|Ekranoplan ....translated literally from
Russian means' Sea skimmer'
Ekranoplans are also known as a Ground Effect Vehicles, operating on the principle of wing in ground effect, where the air gap between a wing and the ground is small enough for the air to be compressed.
Why are Ekranoplans called high speed vessels rather than low altitude aircraft ? ( and thereby allow their inclusion here at ModelWarships.com!)
Ekranoplans were first proposed, designed and built by shipbuilders as a new type of aircraft conceived to move swiftly across a reasonably even surface (water, snow, ice, desert)
The main advantage of Ground Effect Vehicles is they can carry very heavy payloads economically at fast speeds. This is one of the reasons the former Soviet Union invested in their development as they were seen to be of military benefit, with the added bonus of flying low just above the water they could keep below enemy radar.
The largest Ekranoplan could transport over 100 tons of cargo and would
use less fuel to cover the same distance oas an aeroplane at the same speed.
|I hereby present two models of Ekranoplans, the giant
KM and the smaller, faster LUN.
In 1958 R. Alexeyev headed work on creating Ekranoplan practical prototypes for the Soviet Navy, by 1960 the first aero-hydrodynamic configuration of Ekranoplan (double point or tandem) had been made a practical proposition. Thereafter design and development was very rapid. By 1967 the largest Ekranoplan ever was built , the giant KM, dubbed the Caspian Sea Monster after the sea it was on when first seen by Western Intelligence.
| It was almost twice (!) the length of a Boeing
777-200 but as with all Ground Effect Craft it need only half the wingspan.
At over 100 m( 340 ft) long, weighing 540 tons fully loaded, the KM could
travel over 400 km/h ( 250 mph) up to 5 meters ( approx. 16
feet) above the water surface . It then remained in service
until it crashed on attempted take-off in 1980.
|The model of the Lun shows her as in her mid 1980's
with six 3M80 Anti shipping missiles on the fuselage top
She was smaller than the giant KM at 240' loa but had a much higher cruising speed of well over 340 mph. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and consequent ending of the Cold War the military aspects of Ekranoplans diminished. The Lun was last seen half sunk in the water at Kaspiisk Naval Air Base.
Both models were acquired off e-bay , these were factory finished display pieces of a high standard, manufactured by Tarka models, alas their range of 1/700 ships and aircraft appears now no longer in production. I merely filled all seams with white glue, sharpened up some edges with a knife blade, drilled windows (portholes?) before treating them to a partial re-paint. They were mounted on my usual 'sea' base of Artist's watercolor paper with some carefully teased out cotton wool which had the 'hairs' cut off with very fine sharp scissors
|Hopefully this excursion into an altogether different form
of model shipping(?) has been of interest!
11 small 5 passenger craft were constructed between 1995 and 1997, they were used in trial commercial operations in USA and the Bahamas.
Revell have a 1/144 model of the turbo-prop Orlyonok A90 in current manufacture. Unfortunately it is the to my eyes far less spectacular looking than the two monsters here!