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Tailslide's Article - Fighter Ace Turn Rates

Why is Turn Rate Important ?

Turn rate is how fast a plane turns at a given speed.  Knowing turn rates allows you to find a plane's corner speed for different altitudes and flap configurations.   What is corner speed?  The speed at which you maximise your turn rate.   The closer you stick to your corner speed, the faster you will be able to turn without losing speed.  This does not mean that you should always fly at the corner speed.  Sometimes it is better to trade off speed for angle in order to get a quick kill or to get your loop in sync with your opponent's. (see RAF71_Mike's excellent article on loop fighting).


These statistics are for sustained turns (IE no speed increase or decrease).
I performed these turns with the plane at a full 90 degree bank with full up rudder to minimise descent.

Spitfire XIV  -  Fighter Ace  (arcade)

Turn Rate (Deg / Sec) Speed (Kts) Starting Altitude  (feet) Descent  (feet)
17 230 7117 536
17 220 6048 326
21 200 5062 292
24 200 6621 514
20 200 12322 317
26 (using flaps) 180 11565 424


P51D Mustang  -  Fighter Ace (arcade)

Turn Rate (Deg / Sec) Speed (Kts) Starting Altitude  (feet) Descent  (feet)
24 240 12213 222
24 240 11991 780
20 224 20430 304
20 222 20427 371
20 (using flaps) 215 20155 484



As you can see, I could maintain a faster sustained turning rate with flaps extended. You often hear people say it will only give you a temporary increase in turn rate, but this is not true (at least using the Spit 14 and P51 in Fighter Ace).  But wait!  What about the P51 .. your turn rate is the same with and without flaps!  See my article on P51 strategies to see why using flaps is better.




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