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Wing Sweep

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Category: Theory of Flight Theory of Flight
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Swept Wing


A swept wing is the most common planform for high speed (transonic and supersonic) jet aircraft. The most common wing sweep configuration is a "swept back" profile but forward sweep and variable sweep wings are also in use.

The highly swept wing of a B52. Image source: IANS

In transonic flight, a swept wing allows a higher Critical Mach Number than a straight wing of similar Chord and Camber. This results in the principal advantage of wing sweep which is to delay the onset of wave drag.

A swept wing is optimised for high speed flight. Low speed handling characteristics and lift generation are improved by the addition of High Lift Devices such as Slats and Flaps.

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