Types of Airplane Wings
Airplane wings come in different shapes and sizes, designed to serve different purposes. In this article, we will explore the most common types of airplane wings and their characteristics.
Straight wing: Also known as a rectangular wing, this type of wing is the simplest and most common design used in small airplanes. The straight wing has a constant chord (width) from root to tip, and its leading and trailing edges run parallel to each other. Straight wings provide excellent lift and stability, making them ideal for general aviation and training aircraft.
Swept wing: Swept wings are wings that are angled backward along the aircraft’s longitudinal axis. The angle of sweep varies from one aircraft to another, and it can be positive, negative, or zero. Swept wings reduce drag and increase speed by delaying the onset of supersonic shock waves. They are commonly used in military fighter jets and high-speed commercial airliners.
Delta wing: The delta wing is a highly swept wing that forms a triangle shape. Delta wings have a high lift-to-drag ratio and excellent maneuverability at low speeds. They are commonly used in military aircraft, such as the Mirage and the F-16, and in some commercial aircraft, such as the Concorde.
Tapered wing: A tapered wing has a chord that gradually decreases from the root to the tip. This design reduces drag and increases lift distribution, making it ideal for high-speed aircraft. Tapered wings are commonly used in commercial airliners, such as the Boeing 737 and the Airbus A320.
Elliptical wing: The elliptical wing has a rounded shape that reduces drag and improves lift distribution. This design was famously used in the Supermarine Spitfire, a World War II fighter aircraft known for its agility and speed.
Variable-sweep wing: Also known as a swing-wing, this type of wing can be swept back and forth to change the aircraft’s aerodynamic properties. Variable-sweep wings can provide high lift at low speeds and low drag at high speeds, making them ideal for supersonic aircraft such as the F-14 and the B-1B.
Each type of wing has its advantages and disadvantages, depending on the aircraft’s mission and design requirements. Pilots and engineers carefully consider the wing design when selecting an aircraft for a particular task.
“Airplane Wing Design.” Aerospace Engineering Blog, 15 Oct. 2013, aerospaceengineeringblog.com/aircraft-wing-design/.
“Types of Aircraft Wings.” Aircraft Compare, 17 June 2021, aircraftcompare.com/types-of-aircraft-wings/.