Fun with Simulation and Star Wars

X-Wing Aero

Our design firm is full of engineers that spend a lot of their time doing simulations for clients and we love everything sci-fi.  I just happened across a video that mixes these two of these things, Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and Star Wars ships.  A YouTube channel, EC Henry did an aerodynamic analysis of all the Star Wars ship using Autodesk’s Flow Design.  This Flow Design software is no longer available but the same work can be done in Autodesk Simulation CFD.  Autodesk® CFD software provides computational fluid dynamics and thermal simulation tools to help you predict product performance, optimize designs, and validate product behavior before manufacturing.

Basic Shape Drag Coefficients

One of the main things that we talk about in aerodynamics about wind tunnel simulations is drag coefficient.  According to the NASA Glenn Research Center, the drag coefficient is a number that aerodynamicists use to model all of the complex dependencies of shape, inclination, and flow conditions on aircraft drag.

The amazing thing about this analysis is that it basically proves that the Star Wars ships have the aerodynamics of flying bricks.  A brick has a drag coefficient of 1.05 and a sphere has a drag coefficient of 0.47.  For a reference of everyday products, a car has a drag coefficient of about 0.3 and an F-4 fighter jet has a drag coefficient of about 0.02.

Tie Fighter Aero Analysis
Tie Fighter Aero Analysis

The two most famous ships in the Star Wars Saga are the X-Wing Fighter and the Tie Fighter.  I have to say that I was surprised to see the Tie Fighter has a drag coefficient of 0.98 which is pretty terrible and the X-Wing Fighter is better at 0.45.  So, both of these ships are terrible at flying.  The video goes through all the major ships from the original movies through the latest movies so for more fascinating information on how other Star Wars ships fared in the aerodynamic simulations, please check out the original video below.

 

 

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