Wet wing

A wet wing is an aerospace engineering technique where an aircraft's wing structure is sealed and used as a fuel tank. Wet wings are also called integral fuel tanks.[1]

Wet wings are common among most civilian designs, from large transport aircraft, such as airliners, to small general aviation aircraft. Because the tanks are an integral part of the structure, they cannot be removed, and require access panels for routine maintenance and visual inspections.

A disadvantage of the wet wing is that every rivet, bolt, nut plate, hose and tube that penetrates the wing must be sealed to prevent fuel from leaking or seeping around these hardware components. This sealant must allow for expansion and contraction due to rapid temperature changes (such as when cold fuel is pumped into a warm wing tank) and must retain its sealing properties when submerged in fuel and when left dry for long periods of time. Working with this sealant can be difficult and replacing old sealant inside a small wing tank can be harder if the old sealant needs to be removed as well before new sealant can be applied.

Notable accidents in which the wet wing design and its drawbacks were causative include Chalk's Ocean Airways Flight 101 and the 1961 Goldsboro B-52 crash.


  1. Crane, Dale: Dictionary of Aeronautical Terms, third edition, page 557. Aviation Supplies & Academics, 1997. ISBN 1-56027-287-2

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