1997 32¢ Ford Tri-Motor
Classic American Aircraft
Issue Date: July 19, 1997
City: Dayton, OH
Printed By: Stamp Venturers
Printing Method: Photogravure
In the 21 years between the two World Wars aviation technology advanced swiftly. Larger, more powerful airplanes required stronger frames and wings, so one of the most significant advances was the switch to metal structures.
Throughout the 1920s, most manufacturers used both metal and spruce and continued to dress their aircraft in an outer skin of fabric. The first American company to build an all-metal airplane was the Stout Metal Airplane Company, which became a division of Ford Motor Company in 1925. The following year, the company produced a three-engined commercial monoplane powered by 200-horsepower Wright Whirlwind engines. With the installation of newer 300-hp Wright engines later that year, the 11-passenger 4-AT, or Ford Tri-Motor, was born.
Though ahead of its time, the "Tin Goose," as it was called, was noisy, uncomfortable, and cold – passengers even had to endure being sprayed by mud when the plane landed. Nonetheless, with a maximum take-off weight of 10,130 pounds, a cruising speed of 107 mph, and a range of 570 miles, it was the best there was. In all, 200 Tri-Motors were built from 1926 to 1933. At the peak of production in 1929, the company turned out four planes a week, producing a total of 78 airplanes that year alone.