While watching this video on the Convair Model 48 Charger, I was surprised by the dimensions of the horizontal stabilizer. Compared to the North American OV-10 Bronco, which is relatively similar in its general configuration, it seems gigantic. What are the aerodynamic reasons that lead to such a difference in horizontal stabilizer volume between the Charger and the Bronco?

enter image description here

To scale, both surface and lever arm are larger

convair model 48 charger
(convair model 48 charger)

ov-10 bronco
(north-american ov-10 bronco)

  • $\begingroup$ The Convair seems all in all a really disproportioned aircraft. What's with the wings, they look like they forgot outer panels... $\endgroup$
    – Jpe61
    Sep 18, 2021 at 21:48
  • $\begingroup$ The Charger is about 34 feet long, while the Bronco is about 44 feet long (numbers from Wikipedia). That implies a greater moment arm on the Bronco, and a smaller tail to do the same job. $\endgroup$ Sep 19, 2021 at 2:10

1 Answer 1


Convair worked very hard to develop a light multiservice aircraft with STOL capabilities. The short wingspan does not appear "normal" in proportion because prop wash and high lift devices were used extensively to improve lift. Power on, the wing lived in a higher airspeed environment than the tail (lift is proportional to V$^2$). The model 48 was designed to carry a variety of armaments and was even tested (with scale models) to be fitted with floats.

No doubt the oversized tail was added as a safety measure to allow for a very wide safe CG range in much the same manner cargo aircraft such as the C-130 Hercules.

The Charger was reputed to be harder to control and the only prototype crashed, ending the program before further development and refinement was possible. It's "blown wing" concept echoed today's multi-electric motor proposals, but the more conventional, easier handling OV-10 won the day.

  • $\begingroup$ Relying on blown wing does not sound like a good idea in something that is likely to need to limp back home on one engine after suffering some battle damage. $\endgroup$
    – Jan Hudec
    Sep 19, 2021 at 10:37
  • $\begingroup$ Or even glide to a safe landing. But Convair, with their huge B-36 Peacemaker, Mach 2 B-58 Hustler, very high subsonic airliners, and Atlas missiles really pushed the edge technologicly. It just did not sell after the prototype crashed, even with better STOL and slightly higher top speed. $\endgroup$ Sep 19, 2021 at 11:02

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