17 of the Biggest Military Planes in History

We all know that the military needs planes. But do you know what the biggest planes are? Since World War 2, the world has needed these super-sized planes to transport supplies and soldiers across the world. Here are some of the biggest that have ever been made for the military.

Convair B-36 Peacemaker

Convair B-36 Peacemaker
By U.S. Air Force photo [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

This huge aircraft was built for the US Airforce. This strategic bomber was able to carry nuclear weapons anywhere in the world. It was developed to help protect Britain from Nazi invasion. It was later used in World War II to attack Japan from Hawaii. It is the biggest mass-produced piston-engined plane ever built.

Airbus A400M Atlas

By MilborneOne (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

This air carrier was introduced in 2013 and is used by many different air forces. So far only 11 have been built. As more are built, they will be replacing older air carriers across the world. They have suffered some accidents including one during a test flight in May 2015.

Antonov An-22

By Oleg Belyakov [CC BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL 1.2], via Wikimedia Commons

This air carrier was built for the Soviet Union in 1967. It is still in active service and is the largest turboprop plane in the world. It has a distinct H-shaped tail fin and has been used for major operations. They have been regularly used to bring supplies to disaster areas.

Lockheed C-5 Galaxy


By U.S. Air Force photo by Brett Snow [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons 

This large cargo plane has a unique feature, it opens at the nose. It has been used by the US Air Force since 1970 and is still in use today. It can carry oversized loads across the world and is recognized by its T-shaped tail fin.

Boeing C-17 Globemaster III


By Staff Sgt. Jacob N. Bailey, U.S. Air Force [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

This is one of the largest US Air Force planes which is still in service. It is used for transporting troops, equipment and supplies. They are used by the Royal Air Force, the Indian Air Force and the Australian Air Force. The last one was built in 2015.

Blohm and Voss BV 238


Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-667-7142-24 / Hoffmann / CC-BY-SA 3.0 [CC BY-SA 3.0 de], via Wikimedia Commons

This German flying boat was built for the Second World War and there was only one built. It was believed that Hitler had planned to use this plane to escape Germany if the Allies won the War. It was destroyed during a bombing by the Allies.

Tupolev Tu-160


By Vitaly V. Kuzmin [CC BY-SA 4.0 or CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

This is a Russian supersonic strategic bomber and missile carrier. It has been in use since 1987 and is still used today. It can reach speeds of Mach 2.05 and can carry nuclear missiles for combat. It is believed there are still around 16 planes in active service.

Ilyushin Il-76


By Vitaly V. Kuzmin (commons file) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

This plane was designed as an air carrier to help take supplies to parts of the USSR that were cut off from normal supply routes. Its design makes it useful for evacuating people from disaster areas. It can even fly in harsh conditions including snow storms.

Martin JRM Mars


By USN (from en:Wikipedia uploader en:User:Lommer) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

This cargo sea bomber was built for the US Navy for use in the Second World War. This flying boat was first flown on 23 June 1942. There were only 7 ever built and there is one that is still in service to train people to fight forest fires.

Antonov An-225 Mriya


By Alex Beltyukov [CC BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL 1.2], via Wikimedia Commons

This Russian air carrier is the biggest aeroplane ever built. It’s so big, it can carry a Buran Space Shuttle on top of it. This plane was designed as part of the Russian Space Programme during the 1970’s and only one was made. In 2010 it broke the record for heaviest air payload.

Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules

via Wikicommons

This air carrier has been produced since the 1990’s and is still being built today. To date, there has been over 300 built. They are used by countries around the world and have helped transport supplies to Iraq in recent years. There have been some accidents due to faulty microchips.

Convair XC-99


By USAF [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

This was a prototype plane developed for the US Air Force. It had double cargo decks which could hold up to 400 troops. During its use in the late 1940’s and 1950’s it was used to transport cargo across the world. It was the only one of it’s kind.

Antonov An-124


By TseRonnie [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

This plane is used by the Russian Air Force and commercial companies for transport. There are around 40 still in service from the 55 that were built. It has two entry points, at the rear and the nose. The rear can be opened while flying to drop payloads.

Messerschmitt Me 323


Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-596-0367-05A / Menzendorf / CC-BY-SA 3.0 [CC BY-SA 3.0 de], via Wikimedia Commons

This giant plane was made for the German Military for transport in the Second World War. It was made for Operation Sea Lion when the Germans planned to invade Britain. There were 198 built and they were only used between 1942 and 1944.

Antonov An-12


By Patrick Mutzenberg [GFDL 1.2 or GFDL 1.2], via Wikimedia Commons

This air carrier was made for the Soviet Union during 1957 to 1973. There were around 1,200 built during this time. They are known for having a smokey engine during takeoff and being accident prone. Since 1957 there have been over 190 accidents with this plane.

Boeing B-29 Superfortress


See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

This probably one of the most famous types of aircraft in American war history. These massive planes were used during the atomic bomb tests in Hiroshima. It was advanced for it’s time with a pressurised cabin which allowed it to fly at high altitudes.

Boeing B-52 Stratofortress


By US Air Force http://www.af.mil/ [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

This was the replacement for the Boeing Superfortress. It was first used in 1955 and is still in active service. It is a subsonic, long range, strategic bomber used by the US Air Force during the Cold War. The Air Force nicknamed these planes BUFF instead of calling them Stratofortress.

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