Caspian Sea Monster: Moscow’s Fascinating Submarine Museum
On the edge of the Khimskoe reservoir there stands a most unusual sight. Two water planes surrounded by an extraordinary, experimental "ekranoplane," that was dubbed the "Caspian Sea Monster " by US intelligence services during the Cold War. Adding to the eerie quality of this vision is the fact that the woods and park in the area, which is hardly either the most remote or tranquil in Moscow, are nevertheless, quite varied and very interesting. It’s as if the viewer has fallen into a kaleidoscope of several simultaneous landscapes: one a deep forest, the next a seaside fairground and still another a deserted chapel in a riverside meadow with a busy industrial harbor in view.
The story behind the Caspian Sea Monster dates back to the 1960s when American spy satellites photographed a peculiar object floating about and minding its own business in the Caspian Sea within the borders of the former Soviet Union. Sort of air-plane shaped, it was absolutely gigantic, about 310 feet long and weighing up to 540 tons. Oddly, its wings were far too short for flight much like a useless, extinct and over-sized dodo bird.
More than twenty years would pass before Americans unlocked the mystery of this strange monster from the Caspian Sea. Facts revealed that the Soviets were testing what was then the world’s heaviest flying machine, but it was not an aeroplane; it was an Ekranoplan, sort of a sea-plane, but not quite. Known as a “Ground Effect Vehicle” (GEV), it had the odd ability to increase its lift as it flew very close to the ground. This was due to the fact that a low flying aircraft traps air between the wings and the ground.
Ultimately, the problem with the Ekranoplan was that it was too small. It may have been a monster, but it still wasn't big enough for the ground effect to really work.
The Caspian Sea Monster is located in Northern Tushino Park across a pedestrian bridge traversing the Moscow Canal. This view is noteworthy for it is the key to understanding how Moscow came to be known as “the port of five seas.” From this monumental navigation route that was built by Gulag prisoners back in the 1930s, the Moskva and Volga Rivers link to the Black, Caspian, White, Baltic and Azov seas.
Come visit the monster if you ever find yourself in the area. He gets very lonely sometimes.
M Dee Dubroff