Legacy of the Zeppelins: defining fabrics as engineering materials

M. Issam Yousef, George K. Stylios

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


This paper explores the foundation of fabric mechanics and reveals that the discipline was pioneered in the early 1900s during the era of the Zeppelins, not by textile but by aeronautical engineers who wanted to predict the behavior of the outer shell of airships covered by fabric. The work of Haas is given particular attention in the context of his cloth model and in relation to the models of Ashenhurst and Peirce. This paper establishes a timeline of the early work on fabric mechanics by Ashenhurst, Armitage, Haas, Barker, and Peirce. It shows with clarity the differences and similarities of those early cloth models and it concludes that although our gratitude is due to all of these men for their unquestionable contributions, it was the aeronautical engineers who identified the conditions for the need of predicting fabric behavior and it was Haas' cloth model in particular that laid the first foundation stone of this field.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)480-489
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of The Textile Institute
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jun 2014


  • aeronautical engineering
  • Ashenhurst
  • cloth model
  • F. T. Peirce
  • fabric geometry
  • fabric mechanics
  • flexible materials
  • R. Haas
  • woven fabric
  • Zeppelin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Science (miscellaneous)


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