Sunday, June 27

Preview: Takom's new 1/144th scale Lun-Class Ekranoplan

The massive "Lun" class Ekranoplan has been a surprise recent release from Takom, and today we have some more information on the kit. In our preview we look at the unusual and fascinating machine in real life & what's coming in the kit in our short preview...
Takom's new 1/144th scale Lun-Class Ekranoplan

Lun-Class Ekranoplan
From Takom
1/144th scale
Kit No #3002
Plastic and photo-etched kit.
Available in September
The Subject:  The Lun-class Ekranoplan.
Ground Effect Vehicles, also known as "Ekranoplans," are a sort of hybrid between airplanes and ships. They move over water without actually touching it. The International Maritime Organization classifies them as ships, but, in fact, they derive their unique high-speed capabilities from the fact that they skim the surface of the water at a height of between one and five meters (three to 16 feet).
This combination of speed and stealth - their proximity to the surface while flying makes them difficult to detect by radar got the attention of the Soviet military, which experimented with several variants of the concept during the Cold War.
Their deployment on the vast inland body of water between the Soviet Union and Iran led to them acquiring the nickname "Caspian Sea Monster." The "Lun" ekranoplan was one of the last designs to come out of the Soviet ground effect vehicle program. Longer than an Airbus A380 superjumbo and almost as tall, despite its size and weight, the Lun was capable of reaching speeds of up to 550 kilometers per hour (340 mph) thanks to eight powerful turbofans located on its stubby wings.
This formidable machine was even able to take off and land in stormy conditions, with waves of up to two and a half meters. Its intended mission was to conduct lightning sea-borne attacks with the six anti-ship missiles it carried in launch tubes placed at the top of its hull.

The vehicle was equipped with six launchers along its spine that could fire nuclear missiles powerful enough to destroy an aircraft carrier.
The Lun class WIG was built in 1987 and entered service in 1989. NATO were watching closely and gave the vessel the reporting name UTKA Class. The project was expensive and only the first boat (the Russian Navy considered them boats not planes) was completed. A second was nearly completed. 
Its ‘Moskit’ supersonic missiles, known to NATO as the SS-N-22 Sunburn, made the Lun a formidable adversary. It was larger and faster than the Harpoon missile in service with the U.S. Navy. Flying at just 16-32 feet above the surface the plane would expect to detect a ship sized target at about 22 miles. For Moskit this would be almost point-blank range, giving the target minimal time to react.
But it was expected, by U.S. Intelligence at least, that several would operate together. One would go ahead, providing final target data to others which would remain behind the NATO warships radar horizon. The Moskit missiles had a range of about 60 miles and could be fired using the forward Ekranoplans' target data. A three-ship formation could unleash 18 missiles at a target simultaneously, each one closing at 3 times the speed of sound (known as Mach 3).

The cockpit of the vessel: the ekranoplan required a crew of 15 when it was operational. A cockpit is supplied in this kit...
The Lun was not without its limitations however. It can be viewed as a large, expensive missile patrol boat. And greatly inferior to bombers such as the Tu-22 BACKFIRE. It lacked the electronics reach of later patrol boats which had the Monolit-T targeting complex. Its targeting radar complex was not Monolithic or Mineral, so it looks like it was just a traditional radar. This makes sense as the Lun “flew” too high to use the evaporative or surface duct used by these more advanced radars. Thus by the time it was launched the Lun had an inherently more limited missile complex than the patrol boats then entering service.

The only remaining full Lun as it is now at its dock on the Kaspiysk base on the Caspian Sea.
The new kit from Takom:
This is the first "aircraft" - (or is it a ship?) kit made by Takom. the kit itself is in 1/144th scale, but it is still large at 51cm long!  the kit comes with a full cockpit, a detailed rear gunner's emplacement and the launch tubes for the six large Moskit missiles on the spine of the Ekranoplan.
That is all we know about this release for now. You can see more about Takom's kits on their website or on their Facebook page