ENGINEERING DISASTERS: THE RUSSIAN FLYING FORTRESS
While Americans are renowned for wrapping up their works in the quickest ways possible, Russians follow a motto of “stay strong till you last”. Characterized by the robust nature of their engineering, Russians always believe that a machine should be judged by the number of years it lasts and not the performance. At a time when scientists all around the world were engaged into miniaturization, Russians still thought that “Big is the way”. Back then during WWII, aircrafts were designated based on their purpose in a battle. There were bombers, cargo aircrafts, reconnaissance, fighters and what not. The need for a multipurpose flying machine was a big matter. So the Russians came up with the idea of an aircraft that would cater to all these needs together.
The failure of the Russian K-7 Flying fortress is a classic example of the fact that addition rule does not work out during all situations. It means that taking out the individual perks of all the aircrafts and assembling them into a single one with hopes of churning out the maximum level of destruction is not a good idea. Altough it took decades to realize, aircraft engineering itself was at a nascent stage and experimentations were still at large. The fortress was a very product of this addition rule. It was an amalgamation of every category of weaponry one can think about. It could have been named as a “machine gun with wings”.
To talk about the specs of the aircraft, this gigantic monster was a nightmare for its enemies. The wingspan of the craft was a whooping 132.5 metres, a length which is almost double the length of a modern-day Boeing 747 aircraft. With an estimated cargo carrying capacity of more than sixty eight tonnes, it could practically carry tanks and armored vehicles. Imagine a tank being dropped from mid-air right into the middle of the battlefield. The fortress was to be propelled by as many as twenty propeller engines. The weaponry attached to the flying giant is what really made it a “giant”. The flying fortress had two heavy rail guns at the tail section of the fuselage. These two rail guns were further backed by a dozen gunner positions. As a strategic bomber, it had a housing capacity of 8.5 tonnes of droppable weight. Statistically more than a hundred paratroopers could have been accommodated at a time.
It crashed, on the first attempt of takeoff itself. With a payload of much less than what it was designed for. Considering the size of the craft, it was not even possible to build another prototype!