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I’ve done some research on this topic for awhile now, but I’m not exactly sure how to go about it. I’ve heard and read that on some World War Two aircraft had fabric covered fuselages, such as the Hawker Hurricane. The Mosquito aircraft was made of plywood and covered with fabric entirely. My primary concern is how the fabric will hold up and interfere with the yaw compared to metal, and I’m also occupied with costs, repair, and maintenance. This question might seem vague to some, but control surfaces are essential to performing maneuvers and controling pitch, yaw, and roll.

The aircraft speeds expected from the V8 engine are a top cruise speed of 193 knots and an economy speed of 170 knots. The rudder situation is an H-tail configuration, single engine powering a four bladed propeller. The aircraft wing is elliptical, in which the wing extends straight out for six ribs, then slants upwards at an angle of 15 degrees. Landing gear is retractable, taildragger configuration. Flaps are plain with a deflection full deflection of 45.

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  • $\begingroup$ @Dave if doped canvas is suitable for all sizes and speed ranges, does the question really need to be closed for not specifying the size and speed? Voting to keep open. $\endgroup$ – Koyovis Feb 20 '18 at 3:36
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    $\begingroup$ @Koyovis it looks like the question has been changed anyway so I will remove my close vote. $\endgroup$ – Dave Feb 20 '18 at 3:55
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    $\begingroup$ I don't quite understand why you're worried about the rudder in particular. Having flown a fabric-skinned aircraft, there's nothing special about the rudder compared to other control surfaces. $\endgroup$ – Dan Hulme Feb 20 '18 at 11:53
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Some aircrafts have had fabric tails over the years that held up just fine. The Mooney Mite (M18) comes to mind. It topped out around 140Kts but flew just fine with a fabric covered empennage. The Vought F4U Corsair also had a full fabric empennage and operated well in excess of your quoted speeds so there is no problem using fabric for speeds you speak of. The FAA has a decent resource on fabric covering here thats worth reading through.

The problem is less about interfering with yaw and perhaps interfering with everything else. Fabric is not as widely used anymore now that we have engine power to compensate for heavier airframes as well as the ability to work with metals consistently and accurately. Fabric also requires routine maintenance as well as periodic replacement. Fabric has a habit of ripping and needing repairs as well as simply sagging over time causing it to require a potentially full replacement. Since a great deal of aircraft are metal skinned now the people left to work on fabric coverings are slowly dwindling as well.

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