I'm looking for different types of airfoils that fighters have used for their tail, such as the F18 or F22. Or in general what airfoils do fighters typically have. For instance do they want low t/c, do they want to be symmetrical (regarding the horizontal tail), do they want to be cambered, etc.


1 Answer 1


The best resource for airfoil usage is the UIUC Incomplete Guide.

Unfortunately, empennage airfoils are rarely revealed and you won't find many in the guide.

Fifth gen fighters with subsonic leading edges tend to use NACA 65A or 64A for their wings. Fighters with supersonic leading edges use a bi-convex or flattened hexagon kind of airfoil.

Sixth gen fighters likely use similar airfoils for their wings, but may use airfoils tailored for low observables, or perhaps custom airfoils that are similar in design, but with the prevalence of modern tools there is little barrier against designing a custom airfoil.

Vertical tails are almost always symmetrical -- horizontal tail airfoils are frequently symmetrical. While there could be some benefit to a cambered horizontal tail (probably upside-down), it is likely not worth the trouble. Many high performance aircraft use an all-moving tail.

High speed aero wants low t/c. Structures wants high t/c.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for your detailed response! $\endgroup$
    – Bill Shao
    Commented Nov 5, 2022 at 18:40

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