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The first flight of the Junkers F 13, the first all-metal transport airplane in the world, took place 99 years ago. No one thought, at that time, that this was the dawn of a new era in the history of aviation: the use of aircraft for civilian purposes.

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Aviation pioneer Professor Hugo Junkers addressed the assignment to design an airplane purely for civilian use, with an enclosed passenger cabin. Only half a year later in June 1919 the Junkers F 13 made its maiden flight as the world's first all-metal transport airplane. By September 1919 it had set a sensational world altitude record of 6.750 meters / 22.150 feet with eight persons aboard.

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By the beginning of the 1930 some 360 units of various versions of the Junkers F 13 had been built. Many of its most significant construction features are still used in the construction of modern airliners. Its cabin interior was based on that of contemporary automobiles: the four passengers were seated, protected from the weather, in upholstered armchairs in the heated cabin with large windows, while the pilot and his mechanic — as was also common for chauffeurs of the era — could enjoy the fresh air of the open cockpit.

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Considering that almost all other airplanes of the era were built from wood and covered with linen fabric, the all-metal construction of the Junkers F 13 was revolutionary. The newly-developed Duraluminum alloy not only allowed both structural rigidity and weather resistance, but provided the corrugated sheet metal appearance that even today is an unmistakable indication of any Junkers design.

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Various water-cooled inline engines, either of Junkers' own design or from Mercedes and BMW, were employed in different versions of the Junkers F 13. Some were also offered by air-cooled radial engines.

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Hugo Junkers, one of Germany's greatest engineers and researchers, gained his legendary reputation not only in aviation, but through countless other technical advances, including such diverse areas as innovative “Jumo” aircraft engines and the ubiquitous “geyser” tankless water heater. The Junkers F 13 was not only a milestone in the history of commercial air transport, but is a synonym for the ground-breaking inventions of its intellectual father.



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