The Boeing 747 Supertanker: The World’S Largest Fire-Fighting Aircraft

To control fires of immeasurable proportions such as those that are devastating California these days requires exceptional means.

The biggest ever, spectacular star of these hours’ rescue missions, is the B747-400 Supertanker, a giant cargo plane transformed into a flying cistern.

The aircraft is owned by the Global Supertanker Service: it has been operational since 2015 and is the largest fire-fighting aircraft in the world.

Fight combined. In his belly are placed 8 tanks that can carry over 75,000 liters of fire fighting substances: water, but above all gels and retardant liquids or any mixture of these. A huge capacity compared to the 6,000 liters of water that can be transported by a conventional Canadair.

The Supertanker must fill up with fire-fighting liquids directly on the track – unlike the Canadairs that can be supplied at sea or in lakes. The supply lasts only 30 minutes and thanks to a cruising speed of almost 1,000 km/h, the Supertanker can reach every point in the United States in just over 2.5 hours, starting from its base in Colorado. And in 20 hours, he can be anywhere in the world.

Technological rain. The strength of the Supertanker is the possibility to pressurize liquids inside the tanks to spray them in the form of aerosols.

The size of the drips can be changed according to the density of the liquid: in this way the fire agent can be used on a very large surface – 3 km long by 100 metres wide – and without the damage that could cause a bucket of liquid of 75 tons.

(Here under a 3D Supertanker model: you can also explore it with a Cardboard visor)

He sowes from the sky. Thanks to this technology, Supertanker can also be used to spray with water, fertilizer and seed the areas affected by the fire, so as to speed up the reappearance of vegetation in the burned areas.

The costs of the design of the device are the reverse of the medal of this jewel of technology: the realization of the device has required investments for more than 50 million dollars while the rental costs 65,000 dollars per day. To these must be added another $16,000 per flight hour.

And then there are the dimensions, which however do not allow the use of this device in particularly impervious areas or in too narrow valleys.

12 PHOTOS Photogallery How does the Canadianir fire fighter work? GO TO THE GALLERY

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