Today's Wall Street Journal carries a page-one article about the Boeing Large Cargo Freighter (LCF), a specially-modified Boeing 747 that will be used to haul big pieces of the company's newest airliner, the 787 Dreamliner, between manufacturing facilities in the United States and Asia. Equipped with a hinge near the tail, the rear end of the LCF swings open to swallow whole sections of 787 wing or fuselage. The WSJ adds:
The sprawling nature of the 787's supply chain makes it a challenge to move parts around in a timely fashion. The Large Cargo Freighter was built to solve this problem. [...]
The unusual craft measures 235 feet long and stands almost 71 feet tall at the tail. It's vaulted cargo hold has a capacity of 65,000 cubic feet, or about three times that of a typical 747 freighter used by big shippers such as United Parcel Service, Inc.
"Some people may say this plane is ugly. but I call it an elegant logistics solution," says Mike Bunney, the Boeing executive in charge of managing the Dreamliner's transportation system.
Indeed, there seems to be some debate over the question of whether the LCF is the ugliest aircraft ever flown. While the WSJ points to rival candidates such as Russia's Antonov An-124, Lockheed's C-5 Galaxy, and even Howard Hughes's Spruce Goose, a few obvious contenders are conspicuously missing from their list, including two planes that were also purpose-built to haul large sections of other aircraft: The Aero Spacelines Super Guppy and the Airbus Beluga.
Which is the ugliest? As with beauty, the answer lies strictly
in the eyes of the beholder.
Photoshop hack of an "Oscar Meyer LCF" (creator unknown): LINK
Boeing Large Cargo Freighter (Wikipedia entry): LINK
Boeing LCF First Flight (YouTube video): LINK
All Flickr photos of the Boeing LCF: LINK
PREVIOUSLY: The First Boeing 747