Dedicated to the Promotion of Electric Propulsion in all types of Aeromodeling

Scaling and Comparing Performances of Aircraft Models (2D/3D Wing Loading)

[This article was borrowed from the April issue of the Ampeer.  Thanks to their Editor: Ken Myers]

By Andrej Marinsek

1. Introduction

Many years ago (Model Airplane News, Dec. 1997) an article was published in this magazine titled “3D Wing Loadings” (Three dimensional wing loadings) by Larry Renger; it was recently published again on the internet in a slightly cleaned up version. Its different approach to a specific modeling subject is interesting but, as it will be shown later, has some problems. The concept of the 3DWL, though correct in one respect, has otherwise rather limited reach and leads to some vague interpretations and questionable conclusions. The 3DWL persists around in different forms and publications and seems to be, nowadays, the most advertised and supposedly even the only appropriate approach for estimation and comparison of some model performances. This is somehow surprising, so it needs to be addressed in some way.

2. General remarks

Coherent units from the International System of Units (SI) are used in calculations as they are clearer. In most cases only one unit is attributed to a certain physical property and numerical transformations are simpler or not needed at all.

Instead of the term weight (W), which is strictly speaking, a kind of force, the expression mass is used (designated by the letter m), which is the proper name for the physical property measured in kg (lb., oz., etc), and is employed in all calculations here.

3. Agility of models

The motion of models in the air can be on one side described by the words like “agile” or “hot” or “docile” or “flyable” or whatever expression is used to appreciate the performance of models in flight. However this can be pretty undetermined and subjective.

On the other hand, some objective (given by numbers) performance parameters exist. With regard to the lateral axis of models, some performances directly depend on the lift force. These are the minimal speed in horizontal flight vm (stall speed), the minimal absolute turning (or circling) radius Rm and the minimal relative turning radius (RTm), which will be defined and discussed a bit later.

Also, some settings (such as the center of gravity) and a number of model properties, for instance wing profile, low/high wing, aspect ratio, tail (distance from the wing, area, position), the size of rudders, propulsion, thrust vectoring, etc. considerably affect certain performance parameters.

Read More