Frazer, R. A & W. J. Duncan. | The Flutter of Aeroplane Wings

  • First edition of this key work on aeronautical engineering, widely known as “The Flutter Bible”. Scarce, with only 15 institutional copies recorded in WorldCat and one in auction records, at Dominic Winter in 2011.

    The term “flutter” refers to sustained oscillations of the structures of planes that can damage or destroy them. The first documented case occurred in 1916, affecting the tail of a Handley Page O/400 bomber, and by the 1920s flutter was a major area of aeronautics research.

    “At the NPL [National Physical Laboratory] work was initiated in 1925 by R. A. Frazer; he was joined in the following year by W. J. Duncan. Two years later, in August 1928, they published a monograph, ‘The Flutter of Aeroplane Wings’, R&M 1155. This slim volume, of just over 200 pages, has been known ever since as ‘The Flutter Bible’, and understandably so... it is quite astonishing in its completeness. Frazer and Duncan solved the flutter problem, in all its essentials, laying down the principles on which flutter investigations have been based ever since.” (Collar, “The First Fifty Years of Aeroelasticity”, Aerospace, February 1978, pp. 14-15).

    Frazer and Duncan’s research programme “made use of simplified wind tunnel models to identify and study phenomena, gave well-considered, cautiously detailed design recommendations, and indicated broad programs required for measurement of aerodynamic derivatives. They introduced an important concept of ‘semirigid modes’ which greatly simplifies the theoretical analysis... In effect this concept enables the problem to be handled by ordinary differential equations rather than by much less tractable partial differential equations” (Garrick & Reed, “Historical Development of Aircraft Flutter”, Journal of Aircraft vol. 18, no. 11, Nov 1981, pp. 900-901).

    Reference: Bibliography of Vibration and Flutter of Aircraft Wings, US Works Progress Administration, 1937. Bibliography of Aeronautics, National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, 1930.

  • ...Aeronautical Research Committee. Reports and Memoranda No. 1155. (Ae. 320.) August 1928. London: His Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1929.

    Sextodecimo. Original grey cloth, titles to spine and upper board in black. 3 plates from photographs, 2 double-sided plates of charts, charts and figures throughout the text. Tail of spine and lower corner bumped, cloth a little rubbed and scuffed, contents faintly toned. A very good copy.