The Spruce Goose

I said, ‘Hop in.’ — Mr. Burns, “$pringfield (Or, How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Legalized Gambling)”

The Hughes H-4 Hercules, also known as “The Spruce Goose”, was a prototype aircraft devised by industrialist-germophobe Howard Hughes as an intended addition to the Allied war effort during WWII.

The massive plane, measuring 319 feet from wingtip to wingtip (for comparison, a Boeing 747, which is about as large as commercial jets come, runs around 200 feet), was envisioned as a cargo plane by which to ferry troops and war materials from the U.S. to the front lines without catching heat from the German U-Boats that patrolled the Atlantic.

As metals were scarce during the war, Hughes crafted the mammoth plane mostly from wood, hence the “Spruce” part of the nickname (though the plane was actually made of birch). Despite Hughes dedicated efforts, after WWII ended, interest in the project waned, and, after one successful test flight in 1947, the Goose was grounded forevermore.

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