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I will present my reflection based on the Airbus A300-600ST Beluga and I suppose the reflection is the same with the Boeing B747LCF Dreamlifter:

The A300-600ST was built because its predecessor (the B377SGT Supper Guppy) was not large enough to transport future aircraft's large pieces. Those pieces are too large to be transported by train or by road.

But the A300-600ST's pieces must have been transported to build the aircraft. Some of the A300-600ST's pieces must be larger than the pieces this aircraft is designed to transport. So I'm puzzled because I cannot figure out how large pieces of this heavy transporter were transported to its assembly site. The same reflection goes with the B747LCF.

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    $\begingroup$ The reason to have the Beluga and the Dreamlifter is to bring sub-assemblies to the final assembly line. But if all sub-assemblies are built in one place there is no need to transport large components. I assume the Belugas were fully built and assembled in Toulouse. The LCF were built by Evergreen in Taiwan. The main sub-assembly came there on its own wings, the rest was manufactured on site. $\endgroup$ – DeltaLima Sep 24 '14 at 15:09
  • $\begingroup$ @DeltaLima OK for the LCF. But for the Beluga, as you can see in the responses, large pieces were built by CASA which wass located in Spain. You may assume it was fully built AND assembled in Toulouse, but I cannot find any evidence of this. $\endgroup$ – Manu H Sep 27 '14 at 7:59
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    $\begingroup$ Nothing is 'too large to be transported by train or by road'. The transport just becomes costly (lots of temporary changes along the route) and complicated to plan. $\endgroup$ – Hobbes Sep 20 '19 at 7:51
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The answer may be that parts were transported the same way A380 parts were transported

The A380’s size means its fuselage and wing sections are shipped via a surface transportation network that includes specially-commissioned roll-on roll-off ships to carry these sections from production sites in France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom to the French city of Bordeaux. From there, sections are transported by barge along the Garonne River to the Toulouse final assembly line.

From Airbus - TRANSPORT OF MAJOR AIRCRAFT SECTIONS

According to All about Guppys

The A300-600ST was built in Toulouse, France.

enter image description here

All the smaller pieces would have fitted into an existing transport aircraft.

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    $\begingroup$ I think the answer is more complicated: (i) "built in Toulouse" does not mean some part have been built elsewhere, transported to Toulouse and then assembled at Toulouse (I think of the parts from CASA and Aerostructures in your illustration); (ii) the A380's transportation network was built (in 2004) after the first A300-600ST assembly (1994). $\endgroup$ – Manu H Sep 24 '14 at 15:41
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    $\begingroup$ The A380 road transport network is not the only way to move outsize loads on road. For the A380 those transports are regular enough to warrant making changes to the roads. Non-regular outsize transports require more planning and ad-hoc changes (moving obstacles out of the way temporarily, then reinstalling the obstacle after the transport passes). This is done routinely for all kinds of outsize loads. $\endgroup$ – Hobbes Sep 20 '19 at 7:23
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    $\begingroup$ this video confirms road transport for Beluga XL: youtube.com/watch?v=f7lGT4S9QnA $\endgroup$ – Hobbes Sep 20 '19 at 7:43
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    $\begingroup$ @Hobbes now that routes have been adapted for the A380, it is quite easier to find a suitable road to transport large pieces over thousands of kilometers. At the A300-600ST time, such road didn't exist. $\endgroup$ – Manu H Sep 20 '19 at 8:59
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    $\begingroup$ You absolutely could transport large pieces via road to Toulouse in the 1970s, you just caused more disruption (road closures for a day or two, temporary removal of traffic signs, traffic lights, etc) than you would today. $\endgroup$ – Hobbes Sep 20 '19 at 10:27
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The A300-600ST aircraft were built new. The sections were built by companies within the consortium, and probably shipped similarly to other Airbus parts to the final assembly location.

The 747 LCF aircraft were not built new. The aircraft were acquired second hand from airlines, and sent to Taiwan for the modifications. The modified fuselage sections could have been shipped individually and assembled on site. Shipping options are similar to those of other large aerospace parts and include sea, rail, and air.

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  • $\begingroup$ The sea option used by the A380 to go convey large pieces to Toulouse was not available at that time (the part going from the see to Toulouse was built on 2004 as mentionned in other responses and comments), air transportation was problematic as exposed in the question and rail is more problematic as the A300-600ST is built pieces were too large for rail transportation. $\endgroup$ – Manu H Sep 25 '14 at 10:01
  • $\begingroup$ @ManuH: That's why we have really big trucks! $\endgroup$ – Sean Mar 9 '19 at 5:31

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