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Hydrofoil Design Basics - A Brief Tutorial

By John Meyer

(Last Update 11 Nov 00)

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Click Here for this Tutorial in French, "Considérations de base sur la conception des hydrofoils - Guide rapide," courtesy of Gérard Delerm


The basic principle of the hydrofoil concept is simply to lift a ship's hull out of the water and support it dynamically on wing-like lifting surfaces, i.e. hydrofoils, to reduce the effect of waves on the ship and to reduce the power required to attain modestly high speeds. Engineers and naval architects have been intrigued with the possibilities of this concept for many years. A United States patent for a hydrofoil was defined in the late 1880s, about the same time as the early airplane and airfoil patents. The earliest record of a successful hydrofoil flight is 1894 when the Meacham brothers demonstrated their 14 foot test craft at Chicago, Illinois. This compares with the Wright brothers' first airplane flight in 1903. The early attempts to exploit the hydrofoil concept were frustrated by lack of suitable structural materials and power plants. However, advancement in these areas, much of it stemming from aircraft developments, has permitted development over the past 30 to 40 years of the technology necessary to achieve and demonstrate reliable and effective hydrofoil ships for both military and commercial applications, see Reference [1]. History of early developments and later US Navy programs is detailed in References [2] to [5].

This tutorial is divided into five pages. First is the introduction, which you have just read. The next three pages discuss hydrofoil configurations, characteristics, and features. Finally, a list of references is provided. To continue with this tutorial, simply select from the page list below.

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