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Facebook Twitter Pinterest Share. Description Reviews More Details. Description A large number of people in the United States had their first airplane ride in a Ford Tri-Motor during the s and s, a plane that remains to this day a fine example of engineering, planning and production. In the early s, Henry Ford , along with a group of 19 other investors including his son Edsel , invested in the Stout Metal Airplane Company.
In , Ford bought Stout and its aircraft designs. The single-engined Stout monoplane was turned into a trimotor , the Stout 3-AT with three Curtiss-Wright air-cooled radial engines. After a prototype was built and test-flown with poor results, and a suspicious fire caused the complete destruction of all previous designs [ citation needed ] , the "4-AT" and "5-AT" emerged. The Ford Trimotor using all-metal construction was not a revolutionary concept, but it was certainly more advanced than the standard construction techniques of the s.
The aircraft resembled the Fokker F. VII Trimotor except for being all-metal which Henry Ford claimed made it "the safest airliner around". I and used postwar in a series of airliners starting with the Junkers F. All of these were constructed of aluminum alloy , which was corrugated for added stiffness, although the resulting drag reduced its overall performance.
Although designed primarily for passenger use, the Trimotor could be easily adapted for hauling cargo, since its seats in the fuselage could be removed. To increase cargo capacity, one unusual feature was the provision of "drop-down" cargo holds below the lower inner wing sections of the 5-AT version.
The original commercial production 4-AT had three air-cooled Wright radial engines. It carried a crew of three: a pilot, a copilot, and a stewardess, as well as eight or nine passengers [N 1]. All models had an aluminum corrugated sheet-metal body and wings.
Unlike many aircraft of this era, extending through World War II , its control surfaces ailerons , elevators , and rudders were not fabric-covered, but were also made of corrugated metal. As was common for the time, its rudder and elevators were actuated by metal cables that were strung along the external surface of the aircraft. Engine gauges were also mounted externally, on the engines, to be read by the pilot while looking through the aircraft windshield.
Like Ford cars and tractors, these Ford aircraft were well designed, relatively inexpensive, and reliable for the era.
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Rudimentary service could be accomplished "in the field" with ground crews able to work on engines using scaffolding and platforms. The rapid development of aircraft at this time the vastly superior Boeing first flew at start of , along with the death of his personal pilot, Harry J. Brooks , on a test flight, led to Henry Ford's losing interest in aviation.
While Ford did not make a profit on its aircraft business, Henry Ford's reputation lent credibility to the infant aviation and airline industries, and Ford helped introduce many aspects of the modern aviation infrastructure, including paved runways , passenger terminals , hangars , airmail , and radio navigation. In the late s, the Ford Aircraft Division was reputedly the "largest manufacturer of commercial airplanes in the world. During World War II, the largest aircraft manufacturing plant in the world was built at the Willow Run , Michigan plant, where Ford produced thousands of B Liberator bombers under license from Consolidated Aircraft.
He continued to operate the Stout Engineering Laboratory, producing various aircraft. In , Stout purchased the rights to the Ford Trimotor in an attempt to produce new examples. A new company formed from this effort brought back two modern examples of the trimotor aircraft, renamed the Stout Bushmaster , but even with improvements that had been incorporated, performance was judged inferior to modern designs.
ISBN 13: 9780887404160
A total of Ford Trimotors were built between and , including 79 of the 4-AT variant, and of the 5-AT variant, plus some experimental craft. Well over airlines of the world flew the Ford Trimotor. The impact of the Ford Trimotor on commercial aviation was immediate, as the design represented a "quantum leap over other airliners.
While advertised as a transcontinental service, the airline had to rely on rail connections with a deluxe Pullman train that would be based in New York being the first part of the journey.
Ford Tri-Motor, by William T. Larkins
Passengers then met a Trimotor in Port Columbus, Ohio , that would begin a hop across the continent ending at Waynoka, Oklahoma , where another train would take the passengers to Clovis, New Mexico , where the final journey would begin, again on a Trimotor, to end up at the Grand Central Air Terminal in Glendale , a few miles northeast of Los Angeles.
Ford Trimotors were also used extensively by Pan American Airways , for its first international scheduled flights from Key West to Havana , Cuba , in The heyday for Ford's transport was relatively brief, lasting only until , when more modern airliners began to appear. Rather than completely disappearing, the Trimotors gained an enviable reputation for durability with Ford ads in proclaiming, "No Ford plane has yet worn out in service. It was the application of a modified assembly line production by the world's largest automobile manufacturer to a continuously refined design, backed by extensive advertising and publicity concerned with safety, at a time when such dependability and safety was crucial, that put Ford ahead of all of its competitors.
The all-metal construction, stressed so much by the Ford advertising campaign of the late s, proved its worth in later years.
The Ford Tri-Motor 1926-1992
The life span of the average airplane in the s was relatively short and so it is not surprising to find the Ford Company timidly stating in their advertising that no Ford plane has yet worn out in service. This new book by aviation historian William T. Larkins is the most complete information available on the Ford Tri-Motro, and includes information on design, contruciton, model designations, a cross-indexing of U. Get A Copy. Hardcover , pages.
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