RIGHT International, 2 January 1964


The High-speed Shape
By K. G. H e c k s (Hawker Siddeley Aviation Ltd)


the incidence is raised, however, the separated-flow region increases HE widespread adoption of the swept-back wing for highin extent by spreading inboard and eventually the nose-up moment speed aircraft during the past 20 years achieved a partial solution to the problems of drag and buffet due to air due to this tip loss becomes too great for the tailplane. The aircraft then undergoes a rapid, uncontrolled nose-up movement which compressibility at high subsonic speeds. At the same time it brought constitutes the phenomenon of pitch-up. The divergence feeds with it a formidable array of problems of its own, both aerodynamic upon itself, and the separation swiftly spreads right in to the wing and structural. Some of these have carried over into the supersonic root—at which time stability may return. age, in cases where wing sweep has shown itself to have substantial advantages beyond Mach 1. One such problem is a form of longiIf stability does not return of its accord considerable difficulty tudinal instability, known as pitch-up, which frequently limits may be met in unstalling the wing. In the case of the prototype flight performance. BAC One-Eleven, a stall with aft e.g. and flap slightly deflected led to pitch-up developing into a stable "super-stall" with very An aircraft is stable longitudinally (i.e., in the pitching plane) if high angle of attack. In this condition the servo-tab elevator had the net effect of the aerodynamic forces and moments produced on insufficient power to get the nose down and unstall the wing. it by an inadvertent small change of incidence is such that the airSeveral other undesirable phenomena may take place as a result craft tends to return to its original incidence. Fig 1 shows a typical of separation at the tip, ambng them buffeting, loss of aileron effipitching-moment : incidence curve for an aircraft which is stable ciency, and even aileron reversal. The latter effect is an aerodynaover the range of incidences shown. If the aircraft is trimmed to fly at the CL corresponding to point A, then a small increase in mic one, and is essentially different from the familiar case of aileron reversal due to aeroelastic distortion of the wing. Also, if the tip incidence (to B, say) will give an untrimmed nose-down moment loss is asymmetric (occurring on one wing before the other) the air(CM negative) which will make the aircraft revert to its original craft will experience wing dropping or "roll off," possibly in comincidence. bination with an uncontrolled yawing manoeuvre. This was a For stability the slope of the line in Fig 1 must always be negacharacteristic of the F-86 Sabre, one of the first swept aircraft. The tive, and if the required stability level is to be maintained throughdegree to which these effects limit the performance of a wing depends largely on the planform. Increasing the sweep distorts the spanwise load distribution in 'PITCHING CHOSEN FLIGHT INCIDENCE OR that more and more lift is carried by the outboard region (Fig 2). MOMENT , CONDITION LIFT COEFFICIENT COEFFICIENT] Therefore, since the onset of flow-separation is strongly dependent

Fig 2 Outward distortion of the lift distribution on a swept wing: broken line, curve for unswept wing; full line, curve for 45° sweep, no twist, aspect ratio 3.0


Fig / Generalized curve of pitching moment against wing angle of attack (incidence) or lift coefficient .

out the usable incidence range the pitching-moment variation with incidence must be approximately linear. The latter requirement involves keeping the position of the overall centre of lift of the wing approximately constant under all flight conditions (except perhaps those with very low incidences when wing lift is small). Further, to reduce trim drag, and to keep trimming and control requirements within the capabilities of a tailplane of reasonable size, this centre of lift position must be close to the aircraft e.g. As far as a swept wing is concerned this means that the wing position along the fuselage must be such that lift achieved in the wing-root region (well forward of the e.g.) must be balanced by lift at the wing-tip region (well aft of the e.g.), and for stability this balance must be closely maintained at all times. Unfortunately an inherent characteristic of a swept wing is that under certain conditions, which may well fall within the desired flight envelope of the aircraft, the airflow separates from the upper surface at or near the tip. The resulting loss of lift, appearing as a reduction in lift-curve slope, is of little consequence in itself since it can readily be restored by a slight increase in incidence. But the position of the lift decrement is of great importance, for the longitudinal lift balance is upset by the lift aft of the e.g. being considerably less than that forward of the e.g. At incidences where this first occurs stability may be reduced but not lost; the load increment at the tailplane may still be sufficient to restore the balance and maintain stable flight. As

on the local aerodynamic loading, a highly swept wing will tend to be prone to early tip stalling. Moreover, the higher the sweepangle, the more critical will be the effects of such tip-stalling. This is partly because the lift loss will be greater, and partly because the region of lift loss will be further behind the e.g. The effects of taper are rather more difficult to pin down. The local CL at the tip will tend to increase with taper (as with sweep), but because the chord (c) is reduced the span loading (CL X c) will probably not alter much. For the particular case of leading-edge separation, the reduced area at the tip of a highly tapered wing may substantially improve the pitch-up characteristics. A different planform effect arises from the fact that the local chordwise centre of lift, normally at about 25 per cent chord in subsonic flow, shifts rearwards to near mid-chord when the airflow separates. If the aspect ratio is sufficiently low, this rearward shift of the centre of lift in the stalled region may, as far as pitching moment is concerned, compensate for the reduction in magnitude of the tip lift. However, the low lift-curve slope and high induced drag associated with such a low aspect ratio makes the elimination of pitch-up in this way generally impractical. After planform geometry the most important factor to be considered is tailplane position, since the stability contribution of the latter must be suitably matched to the wing/fuselage characteristics to give the required overall stability level. The present trend towards low-set tailplanes or, in some cases, high "T-tails" (Fig 3), is an attempt to get the tailplane as far as possible clear of the intense downwash field which exists behind the wing at high incidence. This increases the incremental load produced at the tailplane by a

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