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6-in-1 Wind Tunnel
June 1947 Popular Science

June 1941 Popular Science
June 1941 Science Popular Science - RF Cafe[Table of Contents]

Wax nostalgic over early technology. See articles from Popular Science, published 1872 - 2021. All copyrights are hereby acknowledged.


6-in-1 Wind Tunnel

NACA's compact, inexpensive, versatile research "package" is ready for U. S. colleges.

A poor man's wind tunnel, a 20th of the usual price, is now available to American colleges. Designed by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, it comes as a "package," takes up a third the space of a baseball infield, and can be used for at least six major types of aviation research.

The Navy is making the new tunnel, called the Compressible Flow Unit, available to colleges on a share-the-cost basis. The entire installation, which can be comfortably housed in a one-story building 40 by 65 feet, costs only $50,000 to $75,000 - or even less if surplus war materials are used. Present wind tunnels cover at least one acre, cost about $1,000,000, and are expensive to operate.

Unlike the old "continuous" tunnels, which run under steady pressure, the packaged tunnel is the "blow-down" type. Air is compressed in a tank, then released to provide the stream. The air flow lasts only a few minutes before the tank must be refilled, but in this time it can achieve a speed as high as any tunnel has reached - Mach No. 4, or more than 3,000 m.p.h.

The Navy expects the units to be used for studies of airfoils, combustion problems in ram-jets, and tests of nozzle shape effectiveness (useful for tail-pipe design). Other potential research subjects include the internal-flow problems found in jet units, the comparative value of various combinations of wing and fuselage shapes, and the heat-transfer problems resulting from friction on the outer skin of aircraft.

The tunnels promise the training of more students in aerodynamics to replenish the reservoir of young scientists emptied by wartime Selective Service (PSM, Mar. '46, p. 88). The first of the units is being tested at the NACA laboratory at Langley Field, Va., where it will be a showcase sample for prospective customers.

The Compressible Flow Unit has two small tunnels: a transonic tunnel with a 14- by 16-inch test section and a supersonic ┬Ětunnel four inches square. Compressed-air system, with reservoir and dryer, powers both.




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Even during the busiest times of my life I have endeavored to maintain some form of model building activity. This site has been created to help me chronicle my journey through a lifelong involvement in model aviation, which all began in Mayo, MD ...

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