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In the 1960s, the leader of the Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev bragged that his nation had ships that could jump right over bridges. His cryptic words confused Western leaders, but he was alluding to a secret project deep within the Soviet Union.
The Soviets were developing a new class of vehicle that could move as fast as an aircraft, but lift far more payload than a conventional airplane. These machines would fly metres from the surface using an aerodynamic principle called the ground effect. They were called Ekranoplan (roughly translating to mean for “screen plane” or “low flying plane”). Beginning with experiments in the early 1960s, and headed by a pioneering hydrofoil engineer Rostislav Alexeyev, the Soviets quickly developed a series of small-scale prototypes to refine the concept. In 1966 they completed the KM (Korabl Maket) Russian for “ship-prototype”. An enormous machine, larger and heavier than any aircraft in the world. The first large scale Ekranoplan could lift an astonishing 544,000 kg (1,199,315 lb) and reach speeds of over 600 km/h (373 mph).
The KM proved that the ground effect concept could be scaled up, but it also revealed series unresolved engineering issues as well as limits to Ekranoplan operational capabilities. Despite these setbacks, Alexeyev and his engineers continued their development efforts. However, by the time the KM was completed and ready for testing, the political climate in the Soviet Union had changed entirely. Khrushchev, an enthusiastic supporter of Ekranoplans, was replaced with Leonid Brezhnev. Brezhnev, adverse to risk and uninterested in bold projects to showcase Soviet superiority, was far less interested in Ekranoplan development.
Alexeyev and his engineers abandoned the KM’s development and moved on to develop more practical applications, including a smaller troop transport (A-90 Orlyonok) and later, a larger anti-surface warfare ship (MD-160 Lun-class). After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the few Ekranoplans that entered service were quickly retired from Russian Navy fleets.
Special thanks to Nick Arehart for helping clean up our audio:
Special thanks to: hiba Cheegoni, Joel Salvador, Gibbo, Jake Hart, Coby Tang, Cole Gerdemann, Christian Altenhofen, Therandomuser, Ryfael, Justin Will, Jefferson Hu, Jean-christophe, Andrew J. Thom, Erik Hoel, Mark Moran, Forerunner3D.com, Colin Millions, TOOLCO CORP, Razvan Caliman, Joseph Zadeh, Danny Wolf, Matt Waters, Trent Bosley, Christopher Boyd, Guzman Martin, Travis Sinfield, Jerome Froelich, Xan Daven, Donoteat, Kim Alexander Haustedt, Riley Gawronski, Matthew Walster, David F. Watson, Mason Hullermann, Adam Cookson for supporting us on Patreon and helping Mustard grow: https://www.patreon.com/MustardChannel
Music (reproduced under license):
Intro Song: “Watch The Sky” https://www.epidemicsound.com/track/61lzppDAZn
Song 2: “Digital Technology” - https://audiojungle.net/item/digital-technology/25071211
Song 3: “80's Dark Synthwave” - https://www.pond5.com/royalty-free-music/item/53759123-80s-dark-synthwave
Song 3: “Epic Cinematic Tension Trailer” - https://www.pond5.com/royalty-free-music/item/56065050-epic-cinematic-tension-trailer
Song 4: “Inquisitive Explorer Documentary” - https://www.pond5.com/royalty-free-music/item/99226579-inquisitive-explorer-documentary
Outro Song: “Future Technology Background” - https://audiojungle.net/item/future-technology-background/24605206
Thanks for watching!
GIANT RC Ekranoplan (Secret Russian aircraft?). uamee - EKRANOPLAN (FLYING LOW) [HARDBASS MUSIC]. The ekranoplan flying boat: Russia's 'Caspian Sea Monster'. What happened to the Ekranoplan? - The Caspian Sea Monster. What Happened To Giant Ekranoplans?. Lun-class / Spasatel Ekranoplans. Verlassene sowjetische LUN-Klasse ekranoplan an der Küste des Kaspischen Meeres, Luftaufnahme Stockfotografie - Alamy. ArtStation - Ekranoplan, nurul afsar. Russia's Stranded Ekranoplan. The Only Missile-Toting Ekranoplan Russia Ever Built Just Took Its Last Trip On The Caspian.