Flow Around a Delta Wing

Colorful streaks of dye wrap like ribbons along the leading edge of a delta wing. At an angle of attack, this triangular wing forms a set of vortices that run along its edge, providing much of the low pressure–and therefore lift–on the upper surface of the wing. In contrast, the red streaks of dye in the middle of the wing demonstrate clean, laminar flow. Highly swept delta wings are popular for aircraft traveling at supersonic speeds, but they can also work well subsonically, as shown here. For more incredible and beautiful examples of flow visualizations by Henri Werlé, check out his 1974 film Courants et couleurs. (Photo credit: H. Werlé; via eFluids)

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