Article by G. Ponmareva: "The difficult fate of article 4000"
"We mustn't bury science!" was the refrain heard at the scientific-technical council of the Thermoplane program, which recently met in the Moscow Aviation Institute.
As we reported earlier, scientists of this institute have developed a dirigible with a disk-shaped hull that journalists have already christened the "flying saucer." The program to develop and utilize the thermoplane was approved by the Government of the previously existing USSR. More than a couple of dozen enterprises were brought together for the Thermoplane program. Including such well known ones as the Energiya and Molniya scientific production associations, the Academy imeni Dzerzhinskiy of the Ministry of Defense, and the Design Office imeni Tupolev.
The unique craft is a qualitatively new transportation resource. It does not require airfield support. It is not difficult to operate. It is extremely economical (fuel consumption is three times lower than that of a Boeing). Its chief merit is its high lifting capacity. It can be used to deliver large-sized cargo weighting up to 600 tonnes to hard-to-reach areas of Siberia, the North and the Far East. It provides door-to-door transportation without transloading and intermediate bases. An undoubtable plus is its ability to perform installation operations.
Oilmen and gasmen are interested in the thermoplane as a means of delivering drilling rigs; builders, geologists, gold miners and power engineers are interested in it as well. They have even provided money for construction of an experimental scale model.