Largest Planes in the World

The only working copy of the Antonov An-225 was destroyed in 2022. It could carry 190 tons of payload and had a max takeoff weight of 640 tons.

The Lockheed C-5M is largest regularly operating plane. Upgraded C-5s are designated C-5M Super Galaxy. The C-5s were given new General Electric F138-GE-100 (CF6-80C2) engines, pylons and auxiliary power units, and upgrades to aircraft skin and frame, landing gear, cockpit and pressurization systems. Each CF6 engine produces 22% more thrust (50,000 lbf or 220 kN), providing a 30% shorter takeoff, a 38% higher climb rate to initial altitude, an increased cargo load and a longer range.

The C5-M can transport 127 tons or 36 master pallets.

The Stratolaunch rocket carrier an carry an external payload of 250 tons.

5 thoughts on “Largest Planes in the World”

  1. Ah, the C5 Galaxy. One fine Saturday morning in Missouri, just after Hurricane Hugo, a cat 5, hit Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, I got a call that 11 of these big birds from Dover were being sent to me. Meanwhile, convoys of tractor trailers out of Kansas City would start arriving at my base, almost at the same time.

    463L pallets are made of aluminum with a balsa wood core to reduce weight, and they are expensive and can be damaged easily if proper dunnage is not employed under them. A lot of folks, when they get low on 4 by 4s, try to get away with using two under each pallet, rather than three, when marshalling them. Not a good idea.

    At any rate, almost no one back then had 396 463L pallets just laying around and it made for a pretty frantic day, but we sourced them (and the dunnage) and built the pallets for all those planes to take off on time with 396 pallets of . . . pork and beans.

    Apparently Uncle Sam keeps quite a supply of those tucked away for emergencies. I’ve always wondered if they all got eaten.

    • Whoops, it just seemed like that many pallets, these would have been just plain ole C5s back then so it was less (it’s been a few decades and then some). They still carried away all the pork and beans delivered by 22 tractor trailers.

      • Thanks for the article, made me smile. A C-5 full of Pork and Beans, aha. I got a ride on a C-5 Galaxy as a Marine in 1996. They had us wait on the Tarmac getting ready to board. Of course, the boarding process got interrupted for some reason and we stood out there for an hour as it poured. Having already loaded our packs onto the plane, we got soaked. Nobody thought to have the Marines go back and wait under the sheltered area. After getting seated in the backwards facing seats, they put the AC on, rather they blasted it. It was interesting because the Air Force had ‘stewardess’s’ that tried to make us comfortable. I suppose the thin blankets helped a bit. We dried off eventually. A memorable event in my life.

        • Never happened with any of my deployments! Course I never dealt with marine deployments until I was at Kunsan and Kadena, in Korea and Okinawa, respectively.

          Recall in Missouri when the big cargo planes came in for a special deployment, as installation mobility officer, I was frequently out there to meet them, sometimes even hopping into the planes before they came to a complete stop, so I could get up to the cockpit and give the pilots their materials.

          Being in the center of the country we saw an even split of east coast and west coast crews. When I got up to the cockpit, the east coast crews would be all business as they started shutting down the plane, just like in the movies: “Wing flaps, check, vertical stabilizers check, advanced parking thingamabob, check.”

          With the west coast crews it was more often: “Hey! We’re down! Woohoo! Hey! You want one?”

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