Conrad Lee (conlee@mail.utexas.edu)
Thu, 09 Jul 1998 16:54:08 -0500


> I don't know if this holds water, but I saw a discovery channel
>documentary where they explained the coke bottle shape...it had something
>to do with the air passing over the wings, hence the pinched-off area of
>the body was located where the wings were. The guy explaining it said it
>had something to do with high speed stability.

This goes back to the 50's, when military aircraft started cruising at
transonic speeds and were designed the old fashioned way with
slide rules and empirical formulas. One configuration designer
discovered that the Mach wave drag was greatly reduced if the
airplane cross-sectional area varied smoothly throughout the
length of the aircraft. This rule-of-thumb became known as
"Area Ruling" and when strictly applied, leads to the coke bottle
shape fuselages, like for the RAF's Buccaneer and Victor bombers.
As for the F16, F14 and the lot, the mission requirements of
each airplane probably dictated how they ended up looking.
That and the fact that by then there were already a few adequate
computational methods to estimate drag and find out other ways to
reduce it.

Conrad Lee

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