Caspian Sea Monster v.1 (1964)
About the Design
In the early 1960s, U.S. spy satellites observed the Soviets building something huge on the shores of the Caspian Sea. Dubbed the "Caspian Sea Monster," the craft looked like a huge cargo plane, but its wings were far too short to provide conventional lift. So what was that thing?
It wasn't until after the collapse of the USSR that information about the Soviets' "Ekranoplans" made it to the West. Technically Wing-In-Ground Effects Vehicles (WIGs), these massive aircraft took advantage of an odd aviation phenomenon; when an airplane flies very close to the ground, the air compressed beneath the wing and the earth creates additional lift. The Soviet Union's experimental WIGs were designed to serve as huge transports and missile launching platforms that would travel at high speeds only a few feet above the water (or flat terrain). Their unusual design and flight profiles would allow them to travel great distances on very little fuel,
Ekranoplan experiments continued for nearly two decades until the USSR's collapse cut off funding. Although visually impressive, the WIGs never performed up to expectations; ironically, their problem was that, while huge, they weren't big enough to take full advantage of ground-effect phenomenon.
About the Kit
During the early 21st Century, numerous Japanese toy and model manufacturers issued various series of "trading kits," small model kit series based around various themes. The models themselves were not identified on the box; the idea was, once opened, the kits would be collected and duplicates traded until one acquired a full set.
Released in early 2005, the "Ships of the World" collection included surface ships, submarines and, yes, Ekranoplans. The "Caspian Sea Monster" kit came in two versions; one with its jet engines positioned both front and rear, the other with all engines near the bow. This is the front/rear model, which has been given an oil wash and weathered for added "realism."
This model was built from an original issue.