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In a youtube video an airboat is featured with two contra-rotating propellers, each holding nine blades. Interestingly those nine blades are not spaced evenly, but grouped into three groups. I've never seen such an arrangement before, and I expected an evenly spaced configuration to be more efficient. What could be a reason to prefer this grouped configuration?

grouped propeller blades

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If there was a technical reason beyond "it looks cool", I would guess it would be some benefit noise wise, where it may sound more like a 3 blade prop than a 9 blade, and the resulting lower beat frequency of one prop, interacting with its counter-rotating mate, was less objectionable.

I went on a mangrove airboat tour in Forida once in a 454 V8 powered boat and it was earplugs PLUS ear muffs together for me, so I can imagine that anything that helps with noise levels while absorbing all that power would be very sought after.

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