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Airfoil Analysis & Comparison

Overview
 Airfoil selection
 Airfoil Designations
 Xfoil
 Reynolds Number (aviation’s dirty lie)
 Aerobatic airfoils & geometry
 Data
 Some Thoughts & Summary
Airfoil Selection
 For the purposes of selecting an aerobatic
airfoil (and plain old curiosity), several
existing airfoils were analyzed using Xfoil:
 Munk M6 (flat-wing pitts; S-1C & S-1D)
 NACA 0012 (Pitts lower wing) & 0015
 NACA 63A015 (Pitts upper wing)
 Eppler 472 (Extra, Edge*, MX2*)
 Clark Y (older Pipers, many others)
Airfoil Selection
 In addition, ‘Akro1’ series
of airfoils was developed.
 Airfoils in this series
consist of elliptical nose
section with straight
segments to a blunt
trailing edge.
 Geometry is based on
appearance of high
performance acro airfoils
Airfoil Designations
 NACA 4-digit series:  Decathlon uses
 1st #: max camber in NACA 1412
% of chord  1 = 1% camber
 2nd #: position of max  4 = max chamber @
camber in tenths of 40% chord
chord  12 = 12% thickness
 3rd/4th #: percentage
of max thickness
Airfoil Designations
 NACA 6-series- first ‘successful’  Pitts upper wing: 63A015
laminar flow airfoils  6 = NACA 6-series
 1st #: series designation (always 6)  3 = laminar flow as far back as
 2nd #: position of min. pressure in 30% chord
tenths of chord (how far back  A = part of rear airfoil replaced
laminar flow can go) with straight line segment (fabric
 Special letters & numbers: don’t covered aircraft)
ask!  0 = designed for Cl = 0 (symmetric
 3rd #: lift coefficient in tenths at airfoil)
which airfoil was designed for low  15 = 15% thickness
drag
 4th/5th #: max thickness in # of
chord
Airfoil Designations
 Munk M6: Munk’s 6th airfoil?
 Max Munk was German immigrant, one of
America’s greatest aerodynamicists of 20’s,
30’s, 40’s. Published a lot of material.
 Clark Y: Y name airfoils?
 Clark Y is in fact a Göttingen Gö 398
 Clark Y (german airfoil) is the basis for the
NACA 4 and 5 digit series. Thank a German.
Airfoil Designations
 Akro1-series  Best design: Akro1-20-
 1st #: position of max 15-10
thickness in %  Akro1 = 1st series
 2nd #: max thickness in %  20 = max thickness is at
chord 20% chord
 3rd #: thickness of blunt  15 = 15% max thickness
trailing edge in tenths of  10 = 1% thick trailing
% (sorry!) edge
Profiles
Profiles
Akro1-20-15-10

0.5

0.4

0.3

0.2

0.1

0 Series1
0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1 1.2
-0.1

-0.2

-0.3

-0.4

-0.5
Xfoil
 Program used for analysis is
Xfoil:
 “Panel” code with boundary
layer analysis.
 Generally accurate until just
past stall
 (unfortunately, we are
interested in post-stall region)
 Analysis is not 100% correct,
but comparisons between
airfoils are very accurate.
 Xfoil has some design
capacity.
 Never use airfoil that hasn’t
been tested in a wind tunnel
Reynolds Number (Re)
 Dirty Lie: Airfoils stall at same AoA, properties don’t vary
with airspeed.
 Airfoil properties vary with Reynolds number:
 CL max, AoAstall increase, CD decreases with increasing Re.
 Higher Re is better.
 Re increases linearly with airspeed, decreases with altitude.

 Re = ρVc/µ
 ρ: density
 V: velocity
 c: characteristic length (chord, in our case)
 µ: fluid viscosity
Airfoil Data
 Performance calculated at two Reynolds
numbers:
 Re = 2,250,000 (3 ft chord near stall speed)
 Re = 10,500,000 (4.5 ft chord near 250 mph)

 Airfoils sometimes grouped into 12%


group and 15% group.
Aerobatic Airfoils
 Aerobatic airfoils are (ideally) tailored for
low drag at high AoA, instead of low drag
at cruise (low AoA)
 For unlimited aerobatics, sharp stall is
desired. For training and recreation,
gradual stall is better.
 Important characteristics for aerobatics are
CL vs. AoA, L/D, and CL vs. CD.
Important Airfoil Geometry
 Symmetric
 Forward max thickness increases CL max.
 NACA/Clark Y/M6 airfoils have highest CL max at 12%
thickness.
 More decreases max lift, but improves structural weight.
 A blunt trailing edge keeps stagnation (separation) point
attached to trailing edge to much higher AoA than sharp
T.E.
 Steeper pressure recovery both increases max lift and
sharpens stall.
Cl vs. AoA (classic airfoils)
Cl vs. AoA (Re = 2.25 million) Cl vs. AoA (Re = 10.5 million)

1.8 2.5

1.6

2
1.4

1.2
1.5

1
Clark Y Clark Y
Munk M6 Munk M6
Cl

Cl
0.8 NACA 0012 1 NACA 0012
NACA 0015 NACA 0015
NACA 63A015 NACA 63A015
0.6

0.5
0.4

0.2
0
-10 -5 0 5 10 15 20 25
0
-5 0 5 10 15 20 25

-0.2 -0.5
AoA AoA
Cl vs. AoA (newer airfoils)
Cl vs. AoA (Re = 2.25 million) Cl vs. AoA (Re = 10.5 million)

2 2.5

1.8

1.6 2

1.4

1.2 1.5
NACA 0012 NACA 0012
Eppler 472 Eppler 472
Cl

Cl
1
Eppler 472 (mod T.E.) Eppler 472 (mod T.E.)
Akro1-20-15-10 Akro1-20-15-10
0.8 1

0.6

0.4 0.5

0.2

0 0
0 5 10 15 20 25 30 0 5 10 15 20 25 30
AoA AoA
L/D vs. AoA (classic airfoils)
L/D vs. AoA (Re = 2.25 million) L/D vs. AoA (Re = 10.5 million)

160 180

140 160

140
120

120
100

100
Clark Y Clark Y
80 Munk M6 Munk M6
L/D

L/D
NACA 0012 80 NACA 0012

60 NACA 0015 NACA 0015


NACA 63A015 NACA 63A015
60

40
40

20
20

0 0
-5 0 5 10 15 20 25 -10 -5 0 5 10 15 20 25

-20 -20
AoA AoA
L/D vs. AoA (newer airfoils)

L/D vs. AoA (Re = 2.25 million) L/D vs. AoA (Re = 10.5 million)

120 250

100
200

80

150
NACA 0012 NACA 0012
Eppler 472 Eppler 472
L/D

L/D
60
Eppler 472 (mod T.E.) Eppler 472 (mod T.E.)
Akro1-20-15-10 Akro1-20-15-10
100

40

50
20

0 0
0 5 10 15 20 25 30 0 5 10 15 20 25 30
AoA AoA
Cl vs. Cd (classic airfoils)
Cl vs Cd (Re = 2.25 million) Cl vs Cd (Re = 10.5 million)

1.8 2.5

1.6

2
1.4

1.2
1.5

1
Clark Y Clark Y
Munk M6 Munk M6
Cl

Cl
0.8 NACA 0012 1 NACA 0012
NACA 0015 NACA 0015

0.6 NACA 63A015 NACA 63A015

0.5
0.4

0.2
0
0 0.01 0.02 0.03 0.04 0.05 0.06
0
0 0.02 0.04 0.06 0.08 0.1 0.12

-0.2 -0.5

Cd Cd
Cl vs. Cd (newer airfoils)

Cl vs Cd (Re = 2.25 million) Cl vs Cd (Re = 10.5 million)

2 2.5

1.8

1.6 2

1.4

1.2 1.5
NACA 0012 NACA 0012
Eppler 472 Eppler 472
Cl

Cl
1
Eppler 472 (mod T.E.) Eppler 472 (mod T.E.)
Akro1-20-15-10 Akro1-20-15-10
0.8 1

0.6

0.4 0.5

0.2

0 0
0 0.05 0.1 0.15 0.2 0.25 0 0.05 0.1 0.15 0.2 0.25
Cd Cd
Some thoughts
 We lose a lot of performance with no camber.
 The NACA 0012 and 0015 seem almost identical, and
the 0015 seems to have slightly greater lift, going against
the general statement that 12% thickness has the
greatest lift.
 The Eppler airfoil (without modification) has lower drag at
higher AoA and a sharper stall, but not much higher
CLmax.
 Adding a blunt trailing edge to the Eppler and Akro1
airfoils resulted in drastic improvements.
 It is likely that blunting the trailing edges of the NACA/Munk M6
airfoils would have the same effect.
Some thoughts
 Some of the data associated with the Akro1 looks
suspicious. It’s superiority to the other airfoils is possibly
bad data.
 The Munk has superior performance to the other classic
airfoils at low AoA, agreeing with the general belief that
the flatwing Pitts climbs and cruises better. At high AoA,
there is no appreciable difference with the other airfoils.
 The 63A015 looks lousy. From personal design
experience, the 6-series has much lower drag than the 4
and 5 digit series. Explanations could be the low (30%)
extent of laminar flow and the modification (63A015)
In Conclusion
 The data largely agreed with existing data and
experience.
 There is a good probability of bad data in some
places.
 Arguments could be made either way about how
large/small differences between airfoils are.
 That said, I will be using the Eppler 472 with the blunt
trailing edge. To hell with designing an airfoil from
scratch.