This paper seeks to evaluate the swimming flow around a typical slender fish whose transverse cross-section to the rear of its maximum span section is of a lenticular shape with pointed edges, such as those of spiny fins, so that these side edges are sharp trailing edges, from which an oscillating vortex sheet is shed to trail the body in swimming. The additional feature of shedding of vortex sheet makes this problem a moderate generalization of the paper on the swimming of slender fish treated by Lighthill (1960a). It is found here that the propulsive thrust depends not only on the virtual mass of the tail-end section, but also on an integral effect of variations of the virtual mass along the entire body segment containing the trailing side edges, and that this latter effect can greatly enhance the thrust-making.
The optimum shape problem considered here is to determine the transverse oscillatory movements a slender fish can make which will produce a prescribed thrust, so as to overcome the frictional drag, at the expense of the minimum work done in maintaining the motion. The solution is for the fish to send a wave down its body at a phase velocity c somewhat greater than the desired swimming speed U, with an amplitude nearly uniform from the maximum span section to the tail. Both the ratio U/c and the optimum efficiency are found to depend upon two parameters: the reduced wave frequency and a ‘proportionalloading parameter’, the latter being proportional to the thrust coefficient and to the inverse square of the wave amplitude. The basic mechanism of swimming is examined in the light of the principle of action and reaction by studying the vortex wake generated by the optimum movement.
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