Glomar Explorer

Just a last bit follow…In 1935 The H 1 Racer set a speed record of 352 mph for that time with a Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp Jr radial engine which produced 700 hp. The huge NACA cowling served to streamline and cool the huge engine of the day.

By 1941 the Focke Wuff Fw 190 enter service after numerous engine cooling issues. The Germans wanted to streamline the nose to get away from the NACA cowling Hughes H 1 used. The final design in 1945 could hit nearly 470 mph. at high altitude. (nearly 5 miles high) But to do this the Germans used a more powerful engine producing nearly 1700 hp.

Hugh’s had wanted to sell his H 1 technology to the US Government but they weren’t interested. By the later 30’s the Germans were realizing the potential.
Hughes H 4 Hercules (Spruce Goose) was another rejected solution to the submarine menace on the Atlantic. In operation it would have flown at lower altitude over the sea. (perhaps 100 ft as Hughes demonstrated when he flew it)
This is known as “ground effect”. A way of extending fuel mileage.
For troop transport we wouldn’t have lost men at sea due to submarines and delivering them to the war front would have been faster. For the logistics of
valuable cargo such as ammunition etc, it would have been safer & faster too.
Finally a fleet of H 4’s would have been faster to build and much cheaper given the abundance of Birch wood which wasn’t regulated by war time restrictions.

So often the media has painted Hughes up to be a wealthy playboy “wach-o”. which is a shame as anyone who would read about him would realize the visionary that he was. Of course “Big Industry” stood to profit immensely from war and they wouldn’t appreciate Hughes pairing down their profits with his better ideas. A trend we’ve witnessed in wars & skirminshes since.

Those of the “Greatest Generation” would remember Hughes for all of his contributions and when his name was associated with the Glomar I’m sure they
were happy he was still making a positive contribution in his closing years. .


I suggest you compare the cost and capacity of a single Liberty ship to the H4.

The H4 cost more to build (in serial production it was $2.5 million) than a Liberty at $2 million.
The H4 could carry 2 Sherman tanks. The Liberty could carry 260.

If you consider the number of H4s needed to replace the capacity of one Liberty ship, the diversion of engines, materials, and technology required to build the H4’s engines alone, the number of people required to keep a fleet of thousands of H4s in the air, a couple of Liberty ships won by an ocean’s width.

It didn’t fly until the war was over but it was still an engineering feat. I agree about its lack of usefulness for a trans Atlantic airlift even if it had been available earlier. It would have taken thousands of them and even with fighter escorts, the Germans would have figured out pretty quickly how to neutralize them. As eccentric and stubborn as Hughes was, he may have completed it more as an engineering exercise to prove a point rather than for any immediate practical purpose.

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ASME did a good article on the H4 years ago. What impressed me was Hughes insistence on safety, he had 5 hydraulic control systems.
I dug the article up for those interested.

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LOL, I didn’t mean to imply that H 4’s would put surface shipping out of the picture but more that precious cargo’s such as personnel, medicine, specialized equipment such as radio, radar, aviation parts etc may have fared better against submarine fleets. The “Goose” was a one off but if it were in production (again with Hughes knowledge of production engineering) may have grown increasingly less expensive as more units were built.

In school days I had an instructor from north western North Carolina who went to Wilmington, NC to work in the shipyards there. As a machinist he worked in building Liberty Ships and explained how they launched a new one every day of the week. He explained how he was in awe of the production line there saying it was like living inside a Swiss Watch.

IF…the Germans were to be successful in combating the H 4 they would just about have to be doing it near shore or while docked by using fighters or medium bombers. At sea in the Atlantic, about all they had were Focke-Wuff FW 200 Condors. These were essentially long range 4 engine Airliners converted to serve as scouts for the submarine fleet where with special modifications could armed for limited combat. Pilots who flew these aircraft knew that they were known for a design flaw that made them weak in the tail section. So they weren’t highly maneuverable in combat. (but as an airliner they were adequate)

But given Hughes personal fortune (some 6 to 9 Billion dollars in today’s money) and resolve he may have had other ideas in his galley that aren’t as yet known to us. But all the boy genius ever wanted to do was become a world class golfer, an renown aviator, and outstanding movie producer which in those times were the epitomy .of glamor and success. And Hughes was just beginning to achieve this as the great depression began and WW2 loomed not too far off.

But I do agree that using Ferro Cement to build the hulls of Liberty Ships made them quite economical and we could lose many of them to the German submarines off the east coast in our stride for that reason alone. In the area known as Torpedo Alley some 400 ships were sunk and 5000 lives lost in 1942 alone.

Liberty ships were not made of concrete.

Please do a bit more study before flooding the site with home-spun history lessons.

It was my understanding that there were. But I doubt what I’ve said will upend maritime history just the same. Still with their steel hulls there are records of them breaking apart at sea as steel for such ships was becoming more limited in supply and concrete was gaining greater consideration.

There is a few concrete ships decaying in the lower Chesapeake Bay from WW2. They werent Liberty or Victory Ships. I do remember the early Liberty and/or Victorys developed cracks and had serious problems. Those that made it back were repaired with large bands of steel on either side of the hull.

What does that even mean?

The vast majority of cargo ships built during the war were made of steel. There were some ferro-cement, but these were trivial in number when compared to the number of steel ships. While there were issues with early Liberty ships, it wasn’t a material defect but rather a defect in the process of building and designing with the material. By the end of the Liberty ships they knew what the issue was and how to work around it. The Victory ship did not have issues with cracking like the Liberty’s did due to design changes.

I cited Liberty Ships as it was my understanding, errant or whatever. But if we’re having fun making a 50 ft swell out of a ripple…what the heck. There have been other ships made of Ferro even before WW2 just the same. It’s about solutions in times of scarcities. Even if it takes more of the substitute material, if that material is abundant and not under a war time ration it can be a work around.

Palo Alto 1920 Hull made of Ferro Cement

Glomar Explorer was not made from Ferrocement that’s for sure.
But it is the subject of this thread.

Like most threads, this one wobbled a bit. Is there any more that can be added to the subject of the ship and/or its mission?

Probably not a lot.
BTW; I’m all for a little “wobbling”. That is natural evolution of things and thoughts.

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I took Steamer up on his suggestion. What I had posted was based on the word of an instructor who had been there working as a machinist (and I don’t know how close to the building he was). Low and behold in my reading I found another mistake.(I don’t want to spoil the fun by revealing it)

But the wobble room does allow for enlightenment even if it is to discover what you had previously learned of was in error.

RIP Glomer

Then don’t just blindly post nonsense like this:

Have you still not read this?

How about doing your research first instead of relying on memory of what some “instructor” included in a sea story. It takes less time these days to find factual data and supporting documentation than it does to make up some silly story that demonstrates more about lack of subject matter knowledge than history.

The point is, fact check what you post. This is a maritime forum populated with people who have a tremendous level of knowledge of the industry and its history. Peppering a response with silly little factoids and truisms just to up the word count doesn’t add to credibility.

I am not surprised that you are wobbly.

Wibbly wobbly

Since I was a student listening to instructor who was there I trusted he had some expertise on the subject. These things were in mothballs literally before I was born. It has benefited me in knowing better now. Still I’ll have to be suspicious of those presenting themselves as industry experts now as well.

So besides that one statement about Concrete Hulls Steamer, have you found anything else ? You sure haven’t mentioned it if you have. Ripple ripple.

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I was working at Bay & Delta Towing when they moved it out of the Mothball Fleet at Suisin Bay and took it to the shipyard. Six or seven tugs were involved.