Howard Hughes inside the fuselage of his H-4 Hercules troop transport plane, the "Spruce Goose," 1947. shot by J.R. Eyerman for LIFE [possibly from series shot days before the one-and-only flight] but not published in LIFE. AT THE LINK - Life series, published and un-
Likely the most well known of all Hughes’ aircraft, the Hughes H-4 Hercules, affectionately known as the Spruce Goose, was the largest aircraft in the world at the time of its construction.The aircraft was intended as a trans-Atlantic transport capable of defeating the German U-boat presence. Due to war time rationing, the contract specified the aircraft be made of “non-critical materiel” leading to its famous moniker. It was powered by 8 R-4360 engines,
“The Hughes H-4 Hercules (“Spruce Goose”) made its only flight on November 2, 1947. Built from wood because of wartime restrictions, it was nicknamed the “Spruce Goose” by critics, despite being made almost entirely of birch. It is the largest flying boat ever built, and has the largest wingspan of any aircraft in history.