Ford Trimotor

Recently I was at a local airport and saw a Ford Trimotor operated by the EAA giving rides to the public and since I didn’t know very much about these aircraft I thought it might be nice to learn a little more so here is what I found.

Ford Trimotor
Ford Trimotor taking off
Ford Trimotor Interior
Ford Trimotor Airborne
The Ford Trimotor, nicknamed “The Tin Goose”, was an American three-engined transport plane that was produced by Henry Ford from 1925 to June 7, 1933. The first model (3-AT) was rather heavy and unsuccessful but several more successful “AT” (Air Transport) variants were produced, including the 4-AT (79 sold) and the 5-AT (115 sold) variant which served over 100 different airlines all over the world.
An all metal aircraft was not a revolutionary idea but the Ford Trimotor, designed by William Bushnell Stout, was certainly more advanced than the standard constructed aircraft in the 1920s and was touted as “the safest airliner around”. Its fuselage and wings were constructed of aluminum alloy which was corrugated for added strength (a Trimotor distinquishing feature), but the compromise was that it created drag which reduced its overall performance. The aircraft was designed primarily for passenger use but could be easily adapted for hauling cargo by removing the seats in the fuselage. The 5-AT also had a unique feature of “drop down” cargo bays in the wing root section to increase cargo capacity.
Like Ford cars and tractors, the Trimotors were well-designed, relatively inexpensive, rugged and reliable (for the era) and, interestingly enough, Ford was the first company to use an assembly line for aircraft production by 1927 but of the more than 199 models produced only 18 exist today.
Specifications
• Crew: 3 (1 Flight attendant)
• Capacity: ten passengers

• Cost: $42,000 in 1933

• Length: 50 ft 3 in (15.32 m)
• Wingspan: 77 ft 10 in (23.72 m)
• Height: 12 ft 8 in (3.86 m)
• Wing area: 835 ft² (77.6 m²)
• Empty weight: 7,840 lb (3,560 kg)
• Loaded weight: 10,130 lb (4,590 kg)
• Max. takeoff weight: 13,500 lb (6,120 kg

• Fuel capacity: normally 230 US gallons (886 liters)
• Fuel consumption: about 45 gallons per hour (173 litres per hour))

• Powerplant: 3 × Pratt & Whitney Wasp C 9-cylinder radial engines, 420 hp (313 kW) each

Performance

• Maximum speed: 150 mph (241 km/h, 130 kts)
• Cruise speed: 90 mph (145 km/h, 78 kts)
• Stall speed: 64 mph (103 km/h, 56 kts)
• Range: 550 mi (885 km, 478 nm)
• Service ceiling: 18,500 ft (5,640 m)
• Rate of climb: 1100 ft/min
• Wing loading: 16.17 lb/ft² (78.87 kg/m²)
• Power/mass: 10.71 lb/hp (6.52 kg/kW)