Multiplane (aeronautics)
In aviation
Aviation is the design, development, production, operation, and use of aircraft, especially heavier-than-air aircraft. Aviation is derived from avis, the Latin word for bird.-History:...

, a multiplane is a fixed-wing aircraft configuration featuring multiple wing planes. The wing planes may be stacked one above another, or one behind another, or both in combination.
Types having a small number of planes have specific names and are not usually described as multiplanes:
  • Biplane
    A biplane is a fixed-wing aircraft with two superimposed main wings. The Wright brothers' Wright Flyer used a biplane design, as did most aircraft in the early years of aviation. While a biplane wing structure has a structural advantage, it produces more drag than a similar monoplane wing...

    - two wings stacked one above the other.
  • Triplane
    A triplane is a fixed-wing aircraft equipped with three vertically-stacked wing planes. Tailplanes and canard foreplanes are not normally included in this count, although they may occasionally be.-Design principles:...

    - three wings stacked one above another.
  • Quadruplane- four stacked wings.
  • Tandem wing
    Tandem wing
    thumb|right|QAC Quickie Q2A tandem wing aircraft usually involves two full-sized wings, both of which are full airfoils. Sometimes an aircraft of this configuration can look like a variation on the biplane, but is in fact very different. The forward wing is often technically a canard, fitted with...

    - two main planes, one behind the other. The tandem triple or tandem triplet configuration has three lifting surfaces one behind another.

While triplane, quadruplane and tandem designs are relatively uncommon, aircraft with more than four sets of wings are rare, with none being successful.


The quadruplane configuration takes the triplane
A triplane is a fixed-wing aircraft equipped with three vertically-stacked wing planes. Tailplanes and canard foreplanes are not normally included in this count, although they may occasionally be.-Design principles:...

 approach a step further, using efficient wings of high aspect ratio and stacking them to allow a compact and light weight design. During the pioneer years of aviation and World War I, a few designers sought these potential benefits for a variety of reasons, mostly with little success.

From ca. 1909 the American inventor Matthew Sellers made a series of flights in the Sellers 1909 Quadruplane, progressively fitted with powerplants of decreasing power, in order to investigate low-powered flight. He eventually achieved flight on only 5 to 6 hp at a speed of 20 mph.

Pemberton-Billing Ltd. made two protoype Zeppelin
A Zeppelin is a type of rigid airship pioneered by the German Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin in the early 20th century. It was based on designs he had outlined in 1874 and detailed in 1893. His plans were reviewed by committee in 1894 and patented in the United States on 14 March 1899...

 killers, the Pemberton-Billing P.B.29E and Pemberton-Billing P.B.31E, respectively in 1915 and 1917. They were comparatively large, twin-engined fighters. After the company changed its name to Supermarine
Supermarine was a British aircraft manufacturer that became famous for producing a range of sea planes and the Supermarine Spitfire fighter. The name now belongs to an English motorboat manufacturer.-History:...

, the P.B.31E became known as the Supermarine Nighthawk
Supermarine Nighthawk
-References:NotesBibliography* Andrews, C.F. and E.B. Morgan. Supermarine Aircraft since 1914. London: Putnam, 1987. ISBN 0-85177-800-3.* Bruce, J.M. Warplanes of the First World War, Volume Three: Fighters. London: Macdonald, 1969. ISBN 356-01490-8....


Following test flights with the prototype Armstrong Whitworth F.K.9 in 1916, a small number of Armstrong Whitworth F.K.10
Armstrong Whitworth F.K.10
-See also:-External links:...

 quadruplane reconnaissance fighters were produced, but none saw combat action.

The private-venture Wight quadruplane scout fighter was flown in 1917.

The Euler Vierdecker of 1917 unusually featured a standard triplane arrangement of fixed wings with a fourth uppermost wing comprising left and right hand articulated surfaces which acted as full-span ailerons. Two examples were built, with different engines.

Also in 1917, Friedrichshafen created the even more unusual Friedrichshafen FF54 scout fighter, which featured narrow-chord second and third wings, with struts connecting only the upper pair and lower pair of planes. The prototype proved unacceptable in the air and was later modified as an equally unsuccessful triplane, again with a short-chord intermediate plane.

The Naglo D.II quadruplane fighter of 1918 featured a standard triplane arrangement with a smaller fourth wing attached below the main assembly, somewhat analogous to a sesquiplane. It participated in Germany's second D-type contest in 1918, and was praised for its construction and workmanship.

More than four planes

Any fixed-wing aircraft with more than four wing planes may be referred to as a multiplane. Planes may be stacked vertically as with a biplane, or placed one in front of another as with a tandem wing. Both principles may be combined.

Stacked multiplanes

Horatio Phillips built a series of multiplane types from 1904. His Phillips Multiplane I had 20 stacked wings in an otherwise fairly conventional layout. It proved too unstable for sustained flight. By 1907 his third model was able to fly 500 ft, achieving the first successful powered flight in Great Britain. However the disappointing performance compared to more conventional contemporary types caused Phillips to abandon his ideas.

In 1908 Roshon in America and D'Equevilly in France produced typical multiplane designs. The AEA Cygnet II, designed by Alexander Graham Bell
Alexander Graham Bell
Alexander Graham Bell was an eminent scientist, inventor, engineer and innovator who is credited with inventing the first practical telephone....

 and constructed by the Aerial Experimental Association in America, featured a cellular multiplane formed by hundreds of tetrahedral shapes. None of these types was capable of flight.

One of the most infamous multiplanes was the 1923 Gerhardt Cycleplane
Gerhardt Cycleplane
-External links:* at British Pathe...

, a human-powered aircraft
Human-powered aircraft
A human-powered aircraft is an aircraft powered by direct human energy and the force of gravity; the thrust provided by the human may be the only source; however, a hang glider that is partially powered by pilot power is a human-powered aircraft where the flight path can be enhanced more than if...

 with seven sets of wings. Its flimsy construction and subsequent collapse was filmed, and this is often used as stock footage
Stock footage
Stock footage, and similarly, archive footage, library pictures and file footage are film or video footage that may or may not be custom shot for use in a specific film or television program. Stock footage is of beneficial use to filmmakers as it is sometimes less expensive than shooting new...

 mocking early impractical aircraft designs.

Tandem multiplanes

The American Williams 1908 Multiplane featured four planes in tandem while the Zerbe 1908 Multiplane had six. The same year, in Switzerland the Dufaux 1908 Tandem Triplane provided the country's first native design in the form of a tandem pair of stacked triplane wings with a smaller biplane horizontal stabiliser.

Stacks in tandem

Anthony Fokker
Anthony Fokker
Anton Herman Gerard "Anthony" Fokker was a Dutch aviation pioneer and an aircraft manufacturer. He is most famous for the fighter aircraft he produced in Germany during the First World War such as the Eindecker monoplanes, the Fokker Triplane the and the Fokker D.VII, but after the collapse of...

 designed his bizarre Fokker V.8
Fokker V.8
After the initial success of the Fokker Dr.I triplane, Anthony Fokker proposed a quintuplane, reasoning that if three wings were good, five would be even better. Reinhold Platz, chief engineer for Fokker, was at first shocked by the idea: further thought only strengthened this reaction. ...

 about the same time as his famous Fokker Dr.I
Fokker Dr.I
The Fokker Dr.I Dreidecker was a World War I fighter aircraft built by Fokker-Flugzeugwerke. The Dr.I saw widespread service in the spring of 1918...

 triplane. It featured a tandem arrangement of five wing planes, grouped as a stacked triplane fore wing and a biplane rear wing. Unlike its successful cousin, it barely flew and was soon abandoned.

As late as 1921, the Italian Gianni Caproni mated three stacks of triplane wings from his Caproni Ca.4
Caproni Ca.4
-Ca.48:-See also:-References:** **-External links: Contemporary technical description of the Ca.41 and Ca.42 with photographs and drawings.- Video :*...

 series to a single fuselage in tandem triple arrangement, to create the nine-winged Caproni Ca.60 Noviplano prototype long-range airliner. It proved unstable and crashed on its first flight.
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