During the 1930's several families of airfoils and camber lines were developed by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). Many of these airfoil shapes have been successfully used over the years as wing sections or tail sections for general aviation and military aircraft, as well as propellers and helicopter rotors.
The ordinates for numerous specific airfoils of these families at a coarse set of data points were published in a series of NACA reports. However, when performing parametric studies on effects of such variables as thickness, location of maximum thickness, leading- edge radius, location of maximum camber and others, it is not always easy to obtain the ordinates of the desired shapes rapidly and accurately. To remedy this problem the NASA Langley Research Center sponsored the development of computer programs for generation of ordinates of standard NACA airfoils.
Two separate programs were written by Charles Ladson and Cuyler Brooks of the NASA Langley Research Center in 1974-1975. The first was documented in NASA TM X-3284 and produces ordinates for NACA 4-digit, 4-digit modified, 5-digit, and 16-series airfoils. These thickness families are defined by algebraic equations. These thickness families are combined with appropriate mean lines to produce the final thick cambered airfoil.
The second program was documented in NASA TM X-3069 and produces ordinates for NACA 6-series and 6A-series airfoils. Unlike the other airfoils, these thickness distributions are not defined by algebraic equations, but use conformal mapping of a circle into an airfoil shape. These thicknesses are combined with 6-series mean lines to produce the final thick cambered airfoil. Both of these computer programs have been included on the CD-ROM from Public Domain Aeronautical Software since the release of Version 1.0 in January 1996.
In December 1996, NASA published a new report NASA TM 4741 outlining the theory behind the NACA airfoil sections and a revised computer program incorporating the features of both of the 1974-1975 programs. It was the intent of the authors that the program would be distributed on a NASA Langley software server, but this never became operational. I received a test release of this program from one of the authors, but I can't be sure that it is the final version for release. You can download a copy (ZIP, 47KB) from this site.
In 2001, I wrote an entirely new program based on all of the previous work that incorporated many suggestions from users of the original programs. This program (called naca456) and its documentation are included on the CD-ROM as well as the original NASA programs. The program is documented in my AIAA paper on the subject.
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