Unique and at the same time insane Soviet project of a mixture of a ship and an aircraft.
Ekranoplan - a proud bird
An ekranoplan is a high-speed transport capable of flying within the aerodynamic screen, that is, at relatively low altitudes. Having the same weight and speed as the aircraft, the wing size of the ekranoplan is much smaller. In international classifiers, such a vehicle is classified as a sea vessel.
Ekranoplanes can take routes that are not accessible to conventional ships. Possessing hydro-aerodynamic characteristics and seaworthiness, this type of transport belongs to the so-called amphibians - all-terrain vehicles. They can either move through the air above land, water, snow, ice, or stay on their surface.
Thus, ekranoplanes have the qualities of a sea vessel and an aircraft. Some models that can stay in the air for a long time are called ekranolets.
Some of their undeniable advantages include:
The creation of Soviet ecoplanes is associated with the name of Rostislav Alekseev - a shipbuilder, chief designer of hydrofoils. The engineer began to design ekranoplanes in 1961. Alekseev set his goal to create the so-called ekranolet in order to use this technique at an altitude of 8,000 meters. For this, a trial model of transport was created - KM ("Ship-model"). The experimental prototype had a length of about 100 meters, a wingspan of 38 meters, a take-off weight of 544 tons.
In the 70s, Alekseev began to fulfill the state order for the creation of a military ekranoplan. The result of the work was the world's first small landing ekranoplan MDE-160 - "Orlyonok" . The created military vehicle had a displacement of 122 tons, developed a speed of up to 216 knots and accommodated 200 soldiers or about 30 tons of cargo. The main purpose of the Orlyonok was the transfer of amphibious assault forces over distances of up to 1,500 km with the possibility of taking off at high waves. The placement of people and cargo was carried out through the bow of the aerospace vehicle.
Aircraft Carrier Hunter
In 1983, the project of the first heavy ekranoplan-rocket carrier was launched, which ended by 1986 with the creation of the "Lunya" - a giant military vehicle for delivering missile strikes against enemy ships. In fact, this beast could approach aircraft carriers with great speed and fire missiles, while remaining out of reach.
Equipped with 6 rocket launchers, the Lun ekranoplan had the ability to strike from a distance of more than 100 kilometers, while flying over the water surface up to 2,000 km, it remained invisible to radars. The wingspan of this giant reached 44 meters, inside which there were 4 fuel compartments for eight NK-87 engines. The length of the missile-carrying ekranoplan was 73 meters, and the height was about 19 meters, which is comparable to a small high-rise building.
Currently, ekranoplans are not widespread, although their unique characteristics may well contribute to their new development. The ability to cover vast distances on water, ice or snow can be useful when exploring difficult terrain.
The Topic of Article: Ekranoplanes: What is it all about?.