We went tent camping in Pennsylvania for my wife's birthday (Blue Knob State Park). During the last night of our stay, we had a pretty heavy storm.
We have a great tent from REI, the "Hobitat." The tent has two very long flexible alloy poles. The poles are actually short sections held together by shock cord, a pretty common design. The tent uses an "X" configuration. The long poles bend 180 degrees, anchoring in the corners of the tent, crossing at the peak. We have a rainfly that goes over top and also anchors at the corners.
I've been thinking about Airstreams and hail (having seen some recent pictures of hail damage). I've also been thinking about how our tent "flexes." We haven't tent camped in a hailstorm (yet), but I would imagine the flex of the poles and the resiliancy of the high performance rainfly would absorb the impact of all but truly monster hail.
Think of the design of a Conestoga wagon, the old "prairie schooner." What if instead of wooden ribs, they were made of flexible alloy or carbon and instead of canvas, a extremely tough, very light, rainproof fabric?
Let's say a person fabricated mounts that would accept a carbon or flexible alloy tent pole. Let's say these mounts were located three or four feet apart at the "knuckle" where the Airstream roof meets the exterior bulkhead. If you had a tent pole of the proper length, tabbed so it wouldn't flop over, you would have a series of flexible "ribs" that might remind you of a Conestoga wagon without the canvas... or a dead fish.
Now, let's imagine the rainfly from our tent except making it about 26' long and about 8' wide. If there was a grommet on each corner, this long piece of fabric could be stretched over the ribs. If you used shock cords to secure it to the front hitch and the rear bumper, it could be pulled taut enough to have a nice "bounce."
To set up this contraption would require two people and something to stand on to insert the poles into the mounts. Once the poles are in, you could "walk" the rainfly over the ribs... kind of like we walk our rainfly over our tent.
This may be a silly idea, and it is no doubt an expensive one. Carbon tent poles aren't cheap nor is a custom rainfly. But would it provide protection from hail? When we get the Overlander back, I'm thining of making a prototype... and just wanted to solicit opinions from the wonderful folks here. Now, where did I put my Mr. Wizard beanie?