Manufacturer: Hughes Aircraft

Model: H-3

Name: none

Type: Flying boat

Date: 1941

Status: Experimental

Country: United States of America

Service: None (company-owned)

Designation: none


At the same time as he was developing the H-1 racer, Howard Hughes also conceived a diminutive flying-boat prototype, the H-3. The H-3 was an attractive aircraft that could have made a commercially viable sportsplane, but Howard Hughes had other plans.

Indeed, the aircraft was developed only to test the general lines and configuration of his planned H-4 Hercules. Just as the H-1 was NX258Y, the H-3 received the NX259Y registration. It was powered by four Franklin XO-540-7 engines.

Unfortunately, it was lost on its maiden flight after only 13 minutes when a Coast Guard Grumman Duck collided with it, nearly killing Hughes in the process. The Duck suffered minor damage, but the H-3 was wrecked and could not be salvaged; still, it had proved that the design was sound, and Hughes immediately proceeded with his H-4, associating with Kaiser to build it.

Hughes made sure that every record of the H-3 and everything related to it was burned or otherwise erased, to the extent that even today the NX259Y slot is described as "not assigned" in records...


This picture uses the standard Hughes logo of the period. It is of course adapted from a picture of the Hughes H-4 Hercules (see below right). I "shrank" the aircraft by removing the original workers from the wings and adding the new ones and the pilot to change the perceived scale of it. I then fitted the engines of a Northrop N-9M subscale demonstrator, only placed forward of the wing instead of aft. I must say that this particular element doesn't make it quite as convincing as it should as it makes the wing look bent... (I might have to rework this some time in the future).

Viewers' comments:
  • a pretty impresive design. In fact, it reminds me a little of the De Havilland D.H 88 racing plane in its profile.(duraluminwolf)
  • It looks like you combined the parts of a flying boat, a random fighter, and the props from the XB-35 flying wing! (BriarSeiberlyn)

My comments: