A quick look at SA-43 Hammerhead the fictional USMC Spaceship that caused a freak out to Russian Intelligence

A quick look at SA-43 Hammerhead the fictional USMC Spaceship that caused a freak out to Russian Intelligence

By Dario Leone
Jun 23 2020
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Full-sized mockups of the SA-43 Hammerhead were built. They were realistic enough that the Russian Intelligence got a satellite picture of one on the dock somewhere in California and had a temporary freak out.

The interesting photos in this post feature the SA-43 Hammerhead, the US Marine Corps (USMC) spaceship featured in Space: Above and Beyond, a 90s SciFi that had a bad time slot.

A quick look at SA-43 Hammerhead the fictional USMC Spaceship that caused a freak out to Russian Intelligence

As explained by FANDOM, ‘The SA-43 Endo/Exo-Atmospheric Attack Jet (“Hammerhead”) is the main-stay of the Marine Corps. Their SCRAM engines enable them to fly in an atmosphere and in the almost complete vacuum of space. Following in the modular design of aircraft of the late 20th century, Hammerheads can be adapted for normal combat, search and rescue, and possibly other missions. The canopies of the craft are also detachable allowing docking with space platforms. Systems that are known to exist in the Hammerheads include LIDAR (Laser Infrared Detection And Ranging), HUD (Heads-Up Display) and ODP (Optical Disk Playback).

‘Deployment in combat missions (Combat Space Patrol), interception, Close Air Support (CAS) and Colonial Defense, but can also be adapted for SAR (Search and Rescue).

A quick look at SA-43 Hammerhead the fictional USMC Spaceship that caused a freak out to Russian Intelligence
USS Saratoga space carrier

‘The SA-43 has various modular components, easily replaced in case of malfunction. The canopies are detachable, enabling the craft not only to dock on board carriers [the USS Saratoga was a space “carrier” home for the Hammerheads in Space: Above and Beyond], but also on various types of space stations. The cockpit usually is lifted up to the flightdeck (hence smaller decks are possible). It also doubles as an escape pod in case of midair emergency.’

Full-sized mockups of the SA-43 Hammerhead were built. They were realistic enough that the Russian Intelligence got a satellite picture of one on the dock somewhere in California and had a temporary freak out.

A quick look at SA-43 Hammerhead the fictional USMC Spaceship that caused a freak out to Russian Intelligence

Photo credit: FANDOM and ByYourCommand.net


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Dario Leone

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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  1. Derek McCabrey says:

    SAAB, I thought , was a good sci-fi series that, if given a chance, I think could have developed into one to rival Battlestar G. As for the Hammerhead, it was a clever design but there were a couple of things about it that bothered me. Although roughly the size of an A4 Skyhawk, the overall appearance of the vehicle I felt still had a ‘model-ly’ look about it, if that makes sense. A bit more detailing – panel lines for instance, would have brought more authenticity to it. The second point is the lack of a vertical stabiliser. This, of course, isn’t really necessary for manoeuvring in space, but it is necessary for operation in an atmosphere environment. The space shuttle is a good example, although it mainly operated in low-earth orbit. Still, the SA-43 was a neat concept and I’m only sorry that the show hadn’t been given that chance – who knows how far the Hammerhead design might have gone.

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