This Boeing 747 Is The World's Biggest Firefighting Beast

(Photo credit: Global SuperTanker)
(Photo credit: Global SuperTanker)

The Boeing 747-400 Global SuperTanker can put out fires just about anywhere, carrying 19,200 gallons of fire suppressant at close to 600 MPH. It’s a heroic beast to behold, and now you can climb all over the entire thing with this complete and controllable virtual walkthrough.


The massive retardant tanks can carry water, gel, or foam depending on the situation. And of course, the budget of whoever’s being rescued. Chemical fire extinguishing agents are a lot more expensive than water, and I’m sure the bill adds up real fast when you’re talking about close to 20,000 gallons.

This Global SuperTanker, AKA “The Spirit Of John Muir,” is a privately-owned rescue tool based in Colorado. Practically speaking that means it can be deployed just about anywhere around the country, or even the world.

With 14 first-class seats and two bunks on board, the SuperTanker is long-haul capable. The operators claim “almost anywhere in the U.S. in approximately 2.5 hours... almost anywhere in the world in 20 hours,” which is its main value proposition over other firefighting tools: extreme speed.

Once called into action, the SuperTanker can make one massive drop of its fire-retardant fluid or eight individual attacks to pinpoint smaller fires.

A vehicle like this is ideal for large wildfire scenarios, where you have a large blaze in a remote area. The SuperTanker would also be helpful to have in a marine fire situation, where you’ve got a burning ship or oil rig. The operator’s website also mentions “reseeding” as a mission, in case you need to plant a field or... forest.


Now that you’re stoked on firefighting airplanes, here’s the SuperTanker sales pitch:


And here’s a better idea of what it looks like in action:


After being painted with hundreds of gallons of color a few months ago, The Spirit of John Muir is currently standing ready for duty in Colorado Springs.

Jalopnik Staffer from 2013 to 2020, now Editor-In-Chief at Car Bibles


Dusty Ventures

Not sure if it’s mentioned in any of the videos (not in a place where I can watch them), but I’m curious what it takes to reload and what it’s turnaround time is. I saw the Martin Mars (the world’s largest firefighting seaplane) do two water drops in ten minutes at Oshkosh, because it can just touch down on a lake and scoop up another load. Not an option with that 747.