Hughes H-4 Hercules Flying Boat Review of Technical Specifications – Called the “Spruce Goose,” the Hughes H-4 Hercules (Spruce Goose) is still the largest and longest wingspan aircraft ever built.
Hughes H-4 Hercules Flying Boat Review of Technical Specifications
|Type||Hughes H-4 Hercules (Spruce Goose)|
|Year of development||1945|
|Development Status||Retired, no longer in service|
|Manufacturer||Hughes Aircraft Company|
|Engine||Eight 28-cylinder Pratt & Whitney R-4360 propeller engines, 3,000 hp each|
|Max Speed||173 knots (199 mph)|
MilitaryEzyInfo.com – The famous Howard Hughes amphibian, officially named the H-4 Hercules by Hughes Aircraft, was flown only once (by Hughes himself), and only one working prototype was ever built.
Because of this ridiculous design, the H-4 was nicknamed the “Spruce Goose” and was considered a failure of World War II aircraft design.
The primary purpose of an aircraft of this size was to provide the U.S. Army, which was fighting in Europe and the Pacific at the time, with a huge transport capable of carrying large amounts of combat equipment.
This situation was exacerbated by the frequent losses of Allied troops transporting German submarines in the Atlantic and elsewhere and the loss of vital supplies for troops trying to reach Europe.
For this reason, a transatlantic freighter capable of carrying large loads was needed.
Although the H-4 design had promise, Hughes considered the project to be a complete failure because it failed to serve many purposes once the war began.
After the war ended, H-4 was affected by cuts in defense spending, and many projects were suspended or canceled indefinitely.
Later, Hughes was forced to appear before a Senate committee to answer questions about the use of government funds for his D-4.
When completed, the H-4 was the world’s largest aircraft and the largest ever designed and built. It was powered by eight 28-cylinder Pratt & Whitney R-4360 engines, each producing 3,000 horsepower.
Four engines were mounted on the wings. The wings were mounted high on the rig, and the overall design was flat, with the engine nacelles mounted on the leading edge.
Each wing was a complete wing of the competing Boeing B-29 Superfortress four-engine heavy bomber. To give an idea of the H-4’s internal payload capability, the nacelles could accommodate 700 combat infantrymen or two M4 Sherman medium tanks.
The aircraft’s endurance is estimated to be about 21 hours. The airship-like mass of the hull and external pontoon supports allows the H-4 to take off and land from most water sources.
In addition, the use of buoyant wood (birch) eliminates the need to use heavy metals (metals have proven to be an important resource during wartime).
This wood approach was also applied to another wartime project of Hughes, the D-2 heavy fighter. The ridicule of the Spruce Goose stems from the excessive use of wood products in its construction.
The original H-4 was designed by Henry Kaiser, and the actual design was done by engineer Glenn Ouderkirk. Howard Hughes was the project director and led the project on its only flight.
The only prototype remains as a post-war memento and can be seen at the Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinnville, Oregon, USA.
Despite advances in aviation technology to date (November 2013), Hughes’ H-4 Hercules retains the largest wingspan in history, not to mention that it was considered production-ready.
Such claims include the massive American Boeing 747 and even the Soviet Russian tender An-225 “Milia”. Furthermore, no other amphibian design has ever exceeded these dimensions.