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Bartini VVA-14

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Published on Aug 21, 2008

The Bartini Beriev VVA-14 Vertikal`no-Vzletayuschaya Amphibia (vertical take-off amphibious aircraft) was developed in the Soviet Union during the 1970s. Designed to be able to take-off from the water and fly at high speed over long distances, It was to make true flights at high altitude, but also have the capability of 'flying' efficiently just above the sea surface, using ground effect. The VVA-14 was designed by Robert Bartini in answer to a perceived requirement to destroy US Navy Polaris missile submarines.

After extensive research, including the development of the small prototype Be-1 wing in ground effect aircraft, the first VVA-14 prototype was completed in 1972. Its first flight was from a conventional runway on 4th September 1972.

In 1974 the inflatable pontoons were installed, though their operation caused many problems. Flotation and water taxi tests followed, culminating in the start of flight testing of the amphibious aircraft on 11th June 1975.

The inflatable pontoons were later replaced by rigid pontoons, whilst the fuselage was lengthened and the starting engines added. This incarnation was given the designation VVA-14M1P. However, the bureau tasked with supplying the intended battery of 12 RD-36-35PR lift engines did not deliver, and this made VTOL testing impossible.

After Bartini's death in 1974, the project slowed and eventually drew to a close, the aircraft having conducted 107 flights, with a total flight time of 103 hours. The only remaining VVA-14, No. 19172, was retired to the Russian Federation Central Air Force Museum, Monino in 1987. The aircraft still resides at the museum in a dismantled state, where it carries the number '10687' and 'Aeroflot'.

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