what is this thing besides freakin’ crazy awesomeness??

whoops, one of my nerdy engineers knew what it was…check it out.

hehe ekranoplanes=awesome

That thing is nuts. Thanks for sharing.

That’s the down side of capitalism, it’s impossible to get the capital together to building something so massive, so useless but so inspiring (except for in architecture).

aka: The Caspian Sea Monster

1967, detected by U.S. spy satellite, estimated to exceed 100 meters in length, flying at over 500 km per hour…
It was “flying” so low that it was leaving a visible wake, and was misidentified as some kind of ship. A 500km/hr ship!!! The Pentagon was sweating it.

Estimated troop capacity; 800+

That’s the down side of capitalism, it’s impossible to get the capital together to building something so massive, so useless but so inspiring (except for in architecture).

Dig out your aviation history book…

Spruce Goose, 1947, Howard Hughes and Henry J. Kaiser (of Liberty Ship fame)

Eight engine, wood construction. Largest aircraft in the world at the time.

Ironic, it only flew once, and attained about the same altitude as the Caspian Sea Monster.

Very cool. I had never heard of this type of craft “ground effect vehicles”. There all very interesting looking. The capacity on this one is just crazy.

Saw a show a while back where they went and snooped around one docked in a dry dock somewhere. I can’t for the life of me remember what the show was, it was recent though.

“James May’s Magnificent Machines” had a feature on the Russian ground effect planes, and a bit on a car sized one being used on frozen lakes. I recently saw a blog on a concept ground effect train, the track had sides and the train flew along the middle.

Ah!! Yes, there was a Top Gear episode, too where they were in Romania or something.

thanks for all the replies. boy, would it be amazing to see this monster up close in person. though it’s probably radioactive or haunted or some %hit!

They’re very strange aircraft.

I worked on the interior and exterior of this WIG aircraft. wing in ground, similar ground effects principles. I’m not sure how far the development ever went. It got very sketchy at one point.

it was “James May’s Big Ideas”:

and (in Japanese, but good from 2.35)

Lew: I thought of the Spruce Goose before I read further. It almost looks like they used it as inspiration.

True that Hughes developed the Goose in a capitalist America, albeit at war time. At war time we do not make rational decisions with our capital. I recently read about the USS Monitor in the NYT. These quotes are from Wikipedia:

On September 26, 1854 Ericsson presented Napoleon III of France with drawings of iron-clad armored battle ships with a dome-shaped gun tower, and even though the French emperor praised this invention, he did nothing to bring it to practical application.

The NYT article states that Ericsson continued development of the ship and proposed it to the US Navy. The Navy rejected it as ridiculous and started advancing two other designs with more established ship builders (with more conservative designs). One of these builders hired Ericsson to inspect his design for seaworthiness. After Ericsson showed him the Monitor drawings, he dropped his design and petitioned the Navy to build the Monitor instead.

Monitor was innovative in construction technique as well as design. Parts were forged in nine foundries and brought together to build the ship; the whole process took less than 120 days.

The contract for the Monitor stated that it had to be tested before any payment. The test: survive a battle with enemy ships. Bushnell, the shipbuilder put $280,000 on the line. If the Monitor was sunk, he would lose the ship and the money.


Back to the Caspian Sea Monster though…what a brillant idea for trans-atlantic flights. I would much prefer this to a 767.


As an naval history buff I have to go back to the Monitor, for a second…

Truly inspired work. Besides conceiving the rovolving gun turret and it’s rotating mechanism, “inventing” forced air induction for the furnaces, Ericsson even designed the engines. Start to finish… a hundred days. Can you imagine the drafting work, the communications (you can bet that Ericsson wasn’t too far from the drafting room), the liaison between foundries, and at a time when the telegraph was the fastest means of communications. I would wager that the Monitor could not be built that fast today.

Not a large work but a great technical read.
War, Technology, and Experience aboard the USS Monitor , David A. Mindell, JHU Press, 2000

Civil War ironclads: the U.S. Navy and industrial mobilization, William H. Roberts, JHU Press, 2002

Ericsson was a prolific inventor. After the invention of the steam condenser (still part of steam systems today) around 1830, the first steam-powered fire engine in the UK, and the naval screw-propeller … another interesting invention was the secondary armament system for the first submarine in the United States Navy, the “USS Holland” (SS-1, 1899). His contribution to SS-1 was the “dynamite gun”, a pneumatic cannon that launched a 100 pound charge of dynamite from an upward-inclined tube in the bow while the boat was partially submerged; it was a successful design and was capable of lobbing the projectile about 100 yards.

By the way, I just recalled this, the USS Holland was promoted to the US Navy, and entirely paid for, by John P. Holland.

Dynamite gun seen here with it’s bow cap retracted,

and here covered. The two masts were solely for the support of the overhead safety hand line and were dropped for submerged operations.

The large circular shape by the two men on the right (partially in shadow at ground level) is the bow torpedo tube door. The primary armament system on the Holland was the Whitehead Automotive torpedo; the first “modern” autonomous, self propelled torpedo, and predecessor of all torpedoes used by the U.S. Navy through WWII.

And just why does Lew have such an interest in, and knowledge of, the USS Holland? I was a founding partner in the 32nd Parallel, a model ship kit manufacturing company back in the 80’s. The company specialized in R/C submarines in 1/32" scale (3/8" = 1.0 foot). The last kit we brought to market was the USS Holland; 54 inches long, it was in 1" = 1’ scale.

The gentleman with his hand on the hatch (second from the left) is John P. Holland. The gentleman in the top hat is Frank Morris, Holland’s Construction Superintendent, and relative of mine (my interest in naval history started years before I learned of this connection, and was only uncovered during research on the Holland kit).

The German Type XXI was about three feet long.

But some got pretty big. The German Type VII was 84" in length, and fired pneumatic torpedoes.

the U.S. Gato was almost ten feet long.

The largest model was the production of a one-off, 26 foot long version of the Gato for the television mini-series War and Remembrance, which was filmed at Pinewood Studios, and received an Emmy for Special Effects in 1984. It was of a large enough scale ( 1"=1’ ) that the 16" long torpedoes that it launched were ejected from the tube by compressed air (like the actual weapon was), were motor-driven, and had contra-rotating propellers. And here is an interesting comparison; our 54 inch long Holland was in the same scale as the W&R Gato… which was 320 inches long.

Somewhere I have a few yellowed photos of it. I’ll post them if I can find them.


WOW!!! quite the jack there. again with the radiation or haunting thing!

Lew: We are still talking transport, it’s not a thread jack to me.

Monitor: Not only did the guy design quick, but they report that the assembly went very smoothly, even with parts coming from different suppliers who were all being rushed. I have problems with assemblies coming from the same factory with a ton of lead time…

Model business: Those are some sweet projects. Whenever I see some dude in Kaliningrad bang out a 3 minute computer animated short of a robot attacking a city, I think about how much cooler it would be to shoot a real model. I love those films and TV shows (I think an Outer Limits featured a sub prominently…) that have models in them for the special effects. Fake in a different way than CG, more human.

That was a interesting period of my life…

We built over 800 of the German Type VII U-boat kits, all hand laminated. More than the Kriegsmarine built during the war. Our kits were as accurate we could make them and based on archival drawings and photos supplied by friends overseas. We supplied the molded hull, deck, and conning tower, fabricated brass diving gear, and propellers, and spin-cast pewter deck “furniture” (bitts, cleats, hatches, cannon (actually a kit unto itself).

But it was our customers that really made the kits come to life. Scale model builders are in a world of their own making. They do far more detailed research into one particular vessel than we could, and then render it as it was in life i.e. with modifications made by a particular real-life captain for example. This conning tower observation deck is great example (builder unknown).

And since these were “real” submarines their systems had to work adhering to the same physics as their prototypes. Ballast systems; diving and trim, compressed “air” (freon) for blowing ballast while fully submerged, internal pressure hull to house “crew” (the radio, batteries, gas system) etc. Even the flooding holes in the side of the hull were required for the model to submerge properly. The deck of the real U-boat was teak laid over a steel structure and required slots to allow air, that would have been trapped under it, to bleed off (visible in front of the conning tower). These slots were required to decrease the time it took the boat to “crash dive”. The builders of our “models” typically spent hundreds of hours with Dremel and diamond burr cutting the openings freehand in the molded deck, and hull that we provided … something like 780 of them in an 84" long deck, .

The Type VII was of particular interest to me as an industrial designer because of it’s modular construction. Built all over Germany, railroad rights-of-way were laid with clearance for the hull sections of this (and subsequent) U-boats in mind.

And all drawn on paper…

OK, I’m done… …

Back on Topic.

Real U-boat…diesel direct drive or diesel electric?

Your u-boat models: electric drive?

Lew: I would love to see a topic in the “projects” section about these models. 800 is a healthy run for something that seems so niche. Beautiful build photos.

I remember when I was 16-17, I wanted to build car models that were super detailed. I got a couple kits and started to plan, but never ended up building them:/ Now, they are lost in a closet somewhere…sad. I’d love to have a crack at one now that I have a little more knowledge of how to fake looks, find materials, etc.

+1 on the projects posts. I’d love to see more.

i thought it was a prerequisite for ID’ers to have built scale model kits? my brothers and i built cars, boats, airplanes, subs…some of them motorized. that’s where i learned how things were assembled and finished. unfortunately we do not have any of those old model kits anymore. the kids would love to see them.

similar knowledge came from LEGO Expert kits.

good times!