back to article The beast is back: Reborn ekranoplan heads for the Arctic

Russia has posted pictures of a new ground effect vehicle, or ekranoplan. The new design is more modest than the "Caspian Sea Monster" that so alarmed Western intelligence during the Cold War, and can only be seen taxiing. Ground effect vehicles were pioneered by Russian engineers, and take advantage of the increased lift …

  1. kmac499

    WIG fills a gap

    WIG craft have the potential to fill a gap in the transport network, particularly inter-island transport.

    Enabling Day trips from say Florida to Cuba where a ferry boat would take too long and a plane would be too expensive.

    Alternative Blended Body designs offer great passenger space, and like Hovercraft bigger tends to be more efficient. They are also good candidates for hybrid power systems. Gasoline engines for takeoff and up to speed and then electric for the cruise phase.

  2. lglethal Silver badge
    Go

    I wonder if the militarised versions ever fired there weapons?

    I'm curious what sort of effect that would have, since firing a Missile (or even the cannon) has an effect, due to the recoil. In a normal aircraft no Problems, but when your 3-6m off the ground, a half metre here or there makes ALL the difference in the world...

    Oh well Erkranoplane's - A great engineering Solution, now find me the damn Problem! ;)

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: I wonder if the militarised versions ever fired there weapons?

      Missiles generally don't have much of a recoil effect, (which is why a person can fire a bazooka without flying backwards).

      There's pictures of a Lun class ekranoplan firing it's (bloody massive) anti-ship missiles, so clearly it wasn't a problem then.

      1. The First Dave Silver badge

        Re: I wonder if the militarised versions ever fired there weapons?

        Actually, a tube-bound weapon along the lines of a bazooka will pull you forwards, due to the friction on the tube, but a typical fighter plane will drop its missile a moment _before_ the missile fires.

    2. Swiss Anton
      Joke

      Re: I wonder if the militarised versions ever fired there weapons?

      My understanding is that the weapon of choice is a 500llb laser guided bomb.

  3. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Coat

    Did anyone hear the name "Caspian Sea Monster" and think.

    Great name for a porn actor?

    I also move in "ground effect" mode.

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Re: Did anyone hear the name "Caspian Sea Monster" and think.

      Nope.

      Instead I got excited about the well know 10 engined KM

      1. yoganmahew

        Re: Did anyone ...

        think this was a day early?

  4. Your alien overlord - fear me

    I wonder if the old Top Gear specials were ever shown in Russia? Their Arctic special showed that the terrain is especially bumpy and not at all flat or suitable for ekanoplans.

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Should be flat enough if you ride some 5 m above it... however, I recall Hovercraft rides in the 1970ies between Ramsgate and Calais. Pretty fast, so a good option for day trips, but I wouldn't call them comfortable. Very loud, and very bumpy when the waves hit the rubber skirt.

      BTW, Dornier also had a few prototypes in the 1970ies / 1980ies for smallish ground effect craft flitting around on Lake Constance, but the project never really took off.

      1. tmTM
        Coat

        the project never really took off.

        badum tish

  5. Mike Richards

    Going round corners

    How do you steer one of these beasts? I assume banking is out because you'll put your wingtip into the ocean, so do you change the thrust on some of the engines?

    And if we can have these back, why not spring for the Gyrodyne?

    1. Stevie Silver badge

      Re: Going round corners

      Rudder. All aircraft have them.

    2. Spanners Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Going round corners

      They only have short stubby wings so banking would be fine until you overbalanced because of the very large tail fin.

      Hovercraft aren't much good at tight cornering either. These may be the same.

      I was in uniform (evenings and weekends anyway) when those things were part of the threat. I can imagine 20 year old me looking at one of those things heading towards me while I wondered WTF use this rifle was against it!

    3. Mine's a Large One

      Re: Going round corners

      They're banked in the same way as aircraft, but only up to about 15 degrees.

  6. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

    Hmm..

    ekranoplans were designed to operate optimally 3-6m above sea level.

    And non-optimally in 10-20m waves? Seems to be a bit limiting in the real world..

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hmm..

      According to Wikipedia, the one that the Ruskies had operational had a service ceiling of 25,000 feet in normal aircraft mode

      You clearly could design one of these to be only ground effect, but as you point out, that'd be a touch restrictive. I'd assume that you get very limited range when not flying ground effect, but at least the option is there. And it must be sooooo cool in calm conditions, batting across the sea 350 mph at fifteen feet alititude.....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        service ceiling of 25,000 feet in normal aircraft mode

        So did those have pressurized cabins? It seems that one advantage of this type of craft might be the ability to dispense with the beefed up design and components required for pressurization.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: service ceiling of 25,000 feet in normal aircraft mode

          So did those have pressurized cabins?

          I don't know, but I doubt the single Lun class one was. It looks more like a ship with stubby wings than a jet airliner, and clearly wasn't built for high altitude cruising. I'd guess you'd manage up to 25,000 feet with oxygen masks, like WW2 aircraft did, although purely on the basis of appearance I'm not wholly convinced that the wings would generate sufficient lift to go much above 15,000 feet, particularly given the poor aerodynamics.

          The newer, smaller one looks like it could have a pressurised cabin more readily, but as you suggest, there doesn't seem much point in trying to combine ground effect and high altitude capabilities.

      2. Mine's a Large One

        Re: Hmm..

        No expert - just a lifelong aircraft enthusiast - but I doubt those wings would generate enough lift to get it to 250ft, never mind 25,000ft.

  7. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Messerschmidt ( edit: could have been Dornier) were developing one about the size of a Beechcraft Baron in the early 80s. It was featured on Tomorrow's World, had reverse delta wings and was supposed to be a replacment for expensive helicopters for North Sea oil rigs. Never thought it was feasible and never saw it operational.

    Russian Ekranoplans are apparently a very noisy, bumpy and expensive way to travel anyway. What they offer is speed. The rooskies used the Caspian Sea Monster as a high-speed personnel carrier.

    About as stealthy in use as Concorde taking off over your head, I'm led to believe.

    1. Denarius

      Re: Bah!

      also though Dutch had interest to use it as sea taxi in coastal regions. Had a max alitude of 1500 feet at full power.

      As for inventor of WIG vehicles, ITIRC Willi Mecherschmidt had prior art circa WW2. Found a reversed delta wing was most efficient and safer as centre of lift in ground effect did not move much, unlike a conventional wing. First aircraft that circumnavigated the planet used it to get range. Douglas seaplanes ?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There is already a consensus that the arctic will have trees

    There is already a consensus that the arctic will have trees very soon, the ice cap already melted in 2013 or is less than than ever before so this project will never get off the ground, at least not high enough off the ground.

    1. W4YBO

      Re: There is already a consensus that the arctic will have trees

      What are they going to grow in? Saltwater?

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: There is already a consensus that the arctic will have trees

      So rather than a Chinese trick to destroy American Industry (tm) - climate change is actually a cunning American trick to prevent Russian WIG aircraft invading Canada

    3. ridley
      Facepalm

      Re: There is already a consensus that the arctic will have trees

      I don't know who is contributing to this "consensus" but my advice is not to follow them too closely.

    4. Pompous Git Silver badge

      Re: There is already a consensus that the arctic will have trees

      "the ice cap already melted in 2013 or is less than than ever before"

      Arctic Ocean temperatures at various depths. Temperatures are actual and 13 month running mean. The only part of the profile showing increased temperatures are below 1200m. From 100m to 1,000m temperatures are declining and SST is steady.

      Global Marine Argo Atlas

  9. Daedalus Silver badge

    In case anybody cares

    The name on the side of the craft is "Orion".

  10. Daggerchild Silver badge
    Boffin

    Not alien enough!

    I glanced at that schematic and went "Oh wow, they're using a hydrofoil strut to push it above the surface as well as the ground effect to keep it above the surface. That might make it *massively* more efficient!"

    No, it was the tail. But now I have this horrible feeling that hybrid hydrofoil/ground effect might be a thing. Getting it out of the water surface at the start *is* the biggest problem...

    1. M7S
      Alien

      Re: Not alien enough!

      I beg to differ. Burt Rutan?

      Really?

      Sontar Ha!

  11. Tim Hines

    Skigull WIG?

    Are you sure the Skigull uses ground effect? With a high and narrow wing I wouldn't have thought it would be very, er, effective.

    1. Doctor Evil

      Re: Skigull WIG?

      Indeed. And to characterize it as a "lake hopper" is something of a misnomer. It's a lake hopper with a purported range of 4000 km! You can get to Hawaii from San Francisco with that kind of range.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Coat

        "It's a lake hopper with a purported range of 4000 km!"

        Well Americans do call the Atlantic, "The Pond."

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: "It's a lake hopper with a purported range of 4000 km!"

          Yes, some of us Yanks call it "the pond" ... but I heard the nickname more often when I lived in Blighty. I was always under the impression that it was a bit of Limey military slang that was picked up by us Yanks during "The Wars".

  12. Denarius
    Unhappy

    In the Antipodes

    many many years ago when Oz had industry, the was talk of using a big WIG as a freighter so the Japanese could get their live crayfish (lobsters to foreigners) faster. Never happened. 747 freighters existed.

    1. Jan 0

      Re: In the Antipodes

      If Australians call lobsters crayfish, what's their name for crayfish?

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: In the Antipodes

        They call 'em "Yabbies". As everywhere else, they are good eats. Recommended.

  13. Richard Cranium

    see one here:

    In a moscow museum http://www.mosparks.ru/museum/about/ekranoplan-orlenok/

    OR

    https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/55°51'05.8"N+37°27'21.5"E/@55.851615,37.4548467 switch to earth view, the one in the museum is "parked" on the Moscow Canal

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