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Relationship between aerodynamic forces, flow structures and wing camber for rotating insect wing planforms

  • R. R. Harbig (a1), J. Sheridan (a1) and M. C. Thompson (a1)


Wing deformation is observed during the flight of some insect species; however, the effect of these distorted wing shapes on the leading edge vortex (LEV) is not well understood. In this study, we investigate the effect of one of these deformation parameters, (rigid) wing camber, on the flow structures and aerodynamic forces for insect-like wings, using a numerical model of an altered fruit fly wing revolving at a constant angular velocity. Both positive and negative camber was investigated at Reynolds numbers of 120 and 1500, along with the chordwise location of maximum camber. It was found that negatively cambered wings produce very similar LEV structures to non-cambered wings at both Reynolds numbers, but high positive camber resulted in the formation of multiple streamwise vortices at the higher Reynolds number, which disrupt the development of the main LEV. Despite this, positively cambered wings were found to produce higher lift to drag ratios than flat or negatively cambered wings. It was determined that a region of low pressure near the wing’s leading edge, combined with the curvature of the wing’s upper surface in this region, resulted in a vertical tilting of the net force vector for positively cambered wings, which explains how insects can benefit from wing camber.


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Harbig et al. suplementary movie
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Relationship between aerodynamic forces, flow structures and wing camber for rotating insect wing planforms

  • R. R. Harbig (a1), J. Sheridan (a1) and M. C. Thompson (a1)


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