The Lun-Class ekranoplan, which could swiftly and efficiently transport very heavy loads over water, was an engineering marvel of its time. Ekranoplans are ground-effect vehicles (GEVs) that are propelled upward into the air as they move quickly by the downward force of compressed air under their wings. They never, however, leave this ground illusion to take flight like real airplanes. Worldwide, there have been numerous but unsuccessful attempts to create workable ekranoplans.
If the barriers to making ekranoplans practical are removed, there are several benefits to them. Ekranoplans are able to transport massive loads through water swiftly, but since they are so ᴄʟᴏsᴇ to the surface, they are vulnerable to dangers like strong waves. The Soviets constructed the Lun-class ekranoplan in the 1980s, which was the largest and most ambitious at the time.
The Soviet Navy created and tested the Lun-class ekranoplan (also known as Project 903) in the Caspian Sea. Only one of the two that were intended to be constructed was actually finished. In that it gave the Soviets important expertise and experience in constructing ground-effect vehicles, it was effective.
The Soviets were able to create the A-90 Orlyonok, a smaller but more useful prototype, by using the knowledge and lessons they had gained from the earlier model. 120 of these ekranoplans were originally intended by the Soviet Navy, but only 4 were actually constructed because of the fall of the USSR.
The Lun-class ekranoplan was created to move soldiers and military hardware across the water very swiftly. It had a carrying capacity of about 100 tonnes. The Lun-Class ekranoplan, when used as a cargo ship, was capable of swiftly transporting tons of freight across the water’s surface.
The Lun-class ekranoplan was also intended to serve as a launcher for anti-ship missiles. This had a lot of benefits. It could approach enemy ships at the speed of an airplane while avoiding detection and staying beneath the horizon as an anti-ship missile platform.
It was created to transport the P-270 Moskit (Mosquito) guided missile from the Soviet Union. Additionally, it had six missile launchers installed on the dorsal fuselage in a very noticeable manner.
Although the blueprints for a sister ship in the Lun Class were started, they were never finished. The sister ship of the first vessel was intended to be a rescue vessel while the first vessel served as a transport and missile platform. The intended name was “Spasatel,” which is Rᴜssɪᴀn for “Rescuer.” As of 2020, the incomplete Spasatel is still being housed in a former industrial site near Nizhny Novgorod. It has been there ever since the 1991 USSR collapse when it was canceled due to financial constraints. There have been reports of the Rᴜssɪᴀns possibly finishing the Spasatel and putting it into service ever since 2017.
American spy planes captured images of the earlier KM ekranoplan in the 1960s, but they were unable to identify it. They, therefore, gave it the name “Caspian Sea Monster.” The KM ekranoplan was the world’s biggest and heaviest airplane from 1966 to 1988.
The Luc class ekranoplan was finally towed from the Kapiysk naval facility where it had been rotting for years and displayed after decades of languishing in obscurity. It was towed to Derbent in Rᴜssɪᴀ’s Dagestan province in 2020 and displayed there in Patriot Park. It was transported 60 miles across the Caspian Sea on floating pontoons by three tugboats and two escorting ships.
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Video resource: Extreme World