These Standards relate to pre Modern (1985) Antique and Classic aircraft.
They are provided on a non commercial basis for research or study, with the primary research purpose being assistance in identifying modern materials that may be suitable substitutes for unobtainable historic materials.
Safe operation of Antique and Classic aircraft depends on the informed and correct selection of materials used in restoration or maintenance. Old drawings may specify historic materials and may be considered incomplete without access to these historic material standards. Some authoring organizations that published this material may no longer exist, for example the Directorate of Technical Development (DTD) in the UK or the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation of Australia. Much of this material has not been systematically archived or would otherwise be obtainable, to the detriment of aviation safety. Material standards were often designed to be disposed off when superseded with newer revisions. The primary purpose of making this material available is in support of aviation safety.
Depending on where and when documents were published, copyright may be retained by the original author. Users must respect the primary purpose of making this material available and remain individually subject to the appropriate copyright law. You may not sell or deal in this material commercially. The records that have been collated here are incomplete. Many have arrived via old dossiers from deceased estates or in boxes discovered in attics. Users are encouraged to support the effort to make further material standards available by sharing.
Please get in touch via the Contact button to arrange digitising of these vital records, particularly if you have early revisions from 1914-1939 or any not already listed. Over 1,000 English language material standards have been collated here to date, many found in Australia, which occupied a fascinating intersection between aircraft of British, American, European and domestic manufacture. A further rich vein of material relates to forensic material analysis of Japanese aircraft in Australia during the Pacific War.
It is important not to automatically apply a newer revision of a material standard to an older design, without understanding the essence of the revisions. Where possible, all revisions and obsolete versions are listed, identified by year of publication. An original standard does much to explain what the original equipment manufacturer was thinking, at the time an aircraft was made. Often designs are a product of constraints of the time, particularly in the evolving field of metallurgy.
Some revisions may be straightforward, eg only the addition of metric measurements to an imperial standard. Some revisions may reflect profound changes in materials and processes as they evolved, eg the introduction of new alloys or vacuum degassing of molten metals. For materials specified during conflicts, some revisions may reflect specific material shortages, and the re-composition of a particular material with substitutes, eg metal ‘Emergency’ alloys responding to nickel shortages during WW2.
The task of navigating from historical materials to modern substitutions is made more challenging by the use of historical classification systems and nomenclature for materials, that may be an alien language to the material scientist of today. A modern material may be identical to a historical material, but be clothed by an almost forgotten language of classification. After much pondering over this issue, the United States derived SAE system for metals classification provides perhaps the best bridge across this problem. For metals, historical standards will list chemical and mechanical properties that can be matched to SAE standards, to begin the journey. I am unable to provide direct recommendations for substitutions, but would always try to help by directing a genuine enquirer to related standards and information. These records will be updated annually, generally in January, so there may be a year’s worth of material not yet displayed. I apologise if I cannot immediately supply copies of some of this material, as it takes a great deal of time to digitise and format these, in between life’s normal obligations.
As the engineers and maintenance personnel familiar with these historic materials and their confident application fly off into the sunset, it is important, at least, to collate this material for future utility. Historic aircraft were often designed for a limited life, while a modern restoration may seek an indefinite life. The correct selection of materials is fundamental. The compilation of these standards is therefore dedicated to the new and coming custodians of our aviation heritage, grappling with problems both old and new, where there never can be such a thing as a dumb question. I have asked plenty, in my time!
I enjoy restoration, and particularly identifying ‘why’ some things were made as they were, often related to the possibilities and limitations of the materials of the day. The 20th Century was an astonishing period in materials progress, taking humanity from the Steam Age to the Space Age. Between the dry pages of these historical standards are ultimately to be found great stories about pioneers and inventors, expressing the divine capacity of humans to invent and challenge the status quo. The products they built are a celebration of this, and a spur to our own efforts, in turn. Enjoy restoring, and safe flying !