The largest one I'm aware of is the Il-62, with a whopping 4 turbofans at its tail. Max takeoff weight is 165 tons.

I actually don't care how many engines there are, as long as all are at the tail. I don't care what kind either, turbofans, turbojets, anything. Don't care if it's military or civilian.

Edit: Airbreathing engines only. The space shuttle and buran don't go above 109 tons anyway, but the criteria here is max takeoff weight and those rockets "take off" far too differently than airplanes.

I googled this of course, but predictably these kinds of "what's the biggest" questions with specific conditions attached are not well-known. I'm hoping someone will know of an example bigger than 165 tons.

The reason I ask is because I'm curious just how much engine weight can be put at the tail and still have a conventionally-shaped aircraft. I'm a little surprised at the Il-62, actually. Sooner or later, to keep the center of mass ahead of the center of drag, the wings have to move more and more back until suddenly you have a canard config where the wings almost operate like a delta where the ailerons are also elevons and maybe even flaps.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Well... Not quite an aircraft (it's ekranoplan) and not quite having its engines at the tail (its engine are at the nose), but this is too good to not mention: the Lun class ekranoplan - 8 turbojets, all in the very front. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lun-class_ekranoplan $\endgroup$
    – DeepSpace
    Commented Aug 27, 2017 at 7:49
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    $\begingroup$ How about the Saturn V? That certainly had all the engines in the tail... Failing that, the Space Shuttle is at least more aircrafty. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 27, 2017 at 11:33
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    $\begingroup$ There was a Buran test bed with 4 jet engines in the tail (OK-GLI, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OK-GLI), but MTOW in that configuration is below 100 tons. $\endgroup$
    – Hobbes
    Commented Aug 27, 2017 at 14:58
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    $\begingroup$ @HephaestusAetnaean Darn, so much for my memory. Wikipedia says the shuttle's max takeoff weight is 109 tons. Astronautix.com says Buran's gross mass is 105 tons. Pretty hefty stuff. $\endgroup$
    – DrZ214
    Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 20:26
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    $\begingroup$ I was thinking B-2 spirit but upon closer inspection the engines are mid wing, not at the rear. MTOW is 188 tons. $\endgroup$
    – Owen
    Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 5:31

2 Answers 2


I think you've got it. Surprising to see how much larger it was than the VC.10.

There was a planned development of the VC-10 that used the VC-10 wing and tailplanes with a new double-deck fuselage. This VC-10 Superb (DB.265) had a planned MTOW of 174 tons.

  • $\begingroup$ Not that much larger (165 tonnes, versus 151.9 for the VC10-1101). $\endgroup$
    – Vikki
    Commented Aug 15, 2018 at 23:23

The B-1B has its engines behind the wing (at least in "wing-forward" configuration,) and a MTOW of 477,000 pounds, according to Boeing.

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    $\begingroup$ If B-1B counts, then the heavier Tu-160 would count too (275 tons/606,000 lb). But not really, they both have 'under wing' sort of configuration. $\endgroup$
    – Zeus
    Commented Sep 21, 2018 at 1:02

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