The history of aviation has witnessed a constant quest to push the boundaries of size and performance, and the military sector is no exception. Military aircraft have evolved from nimble fighters to colossal machines capable of transporting troops, cargo, and executing strategic missions on an unparalleled scale.
In this article, we embark on a journey to explore the world’s largest military aircrafts, marveling at their impressive dimensions and the vital roles they play in modern warfare.
10. Blohm & Voss BV 238
The Blohm & Voss BV 238 was a German flying boat built during World War II. It was the heaviest aircraft ever flown when it first flew in 1944, and was the largest aircraft produced by any of the Axis powers in World War II.
9. Douglas XB-19
The Douglas XB-19 was the largest bomber aircraft built for the United States Army Air Corps until 1946. It was originally given the designation XBLR-2 (Experimental Bomber, Long Range).
8. Boeing B-29 Superfortress
The B-29 Superfortress is a four-engine propeller-driven heavy bomber designed by Boeing that was flown primarily by the United States toward the end of World War II and during the Korean War. It was one of the largest aircraft to have seen service during World War II and a very advanced bomber for its time, with features such as a pressurized cabin, an electronic fire-control system, and remote-controlled machine-gun turrets.
7. Convair B-36 Peacemaker
The Convair B-36 “Peacemaker” was a strategic bomber operated solely by the United States Air Force from 1949 to 1959. The B-36 was the largest mass-produced piston engine aircraft ever made. It had the longest wingspan of any combat aircraft ever built at 230 ft (70.1 m). The B-36 was the first bomber capable of delivering any of the nuclear weapons in the U.S. arsenal from inside its four bomb bays without aircraft modifications.
6. Convair XC-99
The Convair XC-99, was a prototype heavy cargo aircraft built by Convair for the United States Air Force. It was the largest piston-engined land-based transport aircraft ever built, and was developed from the B-36 bomber, sharing the wings and some other structures with it.
5. Kawanishi H8K
The Kawanishi H8K was an Imperial Japanese Navy flying boat used during World War II for maritime patrol duties.
4. Linke-Hofmann R.II
The Linke-Hofmann R.II was a bomber aircraft designed and built in Germany from 1917. It was the largest aircraft ever to fly with only one propeller, it used the largest airplane propeller ever used.
3. Lockheed C-5 Galaxy
The Lockheed C-5 Galaxy is a large military transport aircraft originally designed and built by Lockheed, and now maintained and upgraded by its successor, Lockheed Martin. It provides the United States Air Force with a heavy intercontinental-range strategic airlift capability, one that can carry outsize and oversize cargoes, including all air-certifiable cargo. The C-5 is among the largest military aircraft in the world.
2. Messerschmitt Me 323
The Messerschmitt Me 323 Gigant (“Giant”) was a German military transport aircraft of World War II. It was a powered variant of the Me 321 military glider and was the largest land-based transport aircraft of the war. A total of 213 are recorded as having been made.
1. Tupolev Tu-160
The Tupolev Tu-160 is a supersonic, variable-sweep wing heavy strategic bomber designed by the Tupolev Design Bureau in the Soviet Union. Although several civil and military transport aircraft are larger in overall dimensions, the Tu-160 is the world’s largest combat aircraft, largest supersonic aircraft and largest variable-sweep aircraft built.