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.
At speed the Ekranoplan was no longer in contact with the water and its amphibious  qualities meant  it   could move over ice, snow, or level land with equal ease.

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.

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 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.

Being   1/700 scale they have taken display  place in my showcases where they cause much interest and controversy when viewed in the company of Dreadnoughts and cruisers by friends and visitors!!

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.

Further reading about  up-to date  Ekranoplan  developments can be found here:          www.Aquaglide.ru
A fascinating  complete overview of all Ekranoplan types to date can be found here    www.se-technology.com

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! 

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