History of Aerodynamics
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History of Aerodynamics and Aircraft Design
No one has done more for aerodynamics than Dr. Ludwig Prandtl from the University of Göttingen, Germany. He was born in 1874 and lived to 1953. Motivated by the flights and research of the Lilianthal brothers and  the Wrights, Prandtl formulated a large number of major theories which were and are still being used today to design practical aircraft. These theories include:1
  • Boundary Layer, 1904

  • Circulation Theory of Lift, 1905

  • Lifting Line, 1905

  • Thin Airfoil, 1906

  • Oblique Shock and Expansion Wave, 1906

  • Compressibility Effects, 1907

  • Supersonic Nozzles and Flow, 1907

History of Aerodynamics
Dr. Ludwig Prandtl. Father of modern aerodynamic theory.

He was the instructor for most of the famous aerodynamicists of our time. Below is a list of some and their contributions. 
History of Aerodynamics Prandtl stated that Dr. Hans Multhopp was his best student. Multhopp designed the P.183 and is famous for his T-tail designs. After the war he first worked in England and then in 1949 he came to the US under "Operation Paperclip" and worked for the Martin Aircraft Co. He went on to design a large number of aircraft. Much of the design of the Martin XB-51 was performed by Multhopp working as a consultant.
History of Aerodynamics Dr. Adolph Busemann is famous for his work in developing the swept wing theory in the 1930's. He presented his paper on "Swept Wings" at the 5th Volta Conference in Rome, Italy. Many people, including von Karman, made fun of his swept wing but all swept wings of today can trace their lineage to the original data from Busemann. In 1946, he came to the US under "Operation Paperclip" and first worked at NACA Langely and then, in 1950 became a professor at the University of Colorado.
Busemann also built the first supersonic wind tunnels in Germany in 1939.1
History of Aerodynamics Dr. Woldemar Voigt designed the Me 262 and P.1101 jet aircraft at Messerschmidt. Before the war's end he had redesigned the Me 262 by placing the turbines in the wing roots. Voigt's Me P.1107/B, heavy bomber design was used in the almost identical design of the British Vickers "Valiant" Mk. 1 bomber in 1950.  In 1946 he came to the US under "Operation Paperclip" and worked for Bell Aircraft on the X-5 and other aircraft.
History of Aerodynamics Theodore von Karman was born in 1881 in Budapest, Hungary to a middle class Jewish family. In 1906 he attended the University at Goettingen and received his doctorate under Prandtl. In 1913 he attended the University of Aachen were he met Hugo Junkers with whom he designed the J-1 transport airplane in 1915. Then in 1930 he moved to Pasadena, California to become director of the Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory at Cal Tech (GALCIT). Through Dr. von Karman, GALCIT became the intellectual center of aerodynamics in America.1
History of Aerodynamics Max Munk was born in Hamburg, Germany in Oct. 1890 to a lower-middle-class Jewish family. He was one of Prandtl's most gifted students. In 1919 he received two doctorates from the University of Goettingen. One in engineering and the other in physics. In 1920 he moved to the US and went to work for NAS Langley were he suggested, designed and supervised the NACA variable density wind tunnel. His knowledge of aerodynamics was overwhelming. It was culture shock within the US aero-engineering community. He brought modern aerodynamics to the US. See pg. 292 in "A History of Aerodynamics."1
History of Aerodynamics

Dr. R.T. Jones was born in the US and was a student of  Dr. Max Munk. R.T. as his friends called him, was the chief scientist for 50 years at NASA Ames in Mt. View , California and became famous for his efforts in swept wing design theory, the design of the oblique wing aircraft, proposed and designed by Vogt in 1944, and in airfoil and wing design.

History of Aerodynamics Dr. Richard Vogt, on the right, was known for his wild aircraft designs. One such design, the P.202, designed in 1944,  was called his "Swivel Wing" which was later picked up by R.T. Jones at NASA Ames and built as the AD-1 "Oblique Wing" in 1980. After graduating from the University of Stuttgart he joined the Dornier Co. in 1923. Later he designed a large number of aircraft for Blohm & Voss. After the war he came to the US under "Operation Paperclip". Working at the Boeing Aircraft Co., he continued to design unusual aircraft such as nuclear-powered bombers in the mid 1950's.
  After World War I, Hermann Glauert,  born in England of German parents, studied under Prandtl and returned to England were he translated most of Prandtl's works into English. These translations, including "The Elements of Aerofoil and Airscrew Theory", became the standard texts and are still used by aerodynamicists in England and the USA.1

1. John D. Anderson, Jr. "A History of Aerodynamics," Cambridge University Press, 1997