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Why Aren’t We Building Things Like This Anymore? The Soviet Lun-Class Ekranoplan Ground Effect Vehicle…

“Ground-effect” craft are like airplanes, except they travel over the surface at a very low altitude — just a few meters — buoyed by a cushion of lift that exists up to a height roughly equal to the craft’s wingspan. In the late 1980s, the Soviet Union built a number of experimental ground-effect military vehicles.

Soviet Lun-Class Ekranoplan Ground Effect Vehicle MD-160 Project 903

The unusual craft featured here, the one-off MD-160 Lun-Class Ekranoplan (Project 903), was a 200-feet-long ground-effect missileer that carried six anti-ship missiles on its fuselage.  It was designed by Rostislav Evgenievich Alexeev and used by the Soviet and then Russian navies from 1987 to sometime in the late ’90s.  Dubbed the “Caspian Sea Monster” by the Central Intelligence Agency, the MD-160 is one of the largest aircraft ever built.  It was powered by eight Kuznetsov NK-87 turbojets, each delivering 127.4 kN (28,600 lbf) of thrust.

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The Project 903 MD-160 Soviet Lun-Class Ekranoplan Ground Effect Vehicle:

Soviet Lun-Class Ekranoplan Ground Effect Vehicle MD-160 Project 903

Soviet Lun-Class Ekranoplan Ground Effect Vehicle MD-160 Project 903

Soviet Lun-Class Ekranoplan Ground Effect Vehicle MD-160 Project 903

Soviet Lun-Class Ekranoplan Ground Effect Vehicle MD-160 Project 903

Soviet Lun-Class Ekranoplan Ground Effect Vehicle MD-160 Project 903

Soviet Lun-Class Ekranoplane

Soviet Lun-Class Ekranoplan Ground Effect Vehicle MD-160 Project 903

Soviet Lun-Class Ekranoplan Ground Effect Vehicle MD-160 Project 903

Soviet Lun-Class Ekranoplan Ground Effect Vehicle MD-160 Project 903

Soviet Lun-Class Ekranoplan Ground Effect Vehicle MD-160 Project 903

Soviet Lun-Class Ekranoplan Ground Effect Vehicle MD-160 Project 903

Soviet Lun-Class Ekranoplan Ground Effect Vehicle MD-160 Project 903

Soviet Lun-Class Ekranoplan Ground Effect Vehicle MD-160 Project 903

Soviet Lun-Class Ekranoplan Ground Effect Vehicle MD-160 Project 903

Soviet Lun-Class Ekranoplan Ground Effect Vehicle MD-160 Project 903

Soviet Lun-Class Ekranoplan Ground Effect Vehicle MD-160 Project 903

Soviet Lun-Class Ekranoplan Ground Effect Vehicle MD-160 Project 903

For more pictures click here

The Details:

Type: Ground effect vehicle transport
Displacement: Displacement n/a, weight 286 tonnes unloaded
Length: 73.8 m
Beam: (Wingspan) 44 m
Draught: (2.5m 8.2ft)
Propulsion: 8× Kuznetsov NK-87 turbojet engines, 127.4 kN (28,600 lbf) each
Speed: 297 knots (550 km/h)
Range: 1,000 nm (1,860 km)
Capacity: 1000 tons (2 million pounds)
Personnel: 6 officers, 9 enlisted men
Sensors and Processing Systems: Puluchas search radar
Armament: Six fixed-elevation SS-N-22 Sunburn anti-ship missile launchers
One 23 mm PI-23 Twin AA gun (2,400 rounds)
Armor: none
Notes: only one built

The Caspian Sea Monster in action:

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8 thoughts on “Why Aren’t We Building Things Like This Anymore? The Soviet Lun-Class Ekranoplan Ground Effect Vehicle…

  1. Wonderfully Russian design, a mixture of brutality and elegance like the Mil Mi-24. I bet this would have created a bit of a panic if it got near enough to a carrier group. Been thinking lately that the thing that makes the ekranoplan so dangerous (it’s indeterminate ship/aircraftv status) could also be exploited commercially. It would be ideal for carrying shipping containers that need fast delivery but not airplane fast. Just a thought. No chance of us building one though. As someone said, other people make stuff, we provide the bullshit. *sigh*

  2. Thanks for posting. I wonder where this is dry docked. What an adventure it would be to find and photograph this airship. The photos after the jump are pretty incredible.

    You have to think that large amounts of vodka were consumed thinking this contraption up. Probably after looking at photos of Howard Huges’ Spruce Goose.

    I agree that this would be a unique craft to build for domestic purposes – sending air freight, etc. Why not, come on who’s with me?

    Cheers,
    Todd

  3. Pingback: Fighter Planes / Aircraft - Page 10 - London Fixed-gear and Single-speed

    • Oh, I don’t doubt that it was fairly impractical. More, I lament the lack of humanity creating or doing great things simply for the sake of building them or doing them.

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