The largest wooden airplane ever constructed, the Spruce Goose was actually made from birch.  In the face of staggering losses to German U-boats in 1942, the steel magnate and shipbuilder Henry Kaiser asked Howard Hughes to design and build a massive flying transport.

Specifications:  

  •  crew: 3
  •  length 218 feet
  •  wingspan 320 feet
  •  height 79 feet
  •  Pratt and Whitney R-4360 radial engine, 4000 HP
  •  cruising speed 250 mph
  •  range 3000 miles
  •  ceiling 20,900 feet

 

The  airplane flew only once on November 2, 1947. With Hughes at the controls, the Spruce Goose flew just over one mile at an altitude of 70 feet for one minute.

After Kaiser withdrew from the project, Hughes retained a full crew to maintain the Spruce Goose in a climate-controlled hangar up until his death in 1976.