This paper reports results from a direct numerical simulation of the flow past a circular cylinder with axial curvature. The main objective is to explore the effects of spanwise curvature on the stability of the shear layers and the turbulent wake at the subcritical Reynolds number of 3900. The bluff-body geometry is adapted from a previous study conducted at lower Reynolds numbers, in which a quarter segment of a ring represented the deformed cylinder. A convex configuration in which the free-stream direction is towards the outer face of the ring is adopted here. The present results show a striking distinction between the upper and lower wake regions. Despite the turbulent character of the wake, the upper wake region is more coherent due to the periodic vortex shedding of primary vortical structures, which are in close alignment with the axial curvature. A mild axial flow develops upwards along the lee face of the curved cylinder, displacing the vortex formation region further downstream from the location expected for a straight cylinder at the same Reynolds number. In the lower wake region the vortex shedding strength is drastically reduced due to larger local inclination, resulting in higher three-dimensionality and loss of coherence. A strong downdraft with a swirling pattern is the dominating feature in the lower base region. This is associated with a substantial decrease of the base suction, and the suppression of the characteristic recirculating backflow.
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