To realize the relationship between flow structures of wingtip vortices and post stall characteristics of low aspect-ratio wings, this paper experimentally studies the aerodynamic characteristics and the corresponding flow structures of the rectangular thin-plate wings at Reynolds numbers between 104 and 105. The aerodynamic properties to be studied include lift, drag, slopes at linear and nonlinear range of the lift curves and lift-to-drag ratios of the tested wings with the aspect ratio varying from 1.0 to 3.0. The flow structures regarding the leading-edge separation vortices and wingtip vortices at upper surface and near-wake regions of the wings are also investigated by smoke-wire visualization. Results indicate that the high stall angle of attack and vortex lift are clearly manifested to induce the nonlinear increase in the lift curves as the aspect ratio reaches less than 1.6. This phenomenon is specifically observed to augment the aerodynamic properties with the decrease of the aspect ratio. Additionally, the corresponding flow visualization also indicates that the wingtip vortices and the areas of highly affected regions are duly increased with the increase of the angle of attack up to 40°, which makes certain that the extra increase of the nonlinear lift results from these vortices. This result can be practically applied to the planform design for unmanned aerial vehicles.
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