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In the 0.24 science tree I've unlocked the Aerodynamics (tech tree tier 4), which contains the first space plane parts you can unlock.

It does not contain any landing gear. :-|

1) Can one even build a plane that takes off from a runway with these parts? 2) If so, could it land?

  • 3
    This sounds like an excellent thing worth trying. Why don't you give it a shot and let us know? Also, since when is landing even part of the goal? If a Kerbal can walk away from the landing, that's all that matters. – Frank Aug 6 '14 at 22:08
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    The answers are yes and maybe. It may not be a conventional airplane (may require rocket engines, for instance), and might not fly all that well, but it can get airborne. Remember, as far as Kerbals are concerned, an airplane could just be a rocket that has wings on it. – MBraedley Aug 7 '14 at 0:49
  • But in career mode you want to save a buck or 2 by landing the plane. :D – Sephie Aug 7 '14 at 10:30
  • If you ask me it's just silly that the landing gear isn't included with the basic parts, but that's for the developers to fix/change. :) – Sephie Aug 7 '14 at 10:47
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Yes and yes.

For takeoff, you can

  • perform an all-jet VTOL
  • use girders or cubic struts; if your plane has a low enough takeoff/stall speeds you can drag them with no damage
  • use a very tall launch tower and rev the engine before decoupling to perform a drop takeoff
  • perform a rocket-assisted forward-oriented takeoff, using the rockets to get you airborne and your jet engines to keep you that way
  • turn the plane 90 degrees upward and perform a stovepipe takeoff by giving it a thrust-to-weight ratio of >= 1, or a rocket assisted takeoff
  • drag your girders on radial decouplers; detach to lift off or when one breaks

For landing, you can

  • use girders or struts as low-speed contacts
  • use parachutes to land the plane on its belly or tail
  • all of the above

The simplest way to do this is definitely a stovepipe rocket-assisted takeoff and a parachute landing. The most hardcore is the VTOL just because they're damn near impossible to build or land. (Also, VTOL protip: use action groups to switch modes between vertical engines and horizontal.)

  • Cool ideas, thanks! However, while towers and/or girders might be ok, a rocket-assisted take-off violates my basic-parts only constraint. Maybe the question should be "how to take-off & land without the landing gear" I am nowhere near precise enough with the controls to land on anything but wheels. – Sephie Aug 7 '14 at 10:32
  • Oh, and I have never used action groups before! Your tip is a great use case for them. – Sephie Aug 7 '14 at 10:45
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    Solid rockets on decouplers breaks your constraint? Son, the solution to every problem in this game is MOAR SRB. – rsegal Aug 7 '14 at 11:58
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    Well put. I guess in a way the SRB is as basic as you can get. ;) – Sephie Aug 7 '14 at 12:35
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    It worked! :) imgur.com/WA4kMvG This was a fun (and probably quite basic) exercise. – Sephie Aug 9 '14 at 12:47

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