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Abstract : The airframe of an aircraft is its mechanical structure, which is typically considered to exclude the propulsion system.
Airframe design is a field of engineering that combines aerodynamics, materials technology and manufacturing methods to achieve balances of performance, reliability and cost.
Modern airframe history began in the United States when a 1903 wood biplane made by Orville and Wilbur Wright showed the potential of fixed-wing designs.
Many early developments were spurred by military needs during World War I.
Well known aircraft from that era include the Dutch designer Anthony Fokker's combat aircraft for the German Empire's Luftstreitkräfte, and U.S. Curtiss flying boats and the German/Austrian Taube monoplanes.
These used hybrid wood and metal structures. During the war, German engineer Hugo Junkers pioneered practical all-metal airframes as early as late 1915 with the Junkers J 1. Commercial airframe development during the 1920s and 1930s focused on monoplane designs using radial piston engines.
Many, such as the Ryan model flown across the Atlantic by Charles Lindbergh in 1927, were produced as single copies or in small quantity.
The all-metal Ford 4-AT and 5-AT trimotors and Douglas DC-3 twin prop were among the most successful designs to emerge from the era.
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