Monday 6 February 2012

A Small Overview of Large Aircraft

What's not to like about large aircraft? Of course, what you actually mean by "large" is moot: wingspan, length, takeoff weight, carrying capacity? Nonetheless, after my foray into Tall Buildings, I thought I'd put together a visual timeline of some of my favourite large aircraft.

Here's a chronological list:
  1. The largest flying creature ever was probably along the lines of Quetzalcoatlus from 68 million years ago.
  2. The Wright brothers' Flyer I of 1903 was of a similar size.
  3. The Germans built many giant bombers during World War One, but the only one built in any quantity was Zeppelin-Staaken R.VI of 1916.
  4. The Dornier Do X of 1929 was a German seaplane capable of carrying over 150 passengers. Three were built.
  5. The Junkers G.38, first flown slightly later, in 1929, was a land-based aircraft where the thirty or more passenger sat inside the wings. Although German-designed, it was licensed to Japan.
  6. The Russian Tupolev ANT-20 "Maxim Gorky" land-based aircraft of 1934 could carry 72 passengers.
  7. LZ 129 "Hindenburg" is the largest aircraft ever flown. It could carry 72 passengers and about the same number of crew.
  8. During the war, the Blohm & Voss BV-222 was a cargo-carrying seaplane. Its later cousin, Blohm & Voss BV 238 of 1944 was larger, but only one prototype was produced.
  9. The US Martin JRM Mars was one of the largest Allied seaplanes of the war. Several are still used to fight fires.
  10. The Convair B-36 Peacemaker first flew in 1946. It has the largest wingspan of any combat aircraft.
  11. The famous Hughes H-4 Hercules "Spruce Goose" still has the greatest wingspan of any aircraft in the world.
  12. The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress is the largest military aircraft ever to have scored an air-to-air "kill".
  13. The Saunders-Roe SR.45 Princess was the swansong of large, commercial seaplanes. It could carry over 100 passengers in great comfort.
  14. The awesome Mil V-12 Homer is the largest helicopter ever flown. The meshing rotors are each 35 metres in diameter.
  15. The latest incarnation of the Boeing 747, originally flown in 1969, is the 747-8 variant. It is still the longest passenger airliner.
  16. The Antonov An-225 Mriya is the longest (84 metres) and heaviest (640 tonnes) fixed-wing aircraft in the world.
  17. The Airbus A380 is the world's largest passenger airliner, capable of carrying up to 853 people.
 Aircraft got large surprisingly quickly, but wingspans haven't really grown since 1946's Spruce Goose.

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