Alekseyev KM “Caspian Monster”
(I finally finished this one a few months ago. It was one of those projects that you are inspired to start, then get distracted by something else, but eventually come back to.)
The Alekseyev ekranoplans were designed to fly in ground effect where the drag was much less, but were very limited as to where they could go at such extremely low altitudes. The mammoth KM was the biggest in the series and still holds the record for longest heavier-than-air craft to fly (319 feet). It was powered by eight booster turbojets, which blew air over and under the “wings”, and two tail-mounted cruise engines. Optimal altitude was 13 – 46 feet and cruising speed was 250 – 280 mph. The sole KM flew on the Caspian Sea from 1967 until 1982, when it crashed and sank without loss of life. The wreckage was never recovered.
This is the Anigrand resin kit in 1/144 scale. The kit had some fit issues, with quite a few gaps needing attention. The control surface hinge lines were a little soft, so I separated the flaps and rudder and repositioned them deflected downward after cleaning them up. Because they didn’t fit well nor look like KM photos, I rebuilt the tail engine intake spray deflectors. The aft fuselage strakes were also replaced with sheet plastic, which made smoothing the large seam between front and aft fuselage sections much easier.
I added some tiny 1/144 Preiser pilot figures to the cockpit but they’re very difficult to see.
The panel lines seemed too deep and wide for this scale, so they were filled in and skin panels highlighted with slightly different shades of grey paint. The KM’s wings and tail got pretty dirty from engine exhaust, so I tried to replicate this with my airbrush and pastels. Stripes were hand painted, while the tail numbers and doors are decals. Pitot boom and antennae came from the spares box or plastic stock.
My hat’s off to Anigrand for producing kits of some very unique subjects!
If you build any of the available Ekranoplan kits (Anigrand KM, Anigrand Lun, or Revell Orlyonok), an excellent reference source is Soviet and Russian Ekranoplans by Komissarov and Gordon (Midland Publishing).
20 additional images. Click to enlarge.