Aluminium encyclopaedia

Defence technology

Thanks to aluminium"s low specific weight there were already numerous applications of aluminium in defence technology in about 1900, a few years after the start of the large-scale production of aluminium. The armies of the day were equipped with water bottles, cookware, ladders and tent poles made from aluminium, in France also with rowing boats and a 20-metre long torpedo boat (see shipbuilding).

In the First World War, the German Army used the alloy Duralumin in aircraft construction (for framework and engine parts) and for the building of airships. Munitions parts such as shell and bullet casings were made from aluminium.

In the Second World War the warring nations commandeered practically all aluminium for the building of aircraft and naval vessels as well as field equipment and munitions. Aluminium production more than doubled during the war years. Most of the new all-aluminium aircraft even had a forged propeller made from aluminium. The USA built 305,000 military aircraft using a total of 1.54 millions tonnes of aluminium.

Since then, aluminium has been the constructional material for aircraft and ships as well as for munitions parts and field equipment. Aluminium has found new applications in rockets and in space travel: Load-bearing parts and fuel tanks of missile and carrier rockets, and satellites are made of high-strength aluminium alloys; where the missile and carrier rockets use solid fuel, aluminium powder is a significant component of such fuels. Aluminium is also used for mobile bridges, road vehicles, lightweight armouring (such as for armoured personnel carriers) and radar scanners.