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Plane wing configurations and wing shapes

Aircraft wings are built with many shapes and sizes for desired flight characteristics of an airplane to achieve greater lift, balance or stability in flight.
Here are some different wing types:

delta wing
Thin triangular wing that is especially aerodynamic.

variable geometry wing
Arrow-shaped wing found on combat aircraft; the angle it forms with the fuselage can be changed in flight.
f14a5-variable geometry wing

tapered wing
Wing that is perpendicular to the fuselage and whose width decreases toward the tip.
0806022_6tapered wing

straight wing
Long wing of consistent width and perpendicular to the fuselage; it is found on low-speed planes such as cargo and light planes.
straight wing plane

swept-back wing
Arrow-shaped wing that is found on jet planes.
747-8-swept-back wing

The figure below also shows the common wing forms and configuration.

Wing configurations

The F-14 Tomcat is a supersonic aircraft with a variable geometry wing. This aircraft wing geometry changes according to flying speed by swinging the wings forward and backward.
F-14 Tomcat

Aspect Ratio

Aspect ratio is an indicator of the general performance of an aircraft wing. In aerodynamics, the aspect ratio of a wing is defined as the square of the span divided by the wing area. It is a measure of how long and slender a wing is from tip to tip.
wing Aspect Ratio

For “high” aspect ratio aircraft wing indicates long, narrow wings, whereas a “low” aspect ratio wing indicates short and stubby. Higher aspect ratio has the effect of a higher rate of lift increase, as angle of attack increases, than lower aspect ratio wings.

Respect ratio2

High aspect ratio wing – higher Lift Coefficient
lower stalling angle of attack. eg. Gliders

Low aspect ratio wing – lower Lift Coefficient
high stalling angle of attack… eg. Fighter Jets

However because wings may have varied plan forms it is usual to calculate aspect ratio as:

Aspect ratio = wing span² / wing area = Wing span / Chord length

Dihedral Angle

The purpose of dihedral is to improve the aircraft stability during flight. Dihedral angle is added to the wings for later or rolls stability. When the aircraft encounters a slight roll displacement caused by distribute from air stream or a gust of wind. An aircraft wings with some dihedral will naturally return to its original position.

The front view of this wing shows that the left and right wing do not lie in the same plane but meet at an angle. The aircraft’s wing is inclined upward an angle from root to tip. The angle that the wing makes with the local horizontal is called the dihedral angle.
This is the reason why most commercial airliners such as the 747 or 737 have a dihedral wing for stability.

Anhedral Angle

Highly maneuverable fighter planes, on the other hand do not have dihedral but rather have the wing tips lower than the roots giving the aircraft a high roll rate such as the harrier GR7 jets. A negative dihedral angle is called anhedral.
Harrier jet2

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Aerodynamics: To fly, an airplane’s wing has to overcome gravity by developing lift greater than the weight of the plane. Since it can’t do that standing still, airplanes use thrust…force directed backwards…to drive the wing forward through the air and generate lift. However, thrust has its own opposition to overcome in the form of drag—the resistance of the air to a body moving through it. If lift and thrust are greater than gravity and drag, you have the potential for flight…and fun.

Wing Location: Wing placement, for the most part, falls into two major categories—high wing design and low wing design. In a high wing design, the weight of the model is suspended below the wing. When the model tilts, the model’s weight tries to return it to a level position. As a result, high-wing models tend to be more stable, easier to fly—and natural choices for trainers. A low-wing model is just the opposite. With its weight above the wing, it tends to be less stable—excellent for advanced fliers who want to perform rolls, loops and other aerobatic maneuvers.

Airfoil: If you face the wing tip of the plane and cut it from front to back, the cross section exposed would be the wing’s airfoil. The Flat-Bottom Airfoil will develop the most lift at low speeds and helps return the model to upright when tilted. This is ideal for trainers and first-time pilots. A Symmetrical Airfoil’s top and bottom have the same shape, allowing it to produce lift equally whether right side up or upside down and to transition between the two smoothly. This is recommended for advanced pilots. Lastly, a Semi-Symmetrical Airfoil is a combination of the other two and favored by intermediate and sport pilots.

Wing Area/Wing Loading: Wing area is the amount of wing surface available to create lift. Wing loading is the weight that a given area of the wing has to lift and is usually measured in ounces per square foot. Generally, a light wing loading is best for beginners. The plane will perform better and be easier to control.

Dihedral: Dihedral is the upward angle of the wings from the fuselage.Dihedral increases stability and decreases aerobatic ability.

Wing Thickness: Wing thickness — measured from top to bottom — determines how much drag is created. A thick wing creates more drag, causing slower speeds and gentler stalls and is ideal for beginners. A thin wing permits higher speeds and sudden stalls — desirable for racing and certain aerobatic maneuvers.

Landing Gear Location: Tricycle gear includes a nose gear and two wing (main) gears, making takeoffs and landings easier—ideal for beginners. Continue reading

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