Evergreen Air and Space Museum, McMinnville, Oregon, USA
Greeting, iModelers. A week ago I road tripped down to McMinnville, Oregon with some friends to see the air and space museum. There is a modest but nevertheless impressive collection there of aircraft across the history of flight, from a 1:1 model of da Vinci’s flying machine to modern fighter aircraft. The real claim to fame of the place, though, is that it is the home of the Hughes H-4 “Hercules,” aka the “Spruce Goose”–by a number of metrics the largest aircraft ever built.
I took lots of photos, but won’t bore you with them as they are plentiful elsewhere on the web. I lean WW2 most of the time, and other than their Catalina, their most impressive offerings of that conflict were the FW 190 and the ME 262. Still, gazing up close into the cockpit of the Phantom, examining the boosters of a real V-2, touching an SR-71, and gazing inches away into the business end of the A-10 Warthog was all pretty cool.
The star, however, is the Goose. Essentially the entire aircraft museum (1980s+ era aircraft and space/rocketry is all housed in another building) is built for and arranged around the H-4. Under its vast wings are huddled the lesser aircraft, which is both economical in terms of spacing the exhibits and serves to give us a sense of scale. Shots of the Skyraider, the Spad (nose/engine only), the ME 262, and other planes in themselves are bonuses; my purpose was to get shots of the H-4 itself. The Spruce Goose (a name the media gave Hughes’ creation but that he despised) is so huge that a man can walk upright inside its wings. It boasts a total of eight 2,500 hp engines, is made almost entirely of wood (birch, mostly), and is, in fact, itself a “living model” of sorts. As most know, it was originally conceived by Hughes and Kaiser (the master of the “Liberty Ship”) as a tactic to circumvent the U-boat wolf packs; American industrial might, better anti-submarine tactics, and the delaying complexity of the H-4 project all rendered the issue moot. The H-4 flew once for about a mile after the conflict had ended, Hughes himself at the helm, skimming the waters of the Bay. It’s been a museum piece, simultaneously the very embodiment of brainstorm and boondoggle, ever since.
The pics I’ve posted show wings, fuselage, tail, and interior, along with a scale schematic that compares the Goose to other massive aircraft in history. How it came to McMinnville, of all places, comes down to expense: it was costing $1 million a year to house in the Bay Area, so the deal was cut and the airplane disassembled. It came to Oregon in 1993 by sea and then by river, in pieces. It was finally assembled by 2001.
11 additional images. Click to enlarge.