VVA-14 was supposed to kill the US nuclear threat in the water.
During the Cold War the United States developed the first ballistic nuclear missil that could be fired from a submarine, UGM-27 Polaris. The weapon was designed for the worst: Nuclear War.
The Russians limitedly began the development of a special aircraft that could destroy submarines with the dreaded Polaris missiles aboard.
The assignment went to designer Robert Ludvigovich Bartini. His solution was inspired by the so-called ground effect vehicle.
Ground effect vehicle is not ordinary aircraft, they are in fact classified as ships. It is similar to an aircraft and can move very rapidly right across the water surface because of what we call the ground effect.
Bartinis aircraft should be both, race straight across the water at high speed and over long distances while it was going to take off and fly normally at higher altitudes. Along with aircraft manufacturer Beriev, Robert Bartini hatched out a machine that looks as if it is taken straight out of Star Wars.
Bartini and his comrades initiated extensive research, and created the test aircraft Be-1 for better understanding and exploiting the ground effect. 4. September 1972 they could popp the champagne corks, the first prototype of VVA-14 prototype completed its first flight.
Then it went downhill.
After two years of further development of VVA-14 Beriev and Bartini installed inflatable floats on the plane. They created so much problems that they were replaced with fixed piping. Then started the actual tests on water.
But when Bartini abruptly died in 1974, it meant the hook on the door for the unusual VVA-14. Developments stopes and, after 107 flights were completed the project.
The only full copy of the “aircraft boat”, VVA-14 number 19172, was handed over to the Civil Aviation Museum in the Soviet Union in 1987.
The Caspian Monster
Although a project was discontinued, did not mean that the Russian war machine torpedoed the idea around ground effect vehicle. On the contrary.
Parallel to Bartini Beriev VVA-14 USSR developed another concept vessel, which since then has been nicknamed “the Caspian monster”.
It was designed by Rostislav Alexeyev. With a wingspan of almost 40 meters and a length of over 90 meters, it was the largest the aircraft in the world.
It was actually the CIA that named the aircraft the “Caspian Monster”. Spy photos of the aircraft being tested in the Caspian showed letters KM on the fuselage, as CIA “translated” to “Kaspian Monster”. In reality it stood for “Korabl maket” – which is Russian for “prototype ship.”
The real monster
The Caspian monster was never put into operation, but designer Rostislav Alexeyev other projects did.
MD-160 is the only ground effect vehicle Lun class that exists. It was used in the service of the Soviet Union and Russia from 1987 to late into the 1990s.
Lun has cruise speed of 550 km / h and is designed for anti-surface warfare, naval warfare thus concentrating on defeating ships on the sea surface. For the Job Lun is equipped with P-270 Moskit missiles.
Ground effect vehicle is no longer in use and is in a port in marine warehouse in kaspiysk.
Despite limited distribution, Russian aircraft manufacturers still believe in ground effect vehicle. In 2015 Central Hydrofoil Design Bureau showed two concept of a new aircraft type, called A-050. According to the aircraft manufacturer the aircraft will be ideal for coast guard and rescue services.