Aircraft Hardware – Rivets and Fasteners (Part Three)

in Aircraft Materials Processes and Hardware


Markings on the heads of rivets are used to classify their characteristics. These markings may be either a raised teat, two raised teats, a dimple, a pair of raised dashes, a raised cross, a single triangle, or a raised dash; some other heads have no markings.

The different markings indicate the composition of the rivet stock. As explained previously, the rivets have different colors to identify the manufacturers’ protective surface coating.

Roundhead rivets are used in the interior of the aircraft, except where clearance is required for adjacent members. The roundhead rivet has a deep, rounded top surface. The head is large enough to strengthen the sheet around the hole and, at the same time, offer resistance to tension.

The flathead rivet, like the roundhead rivet, is used on interior structures. It is used where maximum strength is needed and where there isn’t sufficient clearance to use a roundhead rivet. It is seldom, if ever, used on external surfaces. The brazier head rivet has a head of large diameter, which makes it particularly adaptable for riveting thin sheet stock (skin). The brazier head rivet offers only slight resistance to the airflow, and because of this factor, it is frequently used for riveting skin on exterior surfaces, especially on aft sections of the fuselage and empennage. It is used for riveting thin sheets exposed to the slipstream. A modified brazier head rivet is also manufactured; it is simply a brazier head of reduced diameter.

The universal head rivet is a combination of the roundhead, flathead, and brazier head. It is used in aircraft construction and repair in both interior and exterior locations. When replacement is necessary for protruding head rivets—roundhead, flathead, or brazier head—they can be replaced by universal head rivets.

The countersunk head rivet is flat topped and beveled toward the shank so that it fits into a countersunk or dimpled hole and is flush with the material’s surface. The angle at which the head slopes may vary from 78° to 120°. The 100° rivet is the most commonly used type. These rivets are used to fasten sheets over which other sheets must fit. They are also used on exterior surfaces of the aircraft because they offer only slight resistance to the slipstream and help to minimize turbulent airflow.

The markings on the heads of rivets indicate the material of which they are made and, therefore, their strength. Figure 5-37 identifies the rivet head markings and the materials indicated by them. Although there are three materials indicated by a plain head, it is possible to distinguish their difference by color. The 1100 is aluminum color; the mild steel is a typical steel color; and the copper rivet is a copper color. Any head marking can appear on any head style of the same material.

Figure 5-37. Rivet identification chart.

Figure 5-37. Rivet identification chart.

Each type of rivet is identified by a part number so that the user can select the correct rivet for the job. The type of rivet head is identified by AN or MS standard numbers. The numbers selected are in series and each series represents a particular type of head. [Figure 5-37]

The most common numbers and the types of heads they represent are:

AN426 or MS20426—countersunk head rivets (100°)

AN430 or MS20430—roundhead rivets

AN441—flathead rivets

AN456—brazier head rivets

AN470 or MS20470—universal head rivets

There are also letters and numbers added to a part number. The letters designate alloy content; the numbers designate rivet diameter and length. The letters in common use for alloy designation are:

A—aluminum alloy, 1100 or 3003 composition

AD—aluminum alloy, 2117-T composition

D—aluminum alloy, 2017-T composition

DD—aluminum alloy, 2024-T composition

B—aluminum alloy, 5056 composition



The absence of a letter following the AN standard number indicates a rivet manufactured from mild steel.

The first number following the material composition letters expresses the diameter of the rivet shank in 32nds of an inch (Examples: 3 indicates 3⁄32, 5 indicates 5⁄32, and so forth). [Figure 5-38]

Figure 5-38. Methods of measuring rivets.

Figure 5-38. Methods of measuring rivets.

The last number(s), separated by a dash from the preceding number, expresses the length of the rivet shank in 16ths of an inch (Examples: 3 indicates 3⁄16 , 7 indicates 7⁄16 , 11 indicates 11⁄16 , and so forth). [Figure 5-38]

An example of identification marking of a rivet is:

AN470AD3-5—complete part number

AN—Air Force-Navy standard number

470—universal head rivet

AD—2117-T aluminum alloy

3—3⁄32 in diameter

5—5⁄16 in length

Blind Rivets

There are many places on an aircraft where access to both sides of a riveted structure or structural part is impossible, or where limited space will not permit the use of a bucking bar. Also, in the attachment of many nonstructural parts, such as aircraft interior furnishings, flooring, deicing boots, and the like, the full strength of solid shank rivets is not necessary.

For use in such places, special rivets have been designed which can be bucked from the front. They are sometimes lighter than solid shank rivets, yet amply strong for their intended use. These rivets are produced by several manufacturers and have unique characteristics that require special installation tools, special installation procedures and special removal procedures. That is why they are called special rivets. Because these rivets are often inserted in locations where one head (usually the shop head) cannot be seen, they are also called blind rivets.