L-Shaped Fins

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Well-Known Member
Jan 18, 2009
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Any of you rocket-history buffs know the answer to this one?

The V-2 used conventional shaped fins, but the Wasserfall, and then the Jupiter/Redstone, used L-shaped fins. Then they disappeared from subsequent rockets.

Any idea what benefits the L-shape was thought to confer, and then what problems caused them to go away?

I've always thought they looked very cool and am kind of sorry they aren't on more of the models I build.

Just curious. :confused:
I believe they were designed that way to make guidance a little easier to impliment. The "L" part that stuck out past the rest of the fin was basically a slab that pivoted like a fighter plane's flying horizontal stabilizer. That let the moving surface be smaller and the force needed to move it is lower also. It has all the advantages that a flying stab would have over hinged elevators in a fighter plane.

Once Von Braun became more confident in controlling his rockets with gimballed nozzle thrust vectoring, the L style fins disappeared. The V-2, Wasserfal, Redstone, and Jupiter-C used exhaust vanes for thrust vectoring instead of gimballed nozzles. Exhaust vanes weren't as effective as gimballed motors.