Was it really "canvas"?

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Just started reading a new book on the Lafayette Escadrille, and early on, there appears the de rigueur reference to "flimsy wood-and-canvas biplanes." To me, this cliche seems as wrong as referring to aircraft fabric as "tarpaulin" or, at the other end of the spectrum, parachute silk. I think of canvas as a fairly thick, bulky cloth typically used for things like boat covers, and I think of aircraft coverings as doped linen or, earlier, doped cotton. Was there ever something used to cover aircraft that was properly referred to as "canvas"? It would seem to me that even the "canvas" used by oil-painting artists is too thick and heavy for aviation use.
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Profile picture for user D1566

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I always thought it was linen and the canvas reference was something that the 'popular press' of the time had coined.

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Irish Linen, Madapolam, and Egyptian Cotton were the three favourites for RAF aircraft.

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Irish Linen, Madapolam, and Egyptian Cotton were the three favourites for RAF aircraft.
A far cry from today's Ceconite and Oratex, all artificial fibres.
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Okay, got it: "canvas" goes into my book with "tarmac" and "chopper" as media inventions.
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Canvas is not a media invention. It is a correct textile term but generally descriptive of fabrics that will be much heavier in terms of weight per unit area than those used to cover aircraft. To describe them as "flimsy wood-and-fabric biplanes." would be correct as the term "fabric" does not confine itself to any particular weight per unit area. "Madapolam" was a particular fabric construction but it was made of cotton, quite possibly Egyptian cotton. Prior to 1920 cotton and linen would be the only suitable fibres available. Practical synthetic fibres had yet to be invented. I suspect some other baste fibres may have been considered or possibly even used.
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I believe the Wrights used Irish linen...as you say, canvas (as we know it today) obviously would have been too heavy and probably not "shink-able" (to coin a phrase) enough to work on aircraft. But there is a (probably small) chance that light fabric designed for specialized outdoor uses (as say opposed to clothes) were called that. I have a piece of the Wright Flyer fabric and it is indeed very light stuff (not that I've ever touched it with my bare hands).

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Mercerized cotton, normally referred to as Grade A to TSO 15d, SAE AMS3806d or MIL-C-5646, and "Irish" linen to British Standard (BS) 7F1 were the standard covering materials along with Nitrate dopes. Modapollam to BS F114 is generally used for covering plywood surfaces, not for flightload bearing surfaces..The Dacron fibre materials Ceconite, Polyfibre etc., did not come on the scene until the sixties.
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Canvas is not a media invention.
I didn't say it was. What I meant was that the use of "canvas" to cover an aircraft was a media invention. I know exactly what canvas is, thank you very much, and in my initial post I indeed said that it was too heavy to use as an aircraft covering. So what is your point? The book I cited did -not- describe the Lafayette Escadrille aircraft as "flimsy wood-and-fabric biplanes." If it had, there would have been absolutely no reason for me to have made my original post.

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IIRC the dictionary definition of canvas is 'a fabric of woven flax' but this definition is also applicable to Irish Linen as that too is a fabric of woven flax. The difference with what people here consider to be canvas and Irish Linen is just a combination of the thread size, threads per inch and the type of weave used to produce the fabric.
Profile picture for user Planemike

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Okay, got it: "canvas" goes into my book with "tarmac" and "chopper" as media inventions.
Step... Seems to say that here but I do understand what your are trying to convey.

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It's probably used in the same way as other naval terms got carried over, port, starboard, fore and aft, rudder etc and equates over from sail material.