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Experimental studies of the flow topology, leading-edge vortex dynamics and unsteady force produced by pitching and plunging flat-plate aerofoils in forward flight at Reynolds numbers in the range 5000–20 000 are described. We consider the effects of varying frequency and plunge amplitude for the same effective angle-of-attack time history. The effective angle-of-attack history is a sinusoidal oscillation in the range to with mean of and amplitude of . The reduced frequency is varied in the range 0.314–1.0 and the Strouhal number range is 0.10–0.48. Results show that for constant effective angle of attack, the flow evolution is independent of Strouhal number, and as the reduced frequency is increased the leading-edge vortex (LEV) separates later in phase during the downstroke. The LEV trajectory, circulation and area are reported. It is shown that the effective angle of attack and reduced frequency determine the flow evolution, and the Strouhal number is the main parameter determining the aerodynamic force acting on the aerofoil. At low Strouhal numbers, the lift coefficient is proportional to the effective angle of attack, indicating the validity of the quasi-steady approximation. Large values of force coefficients () are measured at high Strouhal number. The measurement results are compared with linear potential flow theory and found to be in reasonable agreement. During the downstroke, when the LEV is present, better agreement is found when the wake effect is ignored for both the lift and drag coefficients.
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