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BasicDesignofFlyingWingModels

Preface
Asurveyoftheavailableliteratureonthetopicofflying
wingandtaillessmodelairplanesshows,thatinmost
cases,theairfoilselectionismentioned,butnoreliable
datafortheselectionareavailable.Duetothededicated
workofvariousmodelers,ahugecollectionofairfoil
coordinatesisavailabletoday[UIUC],
[Bender/Wiechers]acomparablesetofaerodynamic
dataismoredifficulttofind,though.Thissituationand,
thenumerousquestionsofmodelers,concerningthe
performanceandtheselectionofairfoilsforflyingwing
models,initiatedthispaper.Onthiswebpage,youwill
findawaytoperformthenecessarycalculationsfor
stableflyingwingmodels.Theaccompanyingcollection
ofairfoilcoordinatesandpolarshasbeenpublishedin
[29].

AnindoorflyingwingmodelbyR.
Epplerin1942.

AirfoilsforFlyingWings
Taillessplanesandflyingwingscanbeequippedwith
almostanyairfoil,ifsweepandtwistdistributionare
chosenaccordingly.Thus,theoneandonly"flyingwing
airfoil"doesnotexist.However,ifwewanttodesigna
taillessplanewithawideoperatingrange,thewing
shouldhaveasmallamountoftwistonly,ornoneatall,
tokeeptheinduceddragatreasonablelevelsthroughout
thewholeflightenvelope.Undertheseconditions,the
wingmustnotcreatealargevariationinmoment
coefficient,whentheangleofattackisvaried.This
makesitnecessary,touseairfoilswithalowmoment
coefficient.Inthecaseofanunsweptwing("plank"),
evenanairfoilwithapositivemomentcoefficientis
necessary,toavoidupwarddeflectedflapsunder
trimmedflightconditions.Suchairfoilsusuallyhavea
reflexedcamberline.

AmodernradiocontrolledF3B
flyingwingmodelof1994.

LongitudinalStability
Likeitsfullsizedcousins,eachmodelairplaneshouldhaveaminimumamountof
stability,i.e.itshouldbeabletoreturntoitstrimmedflightconditionafteradisturbance
byagustoracontrolinput.Howmuchstabilityisrequired,dependsonthepilots
personaltaste:contestpilotspreferasmallstabilitymargin,beginnersliketoflywitha
largemargin.Here,onlyabriefintroductionintothetopicwillbegiven,whichwillmake

itpossibletofindafirstguessforthecenterofgravityandareasonablecombinationof
sweepandcamberforaflyingwing.

1.UnsweptWings(Plank)
Whilethehorizontaltailplaneprovidesthenecessaryamountoflongitudinalstabilityona
conventionalplane,itisthewing,whichstabilizesanunsweptwing.Inmostcases,
airfoilswithreflexed(sshaped)meanlinesareusedonflyingwingmodelstoachievea
longitudinallystablemodel.
SomeimportantAerodynamicandMechanicalFacts
Tounderstand,whyareflexedairfoilisabletoprovidelongitudinalstabilitytoawing,
twothingsareimportant:
TotalForceandMoment,c/4point
Thepressureforces,whichactonthesurfaceofeachwingsection,canbereplaced
byasingletotalforceandasingletotalmoment.Bothactatthequarterchord
pointoftheairfoil.Whentheangleofattackchanges(e.g.duetoagust),the
momentstaysnearlyconstant,butthetotalforcechanges.Increasingtheangleof
attackincreasestheforce.
CenterofGravity
Translationsandrotationsof"freefloating"bodiesareperformedrelativetotheir
centerofgravity.Whentheangleofattackofaplanechanges,theplanerotates
(pitches)arounditscenterofgravity(c.g.).
Equilibrium
Let'shavealookatatrimmedflightcondition,whereallforcesandmomentsarein
equilibriumandlet'scompareaconventional,camberedairfoilwithanairfoilwitha
reflexedcamberline.Themomentsandforcesforthistrimmedstatearedenotedwithan
asterisk(*).Theforcesaretheweightofthemodelm,multipliedwiththegravity
accelerationg(9.81m/s)andtheaerodynamicliftL,whichhavetocancelout(sumof
forcesinverticaldirectionequalszero).Thedragforcesareneglectedhere.Thesumof
themomentsaroundc.g.(causedbytheairfoilmomentMandtheliftforceL,actingata
distancefromc.g.)mustalsobezero.
conventionalairfoilwithcamber

airfoilwithreflexedmeanline

EquilibriumState

Thisairfoilhasanoseheavymoment.Asstated
above,thecenterofgravityisalsothecenterof

Thereflexedcamberlinemakesthemoment
coefficientpositive,whichmeans,thatthe

rotationofthewing.Whenitisshiftedbehind
thec/4point,theairforceL*infrontofthec.g.
counteractsthenoseheavymomentM*to
achieveequilibrium.Thedistancebetweenc.g.
andc/4pointisdependingontheamountofM*.
AsymmetricalairfoilhasM*=0,whichmeans
wehavetoplacethec.g.atthec/4point.

momentaroundthec/4pointisworkinginthe
tailheavydirection.Thereforethecenterof
gravityhastobelocatedinfrontofthec/4point
tobalancethemomentM*bytheliftforceL*.
Thelargerthemoment(coefficient)ofthe
airfoil,thelargerthedistancebetweenc/4and
thec.g.forequilibrium.

DisturbedState

Whentheangleofattackisincreased(e.g.bya
gust),theliftforceLincreases.NowL>L*and
thetailheavymomentduetotheliftislarger
thanthemomentaroundc/4,whichstillis
M=M*.Thusthewingwillpitchup,increasing
theangleofattackfurther.Thisbehavioris
instableandatailplaneisneededtostabilizethe
system.

Here,wehavetheairforceactingbehindthe
c.g.,whichresultsinanadditionalnoseheavy
moment,whentheliftincreases.WithL>L*,the
wingwillpitchdown,reducingtheangleof
attack,untiltheequilibriumstateisreached
again.Thesystemisstable.

NeutralPointandStability
Aswelearnedabove,anunsweptwingwithareflexedairfoilisabletostabilizeitself.Its
c.g.mustbelocatedinfrontofthec/4point,whichisalsocalledneutralpoint(n.p.).The
distancebetweentheneutralpoint(quarterchordpointforanunsweptwing)andthe
centerofgravityisdefiningtheamountofstabilityifthec.g.isclosetothen.p.,the
straighteningmomentissmallandthewingreturns(too)slowlyintoitsequilibrium
condition.Ifthedistancec.g.n.p.islarge,thec.g.isfaraheadofthec/4pointandthe
wingreturnsquicklytotheequilibriumangle.Youwillrequirelargerflapdeflectionsto
controlthemodel,though.Ifthedistanceistoolarge,thewingmaybecomeover
stabilized,overshootingitstrimmedflightattitudeandoscillatingmoreandmoreuntilthe
planecrashes.
Ameasureforstabilityisthedistancebetweenc.g.andn.p.,dividedbythemeanchord
ofthewing.Typicalvaluesforthisnumberforaflyingwingarebetween0.02and0.05,
whichmeansastabilitycoefficientsigmaof2to5percent.Wecanexpressthe
equilibriumofmomentsaroundc.g.forourdesignliftcoefficient by
,
whichcanbetransformedtofindthemomentcoefficientneededtosatisfyacertain
stabilitycoefficient:
.

Example Wewanttouseanunsweptflyingwing(aplank)forridgesoaringanddecidetousea
targetliftcoefficientof =0.5.Wewanttohaveastabilitycoefficientof5%andare
lookingforamatchingairfoil.Wecalculatethenecessarymomentcoefficient
Cm=0.5*0.05=+0.025.
SearchingthroughapublicationaboutEpplerairfoils[28],wefind,thattheairfoilsE186
andE230couldbeusedforourmodel.

2.SweptWings
2.1NeutralPointandStability
Wehavealreadylearned,thatthecenterofgravitymustbelocatedinfrontoftheneutral
point.Whilethen.p.ofanunswept,rectangularwingisapproximatelyatthec/4point,
then.p.ofaswept,taperedwingmustbecalculated.Thefollowingprocedurecanbe
usedforasimple,taperedand,sweptwing.First,wecalculatethemeanaerodynamic
chordlength ofataperedwing,whichisindependentfromthesweepangle:

withtherootchordlr,thetipchordltandthetaperratio

Wecanalsocalculatethespanwiselocationofthemeanchord ,usingthespanb,
.
Then.p.ofoursweptwingcanbefoundbydrawingaline,paralleltothefuselagecenter
line,atthespanwisestationy.Thechordatthisstationshouldbeequalto .Then.p.is
approximatelylocatedatthec/4pointofthischordline(seethesketchbelow).

Geometricparametersofatapered,sweptwing.

Insteadofusingthegraphicalapproach,thelocationoftheneutralpointcanalsobe
calculatedbyusingoneofthefollowingformulas,dependingonthetaperratio:

,iftaperratio>0.375

,iftaperratio<0.375.
Thec.g.mustbeplacedinfrontofthispoint,andthewingmayneedsometwist
(washout)togetasufficientlystablewing.

2.2Twist
Theselectionofthelocationofthec.g.tobeinfrontofthen.p.isnotaguaranteefor
equilibriumitisonlyarequirementforlongitudinalstability.Additionally,asexplained
aboveforunsweptwings,thesumofallaerodynamicmomentsaroundthec.g.mustbe
zero.Becausewehaveselectedthepositionofthec.g.alreadytosatisfythestability
criterion(c.g.infrontofn.p.),wecanachievetheequilibriumofthemomentsonlyby
airfoilselectionandbyadjustingthetwistofthewing.Onconventionalairplaneswitha
horizontalstabilizeritisusuallypossibletoadjustthedifferencebetweentheanglesof
incidenceofwingandtailplaneduringthefirstflighttests.Ontheotherhand,flying
wingshavethedifferencebuiltintothewing(twist),whichcannotbealteredeasily.Thus
itisveryimportanttogetthecombinationofplanform,airfoilsandtwistright(oratleast
close)beforethewingisbuilt.Again,thecalculationoftheseparametersisquite
complexandshallnotbepresentedheretherelationsareshowningreatdetailin[27].
HereIwillpresentasimple,approximateapproach,whichisbasedontwographs,and
canbeusedforswept,taperedwingswithalinearairfoilvariationfromroottotip.
Westartwiththesamegeometricparameters,whichwehaveusedforthecalculationof
then.p.above.Additionally,wecalculatetheaspectratio(AR=b/S,whereSisthewing
area)ofthewing.Theselectionoftheairfoilsectionsalsodefinestheoperatingrangeof
themodel.Airfoilswithasmallamountofcamberarenotwellsuitedforslow,
thermalingflight,butgoodforF3Bflightstyleandridgesoaring.Wecandesignthetwist
distributionforonetrimmedliftcoefficient,wherethewingwillflywithoutflap
deflections.Thisliftcoefficientwillusuallybesomewherebetweenthebestglideandthe
bestclimbperformanceoftheairfoil.WiththeselectedliftcoefficientCloftheairfoils,
wecanalsofindthemomentcoefficientCm0.25fromtheairfoilpolars.Ifweplantouse
differentrootandtipsections,weusethemeanvalueofthemomentcoefficientofthe
twoairfoils.Therequiredtwistofthewingcanbecombinedfromtwoparts:
GeometricTwist
Thisisthetwist,whichisbuiltintothewingasthedifferencebetweenthexaxisoftherootand
thetipsection.Itcorrespondstotheangledifferencebetweenmainwingandtailplaneof
conventionalplanesandcanbeeasilymeasured.Apositivetwistmeansasmallerangleof
incidenceatthetipsection(washout).Largegeometrictwistanglescanbeusedtostabilize
wingswithsmallsweepanglesorhighlycamberedairfoils,buthavethedrawbackofcreating
largeamountsofinduceddrag,whenthewingisoperatedoutsideofitsdesignpoint.Theaim
ofthefollowingparagraphsistofindthegeometrictwist.

AerodynamicTwist
Ifweselectairfoilswithdifferentzeroliftangles,wecanreducetheamountofgeometrictwist.
Thedifferencebetweenthezeroliftdirectionsiscalledaerodynamictwistandweneedairfoil
polarstofindthezeroliftangle.Also,asmallorevenpositivemomentcoefficientreducedthe
requiredamountofgeometrictwist,andimprovestheoffdesignperformanceofthewing.

FindingtheRequiredTwistreq
Usinggraph1,weenterthegraphwiththeaspectratioARonthehorizontalaxis,and
drawaverticallineupwards,untilweintersectthecurve,correspondingtothesweep
angleofthec/4line.Continuingtotheaxisontheleftborder,wefindthestandardvalue
*reqfortherequiredtwistangle.
Thisstandardvalueisvalidforawing,which:
istrimmedat

=1.0and,

hasastabilitycoefficientof*=10%(seeabove),and
usesairfoilswithamomentcoefficientofzero.
Fromthestandardvaluewecalculatethetrue,requiredtwistangle,usingtheformula
insetintothegraph.Therefore,wecalculatetheratioofourtargetliftcoefficienttothe
standardliftcoefficient(CL/ )andtheratioofourdesiredstabilitycoefficienttothe
standard
.Wesee,thatareductionoftheliftcoefficienttoCL=0.5alsoreducesthe
requiredtwistby50%.Also,ifweuseasmallerstabilitymargin,weneedasmaller
amountoftwist.

Graph1:Findingtherequiredtwist.
Variationofzeroliftangle
Ifweusedifferentairfoilsatrootandtip,theymayhavedifferentzeroliftdirections,
whichinfluencestheequilibriumstate.Thegeometrictwisthastobereducedbythe
differenceofthezeroliftdirections0oftipandrootsections:
.
Usingthesameairfoilforbothsections,wecanset0tozero.

InfluenceoftheAirfoilMomentcoefficients
Themomentcoefficientoftheairfoilscontributestotheequilibrium,andhastobetaken
intoaccountforthecalculationofthetwist.Graph2canbeusedtofindtheequivalent
twistduetothecontributionofCm,whichhastobesubtractedfromtherequiredtwist.If
weuseairfoilswithpositivemomentcoefficients,thecontributionwillbepositive,which
resultsinareductionoftheamounttwist,highlycamberedairfoilsyieldnegativevalues
Cm,whichforceustobuildmoretwistintothewing.Similartothepreviousgraph,we
enterwiththeaspectratio,intersectwiththesweepcurveandreadthevalueforCm
fromthelefthandaxis.

Graph2:Findingtheadditionaltwistduetotheairfoilsmomentcoefficient.
Again,thegraphhasbeenplottedforacertainstandardcondition,whichisamoment
coefficientofcm*=0.05(note:positivevalue).Weapplytheratioofthemoment
coefficients(cm/cm*)tofindthecontributionCmofthemomentcoefficienttothe
geometrictwist.Thiscontributionhastobesubtractedfromtherequiredtwistangle,too.
Usingtheusual,camberedairfoilswithnegativemomentcoefficientswillchangethesign
oftheratiocm/cm*,whichresultsinnegativeCmvalues.Thismeans,thatthe
subtractionfromreqwillactuallybeanaddition,increasingthegeometrictwistangle.If
wehavedifferentairfoilsatrootandtip,wecanusethemeanmomentcoefficient
(cm,tip+cm,root)/2tocalculatetheratiocm/cm*.
Finally,wecancalculatethegeometrictwistanglegeo,whichhastobebuiltintothe
wing:
.
Example Asyouhavenoticed,thegraphscontainanexample,whichisusedhere.Weconsidera
flyingwingmodelwiththefollowingdata:
wingspan
b=2.365m

chordlengthatroot

lr=0.260m

chordlengthattip

lt=0.170m

sweepangleatc/4line

0.25=20

designliftcoefficient

CL=0.5

rootsectionE182

cm,r=+0.01and0,r=0.3

tipsectionE184

cm,t=+0.03and0,t=0.5

desiredstabilitycoefficient sigma=0.05
WecalculatethewingareaS:
S=(l_r+l_t)/2*b=0.5085m
andtheaspectratio
AR=b/S=11.0
andthemeanmomentcoefficient
cm=(cm,r+cm,t)/2=0.02.
Usinggraph1,wefind*req=11.8,whichhastobecorrectedtomatchourdesignlift
coefficientandthedesiredstabilitymargin:

11.8*(0.5/1.0)*(0.05/0.1)=2.95.
Thismeansthatourmodelwouldneedatwistangleof2.95(washout)fromroottotip,
ifwewoulduseasymmetricalairfoilsection.
Thedifferenceofthezeroliftangleoftipandrootsectionis
.
Nowwereadthetwistcontributionofthemomentcoefficientfromgraph2,whichis
*Cm=5.8,whichhastobecorrectedforoursmallermeanmomentcoefficient:

5.8*(0.02/0.05)=2.32.
Finally,wecalculatethegeometrictwistfrom

2.950.82.32=0.17.
Thenegativevaluemeans,thatwecoulduseasmallamountofwashin!Thisisbecause
wehavealreadyenoughstabilityduetotheselectionofairfoilswithreflexedcamber

lines.Sincethecalculatedamountisverysmall,wecanusethesameangleofincidence
fortherootandtipribs.Sincethepresentedmethodisnotperfect,wecanassumean
accuracyto1degree,whichisalsoareasonableassumptionfortheaveragebuilding
skills.

Lastmodificationofthispage:01.12.02

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