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Is it possible to obtain the lift and drag coefficients of a three dimensional body in ANSYS Fluent? Or, would it be acceptable to take the coefficients of several cross-sections along the wings and body and perform a weighted average calculation to find the lift and drag values for the entire craft?

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  • $\begingroup$ For sure you will get results but how accurate do you need to be? Fluent (and any CFD code) has severe restrictions and assumptions. Also, all CFD codes require a specialist (if not expert) in order to give reasonable / acceptable results, for non-basic problems. $\endgroup$ Sep 12 '17 at 16:55
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Yes this is possible, and it is the way lift and drag of aircraft are estimated in the pre-design phase. There is detailed methodology described in Synthesis of Subsonic Airplane Design by E. Torenbeek, Appendix E. for lift and pitching moment, Appendix F. for drag.

For lift and pitching moment, first the wing characteristics are estimated based on known research and on corrections for fuselage length, wing/body interference length etc.

For drag, first the $C_{D_0}$ of all components in the table underneath are determined, and then the lift of the wing, body, tailplane etc as function of angle of attack are added.

enter image description here

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Yes, its possible to get directly the drag and lift force for entire 3D body in Fluent, and its easy. See this Fluent user guide page.

You can use the other method you mentioned too, if you know what exactly you are doing while taking weighted average.

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