A Caltech Library Service

The Water Tunnel as a Tool in Hydraulic Research

Daily, James W. (1947) The Water Tunnel as a Tool in Hydraulic Research. In: Proceedings of the Third Hydraulics Conference. University of Iowa Studies in Engineering. No.31. University of Iowa , Iowa City, IA, pp. 169-191.

PDF - Reprint
See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


The expanding scope of application of the water tunnel is largely the result of war research needs. Since the first known elementary water tunnel was used by Parsons in England in 1898 to investigate propellers, its application has remained primarily in the field of ship propeller testing. Meanwhile, investigations of other submerged bodies and of most fundamental phenomena in fluid dynamics have been performed in the many wind tunnels throughout the world. Even the broad development in hydraulic laboratory techniques that accompanied the revival of interest in scientific hydraulic research during the last twenty-five years did not emphasize the water tunnel as a general tool. In the early stages of World War II, however, there was a shortage of equipment in America, and apparently also abroad, to supply information for underwater ballistics design. Additional facilities in which flow could be produced with cavitation, as well as without, were needed, and these preferably of a type suitable to more general application than the existing propeller tunnels. As a result, there exists now, in addition to propeller testing tunnels, a limited number of water tunnels whose prime purpose is the investigation of flow about bodies in general. Two of these are in the United States, one at the University of Iowa, and one at the California Institute of Technology. This new practice with its additional techniques extends the role the water tunnel is destined to play in hydraulic research. Thus in the current period of reconversion, which applies to research objectives as well as production objectives, a discussion of the present development of water-tunnel equipment and the possible scope of its application in peacetime is appropriate.

Item Type:Book Section
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Volume
Additional Information:This paper in many ways presents a summary of experience obtained during the construction and initial four-year operating period of the High-Speed Water Tunnel at the California Institute of Technology. With the exception of Fig. 1, the illustrations were obtained from the Water Tunnel files. This tunnel was built and operated by the California Institute of Technology under contract OEMsr207 with the Office of Scientific Research and Development. Division 6, Section 6.1 of the National Defense Research Committee, was the sponsoring agent of the OSRD during this initial period. The Water Tunnel at present is operated under the auspices of the U. S. Navy Department, Bureau of Ordinance. The design, construction, and operation of the Water Tunnel have been under the direction of Dr. Robert T. Knapp, Associate Professor of Hydraulic Engineering at the Institute. The author is indebted to Captain A. G. Mumma and the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers for permission to reproduce Fig. 1. which originally appeared in the first reference listed below.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Office of Scientific Research and DevelopmentOEMsr207
National Defense Research CommitteeUNSPECIFIED
U. S. Navy Department, Bureau of OrdinanceUNSPECIFIED
Other Numbering System:
Other Numbering System NameOther Numbering System ID
Hydrodynamics Laboratory63
Series Name:University of Iowa Studies in Engineering
Issue or Number:31
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20140819-155957410
Persistent URL:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:48700
Deposited On:20 Aug 2014 22:45
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 07:06

Repository Staff Only: item control page