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Whenever it is necessary to perform tests on a model to obtain information that cannot be obtained by analytical means alone, the rules of similitude must be applied. Similitude is the theory and art of predicting prototype performance from model observations.

Model Study: Present engineering practice makes use of model tests more frequently than most people realize. For example, whenever a new airplane is designed, tests are made not only on the general scale model but also on various components of the plane. Numerous tests are made on individual wing sections as well as on the engine pods and tail sections.

Models of automobiles and high-speed trains are also tested in wind tunnels to predict the drag and flow patterns for the prototype. Information derived from these model studies often indicates potential problems that can be corrected before prototype is built, thereby saving considerable time and expense in development of the prototype.

Marine engineers make extensive tests on model shop hulls to predict the drag of the ships.

Geometric similarity refers to linear dimensions. Two vessels of different sizes are geometrically similar if the ratios of the corresponding dimensions on the two scales are the same. If photographs of two vessels are completely super-impossible, they are geometrically similar.

Kinematic similarity refers to motion and requires geometric similarity and the same ratio of velocities for the corresponding positions in the vessels.

Dynamic similarity concerns forces and requires all force ratios for corresponding positions to be equal in kinematically similar vessels.

The requirement for similitude of flow between model and prototype is that the significant dimensionless parameters must be equal for model and prototype

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Last Modified on: 14-Sep-2014

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