The Hughes H-4 Hercules (commonly known as the Spruce Goose; registration NX37602) is a prototype strategic airlift flying boat designed and built by the Hughes Aircraft Company. Intended as a transatlantic flight transport for use during World War II, it was not completed in time to be used in the war. The aircraft made only one brief flight, on November 2, 1947, and the project never advanced beyond the single example produced.
Built from wood (Duramold process) because of wartime restrictions on the use of aluminum and concerns about weight, the aircraft was nicknamed the Spruce Goose by critics, although it was made almost entirely of birch. The Hercules is the largest flying boat ever built, and it had the largest wingspan of any aircraft that had ever flown until the Scaled Composites Stratolaunch first flew on April 13, 2019. The aircraft remains in good condition. After having been displayed to the public in Long Beach, California, from 1980 to 1991, it is now on display at the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in McMinnville, Oregon, United States
n 1942, the U.S. War Department needed to transport war materiel and personnel to Britain. Allied shipping in the Atlantic Ocean was suffering heavy losses to German U-boats, so a requirement was issued for an aircraft that could cross the Atlantic with a large payload. Wartime priorities meant the aircraft could not be made of strategic materials (e.g., aluminum).
The aircraft was the brainchild of Henry J. Kaiser, a leading Liberty ship builder and manufacturer. Kaiser teamed with aircraft designer Howard Hughes to create what would become the largest aircraft yet built. It was designed to carry 150,000 pounds (68,000 kg), 750 fully equipped troops or two 30-ton M4 Sherman tanks. The original designation “HK-1” reflected the Hughes and Kaiser collaboration
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Ownership of the H-4 was disputed by the U.S. government, which had contracted for its construction. In the mid-1970s, an agreement was reached whereby the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum would receive the Hughes H-1 Racer and section of the H-4’s wing, the Summa Corporation would pay $700,000 and receive ownership of the H-4, the U.S. government would cede any rights, and the aircraft would be protected “from commercial exploitation
The Hughes H-4 Hercules (commonly known as the Spruce Goose; registration NX37602) is a
prototype strategic airlift flying boat designed and built by the Hughes Aircraft Company