Ekranoplan “Lun” – Project 903

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The Lun-class ekranoplan Ground effect vehicle was an extremely unusual water aircraft designed by Rostislav Evgenievich Alexeev and used by the Soviet & Russian navies from 1987 to sometime in the late ’90s. Ground effect aircraft use the extra lift of their large wings when in proximity to the surface (about one to four meters). It is also interesting to note that this aircraft is one of the largest ever built, with a length of 73m, rivaling that of the Hughes H-4 Hercules “Spruce Goose” and many modern jumbo jets.

The sole vessel of her class, MD-160 entered service with the Black Sea Fleet in 1987. Eight Kuznetsov NK-87 turbojets were mounted on forward canards, each delivering 127.4 kN (28,600 lbf) of thrust. MD-160 had a flying boat-like hull with a large deflecting plate at the bottom of the hull to provide a “step” for takeoff.

The aircraft was equipped for Anti-Surface Warfare P-270 Moskit. It was therefore fitted with six missile launchers, mounted in pairs on the dorsal surface of the fuselage, and advanced tracking systems mounted in the nose and tail. A development of the Lun was planned for use as a mobile field hospital, one which could be rapidly deployed to any ocean or coastal location. Work was 90% complete on this model, the Spasatel, but military funding ceased and it was never completed.

Soviet Union is very keen to make gigantic thing however, one must put in mind, the petrol. Making such a big plane without careful aerodynamic design makes it inefficient hence not enough justification to keep development plan.

Designer Central Design Bureau “TsKB po SPK” n.a. R.E.Alekseyev
Builder Shipbuilding Plant “Volga”, Nizhni Novgorod, Russia
Take off weight 400 tons (882,000 lbs)
Length 73.8 m (240 ft)
Span 44.0 m (144 ft)
Height 19.2 m (65 ft)
Speed of motion:
  • at cruise flight
450-550 km/h (243-297 kts)
  • in displacement position
20-100 km/h (10.8-54 kts)
Range of flight 3,000 km (1,620 nm)
Range in displacement position 400 km (216 nm)
Sea endurance 5 days
Cruise altitude 1-5 m (3.3 – 16 ft)
Altitude of flight at search 500 m (1,640 ft)
Max altitude of flight 7500 m (24,600 ft)
Max waves height:
  • at takeoff and landing
2.5-3.5 m (8.2-11.5 ft)
  • at flight
Powerplant: eight NK-87 turbofans of 13
tons (28,660 lbs) trust each
Crew 9 plus 19 rescuer
Max number of saved people 150-500 (among them 70 – cot case)

Source: Globalsecurity.org, Wikipedia.org and viral email.


3 thoughts on “Ekranoplan “Lun” – Project 903

    derroc said:
    Tuesday, 3 August 2010 at 6:33 pm

    its a very nice wijo[hk and its awsoeme

    Austinpoolbuilders said:
    Thursday, 24 March 2011 at 6:13 am

    This is an amazing aircraft. I heard about the wooden aircraft built by Howard Hughes, but it cannot compare to the weight and power of this giant. Eight Kuznetsov NK-87 turbojets are extremely heavy in weight. I wonder, how did these powerful engines handle seawater without rusting? Why did we not see this beauty before now? Please tell me. Is it headed for a museum in the Navy or the Airforce? It was part of the Black Fleet. I hope the government preserves this plane/boat somewhere that people can see it again.

    Thanks for posting this.


      Rizky said:
      Thursday, 24 March 2011 at 9:29 am

      Hi there,

      To my knowledge, this is headed to the museum of Air-force, but in Russia. If you happen to be around/visit the museum, share some pictures, will ya!

      Keep in touch, Tack.

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