The effects of surface waviness and of rib stitching on wing drag

Hood, Manley J
August 1939

Surface waviness and rib stitching have been investigated as part of a series of tests to determine the effects on wing drag of common surface irregularities. The tests were made in the N.A.C.A. 8-foot high-speed wind tunnel at Reynolds Numbers up to 17,000,000. The results of the tests showed that the waviness common to airplane wings will cause no serious increase in drag unless the waviness exists on the forward part of the wing, where it may cause premature transition or premature compressibility effects. Waves 3 inches wide and 0.048 inch high, for example, increased the drag 1 percent when they covered the rear 67 percent of both surfaces and 10 percent when they covered the rear 92 percent. A single wave 3 inches wide and only 0.020 inch high at the 10.5-percent-chord point on the upper surface caused transition to occur on the wave and increased the drag 6 percent. Rib stitching increased the drag 7 percent when the rib spacing was 6 inches; the drag increment was proportional to the number of ribs for wider spacings. About one-third of the increase was due to premature transition at the forward ends of the stitching.

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