- Design and Development
- Operational History
- See Also
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In 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. The HK-1 aircraft contract was issued in 1942 as a development contract and called for three aircraft to be constructed in two years for the war effort. Seven configurations were considered, including twin-hull and single-hull...
Hughes returned to California during a break in the Senate hearings to run taxi tests on the H-4.On November 2, 1947, the taxi tests began with Hughes at the controls. His crew included Dave Grant as copilot, two flight engineers, Don Smith and Joe Petrali, 16 mechanics, and two other flight crew. The H-4 also carried seven invited guests from the press corps and an additional seven industry representatives. In total, thirty-six people were on board. Four reporters left to file stories after the first two taxi runs while the remaining press stayed for the final test run of the day. After picking up speed on the channel facing Cabrillo Beach, the Hercules lifted off, remaining airborne for 26 seconds at 70 ft (21 m) off the water at a speed of 135 miles per hour (217 km/h) for about one mile (1.6 km). At this altitude, the aircraft still experienced ground effect.Nevertheless, the brief flight proved to detractors that Hughes' (now unneeded) masterpiece was flight-worthy—thus vindica...
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 Corporationwould 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." In 1980, the H-4 was acquired by the Aero Club of Southern California, which later put the aircraft on display in a very large geodesic dome next to the Queen Mary ship exhibit in Long Beach, California. The large dome facility became known as the Spruce Goose Dome. The very large enclosed indoor dome area around the H-4 consisted of meeting and special event space, elaborate audio-visual displays about Howard Hughes and the aircraft itself, and dining areas for tourists. Many convention groups held large dinners, sales meetings...
Performance specifications are projected. General characteristics 1. Crew:3 2. Length:218 ft 8 in (66.65 m) 3. Wingspan:320 ft 11 in (97.82 m) 4. Height:79 ft 4 in (24.18 m) 5. Fuselage height:30 ft (9.1 m) 6. Empty weight:250,000 lb (113,398 kg) 7. Powerplant: 8 × Pratt & Whitney R-4360 Wasp Major28-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engines, 3,000 hp (2,200 kW) each 8. Propellers: 4-bladed Hamilton Standard, 17 ft 2 in (5.23 m) diameter constant-speed propellers Performance 1. Cruise speed:250 mph (400 km/h, 220 kn) 2. Range:3,000 mi (4,800 km, 2,600 nmi) 3. Service ceiling:20,900 ft (6,400 m)
1. Francillon, René J. McDonnell Douglas Aircraft since 1920: Volume II. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1990. ISBN 1-55750-550-0. 2. McDonald, John J. Howard Hughes and the Spruce Goose. Blue Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania: Tab Books Inc., 1981. ISBN 0-8306-2320-5. 3. Odekirk, Glenn E. Spruce Goose (Title inside cover: HK-1 Hercules: A Pictorial History of the Fantastic Hughes Flying Boat). Long Beach, California: Glenn E. Odekirk and Frank Alcantr, Inc., 1982. No ISBN. 4. Parker, Da...Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum, home of the Spruce GooseVintage photos of Spruce Goose's construction
- November 2, 1947