If the 'Spruce Goose' could fly, how effective would it have been ?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by timmy, Dec 19, 2010.

  1. timmy

    timmy Member

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    Its another What If thread

    Just been reading up on the Hughes H-4 Hercules
    If this aircraft had a successful development and had succeeded in meeting its original contract.
    That is being ready for full operation by 1944 would it have been a Big contributor to the War effort ?

    Yes I know of its constant delays and that it never really got off the ground

    But what if it did ?

    Being able to fly 3000 miles with 750 equipped troops and a Sherman tank is
    impressive. I think it would have had a big impact for both the European and
    the Pacific theater

    I also wonder if they just added a couple more Radials this thing would get off the Ground ?

    [​IMG]
     
  2. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    It actually flew, briefly, one time.


    View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R5XSESxKfKE

    I don't know that it could have been a big contributor, if it had been on time. Between costs for an aircraft that size, and the fact that something that big, fully loaded would have made a very enticing aerial target with high value.
     
  3. BombTaxi

    BombTaxi Active Member

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    Hmm, thats just a good way to lose a whole battalion to one guy in a Zero or Fw190. I could see the H-4 going the way of the Me323 - sounding very impressive in theory, but in practice failing to deliver the goods, literally. Like Mr. Gilder says, every fighter along the flightpath would be out looking for this thing if it ever took off. And what is going to escort one of these things 3000 miles over water in the PTO?
     
  4. claidemore

    claidemore Member

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    Examining the record of the Me323 would give one a pretty good idea as to how useful the Spruce Goose might have been.
    And how vulnerable.
     
  5. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    You do have to look at the intent of the design. Imagine a dozen or so of these big flying boats each making a weekly round trip to England. 9000 troops a week and no worries about U-boats. Up the trips to 3 trips every 2 weeks and you are talking about a division a week. Granted little or no heavy equipment.

    Same thing in the Pacific. Rapid movement of large numbers of troops between operational areas.
    The Me 323 was an assault transport, intended to fly into or near enemy airspace. It's down fall in the Mediterranean was flying in contested airspace.

    Even in the Pacific the "Goose" had no need to fly in contested airspace to be useful.

    If the Japanese had been able to station fighters along a flight path from California to Hawaii the US would have been in a lot more trouble than just the threat to the "Goose". :lol:
     
  6. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    I think their life span would be short due to fatigue issues with the wings.
     
  7. Gixxerman

    Gixxerman Member

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    Helped enormously by Ultra, all those air sea patrols that 'just happened' to encounter Rommel's supply chain at work.
    Obviously it was skillfully done but even so it's amazing how the Germans never twigged.
     
  8. johnbr

    johnbr Well-Known Member

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    They capt it fly Abel for him in to the 70's.
     
  9. comiso90

    comiso90 Active Member

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    #9 comiso90, Dec 19, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2010
    When the tide turned in the Battle of the Atlantic, it just wasnt necessary. It was obsolete by late 1943.
    The Goose would only be viable if the allies had Air Superiority and If the Allies have air superiority, the convoys are a lot safer making the Goose unnecessary.
    .
     
  10. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Strangely, none of the 12 Boeing 314s were lost due to enemy action in spite of years of operation ( and millions of miles of flight) in WW II.

    How many Consolidated PB2Y Coronados were lost to enemy action while operating as transports?

    The need for the Spruce Goose did pass with the turning point of the Battle of the Atlantic and the likelihood of a 1944 version flying with R-3350s instead of the R-4360s seems a bit of a stretch, 10 or 12 engines needed instead of 8?
     
  11. timmy

    timmy Member

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    We will all die wondering?

    Maybe they should of tried those little rocket assisted take off devices?
    I think JATO was available early in the war
    JATO - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
     
  12. timmy

    timmy Member

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    I'm not sure that would have been a big a problem

    So many vulnerable Cargo planes and Flying boats made the Atlantic journey with out seeing any action. I'm not sure why that is, maybe they had fighter escorts when they got closer to France? Then again Axis fighter range was very poor, wouldn't they have to fly over Great Britain to get at them ???

    Plus from what I hear the USAF was pretty keen on the B-29 based C-97 for transport operations. Which was another Giant that just missed the war. So I think they where keen on the concept :)

    [​IMG]
     
  13. comiso90

    comiso90 Active Member

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    Putting the C-97 and the Spruce Goose in the same category is like lumping the Stuart tank and the King Tiger in the same company.

    .
     
  14. mikewint

    mikewint Well-Known Member

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    As I recall Howard got it off the water one time and as I recall it reached a height of about 70ft for about one minute and less than a mile when it became so unstable he put it down again. it sat for 33years in its hanger and now is somewhere in oregon
    again as i recall it was only "spruce" because of war shortages of Al.
    Just too many eggs in one basket
     
  15. davparlr

    davparlr Well-Known Member

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    As Shortround6 explained, the mission was to supply Europe if the Atlantic could not be defended and as such the H-4 in theory could have been invaluable. I say in theory because it is assuming there is no great problems in it becoming operational, a big assumption. There is no obvious reason it would not have worked. It had about half the wing loading and 25% better power-to-weight ratio of the B-36B and that worked, more or less:|. How wood would have stood up to operations, I have no glue, I mean clue. I also agree to the arguments that it would probably not have faced significant airborne threats for its mission profile. Comparing it to a powered glider flying the hotly contested Mediterranean is not valid.
     
  16. riacrato

    riacrato Member

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    Pardon my ignorance but didn't it barely take off completely unloaded. Now add the huge mass it would need to carry...

    Btw, the Me 323 barely flew any of the assault missions the 321 was originally designed for. I don't believe you can rely on such a huge transport, put hundreds of soldiers lives at stake, on the premise "oh it's not going to ever meet a fighter anyways".

    What about non-combat losses (engine fires, structural problems or simply pilot error...)?

    I'm with mikewint: Too many eggs in one basket.
     
  17. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Considering that it wasn't SUPPOSED to fly on the day it did I am not sure that any criticism of it's flight performance based off of that flight is valid. The story goes that they were conducting taxi tests. They may not have had clearance to actually fly.

    The allies had plenty of air routes that went nowhere near contested airspace.
     
  18. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    You guys are comparing a converted glider to a large flying boat...

    Look at the performance of the other large flying boats of the time, like the Bv222 and the Martin JRM-1. Yes the Bv222 was vulnerable, but it was also the largest aircraft of the war to shoot down an enemy aircraft as well, so it did have the capacity to put up a fight.

    I think the "Goose" would have done well in a troop carrying capacity or even an anti-sub role, which the JRM-1 Mars was originally considered for.

    There were plenty of routes the H-4 could have taken that would have allowed it to remain safe in ETO wether it was in ferry service or even conducting anti-sub patrol, since the German's didn't range didn't cover alot of the northern routes between England and North America.
     
  19. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    One of the rumors I heard is that one of the milestones for payment near the end of the prototype contract was that it demonstrate that it could fly..
     
  20. buffnut453

    buffnut453 Well-Known Member

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    'Fraid I think the Spruce was a nonsense idea. So you load the thing up with hundreds of soldiers in the middle of winter, somehow manage to get airborne (let's assume it could manage that feat) and then trundle for hours over the wintery Atlantic (with ice and storms galore), the poor pilots are then supposed to land the thing when they reach dear old Blighty, with all the joys of winter storms? There are way too many imponderables there for it to be employed successfully, and that's ignoring the fact that, by the middle of the war, the writing was on the wall for large flying boats for either military or civilian applications. Shame really 'cos it was actually a clean, graceful looking aircraft.
     
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