The Ford Trimotor ‘Tin Goose’

An photograph of a Ford Trimotor "Tin Goose"

A Ford Trimotor sits along the grassy edge of a dirt airfield. The location is unidentified in this vintage photograph, but it is likely to be somewhere along the West Coast.

The year is sometime between 1925 and 1933. This three-engine transport aircraft was in production by Ford Motor Co.’s aircraft division.

Nicknamed the “Tin Goose,” the trimotor was designed for civil aviation market (passenger use).  But it also could haul cargo (with seats removed) and the plane saw some military service.

“The original (commercial production) 4-AT had three air-cooled Wright radial engines, according to Wikipedia. “It carried a crew of three: a pilot, a copilot and a stewardess. And there were seats for eight or nine passengers. The later 5-AT had more powerful Pratt & Whitney engines.

All models had an aluminum corrugated sheet-metal body and wings. The metallic construction made it “the safest airliner around,” Henry Ford said.

“In the early 1920s, Henry Ford, along with a group of 19 other investors including his son Edsel, invested in the Stout Metal Airplane Company,” according to the Wiki report. “Stout, a bold and imaginative salesman, sent a mimeographed form letter to leading manufacturers, blithely asking for $1,000 and adding: ‘For your one thousand dollars you will get one definite promise: You will never get your money back.’  Stout raised $20,000, including $1,000 each from Edsel and Henry Ford.

“In 1925, Ford bought Stout and its aircraft designs. The single-engined Stout monoplane was turned into a trimotor, the Stout 3-AT with three Curtiss-Wright air-cooled radial engines.

A total of 199 Ford Trimotors were made between 1926 and 1933.

See these authentic PR images from manufacturer archives

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