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LUIGI CROCCO 1909-1986 BY SEYMOUR M. BOGDONOFF ~UlG! CROCCO, former professor of the University of Rome, of Princeton University, and of the I'Ecole Centrale des Arts et Manufactures, cliect of a heart attack in Rome on the eve- ning of November 19, 1986. Originally trained as an applied mathematician, Professor Crocco became one of the pio- neers anct leading forces in the fielcis of theoretical aerody- namics anct rocketry anct jet propulsion during a long and illustrious career in academia. Born on February 2, 1909, in Palermo, Italy, Crocco began to conduct research cluring his unclergracluate years at the University of Rome, where he received his B.S. in mechanical engineering in 1932 and his Ph.D. in mechanical engineer- ing in 1936. By the time he completed his degrees, he was aIreacly heavily involved in rocketry and theoretical aero(ly- namics and had published several papers. (There were some who mistook these early works for publications of his well- known father, General Luigi Crocco.) Crocco remained at the University of Rome as an assistant professor after receiving his Ph.D and became a full profes- sor in 1939. During the 1930s, he generated a series of criti- cal papers in theoretical aerodynamics: his derivation of-the Crocco energy integral for boundary layers ~193 I), his vortic- ity theorem (1936), his definition of the Crocco point of gas dynamics (1937), and his introduction of the Crocco trans- formation in boundary layer theory (19391. Cot
102 MEMORIAL TRIBUTES In 1949 he was invited to become a visiting professor in the Department of Aeronautical Engineering at Princeton University, and, in 1952, on the recommendation of Theo- clore van Karman, he accepted the Robert H. Goddarct Chair of Jet Propulsion at Princeton and became the director of the Guggenheim Jet Propulsion Center, one of two such centers founded in the United States under a grant from the Gug- genheim Foundation. During his tenure at Princeton, Crocco turned his great talents to the study of the rapidly growing field of rocket propulsion. He developed his now well-known theory of combustion instability in rocket motors and remained an in- ternational leader in this field for many years. In addition to his interest in rockets, he used his expertise in mathematics and fluid physics to study complex fluid mechanical prob- lems associated with viscous flows. He made seminal con- tributions to the understanding of boundary layer flows, separation, base flows, and transonic and supersonic aero- dynamics. He was instrumental in developing mathematical and numerical methods to solve the fluid dynamic equations that provided the framework for many technical applica- tions. In the propulsion field, his contributions were made in the combined areas of fluid mechanics anct combustion as ap- plied to propulsion devices, work through which he made contributions to both liquid and solic! rocket combustion. His critical contributions to the theory of rocket combustion in- stability were an important factor in the design of reliable thrusters of the period. He also appliecl propulsion theory to some of the earliest work in orbital mechanics and space flight. During the late 1960s, Crocco's wife, Simone, became ill, prompting their return to Europe. In 1968 he became a Ful- bright Professor of the Faculte cles Sciences of the University of Paris. He returned briefly to Princeton in 1969, but in 1970 he settled permanently to Europe to facilitate his wife's medical treatment.
LUIGI CROCCO 103 From 1970 until he retired in 1977, Crocco was a professor at I'Ecole Centrale des Arts et Manufactures in Paris. In that post, he continuer! his teaching and research; he also spent some time at the University of Rome, the Polytechnic Insti- tute of Rome, and ONERA (the French counterpart of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration). After his wife's death in 1981, he continued his research activity, visiting the United States ant! working closely with the theoretical aerodynamics group in Rome. He continued to enjoy theoretical work and devoted most of the later years of his life to the Circuit challenge of understancting turbu- lence. He remained active until his sudden death at the age of seventy-seven. Professor Crocco's stature in his field! was recognized by the National Academy of Engineering, which elected him to membership in 1979. He was also a member of the Accacle- mia Nazionale clef Lincei, the Accademia delle Scienze hi To- rino, the International Academy of Astronautics, I'Aerotec- nica, ant! the Societe Ingenieurs Civils de France. He was a fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astro- nautics (AlAA) and receiver! the AlAA Pendray Award in 1965, the AlAA Wilcle Award in 1969, and the Columbus International Prize and GoIc! Medal in 1973. His ability to combine elegant mathematics and physical insights in solving practical problems in aeronautics and pro- puIsion made him highly sought after as a consultant for industry and government in both the United States and Europe. Curtiss Wright, the Bendix Corporation, Aerojet- General, General Dynamics, Reaction Motors, Arthur D. Little, General Electric, RCA, TRW, and the National Aero- nautics anti Space Administration in the United States, as well as the European Space Agency, Fiat, the French Defense Ministry, and the Advisory Group for Aerospace Research and Development of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, were among the organizations that received his assistance and counsel. As a professor, Luigi Crocco was instrumental in develop-
104 MEMORIAL TRIBUTES ing and influencing a group of students in the United States and Europe who today occupy key positions in industry, gov- ernment, anct universities. The combination of these stu- dents and almost one huncired of his technical papers had an extraordinary impact on the clevelopment of the fields of aeronautics and space propulsion. In 1985 in honor of Croc- co's seventy-fifth birthday, Plenum Press published a book entitled Recent Advances in the Aero-Space Sciences, which was edited by Corrado Casci and consistent of scientific papers by Crocco's colleagues ant! students. Luigi Crocco was a European "aristocrat" in the best sense of the term. He was gently mannered and cultured, with a keen intellect and a warm handshake that made one fee] spe- cial. His ability to make clear, at any level, the complex phe- nomena with which he worked macle him one of the influ- ential figures of a major growth period in the aerospace era.