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1 Wind Tunnel Models 81


Static Aeroelasticity

I discovered that with increasing load, the angle of incidence at the wing tips increased
perceptibly. It suddenly dawned on me that this increasing angle of incidence was the cause
of the wing's collapse, as logically the load resulting from the air pressure in a steep dive
would increase faster at the wing tips than at the middle. The resulting torsion caused the
wings to collapse under the strain of combat maneuvers.
A. H. G. Fokker in The Flying Dutchman (Henry Holt and Company, 1931) Figure 3.1 Planform view ofa wind tunnel model on a torsionally elastic support.

The field of static aeroelasticity is the study of flight vehicle phenomena associated abou.t its support O, located at a distance x o from the leading edge, moment equilibrium
with the interaction of aerodynamic loading induced by steady flow and the resulting elastic requires th~t the sum of all moments about O must equal zero. In anticipation of using linear
deformation of the lifting surface structure. These phenomena are characterized as being aerodynamics, we assume the angle of attack, a, to be a small angle, such that sine a) = a
insensitive to the rates and accelerations of the structural deflections. There are two classes and cos( a) = 1. Thus,
of design problems that are encountered in this area. The first and most common to all flight
vehicles is the effect of elastic deformation on the airloads associated with normal operating Mac + L(xo - xac) - W(xo - Xcg) - ke = O'. (3.1)
conditions. These effects can have a profound influence on the performance, handling qual-
If the support were rigid, the angle of attack would be ar, positive nose-up. The elastic
ities, flight stability, and structural load distribution. The second class of problems involves
part of. the pitch angle is denoted bye, which is also positive nose-up. The wing angle of
the potential for static instability of the structure that will result in a catastrophic failure.
attack IS then a == ar + e. For linear aerodynamics, the lift for a rigid support is simply
This instability is often termed "divergence" and can impose a limit on the flight envelope.
The material presented in this chapter provides an introduction to some of these static (3.2)
aero elastic phenomena. To illustrate the physical mechanics of these problems and maintain
a low level of mathematical complexity, relatively simple configurations are considered. The whereas the lift for an elastic support is
first items treated are rigid aerodynamic models that are elastically mounted in a wind tunnel
test section. Such elastic mounting is characteristic of most load measurement systems. The
L = qSCLa(ar + e), (3.3)
second aeroelastic configuration to be treated is a uniform elastic lifting surface of finite where q = ~ ProU2 is the freestream dynamic pressure (i.e., in the far field - often denoted
span. Its static aeroelastic properties are quite similar to most lifting surfaces on conventional by qro), U is the freestream air speed, Pro is the freestream air density, S is the planform area,
flight vehicles.

3.1 Wind Tunnel Models

In this section we consider three types of mounting for wind tunnel models: wall-
mounted, sting-mounted, and strut-mounted. Expressions for the aeroelastic pitch deflec-
tions are developed for these simple models that, in turn, lead us to a cursory understanding
of the divergence instability. Finally, we will return to the wall-mounted model briefly in
this section to consider the qualitatively different phenomenon of aileron reversal.

3.1.1 Wall-Mounted Model

Consider a rigid, spanwise-uniform model of a wing that is mounted to the side
walls of a wind tunnel in such a way as to allow the wing to pitch about the support axis,
as illustrated in Fig. 3.1. The support is flexible in torsion, which means that it restricts
the pitch rotation of the wing in the same way as a rotational spring would. We denote the
Figure 3.2 Airfoil for wind tunnel model.
rotational stiffness of the support by k; see Fig. 3.2. If we assume the body to be pivoted