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A Theoretical Investigation of the Drag of Generalized Aircraft Configurations in Supersonic Flow

Graham, E. W. and Lagerstrom, P. A. and Licher, R. M. and Beane, B. J. (1957) A Theoretical Investigation of the Drag of Generalized Aircraft Configurations in Supersonic Flow. National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics , Washington, DC.

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It seems possible that, in supersonic flight, unconventional arrangements of wings and bodies may offer advantages in the form of drag reduction. It is the purpose of this report to consider the methods for determining the pressure drag for such unconventional configurations, and to consider a few of the possibilities for drag reduction in highly idealized aircraft. The idealized aircraft are defined by distributions of lift and volume in three-dimensional space, and Hayes' method of drag evaluation, which is well adapted to such problems, is the fundamental tool employed. Other methods of drag evaluation are considered also wherever they appear to offer amplifications. The basic singularities such as sources, dipoles, lifting elements and volume elements are discussed, and some of the useful inter-relations between these elements are presented. Hayes' method of drag evaluation is derived in detail starting with the general momentum theorem. In going from planar systems to spatial systems certain new problems arise. For example, interference between lift and thickness distributions generally appears, and such effects are used to explain the difference between the non-zero wave drag of Sears-Haack bodies and the zero wave drag of Ferrari's ring wing plus central body. Another new feature of the spatial systems is that optimum configurations generally are not unique, there being an infinite family of lift or thickness distributions producing the same minimum drag. However it is shown that all members of an optimum family produce the same flow field in a certain region external to the singularity distribution. Other results of the study indicate that certain spatial distributions may produce materially less wave drag and vortex drag than comparable planar systems. It is not at all certain that such advantages can be realized in practical aircraft designs, but further investigation seems to be warranted.

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NACA Technical Memorandum1421
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ID Code:48200
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:07 Aug 2014 22:21
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 07:01

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