The 1946 - aluminum prefab homes by Lincoln Homes Corp.

Aluminum Prefab: Lincoln Homes Corp. prefabricated house, a design favored by Federal Housing Administration officials who have been urging aircraft manufacturers to turn to home production. 

Two to a half dozen aircraft manufacturers are expected soor to announce participation in the government's prefabricated housing program.

Under the Patman Act the Federal Housing Administration guarantees manufacturers 90% of costs through purchase by RFC of houses not sold.

Aircraft companies will concentrate on FHA approved designs in aluminum, and its combination with plywood and insulation, while other companies will build prefabs of steel and other materials. Designs will be furnished to the manufacturers, Plans by the Lincoln Homes Corporation of New York are strongly favored. $10,000 Unit Deal—FHA, and aircraft companies in negotiation, declined to talk for publication, but FHA promises an early announcement on the program. Douglas engineers have spent 3 weeks with FHA experts. At least one aircraft company has received a letter of intent from FHA. McDonnell Aircraft, frequently mentioned as a negotiator, is reported to have a design of its own, using panels of aluminum, stressed plywood, and rock wool insulation. FHA spokesmen said one deal already concluded with an aireraft firm was for 10,000 units.

Wilson Wyatt, FHA Administrator, has suggested that surplus airplane plants to house the new enterprise be withheld temporaily from lease or sale to give airplane companies priority on them for this purpose. War Assets spokesmen said this issue was “dynamite” but a decision was imminent.

The aggressive Wyatt, determined that private interests build a half million houses for vets before 1948, is said to have turned Administration heat on aircraft companies who, because of government orders, taxes and contract settlements, are highly susceptible.

» Martin Drops Out—Martin, Bell, Fairchild, Curtiss-Wright, Consolidated-Vultee, North American and Higgins, besides Douglas and McDonnell, have been in the discussions. Martin seems definitely out because he has his own house-building program. Boeing say they cannot undertake any job that requires more manpower.

Some observers believe aircraft companies who don’t try house production, especially with a guarantee against loss, are short sighted. Many home-seekers don't like the machine-like metal prefabs, but will take them rather than nothing.

The low price—under $6,000, compared to $10,000 to $25,000 for constructed houses—is a strong factor in spurring consumer demand. If millions of relatives and visitors, seeing the houses, are converted later, a sizeable industry might result.

» Shift From Builders—The metal prefab project is a potential shift of house building from the construction industry to the factory production line, which can maintain a permanent substantial price advantage. Building contractors are fighting the factory trend.

Major problem of the aircraft companies will be distribution and service. FHA hopes to line up for them such distributors as department stores or materials firms like Johns-Manville. Macy's in New York has already erected over 1,000 prefabs. One authority says 25,000 of the Lincoln type home would sell at once in the Los Angeles area.

Numerous units of the Lincoln design, produced in the company’s plant at Marion, Va. have been erected and are in use. The 2-bedroom size will sell at about $3,000, less lot; 3-bedroom at $4,500; 4-bedroom at $6,000—including wiring, water piping, and heating.

Panels are aluminum on 2 sides with plastic filler for stress and insulation; are 8 by 4 ft., 2 in. thick for the walls and 3 in. for the flat roof, which is stressed for 7 feet of snow.

» Cement Floors—Floor is cement poured on metal grill, 2 in. thick. Parts are assembled with screws but adhesion of resin-treated plastic filler holds main load. Door panels are wood veneered. A two-room house weighs 1 ton. There is no basement. Company is also experimenting with multi-story design.

Nearly all war-surplus aluminum sheet has been used up for roofing and siding in urgent building projects; practically none remains for the prefab program. Civilian Production Administration has received from FHA specifications of aluminum sheet and other materials to be manufactured, presumably under priorities. Most aluminum sheet for prefabs will be 12 to 20 gage—019 to .051 in.


Aviation Week | September 2, 1946