Purdue University Graduate School
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A Comparison of Force and Moment Results for Surface-Based Panel Methods and Experimental Balance Testing in the Boeing/AFOSR Mach 6 Quiet Tunnel

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posted on 2024-04-26, 07:47 authored by Sean GeitherSean Geither

Force and moment measurements are valuable tools for evaluating designs in a wind tunnel environment. In fact, this type of research has been conducted ever since the earliest wind tunnels were in use. Load measurement techniques are complicated by hypersonic wind tunnel designs, which often have much shorter test times due to the immense stagnation pressures that are used. Previous research had been conducted once before in the Boeing/AFOSR Mach 6 Quiet Tunnel (BAM6QT) at Purdue University using a six-component moment balance. This initial testing utilized a balance with maximum load limits which far exceeded the loads experienced within the BAM6QT. Because of this, much of the data collected was imprecise.

Testing was conducted in the BAM6QT using three different balances - a five-component foil, five-component semiconductor, and six-component semiconductor balance. Data were taken for a variety of geometry configurations over a range of total pressures. All data were taken at 0 degree angle of attack. The two geometries used most commonly were the 1 inch diameter blunt nose-tip, 7 degree half-angle, 1.75 inch base diameter cone, with either a 20 degree or 30 degree curved ramp. An additional sharp nose-tip configuration was also used. Results for multiple load components were calculated during each run and compared between each balance type. Results were compared to the surface panel method results of CBAERO, which uses either modified Newtonian theory or the tangent cone method to compute loads.

Results between each balance type were similar and generally in good agreement. The semiconductor balance designs showed considerably less noise than the foil design. Results of CBAERO matched well with the balance data, with a baseline comparison of the plain blunt cone showing a maximum difference of 12% for the modified Newtonian theory. The more complicated ramp geometries, which exhibited regions of flow detachment, agreed surprisingly well with CBAERO results, despite the more complicated flow phenomena, which was unexpected. The best agreement was generally seen in the cases where the large 30 degree ramp was used, while the sharp nose-tip configuration produced the worst agreement. Overall, CBAERO proved valuable as an approximate method for determining the general magnitude of loads. The sting, used to mount the model in the wind tunnel, was found to drive the oscillation frequency of the model-sting system. The longer sting and less stiff balance used on the six-component system likely contributed to lower oscillation frequencies which affected the results for the pitching moment and normal force. The relationship between startup and running loads was also investigated and a startup-to-running load ratio of 5 to 20 was determined, depending on the load component and geometry.


Degree Type

  • Master of Science in Aeronautics and Astronautics


  • Aeronautics and Astronautics

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Dr. Joseph Jewell

Additional Committee Member 2

Dr. Brandon Chynoweth

Additional Committee Member 3

Dr. Steven Schneider

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