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Could the Boeing 747 have been used as an aircraft carrier?

written by australianaviation.com.au | February 18, 2019

The rollout of the first Boeing 747 at Everett. (Boeing)
The rollout of the first Boeing 747 at Everett. (Boeing)

The Boeing 747, which celebrates its 50th year in the air this year, has had multiple incarnations.

Boeing historian Mike Lombardi, in a detailed interview with Australian Aviation (don’t miss the March edition of the magazine, print and digital – ed) said it was the most studied airframe of any in Boeing history.

If you reflect for a minute, there have been some seemingly sensible iterations that did not quite meet the expectation of a return on investment.

Think, for example, the ambition by Pan American to have a piano as a feature of the first class upper deck, the Captain Cook lounge on some of the early Qantas 747s or, more seriously in terms of performance, the ultra-long-range 747-SP.

Then there have been other, obvious variants such as the piggyback space shuttle 747 ferrying the landing vehicle back to the launch site in Florida, or the extraordinary YAL-1A airborne laser testbed.

Rare beast: the YAL-1A airborne laser testbed , a modified 747-400F. It last saw service in 2014. (Australian Aviation archive)
Rare beast: the YAL-1A airborne laser testbed , a modified 747-400F. It last saw service in 2014. (Australian Aviation archive)
The Shuttle Carrier Aircraft transporting space shuttle Discovery departs Kennedy Space Center. (NASA)


That’s just the half of it, as this video shows:

VIDEO: A look at the United States Air Force 747 aircraft carrier concept from the Mustard YouTube channel.

What variants would you have wanted to see in the 747? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Comments (7)

  • Adrian P


    Australia has a large land and maritime area to defend.
    How about an A380 with drones based in every state capital.

  • Serdar Yűksel


    There was no need to get rid of the 747 400.
    It wasnt that expensive to build and fly.
    It was just the right size.
    The governments around the world are opting for smaller airline jets just for more profit and greed not because there are less people travelling.
    I honestly feel sorry for the next generation of people flying in those small airline jets whilst crossing large distances.
    I was fortunate enough to have travelled in those large airline jets from 1987 till 2011.

    • JC


      I agree!!

  • Jack


    I would have LOVED to see a RAAF or USAF 747 Aircraft Carrier! I love the GEnx 747 Test bed! That testing platform is awesome!

    I’m really sad that the Airbus A380 and Boeing 747 are coming to an end! I love all Jumbos! I thought jumbos would be the era for 2018… Seems like the airlines like smaller aircraft that they can fill effectively. It looks as though they don’t seem to care if they don’t have a beautiful first class residents or a lounge and bar!! I think the airlines now aren’t thinking about comfort and are just cramming as many people into the aircraft as they can! But hey, I love new efficient aircraft with brand new types of engines and the thrill of flying! I just wish that the Jumbos will stay around FOREVER!!

  • Ron Naylor


    With the demise of the A380 there is still a chance the B747-8 will continue on both as a freighter and hopefully passenger aircraft.

  • Roger Cook


    Still the best aircraft flying. Just done Sydney – Santiago on QF27/28 and even in economy its a reasonable trip on what feels such a solid and safe aircraft. I’d rather have 4 engines than 2 and ever increasing ETOPS time. Would hate to do it in the back of a 787 or 10 seats across 777. SAVE the 747!



    It would be good if they made a plane big enough to launch a boat into the water 😀

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