Tupolev N007 Gullwing Boat

In 1961 the Russian military ordered the Tupolev Aircraft Company to design and build an amphibious craft small enough to be transported inside the Russian MK6 giant helicopter. It was to be used for the recovery of Russian cosmonauts downed in Siberia after completion of their space flights.

The craft had to be capable of crossing lakes, swampy tundra and hostile terrain. The craft needed to be capable of operating at temperatures well below freezing at speeds of above 100km/h.

Aleksei Tupolev (1888-1972) was a Russian aircraft designer. He is considered the father of Soviet Aviation. His 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 Tupolev 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. His design won the "Diploma of Finest Engineer in the USSR."

At this exhibit the engineering of this machine won the following medals: 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.

In 1999 "N007" was acquired in dilapidated condition. A German metal craftsman restored the body by hand. The engine was overhauled in Bacau, Romania, by the original factory. The restoration of the propeller and the interior of the craft was also necessary. After 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. The exact number of these cosmonaut rescue crafts has always been kept a secret. "N007" is the only one known to exist in the country. Engine MP14B, Turbocharged 360hp and 350-liter fuel capacity for long range. Length 6.11 meters and width 2.16 meters.

Height of propeller 2.20 meters. Weight 2,100 kg. Payload on water 300kg. This being one of the last models built, it was equipped with a leading edge differential for control system. It has a 500psi air pressure system to start the engine and operates without the need of batteries in super-cold temperatures.

Source/Photo Credit: Barrett-Jackson

Gallery: Tupolev N007 Gullwing Boat