World’s Largest Sea Plane Is Being Built In China And Is Smaller Than Spruce Goose

TA-600 Model 4 photos
Photo: chenium via China Defense Forum
H-4 "Spruce Goose" HerculesTA-600 MockupTA-600 Model
China Aviation Industry General Aircraft (CAIGA) is working on the world’s largest sea plane, as we speak. Planed to be finished in 2015, the TA-600 will have a wingspan of over 40 meters and will be powered by four turboprop engines. Even though it’s a giant seaplane, the Chinese aircraft will still be smaller than the legendary Hughes H-4 Hercules, also named Spruce Goose, that made only one brief flight on November 2, 1947.
A TA-600 model was first shown at the 2010 Zhuhai Airshow, back in 2010, and construction of the first prototype is starting this year. Once completed in 2015, the giant sea plane will have a take off weight of 53.5 tons (6 tons more than the Japanese ShinMaywa US-2, currently the world’s largest sea plane) and a range of 5,500 km (3,417 miles).

According to Pop Sci, its design is based off another Chinese design, the 45 ton Harbin SH-5, a mockup of the forward fuselage emerged in January 2014. As to its historical competition, China is still far behind the largest seaplane ever built, the Hughes H-4 Hercules. Best known under its nickname Spruce Goose it was a prototype heavy transport aircraft designed and built by the Hughes Aircraft Company.

Goose only flew once, on November 2, 1947, and the project never advanced beyond the single example produced. However, it was way bigger than the Chinese version, weighing 180 tons in full and having a wingspan of 97 meters.

A full scale mockup of the TA-600’s forward cockpit was already shown at an AVIC factory. It would seem building full scale mockups of aircraft before the first prototype helps the manufacturer understand the challenged involved in a new airframe. As to what will be the use of the new super seaplanes, according to Fu Junxu, a CAIGA manager, quoted by Xinhua Agency, the TA-600 will be used to fight forest fire and maritime search and rescue operations.
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