The aerodynamic characteristics of airfoils as affected by surface roughness

April 1933

The effect on airfoil characteristics of surface roughness of varying degrees and types at different locations on an airfoil was investigated at high values of the Reynolds number in a variable density wind tunnel. Tests were made on a number of National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) 0012 airfoil models on which the nature of the surface was varied from a rough to a very smooth finish. The effect on the airfoil characteristics of varying the location of a rough area in the region of the leading edge was also investigated. Airfoils with surfaces simulating lap joints were also tested. Measurable adverse effects were found to be caused by small irregularities in airfoil surfaces which might ordinarily be overlooked. The flow is sensitive to small irregularities of approximately 0.0002c in depth near the leading edge. The tests made on the surfaces simulating lap joints indicated that such surfaces cause small adverse effects. Additional data from earlier tests of another symmetrical airfoil are also included to indicate the variation of the maximum lift coefficient with the Reynolds number for an airfoil with a polished surface and with a very rough one.

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