Finite Element Torsional Stiffness and Buckling Analysis of Large Rubber Powered Model Aircraft

In the 1960’s finite element structural analysis software was developed by NASA to analyze complex rocket vehicles for space travel. With the advent of powerful workstations and personal computers this technology found its way into automotive and commercial industries to assist in the analysis and development of new products. The author, having spent nearly 25 years in this field, decided to apply this technology to the analysis and design of a Warren truss fuselage for a large 650 sq. inch dawn unlimited rubber model. Presented are finite element modeling aspects of truss fuselage design related to torsional stiffness, global and local buckling. Both Warren truss and perpendicular diagonal truss fuselage designs are evaluated for these attributes. Also investigated are the influence of covering materials like Japanese tissue or ¼ mil Mylar and truss angle on torsional stiffness and critical buckling loads. Technologies like finite element analysis allow the model aircraft designer to evaluate and optimize model aircraft structures prior to building and testing prototypes. Finite element modeling programs are now available to model aircraft enthusiasts at a reasonable cost running on personal computers

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