Sherman Mills Fairchild - Duramold Aircraft - Spruce Goose

The largest aircraft of duramold construction was the Spruce Goose

Duramold aircraft
Clark Duramold F-46 Fairchild - Duramold aircraft was built with a molded wooden fuselage. NASA

In the late 1930s, aircraft of composite materials began to appear made of plastic-impregnated wood materials called duramold. The most famous and largest aircraft of duramold construction was the eight-engine Howard Hughes flying boat dubbed the Spruce Goose.

Sherman Mills Fairchild

According to the Fairchild Corporation, "In the mid-1930s, Fairchild pioneered the application of composite structures to airframe design and production - duramold. The adhesive bonding processes and techniques are still followed in the manufacture of composite structures today. Fairchild also developed the first nine-lens mapping camera for the U. S. Coast and Geodetic Survey in 1936."

Duramold Aircraft

Spruce Goose

The Spruce Goose was not the first airplane to use duramold material. Many small planes had been built using duramold during the early thirties by the Fairchild Aviation.

The Spruce Goose was originally conceived by Henry J. Kaiser, a steel maker and builder of Liberty ships. The aircraft was designed, constructed, and engineered by Howard Hughes and his staff. The Spruce Goose's exterior was created with material using the duramold process of laminating plywood and it was the largest plane ever to fly. In 1947, Millionaire Howard Hughes became the first person to pilot the Spruce Goose.

Spruce Goose

Howard Hughes Becomes The First Person To Fly The Spruce Goose

In 1905, Howard Hughes was born in Houston, Texas. Hughes inherited the patent rights to an oil tool drill made by the Hughes Tool Company. A millionaire, Howard Hughes both inherited and made his own money. An adventurous soul, he formed the Hughes Aircraft Corporation and loved to pilot planes and break aviation records. After flying across America, Howard Hughes turned to movie making and formed his own motion picture studio.