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Research in the Region between Subsonic and Supersonic Speeds

Nature volume 159, pages 632633 (10 May 1947) | Download Citation



THERE is a large gap in our knowledge which must be bridged before we can take decisive steps from present aircraft subsonic speeds to supersonic speeds. There is first of all the question as to what happens when actually passing through the range of speed about that of sound. It is known that we must expect a steep rise of drag in this region, but we have no quantitative information. There is the further question of change of trim and stability in level flight as one passes from subsonic to supersonic speeds. There are other questions of aerodynamic and structural significance, and the whole problem is rather complex. Normally one would expect to get a large part of this information from wind tunnels, and although the capabilities of existing wind tunnels will be used to the limit, nobody knows how to design or use a practicable wind tunnel at or about the speed of sound. The phenomenon known as 'choking' and the effect of wall interference prohibit the use of tunnels for model tests at Mach numbers between about 0.9 and 1.15. This is the main reason for going into the air, and a series of experiments has been planned to use flying model aircraft launched from a great height from another aircraft and powered by rockets. This form of propulsion should enable the models to be driven through the speed-range of that of sound to various supersonic speeds.

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