I was browsing images of aerobatic aircraft on Google and noticed that the vast majority of them have conventional "tail-dragger" landing gear.

Is there any practical reason why this is the case, or rather an aesthetic preference?

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    $\begingroup$ Don't have time for research atm, but my guess would be because a tricycle arrangement adds weight/shifts the CoG forward. an acrobatic airframe will most likely have a more powerful engine (read: bigger) already, and there might not actually be any room for a gear. Take the Mustang or Thunderbolt, their front ends were all engine and arms. I'm sure someone will post a correct answer, however. $\endgroup$ – CGCampbell Jun 26 '14 at 23:51
  • $\begingroup$ @CGCampbell: Aerobatic aircraft mostly have fixed landing gears, so space is not an issue. But weight is most likely the correct reason. And drag, since they are fixed gears. $\endgroup$ – Jan Hudec Jun 27 '14 at 4:51
  • $\begingroup$ @CGCampbell 1 nose gear may not be able to support the larger engine? $\endgroup$ – dalearn Feb 2 '17 at 16:07
  • $\begingroup$ The answer to your question is here. $\endgroup$ – tegginamaniss Jul 26 '17 at 0:25

The tailwheel is much lighter and smaller than a nose wheel. That means reducing airplane overall weight and drag (because the landing gear is usually fixed). And it's probably cheaper, too.


That’s an interesting question. We are students majoring in aeronautics at the University of Stuttgart in Germany. We’re not absolutely sure what the benefit of a taildragger is, but we have a few ideas.

Most aircraft have tricycle landing gear, probably because it’s easier to handle during take off and landing (it doesn’t matter in the air). It’s hard to maintain a straight line on the runway.

However, the taildragger offers one the opportunity to save some weight and to reduce drag. We haven’t seen any research about it, but it is obvious that you can save a little weight because nose gear would be heavier and produce more drag. The nose gear has to be more robust for hard landings.

Another point could be that you want to place a little more weight aft because the engine is one of the heaviest parts and it’s in the nose. You have to balance the weight of the aircraft with the engine to maintain the center of gravity.

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    $\begingroup$ A tricycle landing gear does matter in the air: Even retracted, when it does not contribute to drag directly, it adds considerably more mass. Aerobatic aircraft strive for the best thrust/weight ratio, so it does matter. A tricycle gear is only superior if a high wing loading means high landing speed and the requirement to brake the aircraft. Aerobatic aircraft don't need that. For them the taildragger is clearly the better choice. $\endgroup$ – Peter Kämpf Feb 3 '17 at 22:16

Fighter jets and related trainers outnumber (and outperform) light aerobatic aircraft, they all use tricycle gear.

Most aircraft were tail draggers until after WWII, so it's really an issue of the aircraft design dates to a period when everything had conventional gear. There are no particular advantages to it, but an airframe cannot be converted from one to the other (the balance would be off) so if you want a classic aerobat you also get the classic landing gear.

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    $\begingroup$ Zivko Edge 540 and Extra 300 are both new designs. Almost all aircraft had tricycle landing gear when they were designed. Yet they were designed as taildraggers. It is for a reason. $\endgroup$ – Jan Hudec Jun 27 '14 at 4:49

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