The influence of spanwise flow on the development and stabilization of leading-edge vortices (LEVs) on a foil (without rotational acceleration) has been investigated. The plunging swept wing/fin geometry used in this study, characteristic of fish-like tails, has been found to be insufficient in the stabilization of LEVs. Direct force measurements and visualizations, including Particle Image Velocimetry and lead precipitation, show that despite the presence of a strong spanwise flow at higher sweepback angles, the vortex breaks off and convects downstream at the same relative time as found for low sweepback angles, which experience little spanwise contribution. Although the LEV stabilization is insensitive to bulk spanwise flow, the LEV and tip vortex have been observed to maintain a stronger connection with one another at higher sweepback angles. This result implies that despite similar forces developing for low and high sweepback angles alike, the resulting vortex-wake topologies can vary significantly from one another.
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We would like to thank J. Dahl for his advice regarding the force measurements and lead precipitation visualizations. Also the authors are grateful for the insight and encouragement provided by H. Babinsky on this topic.
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