24. Wood Can Save Weight


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J M Jacobson: 24. Wood Can Save Weight. 1942.



Many recent articles have described a marvelous new material from which airplanes may be constructed at great savings in cost and weight. This material has been called ‘plastic’. To my knowledge, no airplane has ever been constructed of any plastic. The term is mistakenly used for plywood glued with the newer synthetic resin glues. I have purposely used the word ‘wood’ rather than ‘plastic’ in the title of this talk because all of the so-celled plastic airplanes have actually been manufactured of the same material which has been used in aircraft manufacture ever since the Wright Brothers.
Two things have contributed to the renewed interest in this material. First, the large increase in aircraft construction has resulted in shortages of the necessary metals. Second, the synthetic resin glues have made the assembly of wood parts simpler and more durable.
The purpose of this talk is to show that in substituting wood construction for metal, there is no need to take any penalty in weight. In fact, for equivalent strength and stiffness, it is frequently possible to show appreciable weight reduction by proper design. That such weight reduction has not always been evident is chiefly due to the fact that sufficient care and research has not been taken to assure efficient design. The study of the use of wood for aircraft has been in the doldrums since the event of the all-metal airplane.
With the great increase in the use of wood which has been forced on the aircraft industry by lack of metal, a restudy of the application of this original structural material is being made in the light of modern theory. A large amount of research and testing is in progress both as to manufacturing processes and strength which is gradually yielding results in lighter structure.


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