All-Plywood Airplane Demonstrates Ability (Dec, 1941)

All-Plywood Airplane Demonstrates Ability

THE first of a new fleet of airplanes designed for mass production in times of war materials shortage is shown at the right as it was tested in flights over New York City. Fuselage and wings are made entirely of plywood and molded plastic and the ship can be turned out with a minimum of metal, which is needed for fighters and other defense machinery. The aircraft is built by the Langley Aviation Corp. It has two 65-horsepower motors. The plywood used in the test model was all mahogany. It is believed the process will result in cheaper production.

  1. DrewE says: April 19, 20128:40 am

    This would be the Langley Twin 2-4-90 or XNL-1 (which apparently refer to the same design). A total of four were built. The construction basically consisted of thin layers of mahogany plywood or veneer assembled together, under pressure, using thermoplastic resins as glue. It sounds somewhat similar to the cold molded construction used in some plywood boats, though these days epoxy is the adhesive of choice. It’s also not all that different from some of the composite aircraft construction methods, although those most often use fiberglass, carbon fiber, or some exotic fabric rather than wood veneer for the structure.

    Apparently, they were fairly decent airplanes, too.

  2. Gazzie says: April 19, 201210:08 am

    The British ‘de Havilland Mosquito’ was a very versatile airplane in WW II that filled many roles. It first flew in 1940 and was also made mostly of plywood. Google it.

  3. Toronto says: April 19, 201211:50 am

    You don’t hear the phrases “all mahogany” and “cheaper production” together much any more. She is, indeed, a pretty thing.

    And I believe the Mosquito was a “composite” of balsa, birch, and spruce.

  4. Hirudinea says: April 19, 201212:50 pm

    The Mosquito impressed the Germans so much that they built their own plywood plane, but the only factory that produced the adhesive was bombed by the Allies and when they used a new adhesive the planes fell apart, woops!

  5. Toronto says: April 19, 20126:18 pm

    The Germans had reasons to be impressed. Google “Ralph Wood Mosquito” – he was a friend of my fathers, and did 50 missons in Mossies. Lost three engines at various times, including one over Berlin, but got back. (You really don’t want to know how he got his DFC, though.) The plane was so tough they used to use them to draw fire from other raids.

    I’m glad they never bombed the plant here – it’s about 4 miles due north of where I’m sitting.

  6. Hirudinea says: April 20, 201211:45 am

    @ Toronto – Yep, it was quite a plane, light, strong, fast, all thinks to its wood construction, but the irony is that because of its construction its one of the few allied planes where no original examples survive today (that I know of.) Gotta love wood, God’s original composite material!

  7. Toronto says: April 20, 20121:27 pm

    Hiru – no, there are some still in existence.…

  8. Hirudinea says: April 20, 20121:59 pm

    @ Toronto – Sorry I meant “Flying” condition, there are 2 flying Lancasters left, no Mosquitos, I’m glad to see one is being restored to flying condition though.

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