Journal of Fluid Mechanics


Relationship of roll and pitch oscillations in a fin flapping at transitional to high Reynolds numbers

Promode R. Bandyopadhyaya1 c1, David N. Beala1, J. Dana Hrubesa1 and Arun Mangalama2

a1 Naval Undersea Warfare Center, Newport, RI 02841, USA

a2 Tao Systems, Hampton, VA 23666, USA


Hydrodynamic effects of the relationship between the roll and pitch oscillations in low-aspect-ratio fins, with a laminar section and a rounded leading edge, flapping at transitional to moderately high Reynolds numbers, are considered. The fin is hinged at one end and its roll amplitude is large. Also examined is how this relationship is affected by spanwise twist, which alters the pitch oscillation amplitude and its phase relative to the roll motion. Force, efficiency and surface hot-film-anemometry measurements, and flow visualization are carried out in a tow tank. A fin of an abstracted penguin-wing planform and a NACA 0012 cross-section is used, and the chord Reynolds number varies from 3558 to 150 000 based on total speed. The fin is forced near the natural shedding frequency. Strouhal number and pitch amplitude are directly related when thrust is produced, and efficiency is maximized in narrow combinations of Strouhal number and pitch amplitude when oscillation of the leading-edge stagnation point is minimal. Twist makes the angle of attack uniform along the span and enhances thrust by up to 24 %, while maintaining high efficiency. Only 5 % of the power required to roll is spent to pitch, and yet roll and pitch are directly related. During hovering, dye visualization shows that a diffused leading-edge vortex is produced in rigid fins, which enlarges along the span; however, twist makes the vortex more uniform and the fin in turn requires less power to roll. Low-order phase maps of the measurements of force oscillation versus its derivative are modelled as due to van der Pol oscillators; the higher-order maps show trends in the sub-regimes of the transitional Reynolds number. Fin oscillation imparts a chordwise fluid motion, yielding a Stokes wave in the near-wall vorticity layer. When the roll and pitch oscillations are directly related, the wave is optimized: causing vorticity lift-up as the fin is decelerated at the roll extremity; the potential energy at the stagnation point is converted into kinetic energy; a vortex is produced as the lifted vorticity is wrapped around the leading edge; and free-stream reattachment keeps the vortex trapped. When the twist oscillation is phased along the span, this vortex becomes self-preserving at all amplitudes of twist, indicating the most stable (low-bandwidth) tuned nature.

(Received February 14 2012)

(Reviewed March 30 2012)

(Accepted April 05 2012)

(Online publication May 29 2012)

Key Words:

  • propulsion;
  • swimming/flying


c1 Email address for correspondence: