Images credit: Boeing, Hughes Aircraft, wikimedia
The aircraft constructed by wood due to the wartime restrictions on aluminium, made its first and only flight on November 2, 1947, and the project never advanced beyond the single example produced.
Hughes H-4 Hercules:
In 1942, the U.S. War Department was faced with the need 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. Due to wartime priorities, the design was further constrained in that the aircraft could not be made of metal.
In 1947, Howard Hughes was called to testify before the Senate War Investigating Committee over the usage of government funds for the aircraft.
During a Senate hearing on August 6, 1947 (the first of a series of appearances), Hughes said:
“The Hercules was a monumental undertaking. It is the largest aircraft ever built. It is over five stories tall with a wingspan longer than a football field. That’s more than a city block. Now, I put the sweat of my life into this thing. I have my reputation all rolled up in it and I have stated several times that if it’s a failure I’ll probably leave this country and never come back. And I mean it.”
First flight: Nov. 2, 1947
Model number: Hughes H-4
Classification: Flying boat
Height: 79 feet 4 inches
Fuselage height: 30 feet
Length: 218 feet 8 inches
Wingspan: 319 feet 11 inches
Gross weight: 400,000 pounds
Service ceiling: 20,900 feet
Cruising speed: Approximately 220 mph
via vintage everyday