Six-engine aircraft

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At six-pointed aircraft six are jet engines used to achieve a sufficiently high boost. This configuration was only used for military purposes as the USAF B-47 strategic bomber during the Cold War , for the longest transport aircraft ( An-225 ) of the former USSR or for prototypes. New developments of six-engine aircraft types were not undertaken for thirty years after 1988. Only the only copy of the An-225 is still operational as the largest, mainly civilian transport aircraft up to 2019, as well as the one flown for the first time in 2019Scaled Composites Stratolaunch .

historical development

The first model of a six-engine aircraft is the Ju 287 , developed by Junkers Flugzeug- und Motorenwerke in 1944 , in which six jet turbines were combined for boosting thrust, and its successor, the EF 131 .

After the end of World War II , the US developed a strategic bomber, the Boeing B-47 Stratojet , and produced over 2,000 units. The reconnaissance version RB-47 was in use until 1977.

At the end of the 1960s, attempts were made in the USA to develop vertical take-off aircraft ( VTOLs ) in the form of two Lockheed VZ-10s with 4 vertical and 2 horizontal nozzles. The flight attempts did not bring the desired success; one of the two prototypes finally crashed in 1969 on a test flight.

Another German attempt by the Entwicklungsring Süd (EWR) in the years 1959–1968 to build a VTOL aircraft with six engines, the EWR VJ 101 , was unsuccessful. Four of the jet engines were tiltable on the outside of the wings in order to enable normal flight after a vertical take-off by swiveling the nozzles from the vertical to the horizontal. The other two engines were permanently installed vertically in the fuselage in order to increase the lift during take-off and landing. This project was canceled in 1968.

In the mid-1980s, the Ukrainian (then Soviet ) manufacturer Antonov developed and built the An-225 with a transport volume of 1,220 m³, which is still the longest today and, until 2019, the largest wing span . Only one copy was completed, another was only partially assembled until the fall of the Soviet Union . Today the An-225 is operated worldwide as a means of transport for special tasks by the Ukrainian Antonov Airlines in charter traffic . A Ukrainian-Russian manufacturer consortium is currently considering building further An-225s.

Classification of six-engine aircraft according to use, dimensions and production

Note on the table: For a quick overview, the aircraft types used in 2019 are highlighted in light blue. The columns can be sorted by clicking the small arrows in the heading bar.

Aircraft type image Production (period) Piece
Pieces ready for use
country Length
in m
in m
in km
in t
Antonov An-225 Mrija / Cossack An-225 1988 000000000000001.00000000001

1 UkraineUkraine Ukraine (former Soviet Union ) Soviet UnionSoviet Union  000000000000084.000000000084 m 000000000000088.000000000088 m 000000000002500.00000000002,500 km 000000000000600.0000000000600 t longest aircraft,
approx. 350 t payload (internal 250 t, external 90 t), empty up to
15,400 km range,
originally used to transport the space glider Buran
Boeing B-47 Stratojet B-47 1945-1956 000000000002032.00000000002,032 - United StatesUnited States United States 000000000000032.000000000032 m 000000000000035.000000000035 m 000000000006500.00000000006,500 km 000000000000094.000000000094 t strategic bomber, decommissioned in 1977
EEA VJ 101 EEA VJ 101 1963-1964 000000000000002.00000000002 - GermanyGermany Germany 000000000000015.000000000015 m 000000000000006.00000000006 m 000000000000006.00000000006 t experimental prototypes of a VTOL fighter plane
Junkers Ju 287 /
OKB-1 EF 131
Ju 287 V1 1944 000000000000002.00000000002 - German Reich NSGerman Reich (Nazi era) German Empire 000000000000018.000000000018 m 000000000000020.000000000020 m 000000000002100.00000000002,100 km 000000000000020.000000000020 t experimental prototypes of a bomber with 4 and 6 jet engines
Lockheed XV-4B (62-4504) XV-4 1962–1963 (approx.) 000000000000001.00000000001 - United StatesUnited States United States 000000000000010.000000000010 m 000000000000007.00000000007 m 000000000000003.00000000003 t experimental prototypes
Martin XB-48 XB-48 1944–1947 (approx.) 000000000000002.00000000002 - United StatesUnited States United States 000000000000026.000000000026 m 000000000000033.000000000033 m 000000000002900.00000000002,900 km 000000000000046.000000000046 t experimental prototypes
North American XB-70 Valkyrie XB-70 1964-1965 000000000000002.00000000002 - United StatesUnited States United States 000000000000059.000000000059 m 000000000000032.000000000032 m 000000000012000.000000000012,000 km 000000000000249.0000000000249 t experimental prototypes, three times the speed of sound
Scaled Composites Stratolaunch Stratolaunch 2019 000000000000001.00000000001 000000000000001.00000000001 United StatesUnited States United States 000000000000065.500000000065.5 m 000000000000117.0000000000117 m 000000000015000.000000000015,000 km 000000000000545.0000000000545 t Special aircraft for launching missiles

See also

Web links


  1. The respective model is classified under the name under which it became known or, in the case of current models, under which it is offered or listed by the manufacturers. Possibly. Several names are listed, for models from the former Soviet Union, Russia, China, etc. also the NATO names.
  2. Country or countries where the manufacturer is based. In cooperation, e.g. B. EADS / Airbus all countries directly involved are listed. In the case of the countries of the former Eastern Bloc , the former USSR may also be listed for production before 1990.
  3. a b The length and span dimensions are rounded to the nearest meter in order to keep the table clear. Different sizes for variants of a model: xy m, for swing-wing aircraft : maximum / minimum size.
  4. as normal specified maximum range of the manufacturer in kilometers with normal payload, most powerful model of the type without taking additional tanks into account, except where applicable for specially listed ER models ( extended range ) in kilometers, possibly rounded
  5. Gross weight, according to the manufacturer's specifications in metric tons, the most powerful model of the type, rounded if necessary
  6. a further copy has not been fully assembled because of the political changes after 1989 and is in parts still in the Kiev production plant

Individual evidence

  1. Exact description with photos at xplanes (French)
  2. a b Overview in: Flight International : World Airliners, 21-27. Oct. 2008, pp. 31-43 and Oct. 28 - Nov. 3, 2008, pp. 51-63. (All aircraft produced up to mid-2008 and all aircraft still in service, including temporarily decommissioned examples.)
  3. a b Overview in: Flight International : World Air Forces, 11.-17. Nov. 2008, pp. 48–76 ( introduction and list as PDF with an English-language overview of all aircraft types used in the Air Forces)
  4. another photo at xplanes (French)
  5. Flug Revue, Motor Presse Stuttgart, August 2017, pp. 74–78