The objective of this paper is to investigate several numerical and modelling features that the CFD community is currently using to compute the flow around a fixed smooth circular cylinder. Two high Reynolds numbers, 9 × 104 and 5 × 105, are chosen which are in the so called drag-crisis region. Using a viscous flow solver, these features are assessed in terms of quality by comparing the numerical results with experimental data. The study involves grid sensitivity, time step sensitivity, the use of different turbulence models, three-dimensional effects, and a RANS/DES (Reynolds Averaged Navier Stokes, Detached Eddy Simulation) comparison. The resulting drag forces and Strouhal numbers are compared with experimental data of different sources. Major flow features such as velocity and vorticity fields are presented. One of the main conclusions of the present study is that all models predict forces which are far from the experimental values, particularly for the higher Reynolds numbers in the drag-crisis region. Three-dimensional and unsteadiness effects are present, but are only fully captured by sophisticated turbulence models or by DES. DES seems to be the key to better solve the flow problem and obtain better agreement with experimental data. However, its considerable computational demands still do not allow to use it for engineering design purposes.

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