Over the last few hours, I've been trying to intuitively understand induced drag, and how aspect ratio affects it. I already know the equations, but while they explain the relationship, they do not really explain anything, I want to understand what is happening physically. I've read on many answers in this community, specially by Peter Kämpf, but I've been unable to attain an intuitive understanding.
I will explain my line of thinking, hopefully I can be corrected on any misconceptions, or wrong assumptions.
First of all, my way of thinking about lift is simply airflow being redirected. If airflow is redirected by a surface, a force in the opposite direction is applied on said surface. This means that for lift to be generated, downwash must exist, therefore induced drag is an inseparable side-effect of generating lift.
Let's imagine 2 theoretical wings, both of which have the same area, but differ in aspect ratio. If induced drag depends on the downwash angle, why would a longer wingspan reduce the angle? If the downwash angle is reduced, then the amount of air being redirected (total mass) must increase to keep lift equal, how can that happen when the wing area is equal?
All of the sources I am able to find blame induced drag solely on wingtip vortexes, since they cause downwash, but the entire wing is creating downwash, so what gives?
If tip vortexes are what cause induced drag, how does a longer wingspan reduce the induced drag coefficient? As an example: If the span of rectangular a wing is increased without changing the chord length, the aspect ratio will increase, which according to the math, will lower the induced drag coefficient. How does a longer wingspan affect the vortexes such as to reduce the downwash?