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NACA airfoil geometrical construction

NACA Four-Digit Series:

The first family of airfoils designed using this approach became known as the
NACA Four-Digit Series. The first digit specifies the maximum camber (m) in
percentage of the chord (airfoil length), the second indicates the position of the
maximum camber (p) in tenths of chord, and the last two numbers provide the
maximum thickness (t) of the airfoil in percentage of chord. For example, the
NACA 2415 airfoil has a maximum thickness of 15% with a camber of 2% located
40% back from the airfoil leading edge (or 0.4c). Utilizing these m, p, and t
values, we can compute the coordinates for an entire airfoil using the following

m=0.02, first digit divided by 100

p=0.4, second digit divided by 10
t=0.15, last 2 digits divided by 100
x=0 to 1, scaled by c, c is chord length
1. Pick values of x from 0 to 1.

2. Compute the mean camber line coordinates by plugging the values of m

and p into the following equations for each of the x coordinates. These
are 2 parabolic curves that join at p.

3. Calculate the thickness distribution above (+) and below (-) the mean line
by plugging the value of t into the following equation for each of the x

4. Determine the final coordinates for the airfoil upper surface (xU, yU) and
lower surface (xL, yL) using the following relationships.

rt = 1.1019 t 2


Family Advantages Disadvantages Applications

4-Digit 1. Good stall 1. Low maximum lift 1. General aviation
characteristics coefficient 2. Horizontal tails
2. Small center of 2. Relatively high Symmetrical:
pressure movement drag
across large speed 3. Supersonic jets
range 3. High pitching 4. Helicopter blades
moment 5. Shrouds
3. Roughness has 6. Missile/rocket fins
little effect

5-Digit 1. Higher maximum 1. Poor stall 1. General aviation

lift coefficient behavior 2. Piston-powered
2. Low pitching 2. Relatively high bombers, transports
moment drag 3. Commuters
4. Business jets
3. Roughness has

little effect

16-Series 1. Avoids low 1. Relatively low lift 1. Aircraft propellers

pressure peaks 2. Ship propellers
2. Low drag at high

6-Series 1. High maximum lift 1. High drag outside 1. Piston-powered

coefficient of the optimum fighters
2. Very low drag range of operating 2. Business jets
over a small range conditions 3. Jet trainers
of operating 2. High pitching 4. Supersonic jets
conditions moment
3. Optimized for 3. Poor stall
high speed behavior
4. Very susceptible
to roughness

7-Series 1. Very low drag 1. Reduced Seldom used

over a small range maximum lift
of operating coefficient
conditions 2. High drag outside
2. Low pitching of the optimum
moment range of operating
3. Poor stall
4. Very susceptible
to roughness

8-Series Unknown Unknown Very seldom used