Information from Wikipedia:
Hughes H-4 Hercules (Eng. Hughes H-4 Hercules) - transport wooden flying boat, designed by the American company Hughes Aircraft under the direction of Howard Hughes. This 136-ton aircraft, originally designated as NK-1 and received unofficial nickname Spruce Goose (Amer. & Quot; Shyogol & quot ;, & quot; Dude & quot;), was the largest ever built flying boat, and its wingspan and still remains a record - 98 meters. It was designed to transport 750 soldiers in full gear.
At the beginning of World War II, the US government has allocated $ 13 million for Hughes to manufacture the prototype of a flying ship, but by the end of hostilities the aircraft was not ready, due to shortage of aluminum and stubbornness Hughes, who sought to create a flawless car. Plane Hercules, piloted by Howard Hughes, made his first and only flight Only 2 November 1947, when I got up in the air to a height of 21 meters and covered about two kilometers in a straight line over the harbor of Los Angeles. After long-term storage plane was sent to the museum in Long Beach, California. Currently a museum exhibit of Evergreen International Aviation in McMinnville, Oregon, which was transported in 1993. But let us first things first ...
In the beginning of the war the Allies did not immediately realize what danger represent a German U-boat. WWI was safely forgotten, which resulted in a catastrophic losses in the Merchant Navy. If in 1939-1940. the number of ships sunk by the Germans did not go beyond the acceptable standards of losses, then in 1941-1942. Krigsmarine made a real terror in the Atlantic. The situation was stabilized by the end of 1942, and that, by increasing the global fleets cover. Nevertheless, the threat from submarines has not been eliminated. In such a situation was found quite predictable option - loads can throw not only water but also by air. Main problem was the fact that none of the parties at the time did not have the aircraft with sufficient carrying capacity.
The author of the original intent of this project was the Henry J.. Kaiser Steel Industrial magnate, owner of the shipyards, which produced during the Second World War ships of the series "Liberty." Designed and built aircraft company «Hughes Aircraft»: billionaire Howard Hughes and his team.
Order to build a multi-ton wooden amphibious aircraft with a wingspan of nearly one hundred meters was obtained from the US government in 1942. Was declared goal: to build a ship for passenger transportation so that spend the least possible number of strategic raw materials. That is: to make the plane had not made of metal and wood. The aircraft was designed to transport cargo and troops to help the warring Europe: a traditional waterway in a certain period of warfare was unavailable due to a strong development in the part of the enemy submarines.
Working documentation was developed quickly enough can not be said about the pace of construction of the aircraft. Begun in 1943, construction was completed in mid-1947 It was affected by a number of reasons ranging from the end of the war (and as a consequence - a lack of interest in further work on the NK-1 by the military) to the various legal proceedings against Hughes.
Throughout the project there were disputes about the extent of its funding, and a clear opinion about the necessity of such a project in principle and has not developed. One disgruntled US senators called the project a future aircraft "flying lumberyard." However, his most famous nickname - "Spruce Goose».
The official name of the aircraft was originally HK-1 (derived from the names of Hughes and Kaiser). After Kaiser abandoned the project in 1944, renamed the plane in Hughes H-4, and after the first flight changed the board room with NX37602 to N37602.