IS there anything magic about the shape of a wing section? Asked to sketch the profile of a wing on the back of an envelope, one would have no difficulty in representing a shape which would probably, for most purposes, be adequate. Assuming this generalization to be true—perhaps it is a rather rash one—one might equally well question the need for an article on aerofoil design, or indeed the need for the long and painstaking research which, over the years, has been conducted on this particular subject. But it is this same research which, in the long run, has resulted in the recognition of certain general rules relating to aerofoil geometry, which are now taken so much for granted that they would probably be embodied in one's preconceived notion of what a wing section should look like. Recently, also, rather complicated theoretical techniques have made possible the design of profiles which, if manufactured faithfully and carefully in each detail, can provide a performance which is considerably better than any more arbitrary shaping to general rules would produce. Finally, of course, one must recognize that there are exceptional conditions where the application of conventional ideas is inadvisable, and where theoretical and experimental research is needed to suggest what is more appropriate. This article will be concerned for the most part with amplifying these remarks; but, by and large, it must be admitted at the outset that we cannot point to any revolutionary discontinuities in the progress of aerofoil design such as have characterized advances in the means of aircraft propulsion, or structural design.
Nonweiler, T. (1956), "The Design of Wing Sections: A Survey of Existing Knowledge on Aerofoil Design for Different Conditions", Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology, Vol. 28 No. 7, pp. 216-227. https://doi.org/10.1108/eb032711Download as .RIS
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