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Hughes Aircraft Plant - Playa Vista
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Hughes Aircraft Plant - Playa Vista

All photographs taken by Kenneth A. Larson. All rights reserved. © 2003 - 2013.


Overall
Looking north-east, 5-28-78.
Click for larger image.
Overall
Looking north, 5-28-78.

This Hughes Aircraft Plant was built in Culver City, California. It is now called Playa Vista and after many controversial years is becoming a major industrial,commercial, and residential development.

For almost half a century, Hughes Aircraft Company was a major player in the design, development and production of high technology systems for scientific, military and commercial applications. In 1932, Howard Hughes (Howard Robard Hughes, Jr.; Born December 24, 1905. Died April 5, 1976.) formed an aircraft division within the Hughes Tool Company. The facility is now often used as a motion picture studio and is under major redevelopment. It was to be the new home of DreamWorks Studios, but that plan was canceled.

This is where the famous H-4 Hercules Flying Boat, popularly know as the Spruce Goose, was built. The H-4 was developed to meet a critical need to fly over enemy submarines during World War II. The Hughes Flying Boat was to be the biggest airplane ever built. It flew only once in November 1947. The HK-1, still the biggest aircraft ever built, was decades ahead of its time in the early 1940s. It revolutionized jumbo flying bodies and large lift capability, shaping modern flight.

Originally designated HK-1 (Hughes/Kaiser), it was later changed to H-4 when Henry Kaiser withdrew from the project, Originally conceived by Henry Kaiser (famous for the production of liberty ships) the aircraft was designed and constructed by Howard Hughes and his staff. The aircraft is a cargo-type flying boat designed to transport men and materials over long distances. The aircraft is of a single hull, eight-engine design, with a single vertical tail, fixed wing-tip floats, and full cantilever wing and tail surfaces. The entire airframe and surface structures are composed of laminated wood (primarily birch). All primary control surfaces except the flaps are fabric covered. The hull is divided into two areas: a flight deck for the operating crew and a large cargo deck. Access between the two decks is provided by a circular stairway. Below the cargo deck are fuel bays divided by watertight bulkheads. Plaque
Along the way, the Flying Boat development encountered and dealt with tremendous design and engineering problems, from the testing of new concepts for large-scale hulls and flying control surfaces, to the incorporation of complex power boost systems that gave the pilot the power of 100 men in controlling this Hercules. Engineers hung eight of the most powerful engines available on the huge wings, and designed a mammoth fuel storage and supply system to allow the long, over the water, flights. Mr. Hughes and his team accomplished all of this working with non-essential materials, building a wood aircraft, mostly birch not spruce, that even many of his colleagues dismissed as impossible. All of this was done within the impractical schedule of wartime.

On November 2, 1947, Howard Hughes and a small engineering crew conducted taxi tests and an unannounced flight. With Howard Hughes at the controls, the Flying Boat lifted 70 feet off the water, and flew one mile in less than a minute at a top speed of 80 miles per hour before making a perfect landing. This trial was simple vindication of the program and it is now looked back upon as a great moment in flight history.

Most of these photographs were taken while I was working on the motion picture, Independence Day which used many of the buildings in this facility for stages, production offices, Visual Effects, model shop, and work shops. Building 15 was where the H-1 was built and was used for a stage for the film Independence Day.

In the below descriptions, the building numbers are photo left to right. These photos were taken on 12-11-95 unless otherwise noted.

Building 1
Building 1, 12-21-95.
Building 1
Building 1, 12-21-95.
Building 1
Building 1.
Click for larger image.
Building 2
Building 2.
Building 2
Building 2.
Building 2
Building 2.
Building 2
Building 2.
Building 2
Building 2.
Building 2
Building 2.
Building 2
Building 2.
Buildings 2, 1, 3
Buildings 2, 1, 3.
Building 3
Building 3.
Click for larger image.
Building 3
Building 3.
Building 3
Building 3.
Buildings 3, 1
Buildings 3, 1.
Buildings 3, 1
Buildings 3, 1.
Buildings 3, 5
Buildings 5, 3.
Buildings 3, 6
Buildings 3, 6.
Building 5
Building 5.
Building 5
Building 5.
Buildings 5, 6, 15
Buildings 5, 6, 15.
Buildings 5, 6
Buildings 5, 6.
Buildings 5, 6
Buildings 5, 6.
Buildings 5, 6
Buildings 5, 6.
Building 6
Building 6.
Building 6
Building 6.
Building 6
Building 6.
Building 6
Building 6, 3-9-96.
Click for larger image.
Buildings 6, 3, 1
Buildings 6, 3, 1.
Buildings 6, 5, 3
Buildings 6, 5, 3.
Buildings 6, 5
Buildings 6, 5.
Click for larger image.
Buildings 6, 5
Buildings 6, 5.
Building 10
Building 10.
Building 10
Building 10.
Building 10
Building 10.
Building 10
Building 10.
Building 10
Building 10, 3-9-96.
Buildings 10, 17
Buildings 10, 17.
Building 12
Building 12.
Building 12
Building 12.
Building 12
Building 12.
Building 12
Building 12.
Click for larger image.
Building 12
Building 12.
Buildings 12, 14
Buildings 12, 14.
Buildings 12, 14, 15
Buildings 12, 14, 15.
Buildings 12, 15
Buildings 12, 15.
Buildings 12, 15, 20
Buildings 12, 15, 20.
Buildings 12, 15, 34
Buildings 12, 15, 34.
Buildings 14, 12
Buildings 14, 12.
Buildings 14, 12
Buildings 14, 12.
Building 15
Building 15.
Buildings 15, 5
Buildings 15, 5.
Buildings 15, 14, 12
Buildings 15, 14, 12.
Buildings 15, 14, 12
Buildings 15, 14, 12.
Buildings 15, 16
Buildings 15, 16.
Buildings 15, 20, 21, 34
Buildings 15, 20, 21, 34.
Buildings 15, 16
Buildings 15, 16.
Buildings 15, 16-17
Buildings 15, 16, 17 (roof), 3-9-96.
Buildings 15, 6
Buildings 15, 6, 3-9-96.
Buildings 15, 6
Buildings 15, 6, 17 (roof) 3-9-96.
Buildings 16, 15
Buildings 16, 15.
Buildings 16, 15
Buildings 16, 15.
Building 17
Building 17.
Building 17
Building 17.
Building 17
Building 17 roof, 3-9-96.
Building 17
Building 17 roof, 3-9-96.
This was the model shop for the film Independence Day.
Building 17
Building 17 interior, 12-15-95.
Building 17
Building 17 interior, 12-15-95.
Building 17
Building 17 interior, 12-15-95.
Building 17
Building 17 interior, 12-15-95.
Building 17
Building 17 interior, 12-15-95.
Building 17
Building 17 interior, 12-15-95.
Buildings 17, 19, 45, 21, 34, 15, 16
Buildings 17 (roof), 19, 45, 21, 34, 15, 16. Looking west from Building 17 roof. 3-9-96.
Building 19
Building 19. Looking west from Building 17 roof. 3-9-96.
Building 18
Building 18, fire station.
Building 20
Building 20.
Building 20
Building 20.
Buildings 20, 12
Buildings 20, 12.
Buildings 20, 14, 15
Buildings 20, 14, 15.
Buildings 20, 15, 34, 21
Buildings 20, 15, 34, 21.
Building 21, 20
Building 21, 20.
Building 33
Building 33.
Buildings 34, 15
Buildings 34, 15.
Buildings 34, 15
Buildings 34, 15.
Buildings 34, 21, 45, 20
Buildings 34, 21, 45, 20.
Buildings 34, 21, 45, 20
Buildings 34, 21, 45, 20.
Buildings 34, 21
Buildings 34, 21.
Gate 7
Gate 7.
East of the Hangar
East of Building 45, the Hangar.
West of the Hangar
West of Building 45, the Hangar.
Building 45
Building 45, the Hangar.
Click for larger image.
Building 45
Building 45, the Hangar.
Building 45
Building 45, the Hangar, 12-21-95.
Click for larger image.
Building 45
Building 45, the Hangar, 12-21-95.
West
Western area, 12-14-95.
Building 45
Building 45, the Hangar, 12-21-95.
Western Area
Western area, 12-21-01.
Western Area
Western area, 12-21-01.
Western Area
Western area, 12-21-01.
Click for larger image.
Western Area
Western area, 12-21-01.
Western Area
Western area, 12-14-95.
West of Building 45
West of Building 45, 12-21-95.
North of Building 45
North of Building 45, the Hangar, 12-13-95.
South of Building 34
South of Building 34.
South of Building 34
South of Building 34.
Eastern End
Eastern End, 12-14-95.
Eastern End
Eastern End, 12-14-95.
Click for larger image.
Eastern End
Eastern End, 12-14-95.
Building 45
Building 45, the Hangar, on the Day of the DreamWorks press conference, 12-13-95.
Dream Works stairs
Dream Works stairs, 12-14-95
These stairs were built for the use of dignitaries to the big press conference to announce the new DreamWorks Studios. In a cruel twist of fate, it rained the night before and the stairs were inaccessible.
Dream Works stairs
Dream Works stairs, 12-11-95
Dream Works stairs
Dream Works stairs, 12-13-95
Dream Works stairs
Dream Works stairs, 12-21-95.
Dream Works stairs
Dream Works stairs, 12-21-95

Site Plan
Map as the site was in 1995. It shows special parking restrictions for the big press conference for DreamWorks Studios (which was never built).
Click for larger image.


The Playa Vista site is now undergoing development. Many of the original buildings are historical monuments and are being preserved. Many of the buildings are now gone. Below are photos of the site taken on June 8, 2002.

Building 1
Building 1.
Building 1 and 3
Building 1 and 3.
Click for larger image.
Building 3
Building 3.
Building 10 and 15
Building 10 and 15.
Building 10, 15, and 3
Building 10, 15, and 3.
Click for larger image.
Building 10, 15, and 3
Building 10, 15, and 3.
Building 10
Building 10.
Building 15 and 16
Building 15 and 16.
Click for larger image.
Building 15, 16, and 17
Building 15, 16, and 17.
Building 15, 16, and 17
Building 15, 16, and 17.
Building 15
Building 15, interior.
Click for larger image.
Building 15
Building 15, interior.
Click for larger image.
Building 17 and Fire Station
Building 17 and fire station.
Building 21
Building 21.
Building 45 and 21
Building 45 and 21.
Building 45 and 21
Building 45 and 21.

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This page last updated: Sunday, 07-Jul-2013 02:55:40 EDT

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