A numerical study on two-dimensional (2D) rectangular plates falling freely in water is carried out in the range of 1.2 ≤ ρs/f ≤ 5.0 and 1/20 ≤ β ≤ 1/4, where ρs/f is the solid-to-water density ratio and β is the plate thickness-to-length ratio. To study this problem, the immersed boundary-lattice Boltzmann flux solver in a moving frame is applied and validated. For the numerical result, a phase diagram is constructed for fluttering, tumbling, and apparent chaotic motions of the plate parameterized using ρs/f and β. The evolution of vortical structures in both modes is decomposed into three typical stages of initial transient, deep gliding, and pitching-up. Various mean and instantaneous fluid properties are illustrated and analyzed. It is found that fluttering frequencies have a linear relationship with the Froude number for all cases considered. Lift forces on fluttering plates are linearly dependent on the angle of attack α at the cusp-like turning point when α π / 5 . Hysteresis of the lift force on fluttering plates is observed and explained whilst the drag forces are the same when α has the same value. Meanwhile, the drag force in the tumbling motion may have a positive propulsive effect when the plate begins a tumbling rotation from α = π/2.

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