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CHDB A-90 Orlyonok (Eaglet) (Ekranoplan)

Soviet Union (1979)
Picture of CHDB A-90 Orlyonok (Eaglet) (Ekranoplan) Ground Effect Flying Boat / Transport Aircraft

The A-90 Orlyonok was another of the ekranoplan ground effect vehicles in service with the Soviet Navy during the Cold War years.


Detailing the development and operational history of the CHDB A-90 Orlyonok (Eaglet) (Ekranoplan) Ground Effect Flying Boat / Transport Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 10/24/2017. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

The Soviet Navy made use of several "ekranoplan" design forms during the Cold War decades, these pseudo-aircraft designs utilizing ground effect running to skim of fly over the surface of the water. Neither true aircraft nor true watercraft, the types were of value to Soviet warplanners for their hauling capabilities and inherent fuel efficiency when compared to traditional aircraft while lacking the drag encountered by the hull of watercraft. In the late 1960s. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, work was undertaken on a new ekranoplan vehicle, the Central Hyrdofoil Design Bureau's A-90 "Orlyonok" ("Eaglet") with its design attributed to engineer Rostislav Evgenievich Alexeev.

The craft was developed with transport capabilities in mind as the Soviet Cold War Army placed a premium on being able to move mass quantities of man and machine to wherever they were needed across the vast Soviet frontier and elsewhere. Such ground effect aircraft fit the bill and were often developed in complete secrecy from the prying eyes of the West - many of their capabilities remaining a mystery until the fall of the Soviet Empire in the early 1990s. One unique feature of the A090 design was its wheeled undercarriage which could be deployed during amphibious assaults - much to the surprise of defenders would be the A-90 continuing its running from water to dry land while carrying its troop complement or Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) further inland!

Only five of the type were eventually constructed with the first being reserved for static testing. The first flyable prototype became "S-23" and it completed a first flight in 1972 from the surface of the Volga River. It was then relocated to the waters of the Caspian for further work until it suffered a crash in 1975. It was reborn as the "S-21" in 1978 but then it, too, was lost to a crash later in 1992. "S-25" appeared in 1979 while "S-26" followed in 1980. The series achieved formal service introduction in 1979 with the last units - S-25 and S-26 - not retired until their usefulness had run out in 1993.
As completed, the A-90 featured the requisite boat-like hull mated to a conventional aircraft-type fuselage featuring monoplane wings and a T-style tail unit. The cockpit was fitted over the nose for a commanding view of the action ahead and an internal loading ramp was built into the lower nose section for loading/unloading cargo. The nose assembly was hinged to open sideways and allow the needed access to the hold. The wing mainplanes were low-mounted at midships onto the fuselage sides. There was armament carried but only intended for local defense, this in the form of 2 x 12.7mm heavy machine guns fitted to a dorsal turret along the fuselage spine just aft of the cockpit.

Engines were buried within the sides of the frontal fuselage and consisted of 2 x Kuznetsov NK-8-4K turbofans outputting 23,155lbs of thrust each. These secondary installations were angled with their intakes cut into the upper nose section and their exhaust ports emanating from the lower fuselage sides. At the top of the vertical tail fin was a single Kuznetsov NK-12MK turboprop engine delivering the primary 34,171lbs of drive power through a four-blade contra-rotating propeller arrangement for cruising. Performance from the arrangement included a cruising speed of 250 miles per hour with an operational range out to 935 miles and a service ceiling of 9,850 feet. The turbofan engines were used during take-off actions for the necessary lift and landing was aided by a retractable ski system under the belly.

The typical operating crew became six personnel with the hold able to accommodate up to 150 combat-ready infantry or similar load (including armored vehicles, supplies, medical litters, or fuel). Payload tolerances peaked at approximately 61,730lbs. The airframe featured an overall length of 190.6 feet with a wingspan of 103.3 feet, and a height of 53.4 feet. Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) was 308,650lbs.






Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

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Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 300mph
Lo: 150mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (261mph).

    Graph average of 225 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Graph showcases the CHDB A-90 (S-23)'s operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
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Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
5
5


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


Altitude Visualization
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National Flag Graphic
Origin: Soviet Union
Year: 1979
Type: Ground Effect Flying Boat / Transport Aircraft
Manufacturer(s): Central Hydrofoil Design Bureau - Soviet Union
Production: 5
Status: Retired, Out-of-Service
Global Operators:
Soviet Union
Historical Commitments / Honors:

Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.
Measurements and Weights icon
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the CHDB A-90 (S-23) model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
6


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
190.62 ft


Meters
58.1 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
103.35 ft


Meters
31.5 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
53.48 ft


Meters
16.3 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
176,370 lb


Kilograms
80,000 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
308,647 lb


Kilograms
140,000 kg

Engine icon
Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
1 x Kuznetsov NK-12MK turboprop engine developing 34,171lbs of drive through a contra-rotating propeller arrangement; 2 x Kuznetsov NK-8-4K turbofan engines developing 23,155lbs of thrust for lift.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
261 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
420 kph


Knots
227 kts


Performance
RANGE


Miles
932 mi


Kilometers
1,500 km


Nautical Miles
810 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
9,843 ft


Meters
3,000 m


Miles
1.86 mi

Supported Weapon Systems:

Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft heavy machine gun
Armament - Hardpoints (0):

STANDARD:
2 x 12.7mm heavy machine guns in dorsal turret.

OPTIONAL:
Up to 61,730lbs of cargo.
Variants: Series Model Variants
• A-90 Orlyonok - Base Series Designation; five total airframes built with four being flyable.