When Howard Hughes built the biggest plane in history — out of wood

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June 28, 1946

Image: Bettmann/Corbis

In 1942, at the height of World War II, Allied ships crossing the Atlantic were routinely attacked and sunk by German U-boats, interrupting shipments of supplies and troops to Europe

The Allies needed a way to reliably and safely transport large payloads across the ocean. American industrialist Henry Kaiser lit upon the idea of a creating a cargo plane of unprecedented size, and turned to eccentric billionaire and aviator Howard Hughes to build it.

The plane would need to carry 150,000 pounds, 750 troops or two 30-ton Sherman tanks.

Originally designated the HK-1, the seaplane Hughes designed was absolutely massive. Weighing in at 300,000 pounds, with a wingspan of 320 feet, the plane was the largest flying machine ever built.  Read more…

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