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How are swept-back wings vs straight wings effected by aerodynamics and is one model superior to the other in any situation?


Bernoulli’s principle tells us that airflow over the top of a wing is faster than below. If an aircraft is moving fast enough this faster airflow can become supersonic which makes the air flow off the wing instead of sticking to it, so the aircraft loses lift. This speed is called the critical Mach number. For straight wings this speed is relatively low since all the air flows over the wing. Swept wings use their shape to redirect part of the airflow along the front edge of the wing (called span wise flow), and this reduces the amount of air flowing over the wing. This increases the critical Mach number since less air is present to create a supersonic bubble. This technology was developed by Robert Jones who first used it on the F-86 Sabre.

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Categories: Aerodynamics