Control surface effectiveness is an important parameter for any aeroplane. For a hypersonic aircraft, though the power required to operate the flaps is determined by low speed flying conditions, it is imperative to know the effect of flaps at hypersonic speeds. Hence, studies have been done on this topic by aerodynamicists for over 40 years. In spite of this, only a limited data is available in the literature on this subject.
This paper discusses the experimental study of the effect of sweep on the aerodynamic characteristics of thin slab delta wings with flaps at hypersonic speeds. For the purpose of this investigation, a novel special thin six-component balance, which has a thickness of 4mm and can be housed inside wings with 8mm thickness, has been designed. The wings had a sweep of 76°, 70° and 65°, t/c of 0.053 and flaps with 12% of wing area and 12% of wing chord. Testing were done at Mach 8.2, Re number of 2.13 x 106 (based on chord), from α = –12° to 12° and flap angle of 20°, 30° and 40°. Separation lengths, measured from Schlieren pictures, clearly show that there is ‘no appreciable’ effect of sweep on them. Also, using a simple local flow field calculation, the separation has been identified to be transitional in nature. These features of separation reflect in the force data. Because of the small separation length, the flaps (inspite of their small size) were very effective in generating additional CN, CM and Cl, which increased with increase in flap angle. In general, the CN, CM and XCP were unaffected by sweep for symmetric flap deflection at positive incidences and asymmetric flap case. For symmetric flap case at negative incidences, only CN was not influenced by the sweep but CM decreased and XCP moved upstream as the sweep is decreased. The wing with lower sweep produces higher CA and lower (L/D)max for both symmetric and asymmetric flaps. The rolling moment and adverse yaw increased with decrease in sweep for asymmetric flap deflection. Newtonian theory is shown to be incapable of predicting the effect of sweep on Cl, Cn and on the incremental values of CN, CM and CA.
In conclusion, it can be said that a small flap is generally adequate for hypersonic aeroplanes provided they operate at altitudes where transitional and turbulent separation can be expected to occur. This would make the flaps effective and thus enable ample control authority.