The Spruce Goose

The Largest Wooden Airplane Ever Built

During World War II, German submarines were sinking hundreds of Allied ships, and there was a growing need to move troops and materials across the Atlantic Ocean. Henry Kaiser conceived the idea of a massive flying transport and turned to Howard Hughes to design and build it. Hughes took on the task, made even more challenging by the government’s restrictions on materials critical to the war effort, such as steel and aluminum. Six times larger than any aircraft of its time, the Spruce Goose, also known as the Hughes Flying Boat, is made entirely of wood and flew just one time on November 2, 1947, in Long Beach, California.

Welcome to McMinnville, Oregon

Watch the Spruce Goose’s journey from Long Beach, California, at its new home at the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum.

History of The Spruce Goose

November 16, 1942

Henry Kaiser & Howard Hughes Sign Contract

In 1942, Henry Kaiser, steel magnate, and shipbuilder brought the idea to build a massive flying boat to Hollywood director and aviation pioneer Howard Hughes. The two met at the Beverly Hills Hotel, where they mapped out and signed a contract for the design for the prototype. Originally designated HK-1 for the first aircraft built by Hughes-Kaiser, the giant was re-designated the H-4 Hercules when Henry Kaiser withdrew from the project in 1944 due to mounting frustration in construction delays.

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    The Stats

    320′ 11″

    Wingspan

    218′ 8″

    Length

    79′ 4″

    Height

    300,000

    Pounds, Empty Weight

    135 mph

    Cruise Speed

    Physical Description

    The aircraft is a high-wing, eight-engine, flying boat prototype built for military transport. The airframe is constructed primarily of Duramold, a birch-based wood lamination process with a silver-grey finish. On the outer third of both wings hangs a pontoon to balance the plane in the water. Inside there are Pratt & Whitney R-4360 Wasp Major 28-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engine.

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