Hybrid aircraft - part plane, part ekranoplan, 100% cool



Updated: April 4, 2012

The inspiration for this model was multi-dimensional. It's a plane all right, but not quite as any other you've ever seen. I wanted it to be a giant transport capable of carrying tanks or super-heavy equipment, but I also wanted it to be larger than any other plane you've ever seen, as well as capable of self-defense.

What I came up with is an aircraft that is part ekranoplan, part conventional plane, armed with anti-shipping cruise missiles similar to the Soviet Lun-class ground effect transport. But then, it also shares some similarities with An-225, the largest cargo plane ever built, and maybe some with Super Guppy. Either way, it's sleek and cool and modern and rendered in Kerkythea. So please join me for a tour of artsy awesomeness.

Gallery

OK, so here we go. My hybrid plane is a rather unconventional craft, with the nose leased from Super Guppy, connected to a flat, third-wing fuselage that also acts as a massive cargo. There's also a pair of conventional wings supporting six huge jets, and a W-shaped tailplane in the rear. Forward canards add lift and maneuverability at low speeds. This beast measures 169 meters in length and has some 3-4x times the loading capacity of the legendary An-225.

Top view

Left view

Front

Rear view

The cargo bay is accessed from the rear using a folding ramp. The interior measures 15 x 75 meters. Additional capacity is provided for weapons, which we will discuss soon, and massive fuel stores. Indeed, this hybrid beast can double as an air-refueling tanker.

Rear iso

Cargo bay

Some cool, semi-dramatic shots:

Side view

Departing

Long angle shot

Supporting this 570-ton unloaded weight monster is a massive landing gear system, with a 48-wheel main unit, each measuring approx. 3 meters in diameter, and an 8-wheel nose unit with somewhat smaller tires. Well, that's what you need when you lug almost a thousand tons into the air.

Landing gear, zoomed

Landed

Landing gear

Armament

By now, you might we wondering why my hybrid plane is armed with twelve large missiles. The answer is, for the same reason the Soviet Lun-class ekranoplan is armed; to fight enemy ships. Those twelve rounds are fast cruise anti-shipping missiles, mounted on retractable launchers that can be folded into the fuselage in higher-speed flight to reduce drag.

Missiles 1

Missiles 2

Missiles 3

For self-defense, this hybrid also carries two short-range air-to-air missiles near the wing ends. I also mulled adding a rear gun turret above the cargo hold, but then I decided against too many details. In fact, for a Dedoimedo model, this plane is rather clean.

Wing missile

Some silver color

The two-tone gray paint scheme might be a little dull, so I also graced my model with some unscrubbed silver paint. I think this adds life to the model, especially since the reflections are more vivid, more realistic.

Silver color 1

Silver 2

Drama

Time for a couple of truly dramatic images. Both these show the hybrid plane as if seen from the cockpit of a chase plane, with obvious atmospheric and light distortion, plus some lens aberrations, as it should be in real-life, especially with such closeups. Then, you also get the sunlight glare. You might image both these pictures show the hybrid aircraft en route to an air base, seen overland, with the landing gear freshly lowered.

Over land 1

Over land 2

With strobe and landing gear lights

Some fancy strobe lights are always a nice addition, no?

With strobe lights, storm

With strobes and landing lights, silver

Now, take a deep breath, because the best is yet to come.

Landing scenes

To make my model as realistic as possible, I used an existing image of a C-130 Hercules landing at one of the USAF airbases and replaced the said aircraft with my own model. Then, I did some extra polish in GIMP, with no less than fifty different images of the scene created. I'm presenting only the best, but I think the overall effect is rather nice. I played with colors, noise, blur, all kinds of effects, so don't mind the fact you see the same image with only tiny variations. Image credits for landing backgrounds go to USAF official website.

Landing 1

Landing 2

The same plane, only smaller:

Landing 3

And with unpainted metal fuselage:

Silver paint 1

Silver paint 2

Finally, escorted by my Su-27 like model, in the background:

Landing 4

You will also notice that I used this particular scene in my GIMP plugins article, slowly working on the details, polishing, perfecting. Reminder, this was one of the early work prototypes; the model has also changed since, including new position and size of the dorsal missile launchers, plus it has gained canards.

Early model

And now with those same mountains, only better:

Mountains 1

Mountains 2

Mountains 3

With tanks

Then, I did some scenery with the plane parked on the ground and tanks waiting to be loaded into the cargo bay. All of the models are scaled to match in size. For example, the cargo ramp is about 5 meters wide, while the tank is about 3.6 meters wide. This also results in proper lighting, but it also emphasizes the sheer size of this hybrid aircraft beast.

Tanks 1

Tanks 2

Tanks 3

Tanks 4

This is still work in progress, as I'm creating a whole new range of images with even better materials, a more realistic fuselage skin for the plane, grittier, more realistic asphalt, new lighting angles, and more. You will see yet another gallery come soon, so stay tuned.

Conclusion

That was long, a real bandwidth waster, but art knows no limits. One another thing that knows no limits is self-flattery, as I'm about to commence a serious wave of praise for my own work here. But then, this is probably my best work yet, as each and every model is my best work yet when published. Even though I'm just an amateur on the grand scale of 3D, I do see progress, and I'm mightily pleased.

I hope you share my enthusiasm for this gallery. Departing from the usual Dedoimedo clutter, it's sleek and spartan in details, and still manages to be exciting and colorful. In particular, I'm quite proud of the two landing scenes. That took time, but it sure shows. Therefore, I shall be granting myself a round 10/10. Much more coming soon. And we ought to have a guess appearance soon, believe it or not. Until the next time.

Cheers.

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