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In the continuing effort to increase the speed of military aircraft, the goal of every aircraft designer is to reduce the weight. By increasing jet-engine thrust and reducing airframe weight, speeds previously unattainable are now commonplace. This weight problem has been complicated by the fact that no sacrifice in structural integrity can be tolerated. This challenge has been met by the development and extensive use of sandwich structures which consist of lightweight cores joined between two thin facings. Balsa wood, foamed plastic and paper, aluminum or steel honeycomb are generally employed as the lightweight core material. Fiberglass-reinforced plastic laminates or thin gage metal skins are generally employed as the facings. Facings are bonded to the core with structural adhesives or with brazing in the case of an all-steel construction. At North American Aviation, effort has been concentrated on the all-aluminum sandwich—aluminum-honeycomb core bonded to aluminum facings with epoxy adhesives. The core and facings are contoured to any desired shape prior to the bonding operation.
Anderson, Richard E.
Research Engineer, American Aviation, Inc., Torrance, Calif.