A nonlinear fluid-elastic model is proposed for the study of the dynamics of inverted flags. The quasi-steady version of Theodorsen’s unsteady aerodynamic theory is used for inviscid fluid-dynamic modelling of the deforming flag in axial flow. Polhamus’s leading edge suction analogy is employed to model flow separation effects from the free end at moderate angles of attack via a nonlinear vortex-lift force. The flag is modelled structurally via a geometrically-exact Euler-Bernoulli beam theory. Using the extended Hamilton’s principle, the nonlinear partial-integro-differential equation governing the dynamics of the inverted flag in terms of the angle of rotation of the flag is obtained. The equation of motion is discretised spatially via the Galerkin method and is integrated in time via Gear’s backward differentiation formula. The bifurcation diagrams are obtained using a time-integration method and pseudo-arclength continuation. It is shown that inverted flags undergo multiple bifurcations with respect to flow velocity, and they generally exhibit four dynamical states: (i) stretched-straight, (ii) buckled, (iii) deflected-flapping, and (iv) large-amplitude flapping. Also, flapping of inverted flags probably develops through fluid-elastic instabilities. Our findings suggest that the system dynamics is sensitive to the mass ratio. It is shown that the mass ratio parameter does not affect the stability of the stretched-straight state and the onset of divergence; however, it controls the possibility of a direct transition from static undeflected equilibrium to large-amplitude flapping motion and it affects the amplitude of large-amplitude flapping.

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