Weight & dimensions
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Early US spy photos of the Korabi Maket KM (Russian for Prototype Ship) sent American authorities scrambling to discover the nature of the mysterious Soviet aircraft close to the Caspian Sea. Dubbed the “Kaspian Monster ” by the CIA, the KM was the largest airplane ever built from its 1966 launch until it sank in 1980.
Little is known about the Caspian Sea Monster during its existence. But records released after the fall of the Soviet Union revealed an experimental ground effect vehicle (ekranoplan) developed for military logistics and rescue operations. The Caspian Sea Monster flies just five to ten meters (16-33 feet) over a level surface (Caspian Sea) using the reduced aerodynamic drag generated by its wings. Military interest in the Caspian Sea Monster diminished during the 1970s, and the aircraft sank a week after it was damaged after a crash.
Fun Fact: alarmed by spy photos of the then-unknown Korabi Maket KM, the CIA launched a major espionage mission called PROJECT AQUILINE and built a specialty drone to determine the aircraft’s purpose.
The Caspian Sea Monster was one of the largest aircraft ever made.