I spend a lot of time reading down internet rabbit holes, mostly about comics and science fiction (as you can probably tell from this website) but also a lot about history, including the history of aircraft. Recently I ran across a real gem; the USSR’s Beriev VVA-14:
What a crazy looking craft, right?
It was designed as a seaplane capable of vertical takeoffs from the water, but also looks like if you slapped warp engines or other universe-appropriate equipment on the craft it would be at home in any scifi franchise.
Already it looks a lot like the original design of Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon, before it was changed to a saucer shape when Lucas realized Space 1999’s Eagle spacecraft was too similar:
(painting by the master Star Wars concept artist Ralph McQuarrie)
So I filed it away with all the useless other information I accumulate and didn’t expect to see it again, until a week later I cracked open the newest issue of IDW’s Star Trek comic series AND DID. I began buying Star Trek at issue 50 because the JJ-verse crew encountered their Mirror Abrahmsverse counterparts and that was too cool an idea to pass up. The comic (words by Mike Johnson, art Tony Shasteen) features an appearance by Harry Mudd, a ne’er do well space scoundrel who in the original show was always up to some space shenanigans like interplanetary wife selling or being the king of a planet full of androids.
(left, awesome cover art for Star Trek 51 by Lorelei Bunhes/ right, Harry Mudd’s OFFICIAL Federation Police Record)
In the comic the evil I.S.S. Enterprise is commanded by bearded Mirror Universe Spock, M.U. Kirk having been deposed and off somewhere attempting to win his way back to the captaincy of the Evilprise. Lo and behold, the man he contacts to help him do that is Mirror Mudd. And look what Mirror Mudd is driving!
A VVA-14! Looks like it was drawn from that same photo I have up there of the derelict one. Also interesting to note that Mirror Mudd is pretty much the same in demeanor and attitude as his prime universe counterpart, unlike later contacts with the M.U. later during the Picard Epoch (when the villains on Deep Space Nine had kind hearted and gentle Bizarro versions).
But crazy, right? I read about a kooky old Russian airplane that looks like it could be a science fiction starship and a week later, it is! Guess Tony Shasteen thought as I did. What’s next, the MiG-105?
Also Russian, and the closest our world has come to having a bona fide starfighter.