1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Airfoil question about camber and thickness

  1. Nov 4, 2015 #1
    Hello everyone!

    I wanted to ask if the wing thickness is the same meaning as camber?

    Thanks in advance
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 4, 2015 #2


    User Avatar

    No, they are two different parameters. Camber describes the curvature of the airfoil. Thickness is exactly what it sounds like. Thus, you can have a thick, low camber airfoil (like this one: http://avstop.com/ac/basichelicopterhandbook/2.jpg ), a thin, low-camber airfoil (http://static.rcgroups.net/forums/a...b-3dhs_extra_shp_airfoil_01c.jpg?d=1224138433), a thick, high camber airfoil (http://ec.europa.eu/research/transport/images/projects/44_1.jpg [Broken]) or a thin, high camber airfoil (http://www.wattflyer.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=138520&d=1289149584).
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
  4. Nov 4, 2015 #3


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    The attached image shows a typical cambered airfoil:

    Airfoil sections are typically defined with no camber, such that the ordinates of the section above and below the chord line are symmetrical. Such an airfoil typically requires a non-zero angle of attack (AOA) in order to generate lift. Transforming a symmetrical airfoil by applying a camber line typically produces a new airfoil shape which can generate lift at zero AOA.


    Different airfoil shapes and camber lines are cataloged by various organizations like NASA (successor to the NACA) and others.
  5. Nov 5, 2015 #4
    Thank you all for replying. I appreciate it, I have another question for an assignment I'm working on but can find the search that I exactly need. My question is why is an airfoil thicker in the middle section?

    Thank you again
  6. Nov 5, 2015 #5


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    Where the airfoil is thickest depends on the air foil. Laminar airfoils tend to have the thickest part further back than coventional airfoils. On conventional airfoils, the thickest part is neart the front (about 1/4th to 1/3rd wing chord behind trailing edge). On laminar airfoils, the thickest part is near the middle.
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2015
  7. Nov 5, 2015 #6


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    The "why" though is essentially to reduce drag while maximizing lift. For a given cross sectional area, a teardrop shape is the lowest drag.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook