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Hughes Aircraft Plant Culver City

On Sunday, March 20, 2011, The LA Conservancy did tours of the Hughes Aircraft Plant in Culver City, CA. This plant was created by Hughes mostly for his goverment aircraft R&D, but is most famous for being the origin of the "Spruce Goose" which was built in Building 15. Note the 2 mile long runway in this 1950s photo.

Photo of the complex. The day of the tour was pouring rain and in the 50s, so we did not take a lot of outdoor photos.

This is the inside of Building 15 where the "H-4 Hercules" flying boat was built.

THis building was built from wood, a non-essential material during WW2. It is the largest wood building in the world.

Building 15 is 742 feet long, 248 feet wide and 73 feet high. It has no internal support, just the molded wood arches you see, space 20 feet (~6m) apart.

Looking down on the floor from the 3rd floor balcony, about 40 feet (~13 m) up. The people standing on the floor give a good indication of its size.

Here you can see almost the entire building.

Photos of the building under construction. In the top photo, the arches are being fabricated by gluing together wood boards on a mold.

Closer views of the arches. While there are some steel bolts, everything else is wood.

After they quit making aircraft, this facility was used for electronica and lasers. One of the ex employees on our tour said the facility was rumored to have a large top secret underground lab used for laser weapon research.

Building 3, also all wood, was used for mockups of the H-4 cockpit/nose and systems. Later it was used for missile production. I'm amused how much the roof trusses look like wooden airplane wing ribs.

"Mahogany Row" - executive offices, which will be restored by the new owners, Ratkovitch.

The corner office which is supposed to have been used by Hughes himself.

One wall had a giant world map marked with air routes, but nobody knew why, as they were not TWA routes. Hughes owned TWA.

US on the map, showing Hughes AC locations in SF and LA.

Close up of the map, showing the HAC symbols.

The old lobby of the building stripped to its original wood. Note this building was built after WW2 and has steel roof trusses.