Alekseyev A-90 'Orlyonok'

  Scratchbuild 1:72 Ekranoplan

Designed by a team led by Rostislav Alekseyev, the A-90 'Orylonok' (Sea Eagle) followed on from the larger KM and Lun Ekranoplans. They were to be used in the assault role and featured a retractable undercarriage to transition up the beachhead to unload their carge through the nose - which swung open for access.

Here's how I scratchbuilt the Orlyonok in 1/72 scale.......

I found some good drawings in the Russian magazine 'Aerohobby' - so they were scaled up to 1/72 scale for this project.

The 'floor' is made from a rectangular piece of thick plastic card to which bulkheads for the planing bottom are attached.

Now the right way up, the starboard side panel - with windows drilled out - is added.

The port side panel is now attached to the floor and the rear bulkhead is fitted.
This fuselage section is a rectangular box with a curved roof - rather like a railway carriage.

The fuselage inverted to show the shape of the planing bottom.

The centre keel of the rear fuselage is added and shaped bulkheads are attached on either side.
The curved roof bulkheads are fitted to a centre keel to form the outline shape.

The planing bottom and flat rear side panels are attached.

Making the vertical fin - plastic card centre and balsa wood shaped to aerofoil section....

Checking the fin for fit - and planking in the lower rear fuselage.....

Port side lower aft fuselage planked in.

Separating the rudder and skinning the fin with thin plastic card.

Fin and separate rudder.

Thin plastic card strips used to plank in the fuselage roof.

Roof skinning.

Thin strips used to 'plank in' the roof and upper rear fuselage.

Port side rear fuselage and fin - note the fillet at the top of the fin.

Starboard side still needs 'planking'...

Folding nose section - with a central keel and bulkheads either side.

Magazine photo of sideways hinged front section.

Plastic tube of suitable diameter forms the front jet engine.

Top view of the nose section showing the port side jet engine.

Planking added - with scraps of plastic filling the radome.

Now to add some filler.......

Making the wings - plastic card skinning over a balsa core.

Fuselage/fin joint filled and sanded smooth.

Milliput and Green Stuff filler added and sanded smooth.

Nose section after lots of filling and sanding.

Horizontal tailplane - plastic card over a balsa core

Completed tailplanes.

Wing endplate floats made from laminations of thick plastic card (top) - and sanded to final shape (bottom)

All the major sub-assemblies ready for fitting.

Fuselage showing the amount of filler used to get a smooth finish.

Rear fuselage and fin.

Nose section.

Rear NK-12 engine nacelle - made from an old Airfix Il-28 fuselage section.

Making the main wheel - using resin copies cast by a friend.

Ten main wheels being fitted.

Glazing added using flat panels of clear plastic. The dome with the gun turret and radome
is plug-moulded using a wooden former.

The working opening nose section.

Finished Model

I used a stencil mask to paint the white number 21, a friend made the diving eagle decal (scaled up from the Revell 1/144 kit).
The contraprop is from an old Contrail vacform Tu-95 kit.

Skimming across my lounge carpet.....

Closeup of the cockpit glazing - note the rear view mirrors and 'artificial horizon'.

The rough red outline on the intakes is deliberate.

Scratch-built 12.7mm gun turret with barrels from plastic tubing.

Rear engine and contraprops.

NK-12 engine nacelle.

Sequence showing the nose opening........

Note the jetpipe - made from plastic tube.

The hydraulic ram is a length of aluminium tubing. Note the nosewheel and hydroski.

Loading ramps extended.....

The BTR-80 is a limited-run injection-moulded kit that I picked up in Moscow.

There are now plenty of much better BTR-80 kits available.

Closeup of the sideways-opening front section.

On display at Scalemodelword, Telford in 2014 - next to my Modelsvit An-124.


My walkround photos of the real thing....

All photographs copyright Ken Duffey

After being floated upriver on the Volga from Kasspiisk, ekranoplan,
A-90 'Orlyonok' number 26 being prepared for display at Khimki reservoir in 2007.
Note the cruise ships at the Moscow North River Terminal in the background.

Closeup of the nose section. The prominent anti-spray strake appears to be missing.

The nacelle of the NK-12MK turboprop and AV-90 contraprops - as used on the Tu-95 Bear.

The exhaust of the Kuznetsov NK-8-4K booster turbofan in the nose.
Note the swivelling exhaust is in the raised (cruise) position.

The cockpit glazing - note the rear-view mirror and 'artificial horizon'.

Intakes and nose radome.

Another view of the fin-mounted NK-12MK turboprop.
Note the early version of the Russian Navy St Andrews flag

Another view of the jet nozzle in the (upper) cruise position. Note the multiple locking latches.

The twin nosewheel mounted on its hydroski.

Two-section rudder and St Andrews flag. The APU exhaust is at the base of the rudder.

Wingtip floats.

Head-on view of the A-90.

Taken during another visit to Khimki in 2009, the A-90 is now painted to look a bit like
the prototype. Note the later style Navy flag on the fin.

 This view shows the main hydroski fitted with ten beaching wheels.

The nose turbofan exhaust.

The nose section in its smart new colours. The large anti-spray strake is missing.

Intake and nose radome. Note the small anti-spray strake on the underside of the radome.


A closer view of the retractable nosewheel - mounted on the aft end of a hydroski.

Twin 12.7mm gun turret - without its guns and trained to port.

Pylon-mounted navigation radar.

Starboard endplate float.

Freshly painted fin with its Russian Navy emblem - note the split rudder and HF aerial 'stinger'

Closer view of the port side nose -taken from the opposite bank of the inlet.

A good view of the front and rear hydroskis with their beaching wheels.

Another visit - this time in 2011. Although there is now an access ramp in place,
we were not allowed aboard - due to  'safety concerns'.

The paint is starting to weather...

Note the open port side access door.

Museum staff showing the scale of the A-90.

A good view of the nose hydroski and wheel.

Navigation radar.

Flat plate antenna.

Closeup of the swivelling cruise engine exhaust. It is swivelled down to blow air
under the wing for takeoff and pivoted up (as shown) for cruise.

This closeup shows the massive hinges and locking latches.

Top hinge and its fairing.

Gun turret - still trained to port.

Drooped elevator and HF aerial stinger.

In 2017, I went on a river cruise from St Petersburg to Moscow - down the Volga.
Imagine my excitement when our cruise ship docked at the Moscow North River Terminal -
right opposite the A-90 - I took these photos from the deck of our ship - much to the
amusement of my fellow passengers...

The A-90 hoves into view as we approach our mooring.

Note the visitor access gangplank.

Perfect rear view.

I had to explain to my fellow passengers (and some of the crew) what it was!


Ken Duffey

July 2020