Soviet ‘Caspian Monster’ jet airplane reaches closing resting place
November 23, 2020, 11:26 p.m.
Soviet Oddity: The Ekranoplan is on one final trip to the Dagestan Museum. Photo / Musa Salgereyev, Getty Images
From the depths of the Caspian Sea, Russian rescue teams have rescued a Soviet-era Leviathan from a forgotten era of transport.
The Lun-class Ekranoplan is possibly one of the strangest vehicles ever designed. Neither an airplane nor a boat was able to fly over 4 meters above the surface of the water, which was propelled by eight Kuznetsov engines at a speed of 550 km / h.
It was built in the mid-1960s at the height of the Cold War and was referred to as the “Caspian Sea Monster” by confused NATO secret services. The Russian engineers called the prototype “Lun” or Harrier Hawk. The ships were used for a variety of purposes, from hospital transport to high-speed naval assault ships – though only one of the strange 73-meter-long ships was ever made. The Lun had anti-ship missile silos attached to its back – which added to its strange profile.
Sea Monster: The Lun-class Ekranoplan languages on the Caspian Sea coast. Photo / Musa Salgereyev, Getty Images
The Ekranoplan curios ended up in dry dock in the port of Kaspiysk in the Republic of Dagestan, where it fell into disrepair after the collapse of the Union in the 1990s. Until now.
The Soviet Ekranoplan has started its final journey. After it was intended to be the centerpiece of the “Patriot Park” military museum in the city of Derbent, it was towed down the coast for 14 hours by a flotilla of tugs from Russia. Transporting the 350 tons on the 100-kilometer sea voyage was no easy task.
On the way, the monster threatened to sink from the Caspian Sea after it got a leak. It was abandoned on the coast just before Derbent, where it has remained since July.
An artist’s concept of a Soviet wing-in-ground effect vehicle from 1988. Photo / Wikimedia Commons
A representative of the transport company Sokrat Vagidov told the local media OTR that work is restarting to bring it to its final resting place on a podium in the military park.
“Divers help us to put additional air cushions under the wings and the fuselage. The body is made of aluminum and is soft. Our job is to get it undamaged on the base,” said Vagidov.
After being exposed on the shore for so long, the Soviet travel weirdness has drawn a lot of attention. Urban researchers and bloggers have already started visiting the website.
A blogger, Vitaliy Raskalov, who visited Ekranoplan pointed out the “absurdity” of the fact that the park to which it is being delivered has not even been built.
On the subject of matching items
“I hope the Ekranoplan is not pulled apart by looters,” he said.
Some treasure hunters are less interested in trophies, but several visitors have come to the site specifically to take pictures of the animal. Lana Sator, a photographer and “urban researcher”, told Radio Free Europe how she bought a plane ticket from Moscow to Dagestan in order to take illegal photos from the Ekranoplan.