Mean lift coefficients have been calculated for hawkmoth flight at a range of speeds in order to investigate the aerodynamic significance of the kinematic variation which accompanies changes in forward velocity. The coefficients exceed the maximum steady-state value of 0.71 at all except the very fastest speeds, peaking at 2.0 or greater between 1 and 2 ms-1. Unsteady high-lift mechanisms are therefore most important during hovering and slow forward flight. In combination with the wingtip paths relative to the surrounding air, the calculated mean lift coefficients illustrate how the relative contributions of the two halfstrokes to the force balance change with increasing forward speed. Angle of incidence data for fast forward flight suggest that the sense of the circulation is not reversed between the down- and upstrokes, indicating a flight mode qualitatively different from that proposed for lower-speed flight in the hawkmoth and other insects. The mid-downstroke angle of incidence is constant at 30-40 degrees across the speed range. The relationship between power requirements and flight speed is explored; above 5 ms-1, further increases in forward velocity are likely to be constrained by available mechanical power, although problems with thrust generation and flight stability may also be involved. Hawkmoth wing and body morphology, and the differences between males and females, are evaluated in aerodynamic terms. Steady-state force measurements show that the hawkmoth body is amongst the most streamlined for any insect.
The mechanics of flight in the hawkmoth Manduca sexta. II. Aerodynamic consequences of kinematic and morphological variation.
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A P Willmott, C P Ellington; The mechanics of flight in the hawkmoth Manduca sexta. II. Aerodynamic consequences of kinematic and morphological variation.. J Exp Biol 1 November 1997; 200 (21): 2723–2745. doi: https://doi.org/10.1242/jeb.200.21.2723
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