"Downthrust" is a common engine mount feature of propeller driven aircraft, models and full scale alike.
From model building experience and flight, downthrust, angling the (tractor) engine mount down a few degrees seems to relax static stability a bit when full power is applied by counter-acting tail down force and enabling flight at various speeds with less trimming.
The effect in a full power climb would be a higher trim speed than a power off glide at the same trim.
Yet many people on this site strongly feel that lift must be less than weight in a climb.
I think it can be (rockets do this well), but using the wing to climb seems far more efficient, as witnessed by superior climb and distance performance at Vcc (cruise climb) and Vy compared with Vx as seen in this reference
The larger slower wing produces much more force than the smaller, faster propeller. Additionally, at Vx, increased angle of attack, with thrust used to counter additional drag may be a better strategy than reducing wing lift and trying to replace it with a vertical thrust component. Most GA planes will lose airspeed at this point. At cruise climb speeds, the thrust vector may well be slightly below the line of flight, yet less fuel is consumed per distance than even Vy!
any other climb path is just another point in the ratio of lift + thrust + surplus thrust for climbing
Let's apply our "surplus thrust" and see what happens:
- Increasing thrust increases airspeed
- Increasing airspeed causes aircraft to pitch up
- Airspeed stabilizes (to trim airspeed) at higher pitch (relative to the horizon).
- $cosine$ of lift vector (vertical lift) decreases
In order to maintain vertical lift we:
a) speed up b) increase angle of attack c) pitch up even more
Here lies the crux of the issue. Most GA aircraft have a thrust to weight ratio of 1:4. Attempting to replace a 300 lb weightlifter with a 75 lb one will have predictable results.
"Lift is less than weight in a climb" is based on the assumption that lift is perpendicular to the thrust line...and the (upward pointed) thrust vector is carrying part of the weight
That's not the best way to do it, and is known as "helicoptering". the wings job is to produce enough $vertical$ $lift$ to make the aircraft "weightless", so the engine thrust only opposes drag. It is extremely wasteful to use thrust to "lift weight", unless the aircraft is pitched at so high an angle as to make the wings drag greater than its vertical lft contribution.
a) and b) seem to be the correct answers, as seen in the "real world" as Vx, Vy, and Vcc.
Is there a way to reconcile this academic quandary?