The Flight of the Spruce Goose

By | July 26, 2019

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Hughes H-4 Hercules (HK-1). Source: (Wikimedia)

During World War II, Allied shipping came under heavy attack by German U-boats. As a result, the Allies looked for ways to transport men and materials safely across the Atlantic. The most obvious way to the eccentric aeronautic designer, Howard Hughes and Henry Kaiser, was to fly rather than sail. What they created was a landmark in aviation history.

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Howard Hughes (1905-1976) Source: (Wikimedia)

A contract for the design was signed by Hughes and Kaiser on November 16, 1942. The aircraft, a flying boat, was designated HK-1 (for Hughes and Kaiser) was to be monumental in proportions. It was designed to carry 65 tons of cargo and 750 troops or 350 wounded on litters. In comparison, a Boeing 747 can carry 660 passengers maximum. It was budgeted for $18 million.

Due to shortages in aluminum, the craft was made primarily of wood. It eventually was given the nickname “Spruce Goose” as a result, although there was no spruce in the construction, instead, it was mainly birch plywood glued together instead of nails. By all accounts, Hughes hated the nickname.