Cavitation inception observations were made in the DTNSRDC 36-inch water tunnel on three axisymmetric headforms with and without various turbulence stimulators installed. Direct transition measurements, made on two of the headforms with and without distributed surface roughness, were found to correlate reasonably well with the computed spatial amplification factors, eN, at the separation locations. The computed eN factors were then used to estimate transition at other test conditions (without direct transition measurements). The predicted transition locations on all three smooth headforms occur at positions considerably aft of the minimum pressure locations. The three smooth headforms have different types of incipient cavitation—small band, transient spot, traveling bubble, and attached spot. The measured cavitation inception numbers for those cases are all significantly smaller than the computed negative values of the minimum pressure coefficient, −Cpmin. The predicted transition locations on the three headforms with densely and loosely packed 60-μm distributed roughness occur at a considerable distance upstream of the minimum pressure locations. Therefore, the flows over all three headforms with distributed roughness are turbulent at the Cpmin locations for the Reynolds numbers tested. Under this condition, the measured cavitation inception numbers are found to approximate well with the values of −Cpmin. The incipient cavitation is in the form of attached small bubble lines evenly distributed around the minimum pressure locations. The measured cavitation inception numbers for the three headforms with an isolated roughness band located upstream of the minimum pressure locations are found to approximate the computed values of −Cpmin when the roughness Reynolds number (Rk = ukK/ν) is equal to 600 and to be smaller than the values of −Cpmin when the value of Rk is less than 600. The incipient cavitation observed is attached patch type cavitation occurring in the vicinity of the minimum pressure location. The uncertainty of the measured cavitation inception numbers, in terms of the maximum deviations form the mean values of repeated measurements, is generally less than 0.02.

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