RIMOWA F13: The flying suitcase

The luggage manufacturer RIMOWA remembers its roots in the aircraft industry.

Just a few kilometres from HOCHEDEL’s editorial offices, I make an exciting discovery: in Dübendorf near Zurich, RIMOWA has founded a production facility – but not for luggage, no, this is a facility for building aircraft! These are not just any aircraft, of course, but real collectors’ items that make the dream of true flight into a reality. The facility is being used to produce a faithful reconstruction of the legendary Junkers F13. You immediately get the sensation of being the pilot in the open two-man cockpit, exposed to the wind and the weather as a film of soot forms over the skin on your face. The adventure begins…

In 1919, the Junkers F13 was the world’s first aircraft for civilian use, constructed entirely of metal – duralumin, in fact, which was a completely new kind of material at the time and was often referred to as aircraft aluminium. It allowed for a particularly lightweight structure while maintaining extremely high resilience, which ensured a high level of safety. From Dessau in Germany, the Junkers F13 was exported worldwide and is considered to be the original commercial airliner. Even today, many of its features can still be found in the basic design of modern aircraft. The revolutionary light alloy with its distinctive corrugated design, which came into general use in aviation, served as an inspiration for the luggage manufacturer RIMOWA, which has been using it since 1950 in the legendary lightweight suitcases that have since become a cult object for travellers. Thanks to this connection, helping the Junkers F13 – which is now considered to be a unique piece of technological heritage – to take to the skies again was a matter close to the heart of company owner Dieter Morszeck. Out of more than 330 aircraft that were built, only a few still survive as museum pieces – none of them airworthy. Together with JU-Air and the Association of Friends of Historical Aircraft in Germany, RIMOWA is promoting the reconstruction of an airworthy Junkers F13 under the name RIMOWA F13, and has founded RIMOWA Flugzeugwerke AG in Switzerland for that purpose. After many years of research and countless preparations, the single-engine low-wing plane is now being faithfully reconstructed from 2,600 components and over 35,000 rivets. Its closed passenger cabin has space for four people to travel comfortably. The aircraft can only fly during the day under visual flight rules. With 450 hp, it can reach speeds of 177 km/h with a fuel consumption rate of 80 litres per hour. This gives it a range of 600 kilometres. The reconstruction of the Junkers F13 is a dedicated contribution to the history of aviation, and it is particularly gratifying that the RIMOWA F13 is not being built as a one-off, but as a series. This truly special flying experience can be purchased for 2.2 million USD.

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