In mechanical engineering, stressed skin is a type of rigid construction, intermediate between monocoque and a rigid frame with a non-loaded covering. A stressed skin structure has its compression-taking elements localized and its tension-taking elements distributed. Typically, the main frame has rectangular structure and is triangulated by the covering.
In a cubic box edges themselves are not rigid, because the box can be skewed without changing their lengths. Adding diagonals, even if they take only tension and not compression, fixes this because the box cannot deviate from right angles without stretching some of the diagonals. Sometimes thin flexible members like wires are used. When a covering, which usually serves other purposes as well, is used, the structure is said to have a stressed skin design.
- Dornier-Zeppelin D.I : first all-metal stressed skin fighter and first with stressed skin wings (1918)
- Short Silver Streak : first all-metal British stressed skin aircraft (1920)
- Zeppelin-Lindau (Dornier) Rs.IV : first all-metal stressed skin (fuselage/hull) aircraft (a flying boat) to fly (1918)
- Zeppelin-Staaken E-4/20 : first all-metal stressed skin four-engine airliner (1919)