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Rimowa Reprises An Aviation Classic, The Junkers F13

But it’s not airborne—yet.

Flying and suitcases go hand in hand, so it makes sense that the German luxury luggage brand Rimowa has added an airplane to its arsenal of goods. But instead of designing a sleek contemporary craft from scratch, the company took a page from the history books and painstakingly recreated the classic Junkers F13.

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The first commercial all-metal plane, the Junkers F13 took its inaugural flight in 1919. To make it sturdy and lightweight, its designer, Hugo Junkers, specified corrugated Duralumin, an aluminum alloy. The plane was a technological success; it was able to travel long distances and carry heavy loads. The US Postal Service used these planes in their fleet and they were also used in militaries around the world.

When Rimowa made its first all-metal suitcase in the 1950s—an innovative move at the time—designer Richard Morszeck opted to use the very same material in a similar grooved texture. Those suitcases endured the test of time and have become classics in their own right. Moreover, the spirit of innovation at Rimowa has sparked the company’s next generation of featherweight luggage made from polycarbonate. If you haven’t noticed these sleek lookers in airports before, you’ll certainly see them now.

Very much a passion project for Rimowa, the reprised plane is a carbon copy of the original. Of the 330 that were produced between 1919 and 1933, few exist; most are in museums and all are grounded. Rimowa took a 3-D laser scan of an F13 in a Parisian museum, making note of every detail (it consists of 2,600 individual parts) and how it’s all assembled (with over 35,000 rivets). The 30-foot-long plane seats four and has a 50-foot wingspan and range of about 373 miles.

If all goes to plan, the plane is expected to be airborne in 2016. No word on the price, but if the average cost of Rimowa’s spendy suitcases is any indication, it’ll be in the stratosphere. Buyers with money to burn can pre-order one on the company’s microsite.

About the author

Diana Budds is a New York–based writer covering design and the built environment.

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