Design of wood aircraft structures

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They later changed their name to its phonetic spelling, Lockheed.

ANC-18 - Design of Wood Aircraft Structures

Northrop also came up with a novel way to make the monocoque fuselage for the S Technicians placed three layers of spruce plywood strips saturated with casein glue in the bottom half of a ft-long concrete mold. They put an inflatable rubber bag on top of the material, then bolted on the top half of the mold. The bag was inflated, uniformly pressing the plywood into accepting the shape of the mold, and pressure was maintained for 24 hr. The resulting quarter-inch-thick half shells were joined with glue and formers, making a smooth, bulletlike fuselage.

But they'd be back. And so would the plywood plane.

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The S-1 was Jack Northrop's first design for Loughhead, and an early example of using plywood for its monocoque fuselage and skin. This design reduced the number of struts and wires, thus cutting drag.

Other novel design features on the plane included wing flaps and folding wings. The Wright brothers' recipe The Wright Flyer was not assembled from exotic materials. Here's an abbreviated list: Straight-grained, knot-free spruce with at least 14 annular rings per inch for the fuselage, bracings, and other structural elements. Ash, a durable, shock-resistant wood, for parts that need extra strength, including the skid tie bars and lower elevator control arms Boxwood roller-skate wheels to serve as pulleys Waxed twine to lash the frame together Some steel rod and sheet steel for hardware and strapping, along with home-made control cables Cotton muslin for covering the wings The Wrights used Pride of the West, a fabric commonly used at the time for women's underwear.

No one is sure whether the Wright Brothers doped the fabric to make it tauter and more airtight. He flew it to two around-the world records and several altitude records. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy , Privacy Policy , and our Terms of Service.

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Small aircraft have used and still use at least for wings, and perhaps for fuselage, material like wood and canvas, as visible on the bottom side of this wing:. Wood and canvas are not meant to be used in humid conditions. All outer surfaces are painted, so they are water repellent and can sustain a shower, but when left to the elements, wooden aircraft deteriorate rapidly. The unprotected structure will take up water and will warp. Wet canvas is less taut, many glues lose strength when wet and plywood will come apart over time.

When a wooden aircraft has suffered a shower, it should be wiped dry and stored under a roof as soon as practical.

Aircraft Construction

When Junkers introduced all-metal aircraft, they were sometimes the only types to fly because bad weather had made all other types unusable. In the war for independence of the Baltic states during , the rapidly moving frontline made the use of aircraft hangars impossible, and only Junkers airplanes were able to operate on rainy days. DeHavilland designed a sleek, four-engined airliner, the DH.

The last three of seven built were put out of service after a crash in Shannon in This crash had made the fact obvious that the plywood structure had deteriorated beyond repair in bad weather, despite a fabric-and-dope cover to protect it from the elements. The good thing about wood is its long-term strength. In stark contrast to aluminium, wood shows no fatigue under stress and allows to design a life-safe structure. When stored and operated properly, a wooden aircraft will last centuries.

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Like the computer, the use of composites has spread rapidly throughout the industry and will be developed even further in the future. The coincident arrival of the new technology in computers and composite materials influenced commercial air transportation, where aircraft larger than the Boeing and faster than the Concorde are not only possible but inevitable. In the field of business aircraft, the new technologies have resulted in a host of executive aircraft with the most modern characteristics. These include the uniquely configured Beech Starship, which is made almost entirely of composite materials, and the Piaggio Avanti, which also has a radical configuration and employs primarily metal construction but includes a significant amount of composite material.

Commercial air transports are using composite materials in increasing amounts and may ultimately follow the pattern of the military services, where large aircraft like the Northrop B-2 are made almost entirely of advanced composite materials. The previously mentioned legal considerations, combined with the advances in computers and composites, has completely revised the role of the homebuilt aircraft. Since the emergence of the Experimental Aircraft Association founded in the United States, the homebuilt movement has operated in advance of the aviation industry, pioneering the use of computers and composites and, especially, radical configurations.

While there are many practitioners in the field, one man, the American designer Burt Rutan , epitomized this transition of the homebuilt movement from backyard to leading-edge status. Rutan, of Mojave, California, had a long series of successful designs, which reached the highest degree of recognition with the Voyager aircraft, in which his brother Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager made a memorable nonstop, nonrefueled flight around the world in Three other areas of civil aviation have benefited enormously from these advances in technology.

The first of these are vertical-takeoff-and-landing aircraft, including helicopters. The second are sailplanes, which have reached new levels in structural and aerodynamic refinement.

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The third are the wide variety of hang gliders and ultralight aircraft, as well as the smaller but more sophisticated aircraft that depend on human or solar power. Each of these has been vastly improved by contemporary advances in design and construction, and each holds great promise for the future.

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Table Of Contents. Submit Feedback. Thank you for your feedback. Introduction Principles of aircraft flight and operation Aerodynamics Devices for aerodynamic control Primary flight controls Elevator, aileron, and rudder controls Thrust controls Propellers Instrumentation Flight simulators Types of aircraft Lighter-than-air Heavier-than-air Civil aircraft Aircraft configurations Wing types Takeoff and landing gear Propulsion systems Reciprocating engines Jet engines Engine placement Materials and construction Early technology Current trends in aircraft design and construction Use of computers Use of composite materials.

Load Previous Page. Materials and construction Early technology For reasons of availability, low weight, and prior manufacturing experience, most early aircraft were of wood and fabric construction. Learn More in these related Britannica articles:. History of flight , development of heavier-than-air flying machines.

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    Three DH-88 Comet aircraft were built from birch plywood and spruce in the mid-thirties

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