Low Observable Uncrewed Aerial Vehicle Wind Tunnel Model Design, Manufacturing, and Aerodynamic Characterization

Hassan Aleisa*, Konstantinos Kontis, Melike Nikbay

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Developing wind tunnel models is time consuming, labor intensive, and expensive. Rapid prototyping for wind tunnel tests is an effective, faster, and cheaper method to obtain aerodynamic performance results while considerably reducing acquisition time and cost for the models. Generally, the rapid prototyping models suffer from insufficient stiffness or strength to withstand the loads generated during a wind tunnel test. In the present study, a rapid prototype model reinforced with metallic inserts was produced to experimentally investigate the aerodynamic characteristics of an uncrewed aerial vehicle with various wingtip deflections. The fused deposition modeling process was used to make the outer mold, whereas the metallic parts were produced using laser cutting and the computer numerical control machining process. Then, the model was evaluated both experimentally and numerically. The test campaign presented in this work was conducted in the de Havilland low-speed wind tunnel facility at the University of Glasgow. For better characterization of flow patterns dominated by leading edge vortices, numerical simulations were run using OpenFOAM 8.0 and validated with experimental data. The experimental data obtained from the hybrid rapid-prototyped model agreed well with the numerical results. This demonstrates the efficacy of hybrid rapid-prototyped models in providing reliable results for initial baseline aerodynamic database development within a short period and at a reduced cost for wind tunnel tests.

Original languageEnglish
Article number216
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024

Bibliographical note

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© 2024 by the authors.


  • CFD
  • rapid prototyping
  • UAV
  • wind tunnel test


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