The Hughes H-4 Hercules was developed and built by the Hughes Aircraft Company as a prototype strategic airlift flying boat.
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Weight & dimensions
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Dubbed “Spruce Goose” by the media, Hughes Aircraft’s H-4 Hercules was one of the largest airplanes ever built and the largest flying boat of the era. It was conceived as an airborne WWII military transport and could (in theory) ferry seven hundred and fifty troops or a couple of M4 battle tanks across the Atlantic.
The development of the H-4 was fraught with controversies. First was the decision to make the airplane out of birchwood due to wartime metal restrictions. Then the project was late and over budget. Howard Hughes, the owner of Hughes Aircraft, managed to get the airplane airborne 70 feet over Long Beach for around thirty seconds before making a smooth touchdown.
You can view the only Hughes H-4 Hercules built at Oregon’s Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum.
The Hughes H-4 Hercules wingspan was the largest of any aircraft since 1947 until it was surpassed by the Scaled Composites Stratolaunch airplane in 2019.
The H-4 Hercules was one of the largest aircraft ever made.