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I saw jets in game using elevators to roll right and left, but I never saw them doing in real life. I was wondering if fighter jets actually use elevator to roll like they do in game.

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  • $\begingroup$ Related: The moment of a force (the principle of the lever) and the notion of torque. $\endgroup$ – mins Jan 19 '18 at 12:16
  • $\begingroup$ Jet fighters was invented at the end of WW2 so whatever you take from below as an answer, prepend them with a "Some of them". $\endgroup$ – user3528438 Jan 24 '18 at 0:03
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Yes. The airplane’s flight control computer can command a roll using all primary and secondary control surfaces, including differential actuation of the tailplane as Blue Angels #6 demonstrates during a preflight check.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thank you! Now I found an answer for a question that I had for 2 years! $\endgroup$ – Jinsung Kim Jan 19 '18 at 4:53
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Yes that exists, the combined elevator/ailerons are called elevons. Particularly delta wing aircraft have them, because the space at the trailing edge of the wing is at a premium. The F-117 had elevons as well, as did Concorde.

enter image description hereImage source

Swing wing designs use elevons as well:

  • the F-14 Tomcat rolled through elevon and spoiler deflection.
  • This incident report mentions the elevon of the Panavia Tornado being damaged from a panel coming off.
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  • $\begingroup$ You may want to add that when the elevon is on the tail (as the OP is asking about), it's typically called a stabilator. At least, that's my understanding. $\endgroup$ – yshavit Jan 19 '18 at 7:02
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    $\begingroup$ @yshavit As far as I know, a stabilator is a control surface, usually located in the tail, that serves as both horizontal STABILizer and elevATOR, with no reference to the ailerons. :-) $\endgroup$ – Marco Sanfilippo Jan 19 '18 at 11:16
  • $\begingroup$ Don't forget to mention swing wing designs: They use the horizontal tail for roll control as well. $\endgroup$ – Peter Kämpf Jan 23 '18 at 17:19
  • $\begingroup$ @PeterKämpf Added. $\endgroup$ – Koyovis Jan 24 '18 at 3:10
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Yes, high performance aircraft prior to the F-15/F-16 era (1970) or so, had a real problem in that attempting to roll the aircraft using ailerons, when at higher angle of attack(AOA) would, because of Adverse Yaw, produce a yaw in the opposite direction, (Stick to the left would produce right Yaw), which, because of the wing sweep, would create a roll opposite the intended direction. This was the cause of many aircraft accidents. The F-100 for example was infamous for something called the Sabre-Dance, where a pilot, by attempting to roll the aircraft using ailerons at high AOA on short final for landing, would induce a roll in the opposite direction, and put the aircraft out of control at very low altitude. The F-4 also had this problem, although by the mid 60s, it was understood well enough that F-4 pilots were trained to use the rudder to roll the aircraft at higher AOA. Instructors, training new pilots, were themselves trained to emphasize this flight characteristic, and, whenever at high AOA, to keep our knees in the back seat right up against the control stick to inhibit new pilots from introducing any aileron.

Before Fly-By-Wire was introduced, this tendency was addressed by having the stabilator, (Horizonal stabilizer and elevator), surface be differentially controllable, and mechanize it so that the fore and aft position of the control stick controlled the degree to which left/right deflection of the control stick would cause aileron deflection vs. differential stabilator deflection. At low AOA (where control stick was forward), left right motion caused only aileron deflection. At very high AOA (where control stick was aft), left/right deflection would cause mostly differential stabilator. ( I think the first aircraft to use this technique was F-15, where it was implemented using mechanical linkages in the flight controls). Later of course, once Fly By Wire (FBW) was introduced, this was all done by the computer, and it was determined directly from measured AOA, and not just from stick position.

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