Canards at War

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What do the Wright Flyer and the Eurofighter Typhoon have in common? Both are airplanes of course and while vastly different in performance each shares an unusual design feature – the canard.

While the Wright Brothers were the first to use the canard, or foreplane configuration, for control it wasn’t until 1967 that the Swedish Saab 37 Viggin became the first canard aircraft to enter military service.

In 1927 the world’s first true canard aircraft took flight. Designed by Focke Wulf of Germany the F-19 ‘Duck’ was a high-wing monoplane with a canard layout and fixed tricycle landing gear. The pilot sat in an open cockpit with room for two or three passengers in an enclosed cabin. The canard was mounted on short struts above the nose of the aircraft ahead of the cockpit. The F-19 was touted as being virtually stall proof. The front canard’s position meant it would stall before the rear-mounted rear wing, pushing the nose down for a quick recovery. It was a unique feature, but the winds of war would soon push the canard into the shadows.

Hitler’s ascendancy into power put an end to work on the canard designs. Conventional aircraft were easier to manufacture, but the canard never died. Secretly Focke Wulf continued to work on their Fw 42 canard twin-engine medium bomber. The Fw 42 featured a long, slender fuselage, an aft mounted wing with a canard on the nose. Fortunately for the Allies it never made it past the wind tunnel stage.

Almost every air force during World War II built a canard aircraft with limited degrees of success. Today the world’s top fighters all have canards. See what took so long for the canard to take flight with Canards at War.

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