Aerodynamic characteristics of airfoils at high speeds

Briggs, L J Hull, G F Dryden, H L

This report deals with an experimental investigation of the aerodynamical characteristics of airfoils at high speeds. Lift, drag, and center of pressure measurements were made on six airfoils of the type used by the air service in propeller design, at speeds ranging from 550 to 1,000 feet per second. The results show a definite limit to the speed at which airfoils may efficiently be used to produce lift, the lift coefficient decreasing and the drag coefficient increasing as the speed approaches the speed of sound. The change in lift coefficient is large for thick airfoil sections (camber ratio 0.14 to 0.20) and for high angles of attack. The change is not marked for thin sections (camber ratio 0.10) at low angles of attack, for the speed range employed. At high speeds the center of pressure moves back toward the trailing edge of the airfoil as the speed increases. The results indicate that the use of tip speeds approaching the speed of sound for propellers of customary design involves a serious loss in efficiency.

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