When were airfoil cross-sections first used in turbine blades? When did this become standard practice? Did people understand the connection to aircraft, or did heavier-than-air aircraft exist at all yet?

  • $\begingroup$ This might be more appropriate to the beta- group hsm.SE (history of science and math) $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 29, 2017 at 13:11
  • $\begingroup$ @CarlWitthoft but perhaps it is relevant here - the development of the jet engine was based on a huge amount of practical work with the maths and science theory trying to catch up.... $\endgroup$
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Sep 29, 2017 at 13:26

1 Answer 1


Good description in the link, but curved surfaces were in use as sails around 800 years ago and Bernoulli came up with his formula , Ludwig Prandtl was testing sections in 1017 in his large wind tunnel, the first naca section was tested in 1935 .... http://www.flyingmag.com/technicalities/technicalities-short-history-airfoils

And this link to Sir Frank Whittle is also very illuminating as a design error had the shape of the blades incorrect during testing around December 1937... https://books.google.ch/books?id=a_YTYwP4aS4C&pg=PA120&lpg=PA120&dq=turbines+whittle&source=bl&ots=aEH_MZYiEQ&sig=SVPqca_ONdeuOQ3rAXVZHRDm2o4&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi4guii1MjWAhUEcRQKHQHFAncQ6AEInAEwFg#v=onepage&q=turbines%20whittle&f=false

And this is a "poem" about the work at the time - source the Frank Whittle link above : enter image description here


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