Building an R/C version of a Soviet-era ground-effect plane

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There’s two things I think of when people mention ekranoplans –

  1. G.E.V., the sequel to Steve Jackson’s Ogre (and in fact combined with it in recent versions)

  2. Charlie Stross’ alt-history novella “Missile Gap”


Don’t forget the very end of Gibson’s Bigend trilogy. :slight_smile:


Here is a good video about how that monstrosity worked:


It’s hard for me to understand how GEV’s were considered militarily advantageous. They seem very limited and vulnerable to me.


They can move twice in the same turn!


20 - 30 foot swells would tear it to pieces [full sized monster]. But that was a cool build…

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It’s like a boat, but a lot faster.


Perfect to deploy troops on a beachhead.


This is a really interesting time in R/C aircraft. The batteries and engines are so good now that the power-to-weight ratios are obscene. It means you can generate sufficient lift to make nearly anything fly with minimal effort. The Flite Test channel has demonstrated that over and over again. Much like this video, it’s hard to know if the model is actually demonstrating the interesting aerodynamics it is supposed to, or if it’s just a foam box with infinite power strapped to it.


With sufficient thrust, pigs fly just fine.


It does make sense according to the limited version of ‘sense’ that prevails in war-time…

A fight is generally over in an area when your people go to their people, probably armed and on foot, and persuade them one-on-one by threats or arms to give up; or the other way around. That has been pretty much true since the Trojan wars. You can ‘soften them up’ from a distance, but the actual end has to be personal. There is military advantage for anything that can carry the poor sods with all their kit the last hundred miles or so to somewhere they aren’t particularly welcome. If they can pop up all unexpected like, so much the better.

Forces have used or proposed amphibious tanks, helicopters, the Harrier jump jet, hovercraft, seaplanes, project Habakkuk, and other weird stuff to do just this. The ekranoplan is actually one of the better options. It could carry a lot of tanks and people and bangy stuff, and land them on any flattish bit of beach if the sea was not too choppy.

Only the helicopter has made it into civil use. They are great for rescue, but they drink fuel, so we keep them for short, high-stakes hops. And for getting bankers to the golf course, of course.


I think this is footage from the boat, not a drone. In a couple of shots, you can see the wake.

“Son of Caspian Sea Monster!”

FYI: The vehicle is not a hovercraft. Its lift is provided by WIG effect.


Better to think of it as a really fast ship that floats above the water, than a really stunted airplane that doesn’t fly very high. From that frame of reference, for me at least, they make a lot more sense.

Plus, they’re just extremely awesome in a both ridiculous and badass way simultaneously, right? :slight_smile:


You right: it is too easy to get things to fly. But I think it is doing the right thing. It flies with motors that the builder thought were too small. When it flies, it wants to get its nose in the air, but when it does it stalls or flops over sideways. But when they have it in the right position and they turn the motors way down, it just sits on the cushion and flies straight. And you can just see the dent in the water behind it.


Can confirm, I saw this at a Pink Floyd concert right before my eyes. They also shot flames out of their mouths. I swear! I was like 14 and not smoking weed yet.


Why an awesome project! Not too keen about the pin but otherwise great.