The inception of leading-edge stall on two-dimensional smooth thin airfoils at moderately high Reynolds number flows [in the range O(104) to O(106)] is investigated by an asymptotic approach and numerical simulations. The asymptotic theory is based on the work of Rusak (1994) and demonstrates that a subsonic flow about a thin airfoil can be described in terms of an outer region, around most of the airfoil chord, and an inner region, around the nose, that asymptotically match each other. The flow in the outer region is dominated by the classical thin airfoil theory. Scaled (magnified) coordinates and a modified (smaller) Reynolds number are used to correctly account for the nonlinear behavior and extreme velocity changes in the inner region, where both the near stagnation and high suction areas occur. It results in a model (simplified) problem of a uniform flow past a semi-infinite parabola with a far-field circulation governed by a parameter à that is related to the airfoil’s angle of attack, nose radius of curvature, and camber and to the flow Mach number. The model parabola problem consists of a compressible and viscous flow described by the steady Navier-Stokes equations. This problem is solved numerically for various values of à using a Reynolds-averaged Navier-Stokes flow solver, and utilizing the Spalart-Allmaras viscous turbulent model to account for near-wall turbulence. The value Ãs where a large separation zone first appears in the nose flow concurrent with a sudden increase in the minimum pressure coefficient is determined. The change of Ãs with the modified Reynolds number is determined. These values indicate the stall onset on the airfoil at various flow conditions. The predictions according to this approach show good agreement with results from both numerical simulations and available experimental data of the stall of thin airfoils. This simplified approach provides a criterion to determine the stall angle of airfoils with a parabolic nose and the effect of airfoil’s thickness ratio, nose radius of curvature, camber and flaps, and flow compressibility on the onset of stall. This approach also presents an analysis method that can be used to predict the stall of airfoils with alternative nose geometry.

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