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Ford Trimotor, Smithsonian, Washington DC
Image by Roger Smith SD 73
The Ford Trimotor (also known as the "Tri-Motor", and nicknamed "The Tin Goose") was an American 3-engined transport aircraft. Production began in 1925 by the businesses of Henry Ford and till June 7, 1933. A total of 199 Ford Trimotors had been created. It was made for the civil aviation market, but also saw service with military units. The Ford Trimotor was sold around the globe.
The story of the Ford Trimotor started with William Bushnell Stout, an aeronautical engineer who had previously created several aircraft utilizing principles equivalent to, and originally devised by Professor Hugo Junkers, the noted German all-metal aircraft design pioneer.
In the early 1920s, Henry Ford, along with a group of 19 other investors like his son Edsel, invested in the Stout Metal Airplane Business. Stout, a bold and imaginative salesman, sent a mimeographed type letter to major companies, blithely asking for ,000 and adding: "For your one particular thousand dollars you will get one definite promise: You will never get your cash back." Stout raised ,000, including ,000 each from Edsel and Henry Ford.
In 1925, Ford purchased Stout and its aircraft styles. The single-engined Stout design was turned into a multi-engined design and style, the Stout 3-AT with three Curtiss-Wright air-cooled radial engines. Right after a prototype was constructed and test-flown with poor outcomes, and a suspicious fire brought on the total destruction of all previous styles[citation required], the "4-AT" and "5-AT" emerged.
The Ford Trimotor making use of all-metal construction was not a revolutionary notion, but it was certainly far more advanced than the standard construction tactics of the 1920s. The aircraft resembled the Fokker F.VII Trimotor (except for becoming all-metal which Henry Ford to claimed produced it "the safest airliner around"). Its fuselage and wings followed a design pioneered by Junkers in the course of Globe War I with the Junkers J.I and utilised postwar in a series of airliners beginning with the Junkers F.13 low-wing monoplane of 1920 of which a quantity have been exported to the US, the Junkers K 16 higher-wing airliner of 1921, and the Junkers G 24 trimotor of 1924. All of these had been constructed of aluminum alloy, which was corrugated for added stiffness, despite the fact that the resulting drag reduced its general overall performance.[five] So similar were the styles that Junkers sued and won when Ford attempted to export an aircraft to Europe.[six] In 1930, Ford countersued in Prague, and despite the possibility of anti-German sentiment, was decisively defeated a second time, with the court finding that Ford had infringed upon Junkers’ patents.[six]
Although designed primarily for passenger use, the Trimotor could be simply adapted for hauling cargo, because its seats in the fuselage could be removed. To boost cargo capacity, one particular uncommon function was the provision of "drop-down" cargo holds below the reduce inner wing sections of the 5-AT version.
Corrugated wing of a 1929 Ford 4-AT-E Trimotor
One four-AT with Wright J-four 200-hp engines was constructed for the U.S. Army Air Corps as the C-3, and seven with Wright R-790-three (235 hp) as C-3As. The latter were upgraded to Wright R-975-1 (J6-9) radials at 300 hp and redesignated C-9. 5 5-ATs had been constructed as C-4s or C-4As.
The original (industrial production) 4-AT had three air-cooled Wright radial engines. It carried a crew of 3: a pilot, a copilot, and a stewardess, as properly as eight or nine passengers [N 1]. The later five-AT had more powerful Pratt & Whitney engines. All models had an aluminum corrugated sheet-metal body and wings. Unlike several aircraft of this era, extending through Globe War II, its control surfaces (ailerons, elevators, and rudders) had been not fabric-covered, but had been also produced of corrugated metal. As was typical for the time, its rudder and elevators were actuated by wires that were strung along the external surface of the aircraft. Engine gauges were also mounted externally, on the engines, to be study by the pilot while looking by way of the aircraft windshield.[three] Yet another fascinating feature was the use of the hand-operated "Johnny brake." 
Like Ford vehicles and tractors, these Ford aircraft had been nicely-designed, reasonably inexpensive, and reliable (for the era).[citation necessary] The combination of a metal structure and basic systems led to their reputation for ruggedness. Rudimentary service could be achieved "in the field" with ground crews capable to work on engines utilizing scaffolding and platforms. To fly into otherwise-inaccessible web sites, the Ford Trimotor could be fitted with skis or floats.[five]
Externally mounted control wires of a Ford Trimotor
The speedy development of aircraft at this time (the vastly superior Douglas DC-2 was initial conceived in 1932), along with the death of his personal pilot, Harry J. Brooks, on a test flight, led to Henry Ford’s losing interest in aviation. Even though Ford did not make a profit on its aircraft organization, Henry Ford’s reputation lent credibility to the infant aviation and airline industries, and Ford helped introduce many elements of the modern day aviation infrastructure, such as paved runways, passenger terminals, hangars, airmail, and radio navigation. [N 2]
In the late 1920s, the Ford Aircraft Division was reputedly the "largest manufacturer of industrial airplanes in the globe."  Alongside the Ford Trimotor, a new single-seat commuter aircraft, the Ford Flivver or "Sky Flivver" had been created and flown in prototype kind, but never ever entered series production. The Trimotor was not to be Ford’s final venture in aircraft production. For the duration of World War II, the biggest aircraft manufacturing plant in the globe was built at the Willow Run, Michigan plant, where Ford developed thousands of B-24 Liberator bombers beneath license from Consolidated Aircraft.[ten]
William Stout left the Metal Airplane division of the Ford Motor Business in 1930. He continued to operate the Stout Engineering Laboratory, generating various aircraft. In 1954, Stout purchased the rights to the Ford Trimotor in an attempt to make new examples. A new business formed from this work brought back two modern examples of the trimotor aircraft, renamed the Stout Bushmaster 2000, but even with improvements that had been incorporated, efficiency was judged inferior to modern designs.
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