The pride of Soviet engineering, the Kirov airships were huge armored fortresses floating in the air, laden with tonnes of high explosives. At the forefront of the Soviet invasion of the United States in Red Alert 2, these formidable aircraft carved a swath through American cities and armed forces.
The heaviest and most destructive weapon in the Soviet arsenal can take down even the hardiest of land units with a few bombs. But it’s also excruciatingly slow, making it vulnerable to air defenses.
The improved Kirov in Red Alert 3 remedies this shortcoming with “Gastroburner” engines that can give the airship a brief boost in speed to escape air defenses.
Before the third game was launched, Electronic Arts provided a history of the Kirov on the official website. It has since been taken down but here are parts of it:
The unprecedented new Kirov Airship symbolizes the Soviet military’s sheer size, strength, steadfastness and, some might say, its propensity for excess. Named for its maiden launch over Kirov Oblast, this dirigible is specially built for war. A rigid, unbreakable titanium compact frame and heavy duty envelope make the massive vessel virtually indestructible and its oversized cargo hold packs thousands of armor piercing bombs, while an industrial strength engine block and maneuver props somehow keep the thing aloft.
Given its pure role as a heavy bomber, the Kirov’s only real shortcoming is its inarguable lack of speed–a problem that is partly resolved by the Kirov’s posh living quarters and spectacular panoramic viewports, which let their prestigious pilot-bombardiers blissfully pass the time while their aircraft steadily trudge along toward their unfortunate targets. Along the way, Kirovs are able to simply shrug off most anti-aircraft fire, including attacks from enemy fighters. It is true, though, that Kirovs have no means of retaliating against enemy aircraft, so the Union does tend to send escort fighters of her own to watch over each mighty vessel, just in case.
Of course, the greatest safety concern lies with the Kirov’s enemies. Even but one such gigantic vessel has within it the capacity to bring ruin to an entire military installation or enemy armor division.
Predictably, Kirov airships are flown only by the most decorated Soviet officers with years of good political standing, who enjoy lavish accommodations and fine dining inside the Kirov’s two hundred square meter living quarters. Even so, stories abound about the ruthlessness of Kirov pilot-bombardiers, who — if the psychological profiling is to be believed — are so impatient for combat yet feel so removed from it that they tend to use their bombs with liberal, merciless abandon.