Some time ago, I came across a GIF of a Russian military airplane doing a Kulbit manoeuvre (Probably for showoff). How, in terms of control surface movement, does an airplane to the Kulbit?

enter image description here
Source: Reddit

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Thrust vectoring probably had a significant role to play. $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Commented Apr 30, 2016 at 16:17
  • $\begingroup$ @mins Readward salto $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 30, 2016 at 18:22
  • $\begingroup$ @mins It looks like the Kulbit so I will say that it is. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 30, 2016 at 19:38
  • $\begingroup$ after seeing the video, I agree with Ron, without TV is not doable. $\endgroup$
    – Federico
    Commented Apr 30, 2016 at 19:57
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Upon seeing that clip, I can't help but recall this famous line: "Son, your ego is writing checks your body can't cash." $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 30, 2016 at 23:57

1 Answer 1


The Kulbit maneuver is a variation on the Cobra maneuver (Pugachev's Cobra) with a higher pitch rate and continuous positive pitch rate throughout the maneuver. It requires two things:

  • A docile pitch behavior of the airframe over the full angle of attack range of 360°. Docile means that the pitch moments stay low and do not change abruptly with the angle of attack.
  • Thrust vectoring nozzles to keep the pitch rate up.

An electronic flight system is helpful to make execution easier, but is not strictly required. Also helpful is an engine-intake-combination which does not stall the compressor if the outer flow is reversed briefly. As you can see, the control surfaces only play a minor role - they are only important initially to start the pitch-up motion. This is done by negative elevator and/or positive canard deflection.


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