A model insect wing is described in which spars of corrugated membrane which incorporate stiffening veins branch serially from a V-section leading edge spar. The mechanical behaviour of this model is analysed.
The open, corrugated spars possess great resistance to bending, but are compliant in torsion. Torsion of the leading edge spar will result in torsion and relative movement of the rear spars. As a result camber will automatically be set up in the wing as it twists.
Aerodynamic forces produced during the wing strokes will result in torsion and camber of the wing which should improve its aerodynamic efficiency.
The effects of varying parameters of the wing model are examined. For given wing torsion, higher camber is given by spars branching from the leading edge at a lower angle, by spars which curve posteriorly, and by spars which diverge from each other.
Wings of three species of flies were each subjected to two series of mechanical tests. Application of a force behind the torsional axis caused the wings to twist and to develop camber. Immobilizing basal regions of the leading edge greatly reduced compliance to torsion and camber, as predicted by the theoretical model. Aerodynamic forces produced during a half-stroke are sufficient to produce observed values of torsion and camber, and to maintain changes in pitch caused by inertial effects at stroke reversal.