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The Effect of Curvature on the Transition from Laminar to the Turbulent Boundary Layer


Clauser, Milton Ure and Clauser, Francis Hettinger (1937) The Effect of Curvature on the Transition from Laminar to the Turbulent Boundary Layer. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/E5EQ-DA15.


In the flow over the upper surface of a wing, a discrepancy between the predicted and actual point of transition from laminar to turbulent boundary layer had been found. This effect may be due to the comparatively small radius of curvature of the upper surface of the wing. The present tests were undertaken to investigate this effect.

As no available channel was suitable for this work, a new channel with two working sections was built. One working section had a wall with a twenty inch radius of curvature and the other section had a flat wall.

Three types of measurements were made: a. Traverses were made with a total head tube to determine the character of the boundary layer at various Reynolds numbers. b. The turbulence distribution in the boundary layer was investigated by means of a hot wire and a vacuum tube amplifier. c. A similar investigation of the mean velocity distribution in the boundary layer was made by means of a hot wire anemometer.

It was found that by using an abbreviated form of the turbulence level traverses, critical Reynolds Numbers of the transitions could be established. These critical Reynolds are plotted as a function of x/r (x being the distance of the transition from the leading edge of the plate; r being radius of curvature of the plate) for both the convex and concave side of the plate.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Aeronautics
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Aeronautics
Awards:Caltech Distinguished Alumni Award, 1966
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • von Kármán, Theodore (advisor)
  • Millikan, Robert Andrews (advisor)
Group:GALCIT, Caltech Distinguished Alumni Award
Thesis Committee:
  • Unknown, Unknown
Defense Date:1 January 1937
Record Number:CaltechETD:etd-11122003-174320
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:4525
Deposited By: Imported from ETD-db
Deposited On:13 Nov 2003
Last Modified:16 Aug 2023 23:17

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