The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #16337   Message #151966
Posted By: Sourdough
20-Dec-99 - 12:39 PM
Thread Name: Help: Beatles, Henry Kaiser & Higgins Boats
Subject: RE: Help: Beatles, Henry Kaiser & Higgins Boats
I think you all have cleared up the K & H story very nicely and I thank you for that. It seemed perhaps a little lss farfetched for me because the Greatful Dead did write a song about the destruction of Kaiserville by a flood. Kaiserville which came to be known as Vanport, was a city built on an island in the Columbia River and for a while was the second largest city in Oregon as well as the largest preplanned community in the US. After the war, a flood washed almost the entire town away.

About the Spruce Goose - The giant airship was Kaiser's idea. He is generally credited with making it public during a speech at the launching of one of his ships early in the war. He postulated that it made a great deal more sense to build a fleet of giant air freighters to fly over the German U-boats than trying to put out so many ships that the Germans couldn't possibly sink them all!

THe US government and the US aircraft manufacturers would have preferred ignore the idea but Kaiser was so well known and so respected for his accomplishments leading the building the great western dams, bringing them in ahead of schedule and below cost, that they couldn't. Aircraft manufacturers did not want Kaiser in their business, too, seeing him as a possibly gargantuan competitor after the war if he got started now, with government help. The government OK'd the air freighter plan but refused to give Kaiser the priorities needed to get strategic metals such as aluminum and titanium. However, wood wa available.

The only builder who seemed to have the imagination and courage to take on the project was Howard Hughes and the two men and their companies went into a partnership agreement.

Some of the participants on the Kaiser side told me that Kaiser rapidly became concerned about the stability and judgment of Hughes. The agreement was ended. Instead of a thousand of these planes flying war materiels to Europe, there was just the one Spruce Goose and she didn't fly until after the war was over (and then the only distance she logged in the air was less than a mile).

Thank you all for your help -