The Soviet Union, and Russia in general is known for having some of the craziest inventions ever assembled. Russians truly do possess a unique ingenuity to create something insane out of nothing. When the Soviet Union was a world power, they spent insane amounts of money developing military technology that was unheard of. Such as the deadly Ekranoplan that was put into production. This thing was an absolutely massive aircraft that would skim above the water at high rates of speed to avoid detection by enemy radar. Russians are constantly pushing the envelope when it comes to inventive technology, and these boats called hydrofoil boats that were developed back in the 1970’s and 1980’s are definitely one of the craziest water vessels I’ve ever seen.
Looking at it from the front, this thing could be a spaceship from Star Wars or Star Trek.
These rocket ship impersonators would speed people up and down Russian river ways.
The boats used a system called hydrofoil technology. Fins on the bottom of the boat allowed the boat to be lifted out of the water, reducing drag.
This would allow some of these boats to reach as fast as 150 kmph!
They were nicknamed “raketas” which is Russian for rocket. Some of them were even outfitted with airplane turbine engines on the sides!
The original design for hydrofoil boats came from the mind of Soviet inventor Rostislav Alexeyev.
Nearly 3,000 of these incredible machines were produced to ferry people to and fro on the Russian and Ukrainian rivers.
The economic collapse of the Soviet Union put a halt to production of these boats however. Now many of them sit in ship graveyards just like this one.
Seeing these on the rivers again would be quite the event.
Unfortunately, time and disuse have taken their toll on these once national symbols of pride.
Some have still found their use in other countries. Vietnam still uses one of the 1970’s model boats. It still runs a daily route between the Cat Ba island and the city of Hai Phong.
You can also find a hydrofoils still ruling the rivers in place like Canada, Greece, Yugoslavia, Netherlands, Thailand, Turkey and this one picture which operates in China.
For many Russians the hydrofoils are a symbol of childhood. One Russian businessman even converted one into a luxury yacht.
I wonder how much this would cost compared to an actual yacht?
Either way, this isn’t a bad way to keep a part of your childhood alive.
This one in Ukraine even had the unique fate of being turned into a bar.
I would love to see these things cruising up and down rivers here in the United States.
These are pretty incredible machines, and I really do wish they were still in popular use today. Hydrofoil technology is pretty fascinating, and it seems like a sound way to conduct water travel. These things really can be considered pieces of art. Each different model name was inspired by the Soviet space program. Names such as “Sputnik”, “Comet”, “Meteor” and “Stormbringer” evoked national pride and a feeling of accomplishment. Unfortunately, this technology seems relegated to the pages of history.