BIGGER than a jumbo jet and armed to the teeth with missiles, the Ekranoplan was built by the Soviet Union to conduct lightning strikes on ships.
Nicknamed the “Caspian Sea Monster,” the exotic eight-engine plane-boat hybrid was built as part of a top-secret project during the Cold War, but lies abandoned on a beach in Russia.
With its engines stacked in series on its wing, the Ekranoplan can claim to be one of the strangest machines ever built.
The fire-breathing beast was equipped with guided missiles fired from six launchers at ranges of up to 60 miles.
American spies were convinced that the Ekranoplan could also be used for mine laying, anti-submarine warfare, and search and rescue operations.
According to naval warfare expert HI Sutton, in the 1980s the Soviet Union planned to build eight to rival US Navy warships.
A three-ship formation could launch 18 missiles, each traveling at three times the speed of sound.
He describes the Ekranoplan as “impressively fast and heavily armed”, which was “a classic Cold War superweapon”.
The idea was that it would fly very quickly just above waves under radar, using what is known as “ground effect” – the aerodynamic interaction between the wings and the surface.
This impressive machine was able to take off and land even in stormy conditions with waves up to 8 feet.
It was 242 feet long and 63 feet high with a wingspan of 144 feet and it flew at about 340 miles per hour.
But it wasn’t able to fly higher than about 30 feet, and its use of ground effect meant it was technically classified as a ship, despite its appearance.
Work on the MD-160, known as Lun, the Russian word for Harrier, began in the 1970s and the one built entered service with the Soviet Navy in 1987.
It was based on the Caspian Sea, hence its nickname, and was crewed by a crew of 15, consisting of six officers and nine sailors.
The United States is concerned that this would bring a “new dimension to naval warfare”.
A second Lun, designed for rescue and supply missions, was nearly completed in the early 1990s.
But the entire program was canceled when the Soviet Union collapsed and the existing program was decommissioned.
Unfortunately, as of 2020, the magnificent monster languished in a dry dock at a Russian naval base for decades.
The Leviathan was intended to be the centerpiece of a tourist attraction at the Patriot Park military museum in the city of Derbent.
Transporting the 385-ton machine on the 60-mile sea voyage was no easy task.
En route the monster threatened to sink after suffering a leak and was cast ashore just short of Derbent.
Since then, the Soviet-era oddity has garnered a lot of attention from urban explorers and bloggers who visit the site.
It’s unclear when the museum will be able to accommodate the exotic machine, but many fans are hoping it can be preserved.
For HI Sutton, “It will be a tragedy for military history when this unique ship is torn to pieces by the forces of nature.”
https://www.the-sun.com/news/6793582/abandoned-soviet-sea-monster/ Abandoned top secret Soviet “Sea Monster” megaplane, larger than a Boeing 747, with 8 massive jet engines that have been dumped on land