Airborne Awesomosity

In the General Secretary’s Secret Service

Known as the Tupolev 007, the bizarre craft you see above is the only one known to be in the US. The actual craft, the Tupolev A-3 Hope, was fairly prevalent throughout Eastern Europe and Siberia starting in 1964.

Much of Eastern Europe and Siberia is covered in snow, ice, marsh and other types of terrain that make it difficult to deliver goods and get people places, particularly in an emergency. In the early 1960s, as Krushchev pushed to better the lives of the people, a plan was drawn up for a tough “aerosled” capable of traversing shallow water, ice, snow, mud, bogs, etc. The Tupolev design bureau was given the job and this is what they came up with.

The A-3 was originally fitted a 100-hp, 5-cylinder M11 radial engine driving a single propeller to its rivited metal alloy body. The body was designed to carry up to 5 people or 1,433 lb on ice or 600 lb. on water. It could float, even if one of the three body compartments was flooded. The hull was designed to reduce side-slip on ice and to provide some lift, reducing friction and increasing the top speed. Eventually, a 216 hp AI-14R radial engine was fitted increasing the top speed to almost 75 mph on snow. The example above has been fitted with a 9-cylinder M14P radial engine driving dual propellers.

One of the more interesting uses for the A-3 was to recover cosmonauts should they land off course in difficult to reach areas. There were also several on duty in East Germany to rescue downed pilots.

There are no reports of a Soviet counterpart to James Bond having used an A-3 to smuggle defectors from West Berlin to East Berlin by skipping Checkpoint Charlie and cutting through marsh, all while being chased by an evil villain’s henchmen.

[Image Credit: Autoblog and used under Fair Use]