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What exactly does "clipped wing" mean? Been having a rather heated debate. My understanding is that clipped means the tips were removed after manufacture. The other party claims that if it was designed squared off and built that way, it is called clipped.

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    $\begingroup$ I have only ever seen the term used with wings that were shortened after manufacture. $\endgroup$ – CrossRoads Jun 10 '18 at 15:22
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As far as I can find you may both be correct. The term originally was used to describe a stock aircraft having it's wings shortened after-market. Here is a reproduction of the December, 1970 issue of SPORT AVIATION Magazine article comparing stock vs clipped http://home.xcountry.tv/~dann/id72.htm

This modification has become well known and the clipped wing design sought after that there are planes (at least kits) being manufactured with "clipped" wings. http://www.monocoupe.com/

It appears that whether is was done 'aftermarket' or manufactured that way, clipped wings are those that have been shortened from original design to improve aerobatic capabilities.

Hopefully that will give you some more points to debate over!

~Hoff

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The term clipped wings can mean many things. As @Fodder Hoff said, sometimes aircraft have their wings clipped after manufacture, but sometimes variants of certain aircraft are manufactured with clipped wings. A common example of this is the supermarine spitfire. The first Spitfire models had beautiful elliptical wings that were not clipped. Then, starting with the Spitfire Mk.V (Mark 5), some had their wings clipped to increase the roll rate and low altitude performance of the fighter. This was done because the Focke-Wulf-190 outperformed the Spitfire in those two aspects.

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The term "clipped" far pre-dates 1970 and generally--as in the Spitfire context-- means a design modification that created a wingspan shorter than the original design. It generally does not mean that someone came along with a chainsaw and shortened the wings after the aircraft was already built-- although in the context of modern civil aviation, occasionally that is exactly what it means.

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