NACA Airfoil

National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics airfoils

Source: NASA

During the late 1920s and into the 1930s, the NACA developed a series of thoroughly tested airfoils and devised a numerical designation for each airfoil — a four digit number that represented the airfoil section’s critical geometric properties. By 1929, Langley had developed this system to the point where the numbering system was complemented by an airfoil cross-section, and the complete catalog of 78 airfoils appeared in the NACA’s annual report for 1933. Engineers could quickly see the peculiarities of each airfoil shape, and the numerical designator (“NACA 2415,” for instance) specified camber lines, maximum thickness, and special nose features. These figures and shapes transmitted the sort of information to engineers that allowed them to select specific airfoils for desired performance characteristics of specific aircraft.

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Recent airfoil data for both flight and ‘wind~tunnel tests have been collected and correlated insofar as possible. The flight data consist largely of drag measurements made by the wake survey method. Most of~he data on airfoil section characteristics were obtained in the Langley two-dimension allow turbulence pressure tunnel. Detail data necessary for the application of NACA 6~series airfoils to wing design are presented in supplementary figures, together with recent data for the NACA 00-, 14-, 24-, 44-, and 230-series airfoils. The general methods used to derive the basic thickness forms jor NACA 6- and 7 -series airfoils and their corresponding pressure distributions are presented. Data and methods are given for rapidly obtaining the approximate pressure distributions For NACA four digit, five-digit, 6-, and 7-series airfoils. The report includes an analysis of the lift, drag, pitching moment, and critical speed characteristics of the airfoils, together with a discussion of the effects of surface conditions. Data on high-lift devices are presented. Problems associated with lateral – control devices, leading-edge air intakes, and interference are briefly discussed. The data indicate that the effects of surface condition on the lift and drag characteristics are at least as large as the effects of the airfoil shape and must be considered in airfoil selection and the prediction of wing characteristics. Airfoils permuting extensive laminar flow, such as the NACA 6-series airfoils, have much lower drag coefficients at high speed and cruising lift coefficients than earlier types of airfoils if, and only if, the wing surfaces are suffic1~ently smooth and fair. The NACA 6-scries airfoils also have favorable critical-speed characterIstics and do not appear to present 1Lnu8ual problems associated with the applicatIon of high-lift and lateral – control devices.

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