The vortical flow in the tip region of a three-bladed rotor was examined using particle imaging velocimetry (PIV). The vortex forming at the tip of the un-ducted propeller was compared to the tip-leakage vortex of the ducted rotor. The planar flow fields were used to identify regions of concentrated vorticity and determine instantaneous vortex properties, revealing the presence of a primary tip-leakage vortex surrounded by a number of secondary vortices. Comparison between the ducted and un-ducted rotor indicated that the presence of the duct reduced the relative strength of the primary tip vortex, making its strength a smaller fraction of the overall shed circulation near the tip. The weaker tip-leakage vortex then became closer in strength to the other secondary vortices in the tip-flow region. However, for the rotor tip geometry considered here, the radius of the primary vortex core did not vary substantially between the ducted and un-ducted cases. The variability of the flow was larger for the ducted case, in terms of the primary vortex position, its identified circulation, core size, and inferred core pressure. This variability was also observed in the scaled velocity fluctuations near the core of the vortex.

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