In simple terms, the Norseman airframe is mostly made of steel tubing with a wood wing structure and fabric covering. Over half a century ago there were a couple projects that changed this to metal being primary like the aircraft designs that followed the Norseman. Today only light sport/utility airplanes use the “rag and tube” and wood is a foreign material for critical components, so the Norseman is truly from a different era.
Perhaps even the focused Norseman enthusiast is not aware that a prototype Mk VII was flown in the early 1950’s. It had metal wings and empennage, was stretched 3 feet and retained the same Pratt & Whitney R-1340 engine. However, this derivative never achieved certification so never went into production and the sole example was destroyed in a hangar fire at Fort William, Ontario in November 1957.
The other project was more straight forward and involved metallizing the fuselage skin of serial number 224 and using a metal wing instead of wood and fabric. This was developed by C. R. Ursall of San Antonio, Texas, but once again only a single example was produced. In 1967, this metal Mk VI came to Canada and was registered as CF-UUD. Another interesting feature unique to UUD is the oversized cargo door on the left side and the removal of the corresponding right door, thought to be for keeping structural integrity. Forward to the 1980’s and UUD’s metal wing was transferred to the metalized fuselage of C-FOBE, serial 480 and thus it became the only metal Norseman in the world until a crash at Birch lake on July 3, 2004.
A few other Norseman have had their fuselage skin changed to metal, but they are currently not active, so the “all metal” Norseman is no longer flying and CF-UUD is thought to be the only metal fuselage Norseman flying today. All this to say that UUD (serial 224) was recently sold at auction, deleted from the Canadian register, and has returned to the United States to be reborn as N164UC.