On the Panel Method

After this I got more into aerodynamic research. The area rule involves calculating the flow about a bumpy body of revolution. Existing methods for calculating it were very poor. K. E. Van Every, my boss, talked to me about looking over the available methods and seeing what was best. I did and discovered an entirely new method that was far more powerful than any of the existing ones. I got an OK to try to work out the details of a computer programming method and got it to work quite successfully. The method is now known as the Panel Method and is universally used for low speed flow analysis both in this country and in Europe (Water flows can be analyzed just as well as air flows.) Our first successful calculations were in early 1955 . The method is written up in the book Applied Computational Aerodynamics, Vol. 125 of Progress in Astronautics & Aeronautics, edited by P. A. Henne. Before this method, one could not even calculate the flow about a round body with a hemispherical nose. Afterwards such calculations came easy. Stuart Crump handled research contracts for the David Taylor Model Basin of the Navy. So, once when I saw him, he said the contract he had given us was the best one he had ever given out. For this work I received the Engineering Achievement Award of Douglas Aircraft in 1958.

Biographical memoir of A. M. O. Smith