This study identifies the influence that leading-edge shape has on the aerodynamic characteristics of a wing using surface far-field and near-field analysis. It examines if a wake survey is the appropriate means for measuring profile drag and induced drag. The paper unveils the differences between sharp leading-edge and blunt leading-edge wings with the tools of pressure loop, chordwise pressure distribution, span load plots and with wake integral computations. The analysis was performed using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), vortex lattice potential flow code (VORLAX), and a few wind-tunnels runs to acquire data for comparison. This study found that sharp leading-edge wings have less leading-edge suction and higher drag than blunt leading-edge wings.
The blunt leading-edge wings have less drag because the normal vector of the surface in the front section of the airfoil develops forces at opposed skin friction. The shape of the leading edge, in conjunction with the effect of viscosity, slightly alter the span load; both the magnitude of the lift and the transverse distribution. Another goal in this study is to verify the veracity of wake survey theory; the two different leading-edge shapes reveals the shortcoming of Mclean’s equation which is only applicable to blunt leading-edge wings.