Tuesday November 25, 2014
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03-142 The Spruce Goose I

Tuesday Nov 25, 2014

Lead: Of all the problems the Allies faced in the summer of 1942 none was more threatening than unrestrained submarine warfare. German U-boats were sinking transport ships faster than they could be built.

Intro: A Moment In Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Fresh challenges seemed to inspire Howard Robard Hughes. At the age of 17 he took control of the Hughes Tool Company upon the death of his father. This provided the financial base for Howard's other interests. In 1926 he migrated to Hollywood where over the years he produced numerous motion pictures and premiered actors such as Jean Harlow and Jane Russell. Hughes eventually owned, and later sold, RKO Pictures.

His greatest love, however, was flying, and by 1966 when forced by federal antitrust regulators to sell it, he owned 78 percent of Trans World Airlines. Part of his work at Hughes Aircraft Company was the construction of experimental airplanes, and in 1942 he tackled the Allies' problem of shipping on oceans bristling with deadly German submarines. His solution was a gigantic flying boat.

The idea originated with Henry J. Kaiser, the Oakland, California-based industrialist many of whose ships were being sent to the bottom. He convinced a reluctant Congress that a fleet of flying transports could supplement if not take the place of surface transportation. Kaiser persuaded Hughes to take up the challenge and, after some hesitation, Howard and his associates began design work. For some time he had been trying to convince the Army he could build a bomber using Duramold, a process by which the airplane's parts would be constructed out of plywood saturated with synthetic glue to make it strong and waterproof. By the fall of 1942 Hughes had designed a wooden transport aircraft that could carry a fully loaded Sherman Tank. The Spruce Goose was born.

Next time: Howard Hughes’ folly.

The producer of A Moment In Time is Steve Clark. At the University of Richmond, this is Dan Roberts.


Barlett, Donald L. and James B. Steele. Empire: The Life, Legend, and Madness of Howard Hughes. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1979.

Drosnin, Michael. Citizen Hughes. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1985.

Nixon, Stuart. "Big Spruce Goose Will Settle Down in a New Nest," Smithsonian 11 (9): 107-114.

Copyright 2014 by Dan Roberts Enterprises, Inc.


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