10 of the Largest Military Airplanes in History


We’ve flipped through the pages of aviation history to bring you ten of the biggest, heaviest, weirdest and most astounding aircraft ever built.

Antonov An-225 Mriya


With an overall length of 84 metres and a maximum takeoff weight of 640 tonnes, the An-225 is officially the longest and heaviest aircraft ever built. The An-225 was originally designed by the Antonov Design Bureau as a transport for the Buran spaceplane, but after the end of the Buran program, the An-225 became a commercial cargo aircraft.

In 2009, the An-225 set the record for the heaviest single item sent via air freight. The item was a generator for an Armenian gas power plant, and it weighed in at 189 tonnes.

Messerschmitt Me 323 Gigant

Flugzeug Me 323 Gigant

This WWII German Transport really lived up to its name. Originally designed as a transport glider, the airframe was later fitted with six radial engines, allowing it to airlift an 88mm gun and its half-track or a Panzer IV.

The Gigant was used extensively during Rommel’s campaigns in Africa, but the slow moving aircraft suffered heavy losses at the hands of allied fighters.

Tupolev ANT-20


Conceived by the Soviets in the early 1930s as a “Voice in the Sky” from which to broadcast Stalinist propaganda. The first completed model, named after the Soviet writer Maxim Gorky, carried a radio station, printing press, library, and a film projector with sound.

The first plane crashed during a demonstration flight killing 45.



The XC-99 was the largest piston engine land based aircraft ever built. Powered by six engines in the pusher configuration, this aircraft was known for heavy lifting and for turning heads wherever she travelled. Although only one aircraft was ever built, it had a prolific career hauling heavy cargo loads throughout the Korean War.

The airframe currently resides in Tucson, Arizona, where it awaits restoration for museum display.

Linke-Hoffman R.II


One of the most unique aircraft on this list, the R.II was little more than an a standard biplane blown up to three times its original size. With four engines powering a 6.9-metre tall propeller, the largest propeller ever mounted on an aircraft, the R.II was the largest single prop airplane ever to fly.

Developed by the Germans for WWI the airplane was not ready for flight until after the war had ended.

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