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Transportation China

World's Largest Amphibious Aircraft Goes Into Production In China 85

Posted by timothy
from the spruce-goose-has-it-beat-for-size dept.
stephendavion (2872091) writes "Chinese aircraft manufacturer China Aviation Industry General Aircraft (CAIGA) has started trial production of its TA600 amphibious aircraft, claimed to be the world's largest of its kind. With an expected maiden flight late next year, the Chinese plane would replace Japan's ShinMaywa US-2 short takeoff and landing (STOL) aircraft as the largest of its kind globally." Take a look at a side profile illustration of the CA-600, on this Korean language page. The TA600 has a huge maximum takeoff weight of 53.5 tons, but looks a bit puny compared to Howard Hughes' H-4 Hercules.
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World's Largest Amphibious Aircraft Goes Into Production In China

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  • The world's tallest midget!
    • by dywolf (2673597)

      they just left out the key qualifier word "operational". the current japanese one isn't that big at all, and puny compared to the ones we used in the navy even into the 60s. the new Chinese one here looks to be about the same size as the old trans-pacific clipper planes, maybe even as big as those huge navy seaplanes used to operate.

  • We got the idea with the Hercules that you could resupply military fleets or save fuel with launch your cargo ship into the air if time became an issue(because of the war). It was misguided, but at least a reason for the amphibious design.

    Why are they building giant amphibious cargo planes today? Who has that need?

    • by cdrudge (68377)

      Why are they building giant amphibious cargo planes today? Who has that need?

      Locations that need cargo quickly but can't be timely serviced by road, rail, or conventional aircraft? Perhaps island communities that don't have space for a runway but need things quicker than what a cargo ship could provide.

      • Re:Why? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 28, 2014 @09:50AM (#47549429)

        Most likely to aid in their claim on uninhabited islands in the South China Sea. Amphibious planes would allow for quick small arms transport to distant/remote islands.

      • by thieh (3654731)
        "Island communities" in China sounds awfully familiar... Taiwan?
        • by cdrudge (68377)

          I think Taiwan has airports. I actually had in mind all those islands that are in territory dispute with Japan. But regardless of which island it is and what country claims that island, they do exist.

    • People who need to land tons of rescue supplies into a flood zone or other disaster area where there are no runways, or the runways have been destroyed.

      I can also see a market for these in areas with lots of small-to-medium inhabited islands, that don't have an airstrip big enough for conventional cargo planes, for the occasional high-bulk, time-sensitive cargo. (Medical equipment, for instance. Replacement engines for a ship.)

    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Deadstick (535032) on Monday July 28, 2014 @10:01AM (#47549501)

      The Hercules, aka Spruce Goose, is not amphibious: it's a seaplane, period.

      This is an amphibian: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wi... [wikimedia.org]

      • by nukenerd (172703)

        The Hercules, aka Spruce Goose, is not amphibious: it's a seaplane, period.

        What is the difference? I'm interested.

        • Seaplanes only land on water. Amphibious planes usually have retractable landing gear that goes into a water-tight compartment so that they can land on either water or on an appropriate runway.

    • Why are they building giant amphibious cargo planes today? Who has that need?

      Isn't that sort of a self answering question? Let's break it down. 3/4 of the earth's surface is water and there aren't nice paved roads everywhere there is a need for cargo. Ships are slow, planes are not. Planes that can land on water do not need a prepared runway as any sufficiently large, reasonably calm body of water will suffice if there isn't a traditional runway available. Planes that can land/takeoff from water can be refueled there too meaning they do not have to worry about ditching when over

    • by tomhath (637240)

      The Hercules wasn't misguided at all. At the rate U-boats were sinking Liberty ships and the possibility of battleships like Bismark and Tirtipz roaming the Atlantic a big transport plane would work. Problem was that it was ahead of it's time, without computers to help the pilot it wasn't safe to fly.

      I suspect one use of this plane is along the same lines. Submarines are not a concern. Fly low, under radar and you have a reasonable chance of moving large numbers of troops or supplies quickly to an isolated

      • Well, it sure was called misguided in its era. Fraudulent, even. But I understand the motivation.

        • by justfred (63412)

          The allegations against him and the plane were politically motivated; Senator Owen Brewster was "bought" by competitor Juan Trippe of Pan Am.

          "In 1947, the Senate War Investigation Committee, led by Maine Senator Owen Brewster. The committee alleged that government funds had been misused in both the XF-11 and Spruce Goose Projects, siting the fact that neither project had resulted in a single aircraft delivered to the Air Force. Hughes maintained that there had been no wrong doing, and that Senator Brewster

          • by k6mfw (1182893)
            the movie "The Aviator" was fascinating to watch when they portrayed the hearing. Howard Hughes then turned the tide against Brewster with bringing up certain "contributions" the senator received including reference to the painting of llamas (first scene earlier in the movie where Howard was being sociable asking about where Owen got the painting. But he was really gathering information to be used for his benefit later). I believe movie script used was direct from the transcripts of that hearing. And there
      • by dywolf (2673597)

        that and the largest planes at the time, including all trans-oceanic passenger planes, were all flying boats.

        the only reason flying boats fell out of use is the range of land based aircraft increased sufficiently that the ability to land and refuel on the water was no longer a strength, and the ability to have a streamlined fuselage is an efficiency and speed advantage over seaplanes.

        but there are still many cases where seaplanes have important uses, such as maritime operations, particularly search and resc

        • by nukenerd (172703)

          the only reason flying boats fell out of use is the range of land based aircraft increased sufficiently that the ability to land and refuel on the water was no longer a strength, and the ability to have a streamlined fuselage is an efficiency and speed advantage over seaplanes.

          That's two reasons. How about also the fact that more dry land runways were built as time went on.

          You also need to consider the imperial background of the Great Powers. The British Empire (and the French and US Empires too) included large numbers of small islands in the Caribbean and the Pacific, each with a post office, a local government official, a bit of trade, sea around them, a jetty, and no airstrip. The flying boats were ideal for carrying the post and lighter trade items which got there faste

      • The problem was more than computers. The materials weren't up to snuff. The airframe deformed after just one flight.

    • But maybe rising sea levels might begin to threaten some of the airstrips close to the water. Planes like this might be used as a temporary measure to deal with the loss of a tiny airport on the beach that worked until now. Some airstrips terminate in the ocean.

    • I, for one, think this could be the basis for a totally awesome RV. Fly anywhere, land, party, fly away.

    • We got the idea with the Hercules that you could resupply military fleets or save fuel with launch your cargo ship into the air if time became an issue(because of the war). It was misguided, but at least a reason for the amphibious design.

      Why are they building giant amphibious cargo planes today? Who has that need?

      There are these islands which are kind of contested and which China is trying to assert sovereignty over. They are really small and many won't have room for an airstrip.

      I *guess* that being able to quickly resupply these islands from the air would be very handy for China.

    • by DUdsen (545226)
      Mostly the larger amphibious planes still in operation gets used for waterbombing and you need a lot of water for fighting wildfires. with a secondary role as observation planes ie they need to scoop water from forest lakes or oceans. as close to the fire as posible to be able to make a lot of runs quickly. And It is most likely designed for that role and not as a general cargo plane.
  • by sycodon (149926) on Monday July 28, 2014 @09:37AM (#47549311)

    So a Chinese spy stumbled across the Spruce Goose exhibit and thought, "Wow, total score! This is better than the Stealth!"?

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      Or, when you're rattling your saber over ownership of a bunch of islands [wikipedia.org], maybe you figure you need some amphibious capability?

      China hasn't exactly been quiet about claiming ownership of stuff lately.

    • Re:Spruce Goose (Score:4, Informative)

      by fnj (64210) on Monday July 28, 2014 @10:18AM (#47549623)

      Yeah, except this piece of junk is tiny. It is not large at all. The Martin JRM-1 Mars in 1942 was much heavier. It's a squeaking mosquito next to the Hughes H-4 Hercules of 1947. Yes, shut up, I know those are straight flying boats - because sometimes you just have to make up your mind.

      Technically, sure, it's the heaviest amphibian in the world. Amphibians as a class are practically dead.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        ...

        Technically, sure, it's the heaviest amphibian in the world. Amphibians as a class are practically dead.

        I'm a salamander, you insensitive clod!

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        Technically, sure, it's the heaviest amphibian in the world. Amphibians as a class are practically dead.

        The fact that the ShinMaywa US-2 is in production and it's predecessor sold reasonably well suggests that there is a market for this kind of aircraft.

        Along with Timothy's comment I'm starting to think sour grapes.

        • by fnj (64210)

          Timothy had a moment of going soft in the head. It happens to the best of us. "The TA600 has a huge maximum takeoff weight of 53.5 tons". Huge, my ass. The A-380 is 592 tonnes. The 747-400ER is 413 tonnes.

      • Yeah, except this piece of junk is tiny.

        According to the article, it's larger than a Boeing 737. For a seaplane, that's pretty impressive.

        The Martin JRM-1 Mars in 1942 was much heavier.

        And heavier in an airplane is better...how?

    • by hey! (33014)

      Different requirements drive different designs. Before WW2 seaplanes were common because of the lack of runways. After WW2 airports proliferated, and seaplanes couldn't keep up with technical advances due to the compromises involved in allowing them to land and take off from water. But that doesn't mean there aren't applications for aircraft with a flying boat's capabilities, it just means there isn't enough of a market in places like the US to support an industry. Even so, here in North America there ar

  • by Bearhouse (1034238) on Monday July 28, 2014 @10:07AM (#47549549)

    And are not yet very good at building aircraft carriers and everything that goes with them (suitable aircraft and command and control).

    It's not the "next best thing" or even close - there is a good reason why large 'planes such as this were rapidly abandoned (except by the Soviet Union) after WW2. They take up much more of their usable capacity with fuel and equipment , and are extremely vulnerable on both land and sea, (one submerged log or - more likely these days - a lost shipping container) and your transport and its cargo is scrap.

    Of course, I'd still want one :)

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      Japan and India use them for search and rescue, their intended role. Carriers are big and slow, not suited to SAR work where you need high capacity long range aircraft that can then collect people and even small boats from the water.

      Anyway, in warfare carriers are less useful against enemies with hypersonic missiles. The US doesn't have any yet, but since Russia, India and China do I imagine they expect to face them eventually.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    But the Martin Mars, still being used for firefighting, has a max. takeoff weight of 165,000 lb.

  • As I clicked to the fine article I was prepared to see a description of a gigantic airplane, overshadowing a Catalina, perhaps even a Spruce Goose. Yet the actual airplane is a little underwhelming.

    TFA reads: "Larger than Boeing's 737 jet, the TA600 aircraft has a maximum takeoff weight of 53.5t and a maximum range of over 5,000km."

    If one defines "larger than" as "having a higher MTOW" then the TA600 is indeed larger than a 737. That is, a 737-200 (1968 vintage). More recent versions are considerably heavie

    • I think the other stats, 8.9m length, are for the HO300.
    • by dywolf (2673597)

      they just left out hte word "operational".
      granted, the PBY isn't that large as flying boats go, so that's not a good one to use.
      Better would be the: Martin Mars, Short Sunderland, or the Saunders Roa Princess, all of which are FAR larger than this new chinese one.

  • Not so big (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jamesl (106902) on Monday July 28, 2014 @11:45AM (#47550347)

    The Martin JRM Mars has more impressive specs ...

    General characteristics
    o Crew: four (with accommodations for a second relief crew)
    o Capacity: 133 troops, or 84 litter patients and 25 attendants
    o Payload: 32,000 lb (15,000 kg) of cargo, including up to seven jeeps
    o Length: 117 ft 3 in (35.74 m)
    o Wingspan: 200 ft 0 in (60.96 m)
    o Height: 38 ft 5 in (11.71 m)
    o Wing area: 3,686 ft (342.4 mÂ)
    o Empty weight: 75,573 lb (34,279 kg)
    o Loaded weight: 90,000 lb (40,820 kg)
    o Max. takeoff weight: 165,000 lb (74,800 kg)
    o Powerplant: 4 x Wright R-3350-24WA Duplex Cyclone 18-cylinder radial engines, 2,500 hp (1,900 kW) each

    Performance
    o Maximum speed: 192 knots (221 mph, 356 km/h)
    o Cruise speed: 165 knots (190 mph, 305 km/h)
    o Range: 4,300 nautical miles (5,000 mi, 8,000 km)
    o Service ceiling: 14,600 ft (4,450 m)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M... [wikipedia.org]

    Still at work.
    http://www.martinmars.com/airc... [martinmars.com]

  • I thought the Spruce goose can only take off and "land" on water.
  • by Solandri (704621) on Monday July 28, 2014 @01:05PM (#47551037)
    Goes to the full August 1946 issue of Popular Science, including a first-hand account of Able - the first atomic bomb test at Bikini Atoll. That glimpse into life as a tech geek in 1946 is more interesting than TFA.
  • It's no Caspian Sea Monster.

    http://gizmodo.com/this-caspia... [gizmodo.com]

    "It was capable of carrying up to 137 tons (270,000 pounds) of troops and equipment—including as many as six nuclear missiles—at speeds up to 350 MPH as far as 1,080 nmi—albeit only 16 feet off the surface of the water."

    Yes, the MD-160 was neither amphibious (it's water-only) or an airplane (it's an Ekranoplan surface-effect vehicle).

  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_RC-1

    • Thats not the biggest - this one was even bigger: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] I got to meet and speak to some of the designers - it was quite practical and they had the economic case study to do this. It would have made lots of money, but McDonnell Douglas (later Boeing) did not want to put up the $7 billion it would take.
  • H.H. is yawning in his grave.
  • The picture in the Aerospace-Technology website is wrong. The red rising sun on the tail would have made it obvious, if not for the fact that Wikipedia picture of the ShinMaywa is actually identical http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S... [wikipedia.org].

How often I found where I should be going only by setting out for somewhere else. -- R. Buckminster Fuller

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