Updated: August 9, 2009; April 30, 2011
This model was inspired by the Russian gigantic Zubr (NATO code name Pomornik) air-cushioned landing craft or, in layman's terms, assault hovercraft. Only to make it a little more interesting, I scaled it up, added a few more changes of my own, and beefed up the artillery. Furthermore, this time, I also added images of the model rendered without edges from the start, so you'll be able to enjoy near-realistic scenery.
Visually, my model is a cross-breed between typical American LCAC and the Russian monster, taking most after the latter. It's approx. 250 meters long, 90 meters wide and has an air cushion four stories high, which should probably allow it to scale vertical obstacles in excess of 3-4 meters easily.
The voluminous body allows me to lower the main deck and place the air suction turbines below the transport/weapons deck, rather than above it, as is the case with Zubr, which should offer better visibility, reduce the side profile and radar cross section and therefore, the vulnerability to missile attacks, as well as improve the quality of EM comms because of the reduced interference by turbine blades, which are notorious for ghost signals.
The central ridge doubles as the weapons deck and helipad, both fore and aft. Unlike Zubr, there's only one cargo compartment, multi-storeyed, running the entire length of the vessel and measuring 200x12 meters, which should provide enough space for three main battle tanks abreast, a total of 60 pieces. I figured out my hovercraft should therefore displace approx. 10,000-14,000 tons and have a cargo capacity of some 1,200 tons.
Loading ramps are in the prow and stern, lowered over the air cushion. Zubr has a duck-like loading ramp that splits the cushion, reducing the beach clearance.
The four huge turbines, measuring 14 meters in diameter, are responsible for pumping air into the cushion and providing seaworthiness to my ship. The two massive engines in the stern provide thrust and double as rudders. In this case, my ship is more like American LCAC, as it has only two units. Zubr has three.
The turbines also double as shields against missile attacks and are covered in meshes to keep FOD away, mainly poor Russian sailors from getting sucked into the turbine blades. Additionally, the turbines are protected with sand filters to keep debris away during landings on sand beaches.
The top view is quite impressive, offering a good view of my monster's layout. BTW, I have no name for it, which is a bit embarressing, so let's call it Slava, a good Russian word/male name meaning Glory.
Here's another lovely shot:
Slava also has a rather dramatic front end, with a massive cargo compartment armored doors gaping and two heavy banks of rocket launchers on either side.
I've also adorned the hovercraft with a few accessories, like inflatable rafts and rigging masts all over the place. I figured Slava would probably operate in shallows, where it would have to work alongside lots of other, smaller vessels. Therefore, the sloped sides, the rigging masts and the rafts make sense.
The command deck is also pretty exciting, with the slight curve of the bridge and small observation platforms at the sides.
And here's a dramatic low-angle shot. Notice the typically Russian lines. A plethora of antennas above the bridge also add to the archaic, pure-iron atmosphere of this screenshot.
Just below are the crew quarters. Notice the handsome round windows, just like in the old times.
Transported troops are lodged in the air-conditioned cargo compartment on level 2, above the heavy equipment and vehicles. My estimate is that 1/3rd of a Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) could happily travel with Slava. I was rather liberal when it came to drawing the electronic equipment. Stands to reason, as Slava has quite a bit of weapons, most of which require radar. The various shaped mushrooms are all radomes.
The engines are another dramatic bit of this model. Oversized, hungry and menacing, they do give the feeling Slava can get quite a bit of wind. I figured they are powered by shaft mechanisms from a central engine unit below the rear helipad, padded with fuel. The single chimney of a gas turbine powerplant is hidden between the engine masts, hiding some of its thermal signature. Air vents on the engine masts keep the gearing cool. With 17 meters in diameter, these two units could probably allow Slava a top speed of approx. 45-50 knots.
The cushion turbines are powered separately.
Slava is armed to the teeth and then some. It even has artificial fangs, just for good measure. I tried to be true to Russian weapons design, mimicking the Russian AK-630 CIWS and the twin-barrel automatic, dual purpose 130mm support gun. I've also added two quad launchers of short-range SAM a-la SA-8 gecko and the powerful 122mm 45-tube MRL.
As you've noticed, Slava is also a micro aircraft carrier, as it has pads for two helicopters. The fore one cannot be used when firing the main gun, but the rear one is always accessible and quite well shielded from fire, allowing air operations even when assailing a beach.
Here are a few screenshots of my helicopter model, landed atop Slava's red helipad circles. BTW, the red used here is the genuine Russian navy color. I've sampled it from pictures of Russian ships. Accidentally, Slava is a code name for a Soviet destroyer. Male, mind it. Russian ships are male.
That's about it. Another fine model. I really enjoyed creating it. It's also a rather reasonable in its design. You might almost imagine this little boat barging down Dardanelles, frightening the living daylight out of NATO observation stations in Turkey and Greece.
Now, let's take a look at some really fancy artwork.
Time for proper fun ... This is madness, Sparta, uh ... realistic rendering.
Here's the same model, only re-created using Kerkythea, after exporting the model using SketchUp Importer for Google SketchUp and rendered with photons and ray tracing and magic and whatnot. You will like this. My dream of making near-realistic models is coming true, finally. Nirvana. Spledidski.
So here we go, realistic materials, murky yet calm water, early morning illumination, the ideal setting for a giant Soviet assault hovercraft to strike a pose. Notice the somewhat dull reflection of the ship's hull, the tiny round windows and inset doors. For better contrast and a more impressive effect, I specially painted the engine nacelles black. The command bridge is also rather sweet.
A top view:
Weapons; notice the guidance lights lit all over the deck:
The lovely bridge:
Here's the rear helideck, empty:
With a helicopter parked on the front deck helipad:
Finally, a serene iso view from the rear, basked in twilight: