Aerodynamics of biplane and tandem wings at low Reynolds numbers

R. Jones, D. J. Cleaver, I. Gursul

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Experiments were performed to investigate the aerodynamic characteristics of two-wing configurations at a low Reynolds number of 100,000. The wing models were rectangular flat plates with a semi-aspect ratio of two. The stagger between the wings was varied from ∆X/c = 0 to 1.5; the gap was varied from ∆Y/c = 0 to 2 and ∆Y/c = −1.5 to 1.5 for biplane and tandem configurations, respectively, with the decalage angle fixed at 0°. Lift, drag, aerodynamic efficiency and power efficiency ratios show that for small incidence angles, performance compared with the single wing is degraded. However, for single-wing post-stall angles of attack, lift performance improves and stall is delayed significantly for many configurations with nonzero gap, i.e., ∆Y/c ≥ 0. For a fixed angle of attack, there are optimal gaps between the wings for which total lift becomes maximum. Particle image velocimetry measurements show that performance improvement relies heavily on the strength of the inter-wing flow and the interaction of the separated shear layers from the leading edge and trailing edge of the leading wing with the trailing wing. Unsteady forces are found to intensify for certain two-wing configurations. A switching between the stalled and unstalled states for the trailing wing as well as a switching between the merged and distinct wakes is shown to have high flow unsteadiness and large lift fluctuations.
Original languageEnglish
Article number124
Pages (from-to)1-25
Number of pages25
JournalExperiments in Fluids
Issue number6
Early online date3 Jun 2015
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2015


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