The Lun was hauled out of the water by three tugs and two escort ships. No small feat considering that the superplane weighs 380 tons and has a wingspan of 148 feet. The mammoth effort took a total of 14 hours and required the careful coordination of several ships, as well as the help of rubber pontoons, as reported by CNN.
The oversized relic, which currently sits on a stretch of coast in southern Russia, will be the centerpiece of a new military museum called Patriot Park. Its opening is scheduled in the city of Derbent at the end of 2020. Until then, the Mon will remain alone on the beach.
While the dilapidated plane currently looks like nothing more than a huge chunk of aerodynamic junk, it was once a formidable machine. Equipped with eight daring turbojets, it could reach speeds of up to 340 mph and launch six anti-ship missiles from flight.
Also, by taking advantage of an aerodynamic principle called “ground effect”, it could glide seamlessly across the water without touching it. This is a nifty feature of all ekranoplans, aka ground effect vehicles, which graze the surface of the water at a height of between 3 feet and 16 feet. This makes them difficult to detect by radar and perfect for maritime attacks. The gigantic plane could even take off and land in rough weather while dealing with waves of up to 8 feet.
The ekranoplans covered the vast body of inland water between the Soviet Union and Iran, earning them the nickname “Caspian Sea Monster”. This particular monster was the last of its breed and was silenced by the Russian military when the Soviet Union collapsed in the 1990s.
If you can’t get to Russia to experience this Mon, keep your eyes on the sky. Ekranoplan technology is again being reviewed by developers in China, Singapore, Russia and the United States. In fact, Widgetworks from Singapore has already created a Mon prototype. Bring in the monsters.