Wings of Wood, Wings of Metal: Culture and Technical Choice in American Airplane Materials, 1914-1945
Schatzberg shows that American aeronautical engineers and airplane designers were swayed by the symbolism of airplane materials, a symbolism that linked metal with technological progress and wood with preindustrial craft traditions. This symbolism encouraged the aeronautical community to focus research and development on metal airplanes at the expense of promising projects involving wood - despite the fact that other countries continued to produce highly successful aircraft with wood through the end of World War II. According to Schatzberg, technical personnel in the American military played the key role in this process. They had little evidence for metal's superiority but used their dominant influence to press the case that metal was the wave of the future and that airplanes would inevitably follow ships and abandon wood. Wings of Wood, Wings of Metal shows clearly that culture and ideology help determine the most basic characteristics of modern industrial technologies. The book also underlines the historically powerful influence of the military on twentieth-century technology.
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World War I and the Origins
Metal and Its Discontents
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Aeronautics Air Corps Air Pullman Air Service airlines Airplane Construction airplane design airplane structures Alcoa all-metal airplanes alloy aluminum American Anthony Fokker army’s Aviation Bakelite began Boeing bomber buckling Bureau of Standards commercial airplanes composite materials composites contract corrosion cost culture Curtiss Despite difﬁcult Dornier Douglas Douglas DC-2 durability duralumin Duramold early efﬁciency Engineering Division ﬁgure ﬁrms ﬁrst ﬁve ﬂight ﬂying boat Fokker Ford Ford trimotors fuselage German glue Hugo Junkers ideology of metal inﬂuence Junkers load Lockheed Vega manufacturers Materiel Division McCook Field metal aircraft metal airplanes metal construction metal spars metal wings military molded monocoque monocoque fuselage Monomail monoplane Mosquito NACA/NF Ofﬁce ofﬁcers planes plastics plywood Press problems production progress ideology Report resin scientiﬁc signiﬁcant speciﬁc spruce steel steel-tube fuselage Stout strength symbolic technical tests Thomas-Morse tion Trayer trimotor U.S. Congress U.S. NACA USAF/SCC weight wooden airplanes Wright Field