River Rockets of the Soviet Space Age

River Rockets of the Soviet Space Age

It looks like a prop from Star Wars doesn’t it? Trust the Soviets to have the coolest abandoned stuff lying around. During the cold war period and into the 1980s, this rusting behemoth was once part of a fleet of vessels which rose out of the water at high speed and were considered the heroes of the Russian riverways.

Lead image (c) Ratmir base

River Rockets of the Soviet Space Age

The streamlined Soviet passenger boats used a hydrofoil technology that lifted the boat’s hull out of the water, decreasing drag and allowing it to travel at incredible speeds of up to 150 km/hr.

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via Dark Roasted Blend

River Rockets of the Soviet Space Age

They were nicknamed Raketas (“Rockets”) and some models were even fitted with airplane turbine engines on each side.

River Rockets of the Soviet Space Age

Soviet inventor Rostislav Alexeyev was considered the ‘father’ of modern hydrofoil and nearly 3,000 vessels were built for Russian and Ukranian waterways. Over the years, many different models were introduced with names inspired by the Soviet space age, like “Sputnik”, “Comet”,  “Meteor” and “Stormbringer”.

River Rockets of the Soviet Space Age

But then came the economic collapse of the Soviet Union and production of the hydrofoils ceased. Vessels were decommissioned, sent to rust away in ship graveyards, like this one in a forest near the city of Perm ↓

River Rockets of the Soviet Space Age

(c) Ratmir Base

River Rockets of the Soviet Space Age

(c) Ratmir Base

River Rockets of the Soviet Space Age

(c) Ratmir Base

Others found their way out of the Soviet Union as far as Vietnam, where the 1970s Voshkod hydrofoil boats are still in service, operating a daily route between the Cat Ba island and the city of Hai Phong.

River Rockets of the Soviet Space Age

You can find others still gliding down rivers in Canada, Greece, Yugoslavia, Netherlands, Thailand and Turkey. Here’s one in China…

For many Russians, the hydrofoils are a fond childhood memory from the golden age of Soviet innovation. One wealthy Russian even converted one into a luxury yacht…

River Rockets of the Soviet Space Age

River Rockets of the Soviet Space Age

via Dark Roasted Blend

This one found a less glamorous fate as a bar inside of what looks like a housing estate in Ukraine.

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