The Strangest Aircraft of Soviet Union's - : Latest Jobs In Pakistan 2022

Thursday 22 July 2021

The Strangest Aircraft of Soviet Union's

 Abandoned at an Air Force Museum outside of Moscow, is a relic of a machine that looks like it came from outer space. Designed 50 years ago by an eccentric visionary, it was to be the most versatile flying machine ever built. An aircraft that could take off vertically, hover in mid air, land on any surface, cruise at high altitudes and harness the ground effect. But the story of this remarkable machine and its inventor are still shrouded in mystery. By the 1960 s Soviet engineer Robert Bartini had earned a reputation for thinking ahead of his time. And when it came to transportation, he was convinced that humanity had it all wrong. 

After examining the speed, efficiency and carrying capacity of just about every form of transportation known to man, he came to the conclusion that the most versatile and efficient form of transport would be a type of aircraft that had yet to be built. A kind of machine that would skim over water on a cushion of air, harnessing a phenomenon called the ground effect. The ground effect occurs when fixed wing aircraft fly very close to the surface. Air, normally deflected downwards and around the wings, is instead compressed, creating a pocket of much higher air pressure, resulting in less drag, more lift and much higher efficiency It means unlike conventional aircraft, which have to be engineered to be as light as possible, ground effect machines can use size and mass to their advantage. 

Using it to compress air beneath them. Bartini theorized that the efficiency of ground effect could allow for the development of aircraft with extraordinary capabilities. In 1962, he outlined a concept that would combine aircraft-like speeds, with the go anywhere versatility of a helicopter, by using lift jets for vertical take-off and landings. By 1960 VTOL aircraft were becoming a reality. But they were highly impractical. The lift jets needed for vertical takeoff burned excessive fuel and added considerable weight, severely limiting the aircraft s range and performance. 

But Bartini s design would harness the efficiency of flying within the ground effect to offset the inefficiency of vertical takeoff and landings. The result would be a machine that could truly go anywhere, without compromise. Bartini would test his ideas using scale models and prototypes. But to build his extraordinary machine, he would need a lot more resources. Fortunately for Bartini, an opportunity would soon appear. In 1961 a new threat emerged off the coast of the Soviet Union for which the Soviets had no answer. The latest generation of American submarines were armed with nuclear missiles. 

And they could stay submerged for weeks. It meant the Americans could keep their nukes hidden right on the Soviet Union s doorstep. And with over 70 thousand kilometers of coastline to guard, finding these submarines using a conventional navy would be next to impossible. Faced with an enormous strategic disadvantage, Soviet leadership saw a potential solution in Bartini s concept. Bartini proposed modifying his design into the ultimate submarine hunter. 

With a sailboat like fuselage, his airplane would be upgraded to fly inside the ground impact, giving it the perseverance to fly long missions. But it would also have wings so that it could fly like a conventional airplane. Bartini would likewise outfit the airplane with both an arrival gear and a remarkable inflatable barge framework, giving it genuine land and/or water capable capacities. Lift jets would allow for vertical take-off and landings from any kind of surface, giving the aircraft the ability to operate from the even most harsh and remote regions of the Soviet Union. 

Equipped with anti-submarine weaponry, Bartini s machine could effectively counter the American threat. Impressed with the concept, Soviet leadership approved development, designating it as the VVA-14. This was a design so unconventional, it looked more like a spacecraft than an airplane. Two bypass turbojets would allow the VVA-14 to reach speeds of up to 760 kilometers per hour and to fly up to 33,000 feet if needed. Twelve lift jets would be fitted inside the fuselage. 

Each one generating nearly ten thousand pounds of thrust. Inflatable pontoons would allow for amphibious operations, so the VVA-14 could land directly on the water, and other surfaces inaccessible to other aircraft like sand, snow or marsh. To track down enemy submarines, a crew of three would be assisted by an electronic flight navigation and search-and-aim system. And would use magnetic anomaly detectors, dipping sonar and sonobuoys.

With the ability to carry more than two tons of armament, including naval torpedoes, mines and depth charges, the VVA-14 would be a formidable machine. And development was to proceed under the highest level of secrecy, with early prototypes painted in an aeroflot paint scheme and given civilian registration number. For Soviet leadership, this was their answer to a pressing strategic problem. For Bartini, it would set the groundwork for even more ambitious designs. 

Such a novel design would take years to develop, and it wouldn't be until September of 1972 that the first prototype was ready for flight testing. The VVA-14's development was to proceed in three stages. First, a prototype would be built without lift jets allowing development to focus on the aircraft's aerodynamic capabilities and on engineering the inflatable pontoons. A second prototype would then be built with lift jets, with development centred around the fly-by-wire and automation systems needed for vertical takeoff and landings. After that a final near production weaponized version would be used to develop anti-submarine warfare systems. 

It was a logical plan. And although the program progressed slower than anticipated, early testing proved highly promising. The VVA-14 could settle into ground effect a full eight metres from the surface. And for Bartini, it validated his earlier theories about the ground effect s revolutionary potential. Throughout the 1960 s he drew up designs for truly enormous civilian and military transports that could harness the ground effect at even higher altitudes. Machines that could transverse oceans at aircraft-like speeds, while carrying ship-like payloads.

 Bartini was so sure of the concept, in 1970 he even approached the Soviet Navy with a proposal to develop 5,000 ton flying aircraft carriers. Enormous ground effect machines that would carry an air wing of up to 25 combat aircraft at speeds of up to 600 kilometers per hour. There seemed to be no limit to Bartini s imagination. But before any of his grander ideas could be realized, the VVA-14 would have to prove itself. Even before the first prototype lifted off, Bartini would ve already sensed that things weren't going to go according to plan. 

The most crucial component of the entire concept were the vertical lift jets. And their development had been assigned to a smaller, less experienced engine builder. One already overburdened with other projects. And at fifty-seven tons, the VVA-14 would be the world's largest VTOL aircraft. It's lift jets would need to produce more thrust than any lift jet the Soviet Union had ever built. Bartini doubted whether the engine builder could deliver. And the VVA-14's inflatable pontoons also proved to be extremely difficult to engineer. 

Designed to be inflated and deflated in the harshest of conditions, they used high pressure air from the aircraft s cruise engines to fill twelve individually sealed compartments. The pontoons proved to be so unreliable. They were eventually swapped out for metallic floats so that other areas of testing could continue. But in reality, by 1974 technical issues with the inflatable pontoons were actually the least of Bartini s concerns. It was becoming increasingly clear that lift jets he needed would never arrive. And without them, vertical landings on sand, snow or water would be impossible, rendering the inflatable pontoons pointless. 

Realizing that his entire concept was compromised. Bartini scrambled to modify the design. To allow the aircraft to take off from the water, more like a conventional seaplane, he proposed lengthening the fuselage and adding an additional set of forward engines. The idea was to use the forward engines to create a cushion of air under the aircraft. But the modifications never worked. And Bartini would never live to see them tested. In December of 1974, he passed away at the age of 77. 

Soon after, the VVA-14 program was cancelled and Soviet leadership instead ordered development of a more conventional anti-submarine aircraft. But had the VVA-14's development been successful, it might ve changed the course of Soviet Aircraft Design. Because Bartini had a vision for something much bigger. With his belief in the revolutionary potential of the ground effect, Bartini was convinced that a five-thousand ton flying aircraft carrier would be possible. 

A machine that could rip across the surface of the ocean and reach any part of the world in just hours, giving the Soviet Union an enormous tactical advantage. You can learn more about Bartini's most ambitious design in my latest video, available right now, on Nebula. A streaming platform where you can watch videos without advertisements or sponsor messages, and where you can access a growing number of exclusive never released Mustard videos. 

Nebula is where YouTube's top educational creators upload videos everyday. And the best part is, Nebula is free when you sign up for CuriosityStream. A streaming service with thousands of big budget award-winning documentaries from science to technology to history and nature. If you re interested in learning more about secret Soviet projects, check out Tank on the Moon, and learn why the world s first automated robotic rovers were kept hidden from the world for decades.

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