On the general theory of thin airfoils for nonuniform motion

Reissner, Eric (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

General thin-airfoil theory for a compressible fluid is formulated as boundary problem for the velocity potential, without recourse to the theory of vortex motion. On the basis of this formulation the integral equation of lifting-surface theory for an incompressible fluid is derived with the chordwise component of the fluid velocity at the airfoil as the function to be determined. It is shown how by integration by parts this integral equation can be transformed into the Biot-Savart theorem. A clarification is gained regarding the use of principal value definitions for the integral which occur. The integral equation of lifting-surface theory is used a s the starting point for the establishment of a theory for the nonstationary airfoil which is a generalization of lifting-line theory for the stationary airfoil and which might be called "lifting-strip" theory. Explicit expressions are given for section lift and section moment in terms of the circulation function, which for any given wing deflection is to be determined from an integral equation which is of the type of the equation of lifting-line theory. The results obtained are for airfoils of uniform chord. They can be extended to tapered airfoils. One of the main uses of the results should be that they furnish a practical means for the analysis of the aerodynamic span effect in the problem of wing flutter. The range of applicability of "lifting-strip" theory is the same as that of lifting-line theory so that its results may be applied to airfoils with aspect ratios as low as three.

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