Throughout the Cold War the Soviet Union and the United States were constantly trying to check each other’s military power. This drive for each country to outdo the other led to some truly bizarre pieces of military hardware.
One of the most astounding Soviet creations was the Bartini Beriev VVA-14. The plane, whose pontoons give it the bizarre look of a bomber airframe strapped to two Star Trek-like nacelles, was the work of Italian designer Robert Bartini.
It was envisioned as a vertical take-off amphibious aircraft designed to act as a defence against US nuclear submarines. It was supposed to be able to skim the surface of the water, allowing it to have eyes on underwater targets while keeping it safe from sub attacks.
Ultimately, only two Bartini Beriev VVA-14 prototypes were built and the whole project was eventually scrapped.
The sole remaining prototype is on display outside at the Russian Air Force Museum in Monino, outside of Moscow.
The Bartini Beriev VVA-14 had a three-person crew.
The plane’s first flight was held on Sept. 4, 1972. At the time, the prototype had yet to be outfitted with its pontoons for aquatic landings.
The addition of the pontoons allowed the VVA-14 to land at sea.
In addition, the plane could efficiently hover along the surface of the water.
The VVA-14 had two turbojet engines in addition to 12 turbofan engines that provided lift.
The plane logged a total of 103 flight hours over 107 flights before the project was cancelled following Bartini’s death.
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