EAA and WEAM HELP KEEP U. S. BARNSTORMING ALIVE!

Ford Tri-Engine Plane 6

Tracy Miller takes photos of the Ford Tri-Motor as it taxis this past week at the Santa Teresa International Jetport. Photo Courtesy of Mark Lambie and the El Paso Times Newspaper. Ford Trimotor Captain Steve Lambrick waves from cockpit.

1928 Ford Trimotor Flies Frequently at EAA/WEAM event at Dona Ana Jetport

Some interesting facts about the Ford Trimotors:

This particular ship is powered by three P&W R-985 Wasp Junior engines of approx. 400HP each.  But the planes could and were equipped with many different engines of more or less horsepower.

Different models also had different cockpit and windshield designs – some were streamlined (slanted back) and some actually slanted forward (as does this model in which we rode this weekend), while others were simply vertical windshield panes. Some had engine cowls on their outboard or wing mounted engines, some even on the nose engine, and some even had fenders over their wheels, while some others had streamlined fairings over vertical wheel strut supports.

Some Tri-motors were seaplanes and others were fitted with skis for snow bound operations.

The ship was first designed by William Bushnell Stout to be single engined. But Stout sold out manufacturing rights to his aircraft to Henry and Edsel Ford.  His designs were originally inspired by the all-metal German aircraft designer, Hugo Junkers, and closely resembled the German’s Fokker F-VII Trimotor.

Junkers sued Ford when he tried to sell the planes in Europe – – – and he won, since the Ford too closely resembled the Junkers G-24. While the corrugated aluminum sheeting was very strong compared to the flat sheets coming into use, it was aerodynamically productive of far too much drag.   Ford sued Junkers a second time, and the court in Prague again declared that the Ford Trimotor had impinged on the Junkers’ patents.

Ford’s later AT-5 version had drop-down cargo containers in the bottom part of inner wing sections.  More than a dozen Ford Trimotors were purchased by the Army Air Corps in the early thirties with varied engine models from 200HP to 300HP.  Ford’s pilot, Henry J. Brooks died in a test flight, causing Ford to lose his enthusiasm for aviation investments.

The Douglas DC-2 and 3 quickly outperformed and outclassed the Trimotors.  But Ford lent great credibility to the fledgling American aviation industry, and, while not profiting from his Trimotor production, the brilliant entrepreneur did bring about many important infrastructure innovations such as: paved runways, passenger terminals, hangars, airmail and radio navigation.  By the late 1920’s the Ford Aircraft Division was reportedly the “largest manufacturer of commercial airplanes in the world.”

Before abandoning his aviation enterprise, Ford designed “every man’s” airplane, a single seat commuter plane called the Ford Flivver in 1927.

Meantime, a total of 199 Ford Trimotors were built between 1926 and 1933, including 79 of the 4-AT variant, and 116 of the 5-AT variant, plus some of an experimental variety that were never produced.  One of Latin America’s earliest airlines, Cubana de Aviación, was the first to use the Ford Trimotor in Latin America, starting in 1930, for its domestic services.

Ford Flivver at left

Ford Test Pilot, Harry Brooks, is piloting the Flivver.

Below are the two videos (Part I and II) shot and edited by Ric Lambart on the last day’s ops. The first video is 7:07 minutes long, less the end credits and the second (II) is 14 minutes long.


Below is a video made by long time FASF Member and one of our top Historical Consultants, John Read.  He and his wife, Elli, joined in the fun and excitement over the weekend as you can see. (4:12)

Below is a KRWG Video with FASF Member, Brett Hahn’s, 2015 description (2:54):

Ford Tri-Motor Foundation – Dedicated to Building the Legacy Airliner from Scratch! –  (8:38):

 

Kermie (Kermit) Weeks’ Hurricane Damaged TriMotor being rebuilt in Michigan – (30:23) (Excellent Views of Plane’s Skeletal Framwork):

 

Greg Herrick’s 1927 Ford Trimotor – Founder of Golden wings Museum –  (27:46):

MODELS (Variants):

 

Variants

Ford 3-AT

The original Stout prototype; one built. (Destroyed in suspicious fire)

Ford 4-AT

Pre-production prototype, powered by three 200-hp (150-kW) Wright J-4 Whirlwind radial piston engines, accommodation for two pilots and eight passengers; one built.

Ford 4-AT-A

The original production version, similar to the Ford 4-AT prototype; 14 built.

Ford 4-AT-B

Improved version, powered by three 220-hp (165-kW) Wright J-5 Whirlwind radial piston engines, accommodation for two pilots and 12 passengers; 39 built.

Ford 4-AT-C

Similar to the Ford 4-AT-B, equipped with a 400-hp (300-kW) Pratt & Whitney Wasp radial piston engine, fitted in the nose of the aircraft; one built.

Ford 4-AT-D

Three aircraft similar to the Ford 4-AT-B, each with different engines and minor modifications.

Ford 4-AT-E

Similar to the Ford 4-AT-B, powered by three 300-hp (225-kW) Wright J-6-9 Whirlwind nine-cylinder radial piston engines; 24 built.

 

Ford 4-AT-F

One aircraft similar to the Ford 4-AT-E.

Ford 5-AT-A

Enlarged version, powered by three 420-hp (320-kW) Pratt & Whitney Wasp radial piston engines, accommodation for two pilots and 13 passengers, the wingspan was increased by 3 ft 10 in (1.17 m); three built.

TAT Ford 5-AT-B flown by Lindbergh

Ford 5-AT-B

Similar to the Ford 5-AT-A, powered by 420-hp Pratt & Whitney Wasp C-1 or SC-1 radial piston engines, accommodation for two pilots and 15 passengers; 41 built.

Ford 5-AT-C

Improved version, similar to the Ford 5-AT-A, accommodation for two pilots and 17 passengers; 51 built.

Ford 5-AT-CS

Seaplane version, fitted with Edo floats; one built.

Ford 5-AT-D

Increased-weight version, powered by three 450-hp (340-kW) Pratt & Whitney Wasp SC radial piston engines. The wings were mounted 8 in (20 cm) higher, to increase cabin headroom, but otherwise similar to the Ford 5-AT-C; 20 built.

Ford 5-AT-DS

Seaplane version, fitted with Edo floats; one built.

Ford 5-AT-E

Proposed version, the engines were relocated to the wing leading edges.

Ford 6-AT-A

Similar to the Ford 5-AT-A, powered by three 300-hp Wright J-6-9 radial piston engines; three built.

Ford 6-AT-AS

Seaplane version, fitted with Edo floats; one built.

Ford 7-AT-A

Redesignation of a single Ford 6-AT-A, equipped with a 420-hp Pratt & Whitney Wasp radial piston engine, fitted in the nose of the aircraft.

Ford 8-AT

One Ford 5-AT-C converted into a single engine freight transport aircraft. Six different engines ranging from 575 hp (429 kW) to 700 hp (520 kW) were installed.[18]

Ford 9-AT

Redesignation of a single Ford 4-AT-B, fitted with three 300-hp Pratt & Whitney Wasp radial piston engines.

Ford 11-AT

Redesignation of a single Ford 4-AT-E, fitted with three 225-hp Packard DR-980 diesel engines.

Ford 13-A

Redesignation of a single Ford 5-AT-D, fitted with two 300-hp Wright J-6-9 Whirlwind radial piston engines, and a 575-hp (430-kW) Wright Cyclone radial piston engine fitted in the nose of the aircraft.

Ford 14-A

Large three-engined version, powered by three 1000-hp (750-kW) Hispano-Suiza 18 Sbr piston engines (W engines: 3 x 6 cylinders), accommodation for two pilots and 40 passengers.

Ford XB-906

One Ford 5-AT-D was converted into a three-engined bomber aircraft.

United States military designations

XC-3

One 4-AT-A evaluated by the United States Army Air Corps, redesignated C-3 after evaluation.[19]

C-3

One 4-AT-A was redesignated from XC-3 following evaluation[19]

C-3A

Model 4-AT-E a military transport version, powered by three 235-hp Wright R-790-3 Whirlwind radial piston engines; seven built, all later converted to C-9[19]

C-4

One 4-AT-B acquired by the military for evaluation[19]

A C-4A

C-4A replica

C-4A

Military transport version, based on the Ford 5-AT-D, powered by three 450-hp Pratt & Whitney R-1340-11 Wasp piston engines; four built[19]

C-4B

One C-4A re-engined with three 450-hp R-1340-7 engines.[19]

C-9

Redesignation of all seven C-3As fitted with 300-hp (224 Kw) Wright R-975-1 radial piston engines[20]

XJR-1

One Model 4-AT-A for evaluation by the United States Navy[21]

JR-2

Military transport version for U.S. Marine Corps, based on the Ford 4-AT-E, but with three Wright J6-9 engines; two built, redesignated RR-2 in 1931[21]

JR-3

Military transport version for the U.S. Navy (one) and U.S. Marine Corps (two), based on the Ford 5-AT-C; three built.[21]

Ford RR-1 at Langley Virginia 1934

RR-1

Redesignation of the XJR-1 prototype[22]

RR-2

Redesignation of the JR-2 in 1931[22]

RR-3

Redesignation of the JR-3 in 1931[22]

RR-4

Designation for one 5-AT-C[22]

RR-5

Designation for two 4-AT-D, one each for the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marines[22]

 

 

 

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