Ohio Valley Soaceport

Ohio Valley Soaceport

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Lost Opportunities: Missions That Never Flew: Part 5- Soviet L-3 Lunar Spacecraft

Soviet N-1 Moonrocket
Until the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990's very little was known about the Soviet lunar programs. Much of their hardware, planning, and tests were kept under an umbrella of secrecy for decades following the Apollo 11 moonlanding of 1969. Many in the popular press speculated that maybe there was no "race to the Moon" after all.

This all changed following the loosening of information following the demise of the Soviet Union. There are many excellent resources that have fascinating articles, photos, and even documentaries that have revealed that the Soviets indeed were quite serious in their intentions to land a man on the moon. Karl Dodenhoffen's 'My Little Space Museum' site has some great material for further research at: Soviet Manned Lunar Program Gallery

Photographic evidence reveals that the Soviets' approach was two-fold: 1) the L-1 manned orbital lunar program and 2) the L-3 manned lunar landing program. The L-1 was essentially a stripped-down Soyuz without the orbital module that was to have been launched with a Proton rocket and carry a 2-man crew in a loop around the moon and back. The more ambitious L-3 was made up of three modules: LOK (Soyuz 2-man lunar orbiter), LK (a 1-man lander), and the "Ye""crasher stage.

A comparison of the Soviet L-3 to the U.S. Apollo CSM/LM (courtsey of Astronautix.com)

1/96 L-3 Model

In the late 1990's Revell re-issued through their SSP Program the mid-1970's 1/96 scale kit of the Apollo/ Soyuz spacecraft. I purchased several kits with the idea of creating 1/96-scale variants of the Soyuz. 

1/96 Revell Apollo-Soyuz kit

I cobbled together a lunar Soyuz from the Revell kit and kitbashed the LK and 'Ye' block from various spare parts from other spacecraft kits. Although the tiny scale and my age prevented me from creating a super-detail masterpiece I was able to come up with a fair facsimile. Below are a few photos of the finished product.

The complete L-3 Lunar Vehicle in tiny 1/96 scale
A close-up of the LK lander and crasher stage
Another view of the LK and 'Ye' Block
A close-up of the LOK converted from the Revell Soyuz
A -X view of the L-3
Another view
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For my next installment I will feature a review of the LMV 1/24 interior set.

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