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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

For Félix du Temple's invention, see Monoplane (1874)
The low-wing of a Curtiss P-40.
The mid-wing of a de Havilland Vampire T11.
The high-wing of a de Havilland Canada Dash 8.
Schematic head-on illustration of a parasol wing

A monoplane is an aircraft with one main set of wing surfaces, in contrast to a biplane or triplane. Since the late 1930s it has been the most common form for a fixed wing aircraft.


Types of monoplane

The main distinction between types of monoplane is where the wings attach to the fuselage:

  • low-wing, the wing lower surface is level with (or below) the bottom of the fuselage
  • mid-wing, the wing is mounted mid-way up the fuselage
  • shoulder-wing, the wing is mounted above the fuselage middle
  • high-wing, the wing upper surface is level with or above the top of the fuselage
  • parasol-wing, the wing is located above the fuselage and is not directly connected to it, structural support being typically provided by a system of struts, and, especially in the case of older aircraft, wire bracing.


Félix du Temple's 1874 Monoplane.

Probably the first monoplane was the Monoplane built in 1874 by Felix du Temple de la Croix, a large plane made of aluminium in Brest, France, with a wingspan of 13 meters and a weight of only 80 kilograms (without the pilot). Several trials were made with the plane, and it is generally recognized that it achieved lift off under its own power after a ski-jump run, glided for a short time and returned safely to the ground, possibly making it the first successful powered flight in history, depending on the definition — since the flight was only a short distance and a short time, and of course was not truly under control.

Richard Pearse of New Zealand had built a monoplane in which he made attempts at controlled powered flight on the 31st of March 1903, although the lack of outside knowledge of his achievements meant that his design had almost no influence in the general development of the aeroplane.

Another early monoplane was constructed by Romanian inventor Traian Vuia, who made a flight of 12 m (40 ft) on March 18, 1906.

The first successful aircraft were biplanes, but many important pioneering aircraft were monoplanes, for instance Louis Blériot flew across the English Channel in 1909 in a mid-wing monoplane of his own design. Throughout 1909-1910 Hubert Latham set multiple altitude records in his Antoinette IV monoplane, initiall achieving 155 m (509 ft) then raising it to 1,384 m (4,541 ft).[1] The Fokker Eindecker of 1915 was a successful fighter aircraft. The Junkers J 1 was an early German "technology demonstrator" monoplane, and the world's very first practical all-metal aircraft of any type to fly, with the J 1's first flight occurring in December 1915.

Nonetheless, relatively few monoplane types were built between 1914, and the late 1920s, compared with the number of biplanes. The reasons for this were primarily structural. In the days when wings (whether biplane or monoplane) were thin, lightly built structures, braced by struts, steel wire or cables - the biplane wing formed a strong and fairly rigid box girder structure, in which the two wing surfaces were braced against each other. Early monoplane wings on the other hand tended to be liable to twist under aerodynamic loads, rendering proper lateral control very difficult. They were also much more liable to breakage in flight.

Once all-metal construction and the cantilever wing, both having been pioneered by Hugo Junkers in 1915 became common after World War I's end, however, the day of the biplane very quickly passed, and the monoplane became the usual configuration for a fixed wing aircraft. Most military aircraft of WW2 were monoplanes, as have been virtually all piston and jet powered aircraft since.

See also


  1. ^ King, Windkiller, p. 227.


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