1965 Tupolev N007
- Engine: MP14B, turbocharged 360hp
- Fuel Capacity: 350 litres
- Length: 6.11 meters
- Width: 2.16 meters
- Height of propeller: 2.20 meters
- Weight: 2,100 kg
- Payload on water: 300kg
In 1961 the Russian military wanted to design and build an amphibious craft small enough to be transported inside the Russian MK6 giant helicopter and to be used for the recovery of Russian cosmonauts who downed in Siberia after completion of their space flights.
The craft had to be capable of crossing lakes, swampy tundra and hostile terrain in addition to operating at temperatures well below freezing and at speeds of above 100km/h!
Up steps a gentleman who is to be considered the father of Soviet Aviation, Aleksei Tupolev, whose designs include the Tu-95 Bear (which is a famous Russian bomber) and the Tu-444, which is also known as the Russian Concord. He built the Tupolev Aircraft Company into one of the most successful aviation companies in the world, employing more than 11,000 of Russia’s finest engineers.
In 1965 Tupolev first introduced his prototype we call the “N007” at the “Exhibition of Achievements of the National Economy of the USSR” in Moscow. At this exhibit his design won the following awards:
- They won the “Diploma of Finest Engineer in the USSR”.
- For the propeller they won Gold Medal G.V. Makhotkinym due to the special two bladed slit that promoted efficiency in the basic service speed.
- For body style and overall appearance: Silver Medal “M. Tatarinou” and Bronze Medal A.D. Vordoyeau V. Merkulou and T. Zhevakin.
Powered by a 9-cylinder, 365 hp engine used in Sukhoi aircraft, the Tupolev N007 has a two-part, four-bladed propeller that provides about 25 percent more power than conventional designs.
The engine is started with compressed air, which does not freeze, allowing the craft to operate in temperatures as cold as -70 degrees Fahrenheit. The vessel is shaped like an airplane wing, a feature that, with the help of a leading-edge flap, creates enough lift to raise it about a foot in the air at high speeds.
However, Tupolev originally did not design the N007 for retrieving cosmonauts. The craft did not have enough room for someone in a bulky space suit to sit with three other occupants (a pilot, a mechanic, and a doctor) and Tupolev could not increase the size of the vessel, as it had to remain small enough to be ferried around Siberia by helicopter.
Undaunted, he designed an apparatus on the boat’s exterior to hold a man so that once a cosmonaut emerged from his capsule, his handlers would lash him to the apparatus.
Having been all but forgotten about, the N007 was purchased in 1999 in a rather dilapidated condition. The vessel was in bad shape; It did not float, the engine would not start and the nose was crumpled.
Nevertheless, retired German businessman Jürgen Schulte recognized the craft’s historical value and purchased it. Mr Schulte restored the body by hand and the engine was overhauled in Bacau, Romania, by the original factory. A Karmann Ghia metal craftsman fixed the nose and the restoration of the propeller and the interior of the craft was also necessary.
After it’s completion in 2004, the craft was shown at boat shows all over the country and featured in many TV newscasts and written publications.
In 2005 “N007” received the “Corinthian Award” at the “Keels and Wheels” Concours d’Elegance in Houston. In 2006 the craft not only received the “Corinthian Award” again but also the “Award of Excellence” in a prestigious show called “Concours d’Elegance” in Greenwich, CT.
You might hear of some other N007 models having been sold but it should be well noted that all of the models still in existence are called ‘N007’. However, this is the absolute original which collected the cosmonauts from Siberia.
As can be seen in the images, she is in magnificent condition and only a small amount of hours on the engine since it was completely overhauled.
This is an extremely special boat and still seaworthy.
The N007 comes with its original owner’s manual and tool kit, as well as a large radio that no one can figure out how to operate, presumably because it too was top secret!