Direct measurements of skin friction

Satish Dhawan

A device has been developed to measure local skin friction on a flat plate by measuring the force exerted upon a very small movable part of the surface of the flat plate. These forces, which range from about 1 milligram to about 100 milligrams, are measured by means of a reactance device. The apparatus was first applied to measurements in the low-speed range, both for laminar and turbulent boundary layers. The measured skin-friction coefficients show excellent agreement with Blasius' and Von Karman's results. The device was then applied to high-speed subsonic flow and the turbulent-skin-friction coefficients were determined up to a Mach number of about 0.8. A few measurements in supersonic flow were also made. This paper describes the design and construction of the device and the results of the measurements.

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