"QUANTUM SHOT" #572(rev)
Link - article by Avi Abrams

Mother Russia: still in love with the "Wing-in-Ground" effect

When we prepared Part 1 of Ekranoplan Showcase, we could not fit all the great material on one page, so consider this as an addendum to the fascinating subject of Soviet ekranoplans - a beast born during the Cold War and still employed today by the Ministry of Emergency Situations of Russia.

Here is a fantastic picture of how this technology may have looked in a heavily armed edition:

(art by Scott Robertson, via, click to enlarge)

Ekranoplan "Alekseyev A-90 Orlyonok", photo by Ilya Morozov, via

Here is a helpful chart of all ekranoplan models:

(image credit: "Science & Vie")

Incredible futuristic rendering of a proposed passenger and cargo behemoth:

images credit: "TM" magazine, Russia, 1974

"Orlyonok" Ekranoplan - rare view from the inside

This particular machine has been explored by good people from Avia Gorizont, with many views of the cargo bay made for military vehicles. There were sightings of a similar ekranoplan still used on Lake Baykal by the Ministry of Emergency Situations of Russia.

Ekranoplan "Orlyonok" (left) and the "Astrakhan" concept (right), images via

An exclusive look inside this machine shows impressive amount of cargo space and a typical Soviet spartan interior:

(images credit: Avia Gorizont)

Beriev's Wonder Machines: A Heavy Ekranoplan Concept

Be-2500 is a heavy ekranoplan concept that is simply stunning in its design - seemingly random placement of wing surfaces and engines - which looks only as weird as any other model coming out of Beriev Design Bureau.

(images via)

The "2500" in the model's number refers to aircraft's weight - 2500 tons; it boasts six engines and the ability to cross the Atlantic or the Pacific oceans with a "wing-in-ground" speed of 450 km/h.

(images via)

I want that for my kid's playground

Also something of a weird number, is the Bartini Beriev, VVA-14, which can be observed in a pretty gutted condition on a Russian airfield in Monino: still a curious sight for photographers and explorers -

(image credit: Omar Alex Saffe)

(image credit: Fyodor Borisov)

(images via 1, 2)

(image credit: Slava Babayevski)

See a lot more images here

VVA-14 used WIG effect only during a take-off, so it is not a true "ekranoplan" but rather an "ekrano-plane". However, it enjoyed a decent production run, and Soviet Army even had certain "glamorous" plans for it: "Such a vehicle was initially seen as urgently needed to destroy US Navy Polaris missile submarines" - more info.

Ekranoplan + Shuttle

These concepts were created in hopes to use the Earth's oceans for space launches: keep in mind that launching close to equator allows for 1.7 - 2 times heavier payload. The Sea-Launch project is already in full swing (facilitating vertical launches), however for the Shuttle-like horizontal launches and landings, Russian engineers propose to use a fleet of heavy ekranoplans:

(image by G. F. Petrov, click to enlarge)

More glimpses of launching system concepts - some are outrageous, all interesting:

Winged "WIG" Curiosities

Some variations on "wing-in-ground" effect produced curious contraptions from time to time... Check out this "water wing": it really looks like a bumpy ride -

(image credit: ModernMechanix)

Another interesting streamlined variation is the Seagull Boat, 1933:

(image credit: ModernMechanix)

Compact ekranoplans: among them is a German-made 1977 LippischX-114:

Yet another futuristic idea - the Ionocraft

Granted, this method of flying has little relation to WIG effect used by ekranoplans, but perhaps it is just as fascinating and just as rarely considered today. One concept proposed by the Russians (and seen here in a rare picture from "TM" Soviet technology magazine) would use the ionic air propulsion to lift itself (plus a significant payload) off the ground:

image via TM Magazine, 1965

This is a strange way to fly, for sure, using high-voltage capacitors and the Biefeld-Brown Effect in the corona wire. Who knows, maybe we'll see the development of such a craft in the future (although it does seem a hazardous and dangerous venture, judging from the concept shown above)

Article by Avi Abrams, Dark Roasted Blend.




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Anonymous Kompani UK said...

Brilliant, some great photos and illustrations. I am a firm believer in this technology and can't understand why it is not being advanced further.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is there a link to a higher-rez version of the first photo? I looked into the guys flickr page but he has too many photos and I can't find it.

Blogger Unknown said...

ah poor abandoned VVA 14! should be cared much. any geeky millionaire out there?

Blogger Ric Locke said...

The proper rendering of the acronym is "Wing In Ground effect".

A high-flying aircraft's wings force the air downward, and the reaction (Newton's Law) holds the plane up.

Close to the ground, the downward-moving air hits the ground and rebounds. The upward-moving air adds a bit of energy back to the system; that is the "ground effect". If the wings are in the ground effect zone, the ekranoplan doesn't need as much power to fly.

The bigger and heavier the ekranoplan, the more air is forced downward and the stronger the ground effect. A big one is therefore safer, because it can go higher. An ekranoplan makes its entire flight in what is actually takeoff and landing mode for a "normal" airplane, and takeoff and landing are the most dangerous parts of the flight.


Anonymous Elise said...

orly? o no.... k

Before chatspeak, there were Russian planes.

Blogger Avi Abrams said...

Elise: great explanation of the "Orlyonok" name origin. lol.

Anonymous Teresa said...

Avi thanks a ton for putting up another Ekranoplan showcase. I love planes, but I love Mother Russia's planes even more. Great job!

Anonymous xplanes said...


Another link to the first image - from the artist's official site:

(click on 'view hires gallery)

another great article, DRB!

Blogger Terry said...

I'm not an airplane geek, I'm just a science fiction geek, but if someone would put out a line of these in small plastic models, I'd definitely be hooked and start building and collecting them!

Blogger Mr. Satyre said...

Some of those look straight out of Mobile Suit Gundam---not at all surprising when you consider that many designs in Japanese anime are inspired by Russian rocket and aeronautical designs. Thanks for a great pair of articles on one of my favorite planes! (boats?)

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here the information and a photo Ekranoplans:

Anonymous tongiluang said...

what if cold war continue? i think more plane will develop undercover both side

Anonymous Weaver said...

Re Terry's question about model kits, Revell produced a model of the Orlyonok in 1/144th scale. Not currently in production but not hard to find second-hand: http://www.cybermodeler.com/hobby/kits/rm/kit_rg_4609.shtml

Anonymous Weaver said...

More on the kits front: a company called Anigrand make models of the KM, Lun and VVA-14 in 1/144th scale. Bear in mind however that these are limited-edition resin kits, not injection-moulded plastic, they require different modelling skills and they arn't cheap:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone know of a build it at home kit or plans. I'd love to try it


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