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Great historical post here, thanks to contributor Ian McGehee. Boats made from discarded aircraft parts by American military boys in the Pacific.

I’ve never seen anything like this before. Thank you for sharing this us Ian!


Ian writes:

Proafile just posted a small blurb with a link to this French article from 2014 about WW2 sailors in the south pacific making trimarans out of discarded aircraft drop tanks in 1944…not a ton of info but the pics are definitely worth a look-

Pappy Boyington fait du belly-boat

I’m trying to see if there’s more about these boats online in general WW2 related archives but not finding much…

One pic here of a race with what appear to be the same tris-

“a bomber crew of the 7th Air Force turned fuel tanks into racing sailboats”


Saw a couple of comments online about people’s dads/grandfathers making belly tank boats both when deployed and in the US after the war so I imagine there’s other pics out there and by one account film of the boats in action.

Vietnam era drop tank “bomb boats” in Laos-


Pics of an Okinawan sampan built off a WW2 belly tank-


And Ian then followed up on the info above with this…

A correction that in the context of trimaran development history is significant- I’m conditioned to equate WW2 Pacific theater + tropical islands with “South Pacific” but Palau and the Marianas where the trimaran “belly boats” in that article were built are above the equator in the western North Pacific, and part of Micronesia that lies due west of the Philippines.

I had to look it up because it was bugging me; double outriggers aren’t really a S. Pacific/Polynesian thing and since tris weren’t really something US servicemen would have been familiar with from the states at that time, one would assume that there was probably some local influence on the design.

That said, I can find no evidence of Chamorro double outriggers (they were all about proas) so perhaps those GI’s got the idea from the Philippines where double outriggers are common…

There is one other very poor quality pic here of similar WW2 “belly boats” on the island of Leyte in the Philippines, so the practice definitely happened there too…hard to tell if they are single or double outriggers though-


Anyway, just wanted to correct that error…

I find this especially interesting in relation to the history of Victor Tchetchet’s original tri builds from 1945 on…those are post war, but if the 1944 date is accurate these little tris were built *during* WW2 and predate his.

Seems pretty safe to say that they are probably the first non-wooden trimarans ever built.