Measurement and modelling of the turbulent boundary layer near the attachment line of a swept wing

E. R. Gowree, C. J. Atkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This work is motivated by the need for low-order aerodynamic models to predict accurately the effect on profile drag of controlling attachment line transition. Head's entrainment method( 1), a rapid integral boundary layer technique used for design studies on swept wings, suffers from the governing swept-tapered turbulent integral boundary layer equations being ill-posed in the vicinity of the attachment line. This singularity has been treated using crude extrapolations of the attachment-line similarity solution for over half a century, but this approach is unlikely to deliver accurate predictions of the effect of changes in the attachment line flow on profile drag. An experimental study has been carried out to explore the nature of the turbulent flow in the vicinity of a highly swept swept attachment line and has revealed a quite complex, non-monotonic development of the momentum thickness in this region. It has also revealed lower levels of twist in the boundary layer velocity profiles than anticipated from the highly curved character of the inviscid flow streamlines. These observations have prompted an alternative approach to the modelling of the flow in this region which not only successfully eliminates the lack of robustness in the swept-tapered equations but which also matches the experimental results to within +/- 5%.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)746-769
Number of pages24
JournalAeronautical Journal
Issue number1240
Early online date17 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • turbulent attachment line
  • integral boundary layer
  • swept wings
  • aerodynamics
  • turbulence

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