Airfoil Basics

Covering the entire field of Aerodynamics is a bit beyond the scope of our Knowledge Base.  But we are happy to provide some basics as related to foam cores.

Symmetrical Airfoils

NACA0006 to NACA0015
These are known as NACA 4-digit airfoils where the 4 digit number defines the shape.  The first 2 digits define the camber amount and location.  If these numbers are “00” then the airfoil has zero camber and therefore is fully symmetrical.  The last 2 digits define the thickness of the airfoil as a percentage of the length.  As an example, the NACA0006 is a 6% thickness airfoil, so an airfoil with a 10″ chord will be 0.600″ thick at the thickest point of it’s profile.

The thinner NACA airfoils are popular for V-tails,  Horizontal stabs, Fins and Rudders.  The thicker NACA0012 and NACA0015 are popular wing airfoils for aerobatic and sport aircraft.

The original Bridi Kaos series of pattern ships used the NACA 4-digit airfoils and were some of the best flying planes of their generation.

This airfoil is another popular aerobatic airfoil.  It’s nose is slightly sharper than the 4-digit NACA series, which are known for their blunt leading edge.

This airfoil is popular for pylon racing, particularly for Q-500 where the rules specify a minimum thickness of 12%.  This is a NACA 6-digit series airfoil which is a more complex airfoil than the 4-digit series.

E168 & E169
These fully symmetrical airfoils have a maximum thickness location that is further forward than the NACA 4-digit airfoils.  The aft portion of the airfoil is nearly straight which can simplify building procedures.  These airfoils were designed by Dr. Richard Eppler, a renown designer of airfoils for general aviation and gliders.

Semi-Symmetrical Airfoils

NACA2408 to NACA2415
These are known as NACA 4-digit airfoils where the 4 digit number defines the shape.  The first 2 digits define the camber amount and location.  NACA2408 has a 2% camber amount, The maximum caber location is at 40% of the chord length and the airfoil is 8% thick at is thickest location.  Camber is defined as a line on a cross section of a wing of an aircraft which is equidistant from the upper and lower surfaces of the wing.  The Camber and Thickness profile define the shape of an airfoil.

NACA Semi Symmetrical airfoils are popular for warbirds, scale and Sport aircraft where some inverted flight capability is desired.

Flat-1 to Flat-3
These airfoils are popular for Trainers and Slow flying aircraft.  Flat-2 and Flat-3 are thinner versions of Flat-1.

This is another Flat bottom airfoil that is used on the Aquila glider.  It is the thinnest of the Flat bottom airfoils shown here.

This is another popular Flat Bottom airfoil that was designed for the Telemaster, a large high wing trainer type aircraft that was and early aerial  photography platform.  It features an aft portion that is a straight line for the last 1/3 of the airfoil.

If there is an all time favorite, this is it.  The Clark-Y has been used on countless models from the J-3 Cub to modern Electric powered warbirds.  Jim Young and Jim Ryan (Ryan Aircraft) are big fans of the Clark-Y.  If you want a Semi Symmetrical airfoil, and you haven’t a clue which one to use, the Clark-Y is a great choice!

This popular glider airfoil has also been used on some UAV’s and Aerial Photography aircraft due to it’s thick cross section.  It is a high lift airfoil with relatively low drag.

This is a popular airfoil for tailless flying wings and is a good selection for highly swept EPP foamy combat wings.

Similar characteristics to the E214, but with a thinner cross section.

Popular for gliders and sailplanes

Another popular glider airfoil.  The maximum thickness location is further forward than the other glider airfoils shown here.

This is a classic selection or gliders.  It is the Clark-Y of the glider world and a great place to start if you are designing your own glider or sailplane.

This is a speedier version of the RG15.  It is slightly thinner and has less camber.  Less drag and less lift makes for a faster airfoil.

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