Belly Of The Beast

Belly Of The Beast: Illicit Photos From Inside The Soviet Ekranoplan

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A Russian photographer snuck into the world’s only nuclear-capable, ground-effect vehicle and captured rare images of its interior.

This is the Lun-class ekranoplan, a formerly top-secret Soviet naval vessel that could skim just above the waves at jet-plane speeds, evading radar and anti-ship mines.

The vehicle was equipped with six launchers along its spine that could fire nuclear missiles powerful enough to destroy an aircraft carrier.

The vehicle made use of the so-called “ground effect” — a cushion of high pressure that forms under the wings of extremely low-flying aircraft, boosting speed and lift. Wave-skimming seabirds can often be seen utilizing the same phenomenon.

After the collapse of the U.S.S.R. and subsequent end of the Lun program, the “aircraft carrier killer” sat idle on this tightly guarded dock on the coast of Russia’s Daghestan region.

This summer, Russian urban explorer Lana Sator, 31, read about the ekranoplan being towed by sea to Derbent, a city in Daghestan, where it is due to be moved into a “patriotic park” and put on permanent display.

With the ekranoplan lolling in the waves awaiting its final transport to the military theme park, Sator told RFE/RL she booked a last-minute, $150 flight from her base in Moscow to Daghestan.

For much more information and lots and lots of pictures of this fabulous aircraft/seacraft, do go to this SOURCE