Ship wakes: Kelvin or mach angle?

  • Rabaud M
  • Moisy F
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From the analysis of a set of airborne images of ship wakes, we show that the wake angles decrease as $U^{-1}$ at large velocities, in a way similar to the Mach cone for supersonic airplanes. This previously unnoticed Mach-like regime is in contradiction with the celebrated Kelvin prediction of a constant angle of $19.47\degree$ independent of the ship's speed. We propose here a model, confirmed by numerical simulations, in which the finite size of the disturbance explains this transition between the Kelvin and Mach regimes at a Froude number $Fr = U/\sqrt{gL} \simeq 0.5$, where $L$ is the hull ship length.

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  • Marc Rabaud

  • Frédéric Moisy

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