Project 903 Lun Ground Effect Vehicle, S-31 - The Monster of the Caspian

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Project 903 Lun Ground Effect Vehicle, S-31

TL;DR:
Coastal “vessel”, massive aircraft-looking vehicle that glides just above the surface, armed with 6 anti-ship missiles.

Overview:
The only armed ground effect vehicle (GEV) ever built, Project 903 “Lun” was built on the basis of the larger experimental “KM”, or Caspian Sea Monster, sharing a similar basic shape and engine layout. A GEV uses the “ground effect”, where there is significantly less drag on the wings when close to the surface, which allows a vehicle much heavier than an aircraft to still move at high speeds over land or water. The Lun had a hull akin to a flying boat, with 8 turbojets stacked together beside the bridge, thrusters angled slightly downwards to push air under the wings, and large though short wings to exploit the ground effect. The vehicle was armed like an in-between of a missile boat and aircraft, with bomber style turrets with twin autocannons at the fore and aft, and 6 Moskit missiles carried on the back of the vehicle.

Only a single Lun would be built, S-31, which was laid down in Gorky in 1983. Construction took 4 years and it was formally trialed from 1987-1989. It was commissioned into the Caspian Flotilla in 1990, and it was planned to build 8 more vehicles of its type, with another one laid down as a rescue/hospital vehicle. However with the Soviet collapse and the following financial instabilities, no more of its type would be built, and the unfinished sister put into storage. The S-31 was not commissioned with the newly formed Russian Navy, and it was mothballed on a drydock in Kaspiysk. The vehicle languished until 2020, when officials decided to turn it into a museum display. It was towed out of drydock to Derbent and beached. It remains on the beach now as the “patriot park” where it will be displayed is still being constructed.

Specifications:

Armament:
2x2 23mm PI-23 (600 round magazines)
3x2 P-100 Moskit SSMs (6 3M80 Missiles)

Displacement/Weight:
286 tons standard
380 tons full

Length: 73.3m

Width/Wingspan: 44m

Height: 19.2m

Draft: 2.5m (when hull-borne)

Cruising Altitude: 4m

Propulsion: 8 Kuznetsov NK-87M turbojet engines, 104 000 kgf (~1020 kN)

Speed: 270 knots (500 km/h)

Range: 1100 nmi (at 270 knots)

Crew: 15

Systems:
Redan-2 FCR
Poluchas search radar
Don-2 navigation radar
Khipper ECM suite

Images:






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Drawings:


Sources:
Petrov, G. F. (2000). Gidrosamolety i ekranoplany rossii 1910 - 1999 (pp. 206-207). Rusavia.
Apalkov, Yu, V. (2004). Korabli VMF SSSR (Vol. 2, Part 2) (pp. 25-28). Sankt-Peterburg.

Images:

2 Likes

Maybe an event vehicle in the future.

3 Likes

I guess I should say this, this is not a plane and would absolutely not function in air or ground battles. I put it in naval suggestions but the mods put it here.

2 Likes

+1, Absolutely, it’s very unique, no way should Gaijin skip on the Lun.

This is definitely a really good vehicle for an April fools or other special event, probably not work as a regular vehicle period

I believe this aircraft could work as an event or AI vehicle and less as a playable vehicle. Or maybe as a singleplayer mission: we still have them in game, but they’re almost forgotten by WT community and the devs.

There are a couple of good reasons why this ground-effect aircraft was not adopted into service:

  • 1: needed calm weather in order to function
  • 2: had structural issues and reinforcing it would make the vehicle too heavy for ground effect
  • 3: it did not like taking sharp turns, so you’re forced to go fast and fly straight or perform large turns (easy to intercept by armament)
  • 4: they have a very limited altitude ceiling (like most ground-effect vehicles), going higher or flying above high obstacles will not be an option in this kind of aircraft

Also, for in-game addition this vehicle is very limited in armament, it was supposed to be more of a surprise-invasion transport for troops and armor, it will struggle to function against mobile targets and will not fly well above uneven terrain.
Instead of this type of aircraft, I would suggest instead the lesser-known jet powered hydroplanes, like Be-10. They also suffered from excessive metal fatigues (jet speeds and amphibious fuselages do not pair well toghether), but they should be as capable as other planes to fly in most conditions and will not be as limited in regards to flight performance as Project 903.

1 Like

His seaworthiness is 5-6 points…
But he needs to be in the navy-according to the classification, he is a rocket ship with 6 PU PKR ZM-80 Mosquito…

+1, HELL YEAH! This would be really cool, even though it may be hard to add.

+1 as a “Dreams Do Come True” event vehicle.

1 Like

Would it be a boat or a plane?

Yes.
lol.
Should be a high tier coastal vessel.

1 Like

+1 But would probably be more fitting to the coastal fleet tree.

Would be a cool premium instant death but cool