April 24th, 2009 link to (permalink)
The Bartini Beriev is one of those objects that scores on every level of Jurassic technology fetishism: highly unusual experimental design (check); looks like something from science fiction (check); Soviet (check); abandoned and rotting (check); looks like an enormous frightening bug (check).
Although only prototypes were built, in the 1970s, the Bartini was a revolutionary hybrid vehicle. It was designed to take of vertically - from water! To fly as a real plane at high altitudes and to use the Wing in Ground Effect to skim the water somewhere between a hovercraft and a plane. This gives it another delicious feature: cool name: (WIG) vehicle, flarecraft, sea skimmer, ekranoplan. The Bartini is all of these.
The image above shows it with the main wings removed (below is the original configuration).
From a design perspective it demonstrates the extreme difference between the boring flying cigar design of commercial aircraft and military planes.
Commercial planes occupy a single species, very stable ecosystem with little evolution of form. In the military, a literal arms race creates a more varied environment, resulting in all sorts of shapes, sizes and functions of planes. The Bartini is a very good example of this, being a world apart from a Boeing or Airbus airliner.
Head over to Airliners.net where they have more images of the Bartini.