Copyright © A. Filippone (1996-2001). All Rights Reserved.

R T Jones (1910-1999)

The contributions of RT Jones are outstanding: wing theory, the oblique flying wing, the swept-back wing, lateral control theory, two-control airplanes, and all-movable controls. Later in life he “expanded” his interests into the dynamics of the cardio-vascular system and the violin acoustics.

The oblique flying wing concept is perhaps his most radical idea (though other engineers, such as GV Lachmann and R Vogt were working on similar rotating configurations).

At supersonic speeds the oblique flying wing achieves better lift/drag ratios than conventionally swept back wings. The back sweep is achieved by rotating the wing at the center and letting it fly skewed. Rotation back to the unskewed position gives a better configuration at the low speed range.

In 1944 he developed a theory for low aspect-ratio pointed wings (delta wings, in fact) flying both at subsonic and supersonic speeds, once he realized that Prandtl’s theory was not valid for these configurations.

By 1945 he stumbled on the idea that only the free stream velocity component normal to the leading edge line determinates the aerodynamic properties of the wing: this was a prove that that the swept back wing made sense.

However, this idea was proposed independently by Adolf Busemann as early as 1935 at the Volta Conference in Rome. Jones does get the credit of having worked out the idea before classified laboratory data were seized from the Germans at the end of the war. Boeing and the North American Company soon exploited this discovery.

RT Jones never earned an academic degree. He was self-taught, but his uncanny ability to simplify became legendary at NACA/NASA and beyond. He left his college studies at the Catholic University of America to join the small Beasley aircraft company as a designer, and then NACA in 1934, where he spent most of his professional career. In his early days, RT Jones worked with the highly influential Max Munk.

Selected References

  • Vincenti, WG. R.T. Jones. One of a Kind. Annual Review of Fluid Mechanics, Vol. 37, 2005, pp. 1-21. (biographical sketch)

  • Collected Works of R.T. Jones NASA, 1976, 1025 pages (introduction by W.L. Sears) – The main papers are all here.

  • Jones RT. Wing Theory, Princeton Univ. Press, Princeton, NJ. 1990.

  • Jones RT, Cohen D. Aerodynamics of Wings at High Speeds, Vol VII, Section A, in High Speed Aerodynamics and Jet Propulsion, Princeton Series, 1957.

  • Jones RT. Wing Plan Forms for High Speed Flight. NACA Rept. 863, 1947.

  • Jones RT. Properties of Low Aspect-Ratio Pointed Wings at Speeds Below and Above the Speed of Sound. NACA Rept 835, 1946.

  • Jones RT. Minimum Wave Drag for Arbitrary Arrangements of Wings and Bodies, NACA Report 1335, 1957.

  • Jones RT. Theory of Wing-Body Drag at Supersonic Speeds, NACA Report 1284, 1956.

  • Jones RT. The Minimum Drag of Thin Wings in Frictionless Flow, J. Aero. Sci., Vol 18, No. 2, pages 75-81 (1951).

  • Jones RT. The Unsteady Lift of a Finite Wing. NACA TN 682, 1939.

  • Jones RT, Nerkin AI. An Analysis of the Stability of an Airplane with Free Controls. NACA TN 586, 1936.
Please inquire for more specific references.

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Copyright © A. Filippone (1996-2001). All Rights Reserved.