizontal stabilizer must be transmitted through the vertical tail.

Cruciform tail

The cruciform tail is arranged like a cross, the most common configuration has the horizontal stabilizer intersecting the vertical tail somewhere near the middle. The PBY Catalina
PBY Catalina
The Consolidated PBY Catalina was an American flying boat of the 1930s and 1940s produced by Consolidated Aircraft. It was one of the most widely used multi-role aircraft of World War II. PBYs served with every branch of the United States Armed Forces and in the air forces and navies of many other...

 uses this configuration. The "push-pull" twin engined Dornier Do 335
Dornier Do 335
The Dornier Do 335 Pfeil was a World War II heavy fighter built by the Dornier company. The two-seater trainer version was also called Ameisenbär . The Pfeils performance was much better than other twin-engine designs due to its unique "push-pull" layout and the much lower drag of the in-line...

 World War II German fighter used a cruciform tail consisting of four separate surfaces, arranged in dorsal, ventral, and both horizontal locations, to form its cruciform tail, just forward of the rear propeller.

Falconjets from Dassault allways have cruciform tail.

Twin tail

Rather than a single vertical stabilizer, a twin tail has two. These are vertically arranged, and intersect or are mounted to the ends of the horizontal stabilizer. The Beechcraft Model 18
Beechcraft Model 18
The Beechcraft Model 18, or "Twin Beech", as it is better known, is a 6-11 seat, twin-engine, low-wing, conventional-gear aircraft that was manufactured by the Beech Aircraft Corporation of Wichita, Kansas...

 and many modern military aircraft
Military aircraft
A military aircraft is any fixed-wing or rotary-wing aircraft that is operated by a legal or insurrectionary armed service of any type. Military aircraft can be either combat or non-combat:...

 such as the American F-14, F-15, and F/A-18 use this configuration. The F/A-18, F-22 Raptor, and F-35 Lightning II have tailfins that are canted outward, to the point that they have some authority as horizontal control surfaces; both aircraft are designed to deflect their rudders inward during takeoff to increase pitching moment. A twin tail may be either H-tail, twin fin/rudder construction attached to a single fuselage such as North American B-25 Mitchell
B-25 Mitchell
The North American B-25 Mitchell was an American twin-engined medium bomber manufactured by North American Aviation. It was used by many Allied air forces, in every theater of World War II, as well as many other air forces after the war ended, and saw service across four decades.The B-25 was named...

 or Avro Lancaster
Avro Lancaster
The Avro Lancaster is a British four-engined Second World War heavy bomber made initially by Avro for the Royal Air Force . It first saw active service in 1942, and together with the Handley Page Halifax it was one of the main heavy bombers of the RAF, the RCAF, and squadrons from other...

, or twin boom tail, the rear airframe consisting of two separate fuselages each sporting one single fin/rudder, such as Lockheed P-38 Lightning
P-38 Lightning
The Lockheed P-38 Lightning was a World War II American fighter aircraft built by Lockheed. Developed to a United States Army Air Corps requirement, the P-38 had distinctive twin booms and a single, central nacelle containing the cockpit and armament...

 or C-119 Boxcar.

Triple tail

A variation on the twin tail, it has three vertical stabilizers. An example of this configuration is the Lockheed Constellation
Lockheed Constellation
The Lockheed Constellation was a propeller-driven airliner powered by four 18-cylinder radial Wright R-3350 engines. It was built by Lockheed between 1943 and 1958 at its Burbank, California, USA, facility. A total of 856 aircraft were produced in numerous models, all distinguished by a...

. On the Constellation it was done to give the airplane maximum vertical stabilizer area, but keep the overall height low enough so that it could fit into maintenance hangar
A hangar is a closed structure to hold aircraft or spacecraft in protective storage. Most hangars are built of metal, but other materials such as wood and concrete are also sometimes used...



A V-tail has no distinct vertical or horizontal stabilizers. Rather, they are merged into control surfaces known as ruddervators which control both pitch and yaw. The arrangement looks like the letter V, and is also known as a butterfly tail. The Beechcraft Bonanza Model 35
Beechcraft Bonanza
The Beechcraft Bonanza is an American general aviation aircraft introduced in 1947 by The Beech Aircraft Corporation of Wichita, Kansas. , it is still being produced by Hawker Beechcraft, and has been in continuous production longer than any other airplane in history...

 uses this configuration, as does the F-117 Nighthawk
F-117 Nighthawk
The Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk was a single-seat, twin-engine stealth ground-attack aircraft formerly operated by the United States Air Force . The F-117A's first flight was in 1981, and it achieved initial operating capability status in October 1983...

, and many of Richard Schreder
Richard Schreder
Richard E. Schreder was an American naval aviator and sailplane developer, responsible for design and development of the HP/RS-series kit sailplanes marketed from 1962 until about 1982...

's HP series of homebuilt
The term homebuilt is used to describe machines built outside of specialised workshops or factories. It can mean different things such as kit cars or homebuilt computers, but normally it pertains to homebuilt aircraft, also known as amateur-built aircraft or kit planes. Homebuilt aircraft or kit...

Glider (sailplane)
A glider or sailplane is a type of glider aircraft used in the sport of gliding. Some gliders, known as motor gliders are used for gliding and soaring as well, but have engines which can, in some cases, be used for take-off or for extending a flight...



Winglets served double duty on Burt Rutan
Burt Rutan
Elbert Leander "Burt" Rutan is an American aerospace engineer noted for his originality in designing light, strong, unusual-looking, energy-efficient aircraft...

's rear wing forward canard
Canard (aeronautics)
In aeronautics, canard is an airframe configuration of fixed-wing aircraft in which the forward surface is smaller than the rearward, the former being known as the "canard", while the latter is the main wing...

 pusher configuration
Pusher configuration
In a craft with a pusher configuration the propeller are mounted behind their respective engine. According to Bill Gunston, a "pusher propeller" is one mounted behind engine so that drive shaft is in compression...

Rutan VariEze
-See also:-References:* "Flying the VariEze", Air Progress, April 1978.* * * * Taylor, John W. R. Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1982–83. London:Jane's Yearbooks, 1982. ISBN 0-7106-0748-2.* * Flight International 1976...

 and Long-EZ
Rutan Long-EZ
-See also:-External links:****...

, acting as both a wingtip device and a vertical stabilizer. Several other derivatives of these and other similar aircraft use this design element.

Automotive/Motorsports use

While vertical stabilizers have also been used in some race cars, such as the 1955 Jaguar D-type
Jaguar D-type
The Jaguar D-Type, like its predecessor the C-Type, was a factory-built race car. Although it shared the basic straight-6 XK engine design with the C-Type, the majority of the car was radically different...

, the concept has seen sparing use until recently when the concept has seen a resurgence in Formula 1 and Le Mans
24 Hours of Le Mans
The 24 Hours of Le Mans is the world's oldest sports car race in endurance racing, held annually since near the town of Le Mans, France. Commonly known as the Grand Prix of Endurance and Efficiency, race teams have to balance speed against the cars' ability to run for 24 hours without sustaining...

 endurance racing
Endurance racing
Endurance racing is a form of motorsport racing which is meant to test the durability of equipment and endurance of participants. Teams of multiple drivers attempt to cover a large distance in a single event, with participants given a break with the ability to change during the race...

. The ostensible purpose of this is primarily to reduce sudden high speed yaw induced blow overs that would cause the cars to flip due to aerodynamic lift when subject to extreme yaw angles during cornering or in a spin. In addition to this, some Formula 1 teams utilized the wing as a way to disrupt the airflow to the rear wing reducing drag, the most radical system being the "F-duct" found in the MP4-25
McLaren MP4-25
The McLaren MP4-25 was a Formula One motor racing car designed and raced by McLaren in the season. The car, which was driven by World Champion Jenson Button and World Champion Lewis Hamilton, was officially unveiled at title sponsor Vodafone's headquarters in Newbury, Berkshire, United Kingdom...

 (and later copied by Ferrari
Scuderia Ferrari
Scuderia Ferrari is the racing team division of the Ferrari automobile marque. The team currently only races in Formula One but has competed in numerous classes of motorsport since its formation in 1929, including sportscar racing....

 in the Ferrari F10
Ferrari F10
The Ferrari F10 was a Formula One motor racing car built by Ferrari to compete in the 2010 Formula One season. The car was unveiled in Maranello, Italy on 28 January 2010...

) where air from a duct in the front of the car could be diverted, on demand by the driver, through a tunnel in the vertical fin onto the rear wing to stall it and reduce drag on the straights where downforce wasn't needed. The system has since been banned for the 2011 Formula 1 season. For Le Mans Prototypes, the vertical stabilizer, dubbed the "Big Honking Fin" by some fans has become mandatory for all newly homologated sports prototypes.
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