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Ford Trimotor

Updated on March 14, 2011

The Ford Trimotor, nicknamed the "Tin Goose,” was one the most important airplane designs developed during the 1920s. Approximately 200 of these planes were built between 1926 and 1933 and flown by more than 100 different airline companies, the Ford Trimotor was the most practical and commercial airplane of its era.

The plane was built of Duralumin, a copper-aluminum alloy as strong as steel, but only one-third of its weight. Three Wright Whirlwind engines providing a total of 645 horsepower powered the craft. The ten passenger plane had a maximum speed of 130 mph and could carry fuel for five hours of flying.

The idea of building an aircraft entirely out of metal was completely strange in those days when most were still being built out of wood, cloth and just some metal.

The first Ford Trimotor, the 4-AT had a roomy interior and provided comfort to passengers that no other plane offered.

The Ford Trimotor was a tremendously practical plane, capable of taking off on a runway just less than three times its length.

The Ford Trimotor´s ability to carry a large number of passengers at the time and mail at speeds of over 100 mph.

It´s all metal construction with three motors and enormous wings guaranteed passengers of its reliability and safety.

Fitted window curtains, individual light fixtures, cane-backed seats with leather cushions gave the interior a luxurious look.

Being one of the most reliable planes ever built it to had its problems, especially the noise it made from its big three open radial engines.

On flights, passengers were given pieces of cotton to save their ears and vibration was felt heavily.

The Ford Trimotor became out of date during the 1930s as a commercial transport plane and replaced by the Boeing 247 and the Douglas DC 2.

Various collectors and museums still have working models of the Ford Trimotor in display and in operation.

Island Airlines was still using a Ford Trimotor during the mid 1970s.

American Airlines bought one of the Ford Trimotor that had been in use by American Airways thirty years earlier and fully restored to its 1929 working condition.

It was presented to the Smithsonian for exhibition in the National Air and Space Museum.


Wing span 77 feet, 10 inches (23,26m)

Length 50 feet, 3 inches (15,40m)

Maximum speed 130 mph (209 km/h)

Range 1,140 miles (1,835 kms)

Ceiling 18,000 feet (5,500 m)

Ford Trimotor Video


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