Hughes H-4
Hughes H-4 Hercules. Howard Hughes and his giant boat.

Hughes H-4 Hercules


In 2004, the famous director Martin Scorsese shot the famous movie "Aviator". The film received 5 «Oscars", stirred up a wave of interest in one of the most outstanding personalities in American history - the billionaire Howard Hughes.

Hughes H-4 Howarth Hughes

Howard Robard Hughes Jr. was born on December 24, 1905. At 18, he inherited a drilling equipment company from his father. During the oil boom in America, the company quickly climbed to the top positions in profitability.


Young Howard, who had not even completed secondary education was diversified. His interests were vast and irrepressible energy and ambition made him aspire to be first in everything. Producer, engineer, entrepreneur, director, one of the pioneers of aviation, Hughes Jr. always wanted to achieve unprecedented success.

Path to aviation.

In 1930, the shooting of the film "Hell's Angels" began. The film was about the legendary pilots of the First World War. Howard Hughes directed and independently produced the tape. On the set, he became seriously interested in aviation, learned to pilot and set out to become the best pilot in the world. In fairness, it should be noted that Hughes became a first-class pilot, and subsequently set several world records and participated in the testing of many aircraft, including his own designs.

Hughes H-4 Hercules 2

With the outbreak of World War II, the United States realized that there was a need for an urgent transfer of industry to military products. A heavy blow to Pearl Harbor, systematic attacks by German submarines, led the military to the idea of ​​the need to create a large-capacity flying boat. Taking advantage of his influence in power, and huge opportunities, the aircraft designer and owner of the film companies Howard Hughes, along with the industrialist and owner of the shipbuilding company Henry John Kaiser, received a contract for 13 million dollars from the US War Department.

Initially, the project of a giant flying boat was named HK-1, but when Henry Kaiser left the project, the project now began to be called H-4 (this was Hughes' fourth in-house design). And since the plane was almost completely wooden, an offensive nickname stuck to it SpruceGoose- "Spruce goose".

Despite the fact that, by the 40s, most aircraft were already built from duralumin, many structures were still completely wooden. For example, the British plane "Mosquito", or the Soviet fighter LaGG-3.

But it was not possible to build such a giant plane out of wood and plywood at a furniture factory, the movie mogul built a special hangar and decided to apply the already known technology of hot forming of wood veneer. This technology has been around since the 30s. And Hughes has already built planes using this molding.

Hughes H-4 Hercules 45

The technology was simple and technological. Polished steel was produced matrix. Then it fit package of layers of birch veneer with phenolic glue. At temperatures 150 degrees under pressure in an autoclave polymerisation adhesive. It makes excellent stamping, light, water-resistant, suitable for machining.

The same technology was used in the Soviet Union, and called bakelite plywood.

The eccentricity of the billionaire, the desire to be the first at all costs, to achieve perfection in everything, and led to the emergence of this wooden monster.

Wingspan boat was unheard of - 97,71 meters. This record has not been beaten to this day.

  • Length - 66,65 meters.
  • Height 24,16 meters.
  • The cargo compartment had a volume of 4700 cubic meters.
  • 180000 kg take-off weight. Of these 60000 payload.
  • 750 soldiers in full combat gear could fit in the cargo hold.

The flying boat could "hang" in the air for almost a day, and fly 5000 km. On the overhead wing, 8 engines were installed. The plane, to this day, surprises visitors with its size in a museum in Oregon, where it has been kept since 1993.

Hughes H-4 Hercules 5354

The first and last flight of "wooden wonder".

A huge crowd gathered in the harbor of Los Angeles on November 2, 1947, when the plane was rolled out of the hangar.

Hughes' free life, in which there was a lot of space for flights, filming films and romance novels, thwarted all the terms of contracts with the military. The terms of the contract were also constantly changing, the unusual size, the uniqueness of the technologies ... perfectionism and mental breakdowns of its creator, became another reason that the plane went into testing only in 1947.

The boat scattered long and hard in the harbor. Finally, it broke away and rose to a height of about 20 meters. Having flown about 2 kilometers, the boat completed its first and last flight in history.

From the museum of flight

More flying boat H-4 Hercules in the air has never raised. Although he kept Howard Flight plane full readiness before the end of his days. Staff from the 300 people to monitor the state of the machine up to 50-ies. The permanent inspection technicians were checking all the systems, and the "race" engines. Later, the staff was reduced to 50 people, but even then the costs of the giant treated in 1 million dollars annually.

Howard Hughes died in April 5 1976 years. His brainchild bought a businessman who put the plane for viewing with 1983 years.

Hughes H-4 Hercules inside

The Goose is now owned by Disney and is worth viewing in McQueenville.

The aircraft, built on 90% of birch veneer 1947 year, is still one of the biggest aircraft in the world.

Hughes H-4 specifications.

Modification   H-4
Wingspan, m   97.54
Aircraft Length m   66.45
Height, m   24.08
Wing area, m2   1061.88
  empty aircraft  
  maximum take-off   136078
Fuel l   52996
engine's type   8 PD Pratt Whitney R4360-4A
Power, hp   X 8 3000
Maximum speed km / h   351
Cruising speed, km / h   282
Practical range, km   5633
Practical ceiling, m   7165
Crew   5
Payload:   59000 kg up to a maximum commercial cargo


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