Gas turbine blades using the so-called squealer tip configuration represent a majority of the high-pressure first stage blades in service. The squealer tip in its most basic format is simply a two-tooth labyrinth seal projecting from the blade tip towards the stationary shroud or casing. As with all blade tip configurations, the geometry is a compromise between aerodynamics, cooling, mechanical stress, durability, and repair. While many proposed blade tip innovations involve more complex geometries, this study seeks to determine if a simpler geometry, other than a flat tip, can provide equivalent aerodynamic performance with a reasonable chance of satisfying all other design factors. Using an annular sector blade cascade, total pressure loss surveys are measured with three blade tip geometries, the standard squealer tip, a single-sided suction side seal strip, and the single-sided strip with a pressure side winglet added. The same cascade is modeled numerically as a periodic passage for each of the geometries tested. Experiment and simulation both utilize all blade tip cooling flow injection locations and nominal magnitudes, as well as a constant tip clearance above the suction side seal strip. Experimental data show that the removal of the pressure side seal strip reduces the area-averaged total pressure loss slightly, while the addition of a winglet returns the performance to the baseline result. Numerical predictions indicate essentially equal performance for all geometries. The numerical results provide insight into the loss mechanisms of both the tip leakage flows and the coolant injection flows. This study, when combined with literature data on heat transfer and cooling, concludes that the simpler single-sided suction seal strip is better overall than the commonly employed squealer tip.

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