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Quiz about Is it a Ship Is it a Plane Its an Ekranoplan
Quiz about Is it a Ship Is it a Plane Its an Ekranoplan

Is it a Ship? Is it a Plane? It's an Ekranoplan! Quiz


Between the 1950s and the 1990s, the superpowers and the Soviet Union in particular, dabbled in the technology that brought these amazing machines to life. This quiz looks at Project 903 - the mysterious Soviet (and later Russian) ekranoplan.

A multiple-choice quiz by SisterSeagull. Estimated time: 6 mins.
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Time
6 mins
Type
Multiple Choice
Quiz #
364,459
Updated
Dec 03 21
# Qns
10
Difficulty
Difficult
Avg Score
5 / 10
Plays
143
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Question 1 of 10
1. The first Soviet ekranoplan was known by its Soviet designation 'KM'. How do these initials translate into the English language? Hint


Question 2 of 10
2. After the US Central Intelligence Agency had first revealed the existence of the KM, a new unmanned drone system was allegedly designed and built to monitor its development. By what name was this system known? Hint


Question 3 of 10
3. The term used to describe the physical forces that keep the ekranoplan airborne is known as the Coriolis Effect. True or false?


Question 4 of 10
4. The head of the Soviet Central Hydrofoil Design Bureau, Rostislav Evgenievich Alexeyev, was a highly experienced engineer and designer in which field? Hint


Question 5 of 10
5. The only example of the KM ever built was operated by the Soviet Navy on which inland sea, the world's largest? Hint


Question 6 of 10
6. The MD-160 ekranoplan is known as 'Lun' in Russian. To which of the following names does the word 'Lun' translate into English? Hint


Question 7 of 10
7. The Soviets operated the ekranoplan over solid ground as well as over water. True or false?


Question 8 of 10
8. Unlike many aircraft designed to operate over water, the Lun was powered by jet engines. In which unusual location on the vessel are these engines located? Hint


Question 9 of 10
9. In its primary military role, the MD-160's offensive armament consisted of which type of weapons? Hint


Question 10 of 10
10. Although it was never built, the United States also designed a huge transport GEV. Which of the following names was given to this design? Hint



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Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. The first Soviet ekranoplan was known by its Soviet designation 'KM'. How do these initials translate into the English language?

Answer: Prototype Ship

The designation 'KM' stands for 'Korabl Maket' which means Prototype or Experimental Ship when translated literally from Russian. The impressively sized KM was built and tested during the mid 1960s and its existence was revealed by CIA intelligence officers in 1966 after the examination of a series of satellite images. Weighing in at an estimated six hundred tons, the KM was two hundred and ninety-five feet in length, had a wingspan of just over one hundred and twenty-three feet, flew at an altitude of between thirteen and forty six feet and travelled at a cruising speed of over three hundred miles per hour; it was, in its day, the largest vehicle to take to the air on earth.

The KM was operated by the Soviet Navy until 1980 when it was involved in an accident in which it crashed and sank.
2. After the US Central Intelligence Agency had first revealed the existence of the KM, a new unmanned drone system was allegedly designed and built to monitor its development. By what name was this system known?

Answer: Aquiline

The word 'aquiline' is an adjective used to describe anything hooked or resembling a bird of prey's bill. Believed to have been designed and constructed in the Nevada desert at the mysterious government known as 'Area 51', the Aquiline Project was instigated during the late 1960s and is responsible for much of the development of the drones used today by western forces.

The Aquiline drone was remotely controlled and was designed to look like a large bird of prey such as an eagle whilst in flight, hence its name.

The drone was equipped with television cameras, sensors and advanced electronic surveillance equipment and designed to be launched from submarines; this often failed and many of these machines crashed which led to the CIA eventually cancelling the entire Aquiline Project.
3. The term used to describe the physical forces that keep the ekranoplan airborne is known as the Coriolis Effect. True or false?

Answer: False

The physical force that keeps the ekranoplan airborne is known as the 'ground effect'. This phenomenon occurs whenever an aircraft is close to touching down. The wings and the surface beneath them form a funnel compressing the air, increasing its pressure and generating greater levels of lift.

This proximity to the earth's surface also decreases the strength of air currents that form and which are a major cause of aerodynamic drag. These wingtip vortices can be observed as an aircraft approaches the ground, especially when doing so through moist air.

The GEV generates more lift and is less susceptible to drag than conventional aircraft types of similar size and speed and which fly at much higher altitudes. GEVs have been described as akin to riding on an air cushion similar to that of a conventional hovercraft.
4. The head of the Soviet Central Hydrofoil Design Bureau, Rostislav Evgenievich Alexeyev, was a highly experienced engineer and designer in which field?

Answer: Shipping

Irrespective of the fact that the ekranoplan takes to the air, vehicles of this type are classified as ships; albeit very high speed ships! The contribution made to the field of high speed ship design by Rostislav Alexeyev should be considered highly important as many of his designs continue to influence contemporary designers and a number of his original vessels remain in service today. Alexeyev, his name still features in the title of today's modern business, was the head of the bureau from its inception on the 31st of December 1970 upon the order of the Soviet minister for shipbuilding. Prior to the GEV programme, Alexayev had been designing hydrofoils for use on many of the Soviet Union's inland waterways, an occupation that he had been involved in since as far back as 1955.

In 1975 Alexeyev was piloting a newer, smaller design of GEV, the Orlyonok or Eaglet, when the tail section detached causing the craft to crash and, although there was no loss of life, the incident tarnished what had been to that point an unblemished reputation.

It was in 1992 during a demonstration in front of an international audience that another Orlyonok GEV crashed, this time causing the death of one of its crew and seriously injuring nine others; this accident, shortly after the privatisation of the bureau, sounded the death knell for the GEV programme which finally ceased shortly afterwards when government funding finally came to an end.
5. The only example of the KM ever built was operated by the Soviet Navy on which inland sea, the world's largest?

Answer: Caspian Sea

On its discovery by the CIA, the KM ekranoplan was named the 'Caspian Sea Monster'. The sole surviving Soviet military ekranoplan, a slightly smaller machine designated the MD-160 'Lun' was also deployed to the Caspian Sea region in 1987 where it remained until 1990 when the government office responsible for its development, the Central Hydrofoil Design Bureau, was sold as a private company; the ekranoplan programme was then cancelled for the foreseeable future due to funding issues.

At the time of writing the MD-160 'Lun' is being held and receives basic maintenance in dry dock in the Caspian seaport of Kaspiysk.

Although the Lun is being maintained it is unlikely that it remains airworthy.
6. The MD-160 ekranoplan is known as 'Lun' in Russian. To which of the following names does the word 'Lun' translate into English?

Answer: Hen Harrier

Like all other Soviet aircraft, the only surviving example of the military ekranoplan was given a NATO reporting name, in the case of the MD-160 it was 'Duck'; clearly western military forces were trying to downplay the threat that this machine posed to surface vessels! In the Russian language the word 'Lun' means Hen Harrier, a far more appropriate moniker for a machine with the potential and capability to harry naval forces with its impressive speed and weapons carrying capacity.
7. The Soviets operated the ekranoplan over solid ground as well as over water. True or false?

Answer: False

With a cruising altitude averaging around fifteen feet and a cruising speed of over three hundred miles per hour, it would have been folly to attempt operating the ekranoplan over solid ground; the sheer size of the craft restricted its response to controls and its manoeuvrability with the likely result that the slightest of pilot errors would see the enormous Lun cart-wheeling into solid ground; the same result would be inevitable in a crash over water but, with a lack of many obstacles at sea, this likelihood could be virtually eliminated.

These machines could fly at higher altitudes of up to around five metres above the sea, but not particularly well due to not receiving the full benefit of the properties of the ground effect.
8. Unlike many aircraft designed to operate over water, the Lun was powered by jet engines. In which unusual location on the vessel are these engines located?

Answer: Either side of the nose

The Lun resembled, in many respects, a conventional flying boat. Flying boats had until this time been powered using propeller engines in the main although experiments had been carried out around the world using jet engines often without great success; large quantities of spray and jet engines do not combine well! In the case of the Lun, its eight Kuznetsov turbojet engines were mounted in two canards of four on either side of the nose of the craft, slightly behind and above the cockpit giving this craft a highly distinctive look which also kept its power plants well clear of the water and any floating debris.

However more importantly, this location was chosen in order for the engines downward slanting exhausts to provide the currents of air required for the ground effect to become effective.
9. In its primary military role, the MD-160's offensive armament consisted of which type of weapons?

Answer: Anti-shipping missiles

The Lun carried a total of six supersonic P-270 Moskit (Mosquito) anti-shipping missiles in fixed dorsal positions. This gave the Lun an enormous destructive capability and, surprisingly, these large and powerful weapons could be launched whilst the Lun was in flight. Destined to fulfil a range of military and civil aid roles which included disaster relief, as a hospital ship and for the rapid transport and deployment of troops; it was estimated that the Lun class GEV's would carry upwards of nine hundred fully equipped soldiers.

The defensive armament carried by the MD-160 was minimal but powerful nevertheless, consisting of four 23mm cannons located behind the vehicle's cockpit and in a powered turret located at the base of the tail assembly.
10. Although it was never built, the United States also designed a huge transport GEV. Which of the following names was given to this design?

Answer: Pelican

GEV's for use by the United States Navy were considered during the 1980s with the Boeing Company proposing a machine that would eclipse all others in every aspect. The Pelican ULTRA, or Ultra Large Transport Aircraft, was conceived to possess a five hundred foot wingspan, a length of four hundred feet and an estimated carrying capacity of around one thousand four hundred tons, a staggering capacity for a machine of its type. Even more surprising is the fact that the four turboprop engines that were to power the Pelican would be capable of lifting this enormous machine to an altitude of twenty thousand feet, although this would mean that the Pelican's estimated range of ten thousand nautical miles would be greatly reduced to around six thousand five hundred miles due to the loss of the benefits of the ground effect.

Although nothing has been heard of the Pelican ULTRA project for many years, it would not be beyond the realms of possibility that work on these craft is continuing today heavily shrouded in secrecy.
Source: Author SisterSeagull

This quiz was reviewed by FunTrivia editor stedman before going online.
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