Книги

 
H.Nowarra, G.Duval
Russian Civil and Military Aircraft 1884-1969
168

H.Nowarra, G.Duval - Russian Civil and Military Aircraft 1884-1969

Fairey IIIb/c (N2233) captured by the Red Navy and about to take-off from snow. This was common winter practice for Russian marine aircraft.
Fairey IIIc seaplanes of the North Russian Expeditionary Force stationed on Lake Onega in 1919.
Although the large Kennedy machines were not a success and the intervention of war contracts to his factory delayed further experiments, this designer was eventually responsible for the Kennedy Giant of 1918, a four-engined aircraft of comparable size and appearance to the Sikorski heavy bombers. Powered by 2 tractor and 2 pusher engines, the Giant was not a success.
The Martinsyde F.4, produced in Russia after the purchase of several machines from the Aircraft Disposal Company (‘ADC’) in Britain.
Airfield scene at Petrograd in 1917. The aircraft shown are a Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter, Caudron G.4, Nieuport 24bis and Nieuport 17.
Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter in foreground has red star on white rudder disc.
Spads, Nieuports, 1 1/2 Strutters and Farmans of the Red Air Force.
Kazan Air Detachment, 1919.
Vickers Viking IV in Russia;
September 8th, 1914 - P.N. Nesterov destroying a German aircraft by ramming; the first recorded instance of this method of attack. (From a contemporary painting.)
One of a number of BMW-engined Fokker C.I aircraft purchased by the Soviet Government for reequipment of the Red Air Force.
Russian L.V.G. C-II
Russian L.V.G. C-Is, Turkestan Front, 1920;
Dismantled L.V.G. C-I;
The Anatra Factory produced a second type in 1916, the Anatra D, generally known as the ‘Anade’. This was a two-seater biplane with many similarities to the German Aviatik, powered by a tractor Gnome Monosoupape engine of 100 h.p., some later models having a 130 h.p. Clerget. Intended for reconnaissance duties, the Anatra D was mistrusted by the air crews from the beginning, for the Anatra V.1 had seriously damaged the firm’s reputation.
  In fact, the design of the new machine proved to be quite sound, although some engine over-heating problems were encountered, due to the close-fitting cowling. An initial order was received for 80 examples, these production ‘Anades’ taking part in the Russian Army summer offensive of 1916. In October of that year a further order for 400 machines arrived, but as this far outweighed production capability, the order was never completed. However, after 1916, supplies of the special wood required for the manufacture of wing spars became unobtainable, and spars made up from second-rate materials to hand proved to have a very low load factor, wing failures under stress becoming disturbingly frequent. Among the resultant casualties were Lieut. Robinet, Anatra’s test pilot, and his passenger, during a session of aerobatics over Odessa. Nevertheless, the ‘Anade’ made a very useful observation and artillery-spotting machine, serving with many units in this capacity.
Anatra D shows effect of landing in soft snow and displays undersurface markings
‘Anasal’ with Austrian troops.
The Anatra D ‘Anade’ with 100 h.p. Gnome Monosoupape
Unknown occasion. Much decorated Anatra DS with group of factory officials and officers of the Imperial Air Service.
Russia was at this time using no less than fourteen different types of reconnaissance biplanes, four of which were Russian-designed, the others being of foreign origin. Two of the Russian aircraft emanated from near-copies of German machines, as has been seen, the Lebed XII and the Anatra D ‘Anade’. The successor to the latter was the Anatra DS or ‘Anasal’ (Anatra-Salmson), which had been initially powered by the 150 h.p. Hispano-Suiza, but a shortage of these engines forced the company to modify the machine in order to fit a Russian-built Salmson radial engine of similar power. Apart from the engine, the Anatra DS differed from its predecessor only in its slightly longer fuselage, but due to a structural weight increase of some 330 lb., the useful load had to be reduced. The maximum speed was lower than that of the Anatra D, the rate of climb higher, with a service ceiling of 12,900 ft.
  Unfortunately, the hastily-made alterations to allow use of the Salmson engine produced the same faults found with the Lebed XII, for the Anatra DS was unstable in flight to such degree that its pilot could never relax. Even so, the shortage of aircraft was so acute that Russian pilots had to fly the type on operations. With all its faults, the ‘Anasal’ was still flying in Russia and Czechoslovakia in 1920.
Anatra DS ‘Anasal’ powered by a Russian-built Salmson engine.
Anatra DS, captured by Austrians, Flugzeugnummer 832
Even less popular was the notorious Anatra V.1, designed by 2nd Lieut. V. Ivanov. A modified version of a Voisin biplane, the V.1 had a Salmson engine of 150 h.p., production of the type taking place at the Anatra Aircraft Factory, Odessa. At the front the V.1 caused more fatalities than those inflicted by the enemy, for its lateral control and stability were virtually non-existent, factors which were reported to the Commander in Chief of the Air Service, Grand Duke Alexander Michaelovich. Owing to the shortage of aircraft, there was some reluctance to withdraw the V.1 from service, and Ivanov received an order to improve his machine. After some modification, a test report proved unfavourable, and the type was declared unfit for fighting purposes.
Following his first design of 1912, V. N. Hioni produced a second aircraft in 1917, vastly more ambitious than the earlier two-seater monoplane, for the new machine was a twin-engined bomber biplane with twin tail booms and a crew of five. Powered by 140 h.p. Salmson engines and having a wingspan of 67 ft., the Hioni bomber was well equipped for defence with gun positions in the rear of both tail booms and a gunner’s cabin situated in the upper wing centre-section. During test flights the machine displayed an ability of great promise, with a speed of 87 m.p.h. and a service ceiling of 12,000 ft. Unfortunately, it appears that the examining officer who had turned down the Porokhovshchikov twin-tailed ‘BiKok’ in 1912 was still maintaining his intense dislike of all machines of this configuration, for the Hioni bomber, with all its attributes, was rejected with the official statement 'There is no use for twin-tails in the Imperial Russian Air Service', and so perished another excellent aircraft.
The Hioni bomber of 1917
The first powered aircraft to be designed by O. K. Antonov, a glider enthusiast, was a helicopter which stemmed from the same basic idea utilised by Sikorski, that of co-axial rotors. Construction commenced at the Lessner works in St. Petersburg in 1909. The intention was that the machine be lifted by two multi-blade rotors, each blade being made of a triangular piece of aluminium with one point at the hub and pivot points at hub and tip, where it was attached to a large ring. By lowering the pitch of the blades they formed discs, and it was thought that these would permit the machine to descend safely in the event of failure of the 35 h.p. Anzani engine, which also provided forward propulsion by means of a tractor propeller. The helicopter was completed in 1910, but gave a somewhat disappointing performance, and Antonov, suffering from the stresses of overwork during the project, became distraught and destroyed the machine.
By an arrangement of similar nature, the Moscow company of A. A. Besobrasov and V. A. Ponikovin put up the money for an aircraft to be built just before the war. The result was a very odd-looking triplane, with an 80 h.p. Gnome engine. The fuselage was conventional with the engine as a tractor, but the three wings had extremely narrow chords and spans of 45 ft., the total wing area being only 183 sq. ft., which gives an indication of how narrow the chords actually were. In addition, the wings were staggered to such a degree that the top wing was some distance in front of the propeller and the bottom wing situated under the last third of the fuselage. The designer was probably the only man who had any idea of what he hoped to achieve with such an arrangement. The machine is reported to have flown, but it was not a success!
Aeronautical oddity - the triplane financed by Besobrasov and Ponikovin in 1913. This view shows clearly the narrow chord and enormous stagger of the wings. No tailplane was fitted, the elevators being attached to the lower rear wing.
As previously mentioned, Igor Sikorski had abandoned his early ideas for a helicopter and turned to fixed-wing design, in co-operation with two other students of the Kiev Polytechnic Institute, Bylinkin and Jordan. This team produced two biplanes, the BJS 1 and 2, the first powered by a 15 h.p. Anzani engine, a larger 25 h.p. Anzani being installed in the second. The BJS 1, a pusher biplane, was hopelessly under-powered, and when an attempt was made to fly it in May, 1910, it would not rise more than a few inches above the ground. With remarkable speed, it was dismantled, the mainplanes being built on to the next version, the BJS 2, which was a tractor biplane with the tailplane mounted on booms, twin fins and rudders, and balanced ailerons, the pilot sitting over the lower wing trailing edge.
As previously mentioned, Igor Sikorski had abandoned his early ideas for a helicopter and turned to fixed-wing design, in co-operation with two other students of the Kiev Polytechnic Institute, Bylinkin and Jordan. This team produced two biplanes, the BJS 1 and 2, the first powered by a 15 h.p. Anzani engine, a larger 25 h.p. Anzani being installed in the second. The BJS 1, a pusher biplane, was hopelessly under-powered, and when an attempt was made to fly it in May, 1910, it would not rise more than a few inches above the ground. With remarkable speed, it was dismantled, the mainplanes being built on to the next version, the BJS 2, which was a tractor biplane with the tailplane mounted on booms, twin fins and rudders, and balanced ailerons, the pilot sitting over the lower wing trailing edge. Flown in June 1910, this machine managed to climb to about 30 ft., attaining a maximum speed of 37 m.p.h.
In 1910, Jacob M. Hackel, a factory owner of German extraction, began to build a biplane on the lines of a Henri Farman machine, prompted by the success of the Farman brothers and of Gabriel Voisin. Hackel’s Type No. 1 was completed and fitted with an Antoinette engine of 25 h.p., but with a pilot and fuel for thirty minutes’ flight it weighed some 1,100 lb., and in this under-powered condition was only capable of making short ‘hops’. However, for all its shortcomings, Hackel’s Type No. 1 may be considered as the first significant Russian aeroplane.
Jacob Hackel’s Type No. 1 biplane under construction in 1910. This aircraft made the first flight by a Russian-designed machine.
Undaunted by the partial success of his first aeroplane, Hackel produced two more biplanes in 1910, Type No. 2 being fitted with the original 25 h.p. Antoinette engine, while Type No. 3 received a 35 h.p. Anzani, both machines having almost enclosed fuselages, in contrast to the Farman-inspired No. 1. The two new machines were of similar appearance, having both wings attached to two long V-shaped struts that carried skids and a simple landing gear at their lowest point. There were no interplane struts, a system of wire bracing being used. Type No. 2 made some short flights with pilot Bulgakov at the controls, but construction weaknesses led to a structural failure, and it crashed, the pilot escaping uninjured. Type No. 3 was completed immediately after this accident, having a stronger airframe, and the extra power available from the Anzani engine enabled Bulgakov to sustain flight at a maximum speed of 49-6 m.p.h., which for an all-up weight of 1,232 lb. was quite impressive at that time.
Undaunted by the partial success of his first aeroplane, Hackel produced two more biplanes in 1910, Type No. 2 being fitted with the original 25 h.p. Antoinette engine, while Type No. 3 received a 35 h.p. Anzani, both machines having almost enclosed fuselages, in contrast to the Farman-inspired No. 1. The two new machines were of similar appearance, having both wings attached to two long V-shaped struts that carried skids and a simple landing gear at their lowest point. There were no interplane struts, a system of wire bracing being used. Type No. 2 made some short flights with pilot Bulgakov at the controls, but construction weaknesses led to a structural failure, and it crashed, the pilot escaping uninjured. Type No. 3 was completed immediately after this accident, having a stronger airframe, and the extra power available from the Anzani engine enabled Bulgakov to sustain flight at a maximum speed of 49-6 m.p.h., which for an all-up weight of 1,232 lb. was quite impressive at that time.
Jacob Hackel’s No. 3 biplane of 1910, powered by a 35 h.p. Anzani. This aircraft made some impressive flights, piloted by Bulgakov.
The activities of Russian aircraft designers increased in 1911, especially those of Joseph Hackel who built no less than four new machines, the first of which, Type No. 4, was a tractor biplane developed from Type No. 3, the wings being strut-braced in addition to bracing wires from a central pylon. Lateral controls took the form of ailerons, and the fuselage of open triangular section carried a single pilot’s seat. The power unit was a German Argus of 100 h.p. an engine which had gained a good reputation for reliability and was extensively used until it became unobtainable early in 1914, due to international tension.
The next three Hackel aircraft were two-seaters, Type No. 5 having a Swiss Oerlikon engine. Larger than its predecessor, it carried a useful load of 550 lb. but the all-up weight of 1,254 lb. proved too much for the 50 h.p. engine and a satisfactory performance was not obtained.
The next machine, Type No. 6, had smaller overall dimensions but a larger wing area, and powered by a 100h.p. Argus engine gave a better account of itself, reaching just over 56 m.p.h.
The faithful Argus was also installed in the Type No. 7, which had the same wing area as No. 6, but an altogether different mainplane arrangement in that the upper wing was of considerably shorter span than the lower. No. 7 was capable of a slightly greater speed than No. 6, but was noteworthy for its 300 ft./min. rate of climb, which was an outstanding performance at this time.
1912 was the last year in which Jacob Hackel interested himself in aircraft construction, probably due to lack of funds. He built two more aircraft, a biplane and a monoplane. The second, and last, machine was a monoplane, Type No. 9. Resembling the German Taube, its most interesting feature was a tricycle undercarriage, which Hackel probably designed as previously, to prevent overturning when landing on rough ground. A two-seater, the Type No. 9 had the same engine as No. 8, the 80 h.p. Argus. Unfortunately, no details of its performance remain.
Hackel’s last design, the Type No. 9 monoplane of 1912. The undercarriage was later modified to bring the third wheel forward.
1912 was the last year in which Jacob Hackel interested himself in aircraft construction, probably due to lack of funds. He built two more aircraft, a biplane and a monoplane. The biplane, Type No. 8, had an 80 h.p. Argus power unit, and was a two-seater. No record of its speed remains, but it is known to have flown at an altitude of 4,000 ft.
Hackel Type No. 8.
By 1914, another aircraft factory had been established in St. Petersburg, the First Russian Aviation Works of S. S. Shchetinin and Company, and it was from this concern that the aircraft of another great Russian designer emerged - D. P. Grigorovich, known to his country as 'the creator of flying-boats'. His career in aviation had commenced in 1908, and his first design in 1910 was the M.1 biplane flying-boat with a 50 h.p. Gnome power unit.
Little is known of the two subsequent designs, the M.2 and M.3, but the M.4 was produced by Shchetinin. The M.4, a biplane flying-boat with a Gnome Monosoupape engine of 100 h.p., was conventional in its layout and was similar to the American Curtiss, Austro-Hungarian Lohner, French Levy and British Thompson machines.
Grigorovich M.4 on the slipway;
Experience with the M.4 led rapidly to the M.5 design, an improved version with a slightly reduced wingspan, an increase in length, and a dual capability in that it could accept a 100 h.p. Gnome engine for use in a training role, and the 130 h.p. Clerget for operational duties. As a trainer it was equipped with dual control and seats for an instructor and two students; for combat use there were two seats for pilot and observer, the latter being armed with a machine gun in the bows. In both versions the engine was installed as a pusher, giving the combat machine a maximum speed of 78 m.p.h. and the trainer 65 m.p.h., endurance being five and three hours respectively. In use by training schools and the Black Sea Fleet, a grand total of 105 M.5s were eventually built.
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  Grigorovich, the designer whose work was equal in importance to that of Sikorski, continued development of his M-Type flying-boats with the M.7, immediate successor to the efficient M.5. Powered by a 150 h.p. Sunbeam engine, the M.7 did not come up to expectations, having a maximum speed of only 59 m.p.h., which, together with an engine which had been proved unreliable by its use in other aircraft, resulted in a very limited production of this machine.
Grigorovich M.5;
Grigorovich, the designer whose work was equal in importance to that of Sikorski, continued development of his M-Type flying-boats with the M.7, immediate successor to the efficient M.5. Powered by a 150 h.p. Sunbeam engine, the M.7 did not come up to expectations, having a maximum speed of only 59 m.p.h., which, together with an engine which had been proved unreliable by its use in other aircraft, resulted in a very limited production of this machine. In contrast, the M.9, produced by the First Russian Aviation Works in 1916, was the most successful of all the Grigorovich designs, being consequently put into quantity production. The M.9 power unit was a 150 h.p. Salmson driving a pusher propeller, and although the machine was officially described as a two-seater reconnaissance bomber, ‘flying-boat fighter’ would have been a better appellation, for its performance and the spirited manner in which it was flown by Russian naval crews in the Black Sea and Baltic areas yielded an impressive total of enemy aircraft destroyed. Apart from bombs, the M.9 armament consisted of a single machine-gun, either Vickers, Maxim or Lewis, but some machines carried a single 37 mm. Hotchkiss gun.
Grigorovich M.9 on the slipway.
The next flying-boat in the ‘M’ series was the M.10, built by the same factory as its predecessors but designed by A. N. Sedelnikov. A single-seater two-bay biplane, the M.10 had a 100 h.p. Gnome Monosoupape pusher engine, but only saw limited production as its performance did not qualify it for priority. The M.11, smallest of all the series, also had the 100 h.p. Gnome engine but carried a crew of two, and with a top speed of 92 m.p.h. was used mainly as a fighter. During the winter, when ice provided a hazard to the thin-walled hulls of all flying-boats, the M.11s were fitted with skis developed by Lieut. Prokofyev-Severski, which enabled the machines to operate from snow surfaces and frozen lakes. The M.12, designed by Grigorovich, was similar to the M.9, but scaled-down to smaller overall dimensions and fitted with a Le Rhone engine of 110 h.p. achieved a maximum speed of 88 m.p.h. A single-seater, the M.12 was built in small numbers and used for patrol and escort duties, its turn of speed making it a useful machine in combat.
Grigorovich M.11 taking-off
A Grigorovich M-15 flying boat, photographed on Oesel Island after capture by the Germans in 1917. There is a large bullet-hole below the cockpit!
Grigorovich M.15 with 150 h.p. Hispano-Suiza engine;
M.15 with ski undercarriage for winter land operation;
The Grizodubov biplane of 1911, modelled on contemporary French designs of the period.
S. V. Grizodubov
The 40 h.p. aero-engine used in his machine.
The Dil experimental reconnaissance biplane of 1917, powered by an 80 h.p. Le Rhone engine and featuring variable incidence wings controlled by the pilot.
Glider expert S. P. Dobrovolski is towed aloft by one horsepower, near Kherson, 1910.
At this time, the shadows of impending war were spreading over Europe, manifest in the undercurrents of political unrest which were sensed in Russia as elsewhere. The Moller I aircraft was an attempt at preparation, and although not an official project, was the first Russian design for which a machine gun armament formed part of the specification. It was similar to the Dux II in that it was a shoulder-wing monoplane with a pusher engine, and the designer, F. E. Moska, had placed the crew of two higher in the fuselage than in the earlier machine, so that they sat over the wing. The power unit was a 100 h.p. Gnome Monosoupape and the machine was armed with a Maxim machine gun installed in the nose. The Moller I took part in the 1913 trials sponsored by the War Ministry, but it would seem that its performance did not give satisfaction, for Moska almost immediately entered a second machine for the same trials. This was the Moller II pusher biplane, powered by an engine similar to that of its predecessor.
Moller I
The first Russian aircraft designed specifically to carry machine-gun armament.
The year 1913 saw the emergence of four new aircraft from the Dux factory: the Dux II, and the Moller I, II and III. The Dux II was a monoplane powered by an 80 h.p. Gnome engine driving a two-bladed propeller installed behind the cockpit, the nacelle carrying engine and pilot being covered, while the rear control surfaces were carried on tail booms. No details of its performance remain.
One of the first Russian-designed aircraft to be constructed in an aircraft factory.
The Moller I took part in the 1913 trials sponsored by the War Ministry, but it would seem that its performance did not give satisfaction, for Moska almost immediately entered a second machine for the same trials. This was the Moller II pusher biplane, powered by an engine similar to that of its predecessor.
  The tail booms in this case were fabric-covered, and to prevent the slipstream from overstressing the fabric, a dome-shaped fairing immediately behind the propeller closed off what was now virtually the rear fuselage. The crew and engine were positioned in a forward nacelle. When tested, the Moller II was found to have a maximum speed of only 55 m.p.h., which was far from satisfactory, but despite this the machine was flown in the 1913 military trials, in the course of which it initiated what must surely be one of the more bizarre accidents in the history of aviation. During a demonstration flight, the Moller II and Sikorski’s giant ‘Russki Vityaz’ were airborne together, and just as the Moller passed above the huge machine the engine bearers failed, the Gnome tore itself free and hurtled down to score a direct hit upon the ‘Russki Vityaz’ below, which crashed, killing its crew. The Moller II pilot survived.
Moller II at the 1913 Military Trials
The Moller II at the 1913 Military Trials after its engine had destroyed the ‘Russki Vityaz’.
Intended for military use, this machine was abandoned after a serious accident in the 1913 Military Trials.
Moska’s next design, the Moller III, was another solution of the problem of gun installation avoiding the propeller disc. A shoulder-wing two-seater monoplane, the Moller III had an 80 h.p. Salmson engine mounted in the fuselage with drive transmission to twin tractor propellers, the shafts of which were mounted on the lower surfaces of the wing. It would seem that the test results of this aircraft were unsatisfactory, although Salmson built the Salmson-Moineau SM 1 with a similar arrangement some time later, delivering it to Russia in 1917. The Moller III was the last machine built by Dux from their own designs.
Moller III
Another military design of 1913, the ‘Delphin’ (Dolphin) by V. V. Dybovski, showed an appreciation of the finer points of aerodynamics, for the machine was extremely well streamlined even to the point of partially burying the 9-cylinder 80 h.p. Kalep engine in the nose of the fuselage, the forward section of which was sheathed in metal to afford the crew protection from bullets. A two-seater, the ‘Delphin’ featured a pylon-braced shoulder wing and a monocoque fuselage, a ventral fairing from the latter acting as a tail skid. The all-up weight was 1,760 lb., but the streamlining offset the low power and gave a maximum speed of 62-5 m.p.h.
Dybovski 'Delphin'
Aptly named, the ‘Delphin’ (‘Dolphin’) military monoplane pioneered the use of armour to protect its crew.
Another biplane of 1910 was that constructed by Karpeka. Resembling the Voisin biplane in most respects, but using a tractor engine of 35 h.p., the Karpeka No. 1 had vertical rudders installed within the tailplane assembly. A single-seater, this machine achieved a speed of 43 m.p.h. at a height of 300 ft.
Karpeka biplane
One designer, E. I. Kasyanenko of St. Petersburg, completed a biplane in 1910 with a rather retrograde step in the method of propulsion, for his 15 h.p. Anzani engine drove two propellers by chain transmission from the fuselage, the method used by the Wright brothers. Although under-powered, this machine did in fact get off the ground, but only to a height of a few feet.
Like many pioneers attempting to further the development of aviation, E. I. Kasyanenko subsidised his own efforts. His first aircraft, of 1910, had only just succeeded in getting off the ground. His second machine, a tractor biplane, had its engine mounted in the open fuselage, with belt drive to the two propellers, and a biplane tail unit. It was not capable of sustained flight.
Unmindful of the rain, a group of young enthusiasts pose beside E. I. Kasyanenko’s No. 1 biplane at St. Petersburg in 1910. The Wright-type chain drive from the Anzani engine to the twin propellers can be seen to the left.
Kasyanenko built a third machine, this time a high wing tractor-engined monoplane with wing warping control. Of lightweight construction, even its 594 lb. proved too much for the 15 h.p. Anzani engine, and its designer having become financially embarrassed, all further development came to a halt.
Another interesting design was rejected at about this time, a pusher fighter by E. I. Kasyanenko, of Petrograd. Due to the difficulties experienced by the Imperial Air Service in obtaining the required quantity of efficient interrupter gears for forward-firing machine-guns on tractor-engined aircraft, Kasyanenko adopted the ideas of the French designers, Ruby and Tatin, and built a small biplane with a Gnome Monosoupape engine in the nose. The propeller was positioned at the rear end of the fuselage, being driven from the engine by a long shaft. With such a radical departure from normal design practice, it was hardly surprising that the machine did not fulfil all expectations on its first test flight. More test flying and modifications were required, but the Russian military outlook at that time left no room for experiments of this nature, and the machine was abandoned.
Kasyanenko's biplane;
There was another designer in Russia who became interested in giant aircraft, although to a lesser degree and lacking the facilities enjoyed by Sikorski. A Scotsman, Mackenzie-Kennedy, had commenced experiments with a hydroplane under the patronage of the Imperial River Yacht Club of St. Petersburg in 1909, and later opened an aircraft factory in the city where he constructed prototypes of several large biplanes fitted with geared-down propellers of great diameter. In 1914, Kennedy built an aircraft which embodied many design features of both Farman and Wright machines; a biplane with a single engine driving the twin pusher propellers through chains, and having twin boom-mounted rudders aft with the elevator positioned in front of the exposed pilot’s position. Lateral control was by means of ailerons. In this machine, the Kennedy No. 1, the designer achieved a world record by flying at a power to weight ratio of one horsepower to 48-4 lb.
Two other experimental scouts were completed in early 1916, both designed by V. A. Lebedev and built in Petrograd. The Lebed VII had an 80 h.p. Gnome engine, but its performance did not approach that of Sikorski’s fighter, and the second machine, the Lebed X, appears to have had no special virtues either. Contemporary reports indicate that both of these designs were based on that of German Albatros aircraft which Lebedev had built before the war.
Two other experimental scouts were completed in early 1916, both designed by V. A. Lebedev and built in Petrograd. The Lebed VII had an 80 h.p. Gnome engine, but its performance did not approach that of Sikorski’s fighter, and the second machine, the Lebed X, appears to have had no special virtues either. Contemporary reports indicate that both of these designs were based on that of German Albatros aircraft which Lebedev had built before the war.
Lebed VII experimental 2-seater fighter, built to same requirement as Sikorski's S.16 and powered by an 80 h.p. Gnome
Two other experimental scouts were completed in early 1916, both designed by V. A. Lebedev and built in Petrograd. The Lebed VII had an 80 h.p. Gnome engine, but its performance did not approach that of Sikorski’s fighter, and the second machine, the Lebed X, appears to have had no special virtues either. Contemporary reports indicate that both of these designs were based on that of German Albatros aircraft which Lebedev had built before the war. Be that as it may, in 1915 a captured German Albatros B.II two-seater was handed over to the company to be copied, and from this original emerged a production model of the first reconnaissance aircraft to be built by a Russian manufacturer, the Lebed XI. Its pedigree was obvious, although slight alterations had been made, the engine being a British Sunbeam of 150 h.p. Russia had purchased 40 of these engines, but they proved very unreliable, for often the cylinders cracked, the crankshaft fractured, and the oil system gave much trouble. Some of these faults may have been due to the extremely low temperatures encountered during the Russian winter season. The installation of a 150 h.p. Salmson (Canton-Unne) engine gave better reliability, and was made standard.
Lebed XII fuselage in German hands
A second prototype followed, almost identical to the Lebed XI but slightly smaller. This was the Lebed XII, again with the Salmson engine. Test-flown by Capt. Sleptzov on December 28th, 1915, it was reported to be superior in most respects to the German original, and an order was placed for 225 machines, Lebedev’s chief designer, Shkulnik, and his executive, Ribokov, receiving high praise for their work. The first batch of Lebed XIIs was handed over to the War Ministry on August 4th, 1916, and from the Komendantski airfield at Petrograd a pilot named Michailov put one of the machines through its paces, reporting an overall rate of climb of 200 ft/min., and a ceiling of 10,000 ft.
  Officially approved for operational flying, this group of first production machines were sent to the Front, but unfortunately the qualities of the prototype were missing from them, and it was discovered that they had a failing similar to that of the German LVG biplanes: a badly positioned centre of gravity, also some wing-flexing, both of which combined to cause a pilot to lose control in a dive or a steep turn. These disturbing factors were made worse when a bomb-load was in position on the four underwing racks. The observer too had the unenviable choice of being gassed by exhaust fumes inside his cockpit or of being frozen by the icy slipstream when standing up to operate his pillar-mounted Colt machine-gun. A contribution towards the many fatal crashes of the XII was that the angle of incidence of the upper wing was positive, the lower negative!
  Various modifications were made without marked success, and the Lebed XIIs, together with the Voisins and Morane-Saulnier Ls, were withdrawn from active service in the summer of 1916. The frequent reports from front-line units of the faults of the XII went unheeded, and the Advisory Committee of National Defence ordered the Air Service Administration to acquire the type in quantity. There could have been only two reasons for this action; the shortage of aircraft known to exist at that time, or corruption, prevalent in some offices of the Russian Empire. In the event, it may have been a little of both!
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  In 1917, the Lebed XII was modified in an attempt to improve its performance. The 150 h.p. Salmson engine was replaced by a Hispano-Suiza of similar power but smaller frontal area, considerably altering the machine’s appearance. The installation of a liquid-cooled power unit also required the addition of radiators, which were positioned on the sides of the fuselage. Some airframe modifications slightly altered the overall dimensions, but the net result of all this work was not encouraging, for the XIIbis did not show any great improvement over the original.
The notorious Salmson-engined Lebed XII
Lebed XII with fuselage pennant marking and rudder roundel, and showing the pillar-mounted rear Colt machine gun;
The Lebed XII, showing fuselage-mounted radiators for the water-cooled Salmson radial engine.
Employed for reconnaissance duties, this design was based on the German Albatros B.II.
Subsequent efforts by Lebedev produced two more types, incorporating the XIIbis modifications but reverting to the Salmson engine. These were the Lebed XIII and XXIV, some examples of which were fitted with floats and issued to the Imperial Navy. Altogether, some 250 aircraft of the Lebed XII and variant types were produced, and it is perhaps significant that 171 repair kits were provided by the factory!
В.А. Лебедев (в центре) в окружении двух французских офицеров у самолета <Лебедь-XVI>, конец 1916 г. На снимке крайний слева - Л.П. Гончаров, крайний справа - С.Б. Гуревич
The experimental Lebed XVI bomber of 1916, powered by twin 80 h.p. Gnome engines. At centre is Lebedev, flanked by French and Russian officers.
A floatplane version of the Lebed XI was built, designated LM I (Lebed-Morskoi - Lebed-Naval) and originally fitted with the Sunbeam engine but re-engined with a Salmson. In appearance it resembled the Albatros WDD or W.I when powered by the Sunbeam, but the installation of the Salmson radically altered its profile.
Lebed LM 1 seaplane developed from Lebed XI;
The unsatisfactory performance of the Lebed XII prompted further attempts by the company to improve it, under pressure from the War Ministry, the first result being the Lebed XVII, virtually identical to the XII but having a fixed machine-gun for the pilot. While this increased the aircrew’s morale, it did nothing for performance and few XVIIs saw front-line service.
The Lebed XVII, with forward-firing gun for the pilot
Subsequent efforts by Lebedev produced two more types, incorporating the XIIbis modifications but reverting to the Salmson engine. These were the Lebed XIII and XXIV, some examples of which were fitted with floats and issued to the Imperial Navy. Altogether, some 250 aircraft of the Lebed XII and variant types were produced, and it is perhaps significant that 171 repair kits were provided by the factory!
At about the same time, Lebedev constructed his second twin-engined aircraft, the Lebed XIV, inspired by captured examples of the German AEG and Rumpler G, and fitted with twin Salmson engines of 150 h.p. Little is known of this machine, apart from the fact that it carried a crew of three and was flown at least once, the design not proceeding beyond the prototype stage.
Lebed XIV bomber.
<...>
  For all this, the Russians, like their contemporaries in other countries, were often frustrated in their attempts to build successful flying machines by the lack of a lightweight and efficient power unit. No better example of this fact exists than the machine built by Mozhaiski in the period 1882 to 1884. Alexander Fyodorovitch Mozhaiski was a Russian naval officer, and a student of aerodynamics, having an income quite adequate for his needs. Firmly convinced that it was possible to build a machine to confirm the aerodynamic theories he had studied, Mozhaiski started with calculations, then applied the results to flying models and kites. One of the latter was of very large size, and a contemporary report states that the designer was towed into the air as its pilot, by a team of horses harnessed to a long rope! Eventually, Mozhaiski finalised the design of a full-sized man-carrying aeroplane, and, presumably because he was a serving officer, had then to submit his design to the members of a special commission, set up to examine the project. By good fortune, one of the commission members was the great Russian chemist, Professor Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleyev, himself deeply interested in aeronautical problems, and he gave Mozhaiski considerable support and advice to such effect that the project was approved and construction commenced in 1882. The machine, a monoplane, was of considerable size, with a wing span of about forty feet, a long, slender fuselage and tail control surfaces, while the wing itself had a very broad chord, square-cut tips, and was wire-braced from above and below the fuselage. The undercarriage consisted of two pairs of wheels in tandem. Somewhat limited by his lift and weight calculations, Mozhaiski managed to acquire a pair of British lightweight steam engines, of 10 and 20 h.p. respectively, mounting the 10 h.p. engine in the nose of his machine to drive a forward propeller, and the 20 h.p. engine amidships to drive two propellers which rotated in slots cut into the wing, the drive transmission of the latter being by chain. Both engines exhausted into a vertical funnel amidships. In 1884, after a series of tests and engine runs, the machine was positioned at the top of a launching ramp, with a man named Golubev at the controls. The engines were started, and the machine descended the ramp, gathering speed and leaving the ground for a few feet at the bottom before touching down on even keel. Its weight of nearly one ton had proved too much for the power available. What might have been accomplished with more efficient engines is only conjecture, but Mozhaiski’s aeroplane certainly deserves its place in aviation history.
Take-off of Mozhaiski’s aeroplane, 1884, from a contemporary postcard illustration displaying some artistic licence!
Assisted take-off, 1880. Contemporary artist’s impression of a horse-towed glider flight by Mozhaiski.
By 1916 the French Morane Parasol monoplane had become obsolete in the Imperial Air Service, and an attempt was made by a designer named V. I. Olchovski to rebuild it in improved form, using an 80 h.p. Le Rhone engine. The weight was reduced, and the maximum speed and rate of climb increased, but the Olchovski Parasol was not put into production because it was more practical to utilise newer French aircraft.
<Моран Парасоль> Ольховского со снятой обшивкой
Olchovski’s rebuilt Morane Parasol.
V. I. Olchovski, re-builder and improver of the Morane Parasol, satisfied himself that further development of this machine was possible. The result appeared as the Olchovski ‘Torpedo’, completed in 1917 as a high-wing two-seater monoplane essentially similar to the Parasol, but with great attention paid to streamlining and a lighter structure. The engine was a Le Rhone rotary of 110 h.p., and on this power the ‘Torpedo’ reached a speed of 100 m.p.h. during its first test flights. Despite this, and the other excellent performance figures obtained, no production took place.
Olchovski ‘Torpedo’ of 1917;
The ‘BiKok’ (Double-tail) aircraft, built in St. Petersburg by A. A. Porokhovshchikov, had an excellent performance due to its very low all-up weight of just over 1,100 lb. A two-seater, powered by a 50 h.p. Gnome engine, it had a novel feature with military applications in its capability of being folded for land transport. The rate of climb on its 50 h.p. was 600 ft./min. and level flight maximum speed 62 m.p.h. Unfortunately, the official inspecting officer only got as far as hearing the name ‘BiKok’ and without examination refused acceptance of the type...
‘BiKok’ and crew, ready for flight.
Porokhovshchikov’s 'BiKok'. The assembled aircraft, showing the simplicity of its design and construction, which proved to be too far advanced for officialdom of the period!
Porokhovshchikov’s 'BiKok'. Dismantled and folded for land transport.
Пороховщиков П-IV 2 бис
Designed by Porokhovshchikov, the P.4bis 2-seater trainer of 1915 was of unusual layout, with the engine positioned at the front of the crew nacelle.
At this time in Russia there were pioneers who, like Euler in Germany, preferred to copy the more successful French designs. A copy of Farman’s machine was made and given the name ‘Rossiya (Russia) A’, and a copy of the single-seater Bleriot XI, the cross-Channel type, was named ‘Rossiya B’. Predictably, these types flew well and many Russian pilots received training on them, both machines being powered by the reliable 25 h.p. Anzani engine and reaching maximum speeds of about 45 m.p.h.
At this time in Russia there were pioneers who, like Euler in Germany, preferred to copy the more successful French designs. A copy of Farman’s machine was made and given the name ‘Rossiya (Russia) A’, and a copy of the single-seater Bleriot XI, the cross-Channel type, was named ‘Rossiya B’. Predictably, these types flew well and many Russian pilots received training on them, both machines being powered by the reliable 25 h.p. Anzani engine and reaching maximum speeds of about 45 m.p.h.
In November, 1915, W. Zalewski, a young Polish aircraft designer, together with V. F. Saveliev, a head mechanic, submitted a design for a quadruplane to the Commander in Chief of the Air Service, the project being designated as the S.Z. Quadruplane No. 1. Official approval was given, and construction of the machine authorised to commence at the 2nd Aircraft Park, Smolensk, where both men were stationed as members of the Air Service. The machine was intended as a small-scale prototype of a much larger multi-winged bomber, for Saveliev, who had worked at Russo-Baltic on the Sikorski giant aircraft, was convinced that future large aircraft should have five or even six wings. The S.Z. No. 1 emerged at the beginning of April, 1916, as a two-seater, with an 80 h.p. Gnome engine. The wings were of diminishing span, from the upper of 27 ft. 11 in. to the lower of 18 ft. 1 in., the latter having raised tips, all being supported by long interplane and centre-section struts and wire-braced. The fuselage, tail surfaces and undercarriage were conventional in appearance. The commander of a reconnaissance squadron, Col. Jungmeister, was nominated as test pilot, and in this capacity carried out taxi-ing trials on April 23rd, 1916. In the event, these trials provided the first flight, for the S.Z. No. 1 had so much lift that Jungmeister unexpectedly found himself airborne, and decided to carry on! With a top speed of 72 m.p.h. the machine proved to have exceptional manoeuvrability, and Jungmeister requested that it should be released for duty with his unit, but Zalewski insisted upon modifications to improve performance still further. These consisted of redesigned wings of slightly greater span and area, installation of a Gnome Monosoupape 100 h.p. engine, and armament for the observer in the front cockpit by means of a light machine-gun mounted to fire above the propeller. Test flights confirmed the wisdom of the alterations, for the speed was now 82 m.p.h. and the machine was capable of out-turning even the agile Nieuport single-seaters.
  The S.Z. No. 1 joined the strength of the 4th Squadron, 4th Wing of the Imperial Air Service, based in the Baranovitche region, in early November, 1916, and became the personal mount of the Commander, Col. Jungmeister. Unfortunately, its operational career was short, for after a few sorties a forced landing due to engine failure occurred, and the resultant damage was never repaired owing to the start of the Revolution. The political upheaval also prevented completion of a three-seater 200 h.p. Army reconnaissance bomber quadruplane, developed from the S.Z. No. 1 and under construction at the Central Experimental Aerodrome at Cherson, on the Black Sea. A detailed design study for a giant quadruplane bomber with four 200 h.p. engines was abandoned for the same reason.
  Although there was little obvious difference between the original S.Z. No. 1 quadruplane and the machine in its modified form, the latter was often referred to as the S.Z. No. 2, and to further complicate the issue Zalewski later re-designated these two forms as ‘W.Z. III’ and ‘W.Z. IV’ (Wladyslaw Zalewski), having taken into account some earlier designs. The incompleted three-seater bomber became ‘W.Z. V’.
This front view of the Zalewski’s S.Z.Quadruplane No.1 (W.Z.III) shows to advantage the wing configuration of the aircraft.
The only references to two monoplanes built by a designer named Sveschnikov, just before the war, were culled from the pages of the Aero Manual of the Imperial Russian Aero Club for 1914. The first of these aircraft was a single-seater powered by a 40 h.p. Anzani engine, while the second might well be designated a personal transport machine, having four seats and a 100 h.p. Anzani engine. Both types are quoted as having speeds around 62 m.p.h.
In 1908, a young student of the Polytechnic Institute in Kiev, Igor Sikorski, designed and built his S.1 helicopter, powered by a 25 h.p. Anzani engine driving two two-blade co-axial contra-rotating rotors, but the engine proved unequal to its task, and the machine failed to leave the ground.
Two years later, and no doubt inspired by the first helicopter flight made in 1909 by Paul Cornu in France, Sikorski tried again with his S.2 helicopter, using the same 25 h.p. engine, but this time driving three-blade rotors. The machine weighed about 400 lb., and only developed lift equal to its weight. Therefore, although capable of hovering flight, it could not carry a pilot. Sikorski now turned to the design of fixed-wing aircraft.
Impatient for better results, Sikorski completely re-designed the BJS 2, fitting enlarged ailerons with improved controls, and a 35 h.p. Anzani engine. This, the Sikorski S.3, reached a speed of 49 m.p.h. and trebled the altitude of the BJS 2.
Sikorski S.3
Now convinced that his efforts were developing in the right direction, Sikorski produced yet another machine by rebuilding the S.3 and fitting a 50 h.p. Anzani engine. Completed in April 1911, the Sikorski S.4 was able to reach 1,500 ft. and a speed of 65-5 m.p.h.
Meanwhile, Sikorski had not been idle, and in 1911 he built the S.5 biplane in two versions, landplane and seaplane. The fuselages of these were long and streamlined, a characteristic of designs from this source. The seaplane, fitted with twin floats, had its fuselage extended even further to offset instability caused by the floats and although no record remains of its performance, it may be noted as the first example of a Russian marine aeroplane. The S.5 landplane had a speed of 66 m.p.h. and a ceiling of 1,500 ft. Both machines were powered by the 50 h.p. Argus.
Sikorski’s next design, the S.6, was to some extent inspired by the French Caudron G.2 and G.3. Three versions of this biplane were built, the first as a three-seater, with the pilot sitting behind two passengers, the others as two-seaters. Of these, the S.6 and S.6B were completed as landplanes, while the S.6A was a floatplane, all three machines being ready for testing in 1912, fitted with the 100 h.p. Argus engine. Speeds of 70 m.p.h., 77 m.p.h. and 71 m.p.h. respectively were claimed, although the officially stated speed of the S.6A seems rather improbable, using as it did the same power unit as the other two, and yet having the considerable drag of the floats to overcome.
Sikorski S.6
Meanwhile, Sikorski had not been idle, and in 1911 he built the S.5 biplane in two versions, landplane and seaplane. The fuselages of these were long and streamlined, a characteristic of designs from this source. The seaplane, fitted with twin floats, had its fuselage extended even further to offset instability caused by the floats and although no record remains of its performance, it may be noted as the first example of a Russian marine aeroplane. The S.5 landplane had a speed of 66 m.p.h. and a ceiling of 1,500 ft. Both machines were powered by the 50 h.p. Argus.
Sikorski S.6A
Sikorski’s next design, the S.6, was to some extent inspired by the French Caudron G.2 and G.3. Three versions of this biplane were built, the first as a three-seater, with the pilot sitting behind two passengers, the others as two-seaters. Of these, the S.6 and S.6B were completed as landplanes, while the S.6A was a floatplane, all three machines being ready for testing in 1912, fitted with the 100 h.p. Argus engine. Speeds of 70 m.p.h., 77 m.p.h. and 71 m.p.h. respectively were claimed, although the officially stated speed of the S.6A seems rather improbable, using as it did the same power unit as the other two, and yet having the considerable drag of the floats to overcome.
Sikorski produced two machines in 1912, the S.7 monoplane and the S.8 biplane. The S.7, powered by a French Gnome rotary engine of 70 h.p., was quite successful, and capable of reaching 62-5 m.p.h., but its successor, with a 50 h.p. Gnome, proved to be seriously underpowered and was considered a failure.
Sikorski produced two machines in 1912, the S.7 monoplane and the S.8 biplane. The S.7, powered by a French Gnome rotary engine of 70 h.p., was quite successful, and capable of reaching 62-5 m.p.h., but its successor, with a 50 h.p. Gnome, proved to be seriously underpowered and was considered a failure.
During all this activity. Sikorski was literally moving on to greater things, for in the workshops ol Russo-Baltic construction was well advanced on the first of a series of giant aircraft destined to ensure his fame as a designer. The machine, a huge biplane with a wingspan of just over 90 ft., was powered by two 100 h.p. Argus engines mounted as tractors between the wings, while the forward part of the long slender fuselage featured an innovation for its time in the form of an enclosed cabin for the seven crew members. Named 'Bolshoi Baltiski' ('Grand Baltic One'), the machine was underpowered for its size and weight, and after the maiden flight of March 1913, Sikorski added two more Argus engines behind the existing pair to drive pusher propellers, thus making 'The Grand' (the workers called it ‘The Tramcar with Wings’) the world's first four-engined aeroplane. In this modified form, the machine resumed testing on May 13th, 1913, as the ‘Bolshoi Baltiski’ Type B. A second prototype emerged from the R.B.V.Z. works at about this lime, slightly larger and substantially heavier than its predecessor, with four 100 h.p. Argus engines arranged as tractors and mounted along the leading edge of the lower wing. Named 'Russki Vityaz' ('Russian Knight'), this second version had been designed from the outset as a bomber, and made its maiden flight on July 23rd, 1913, followed by a programme of test flying which proved that it had a slightly better performance than 'The Grand' and that it could carry a useful load of 1,540 lb. in addition to its crew of seven. As already mentioned, the ‘Russki Vityaz’ was lost by mid-air collision in the 1913 military trials.
'Russki Vityaz'
The ill-fated 'Russki Vityaz' of 1913, mounted on skis and powered by four Argus engines.
'Bolshoi Baltiski' ('The Grand’)
’Russki Vityaz’
As already mentioned, the ‘Russki Vityaz’ was lost by mid-air collision in the 1913 military trials, but Sikorski had its successor under construction at the time, utilising the test results and knowledge gained to build the largest machine of all, which he named after a tenth-century hero of Russian folklore. The ‘Ilya Muromets’ had a wingspan of no less than 113 ft. and was 67 ft. in length, with a loaded weight of about 4 3/4 tons, power being provided, as before, by four of the well-tried 100 h.p. Argus water-cooled engines driving tractor propellers. Although similar in layout to the earlier machines, the ‘Ilya Muromets’ had a much shortened front fuselage with the crew cabin only just protruding over the wing leading edge, and for initial test-flying the outboard engines were mounted higher than the inboards. The wings were not staggered and ailerons with an increased chord at their extremities were fitted to the upper wing only, while the considerable overhang of the wingtip extensions had bracing in the form of outwardly-splayed interplane struts. The undercarriage consisted of two pairs of wheels with a secondary precaution of twin skids extending well in front of the axles and fuselage nose, each skid stiffened by a strut rising upwards and backwards to form an apex with the leading centre-section struts under the top wing. The entire airframe was of wood, wire-braced and fabric covered. An unusual feature of the machine took the form of two auxiliary lifting surfaces, fitted aft of the wings. The cabin of the ‘Ilya Muromets’ was spacious and well-equipped, including a dining room and pantry, toilet, dynamo lighting, and heating piped from the engine exhausts via an external air intake. Passengers with an adventurous turn of mind could obtain some very fresh air by visiting the promenade deck, complete with safety rail, on top of the fuselage!
  On December 11th, 1913, the ‘Ilya Muromets’ became airborne for the first time, flying from the snow-covered Komendantski airfield on the outskirts of St. Petersburg, a ski undercarriage having been fitted in place of the wheels. Trouble developed immediately, for the lift generated by the auxiliary lifting surfaces had been seriously underestimated, and the great machine reared up, stalled and crashed, smashing the port wings. Fortunately, the speed at impact was low, and after five days of repair the flight trials were resumed, this time minus 345 sq. ft. of auxiliary lift!
  Under-powered, laterally unstable and requiring a pilot of some skill and not a little physical development, the ‘Ilya Muromets’, or ‘I.M.’ as it was becoming known, had exceptional load-carrying capabilities, proved by Sikorski himself on February 12th, 1914, when he inched the huge aircraft to just under 1,000 ft., carrying fifteen passengers and his dog ‘Shkalik‘ a total payload of nearly 3,000 lb. - on 400 h.p. Sikorski made another flight soon after this epic, with eight passengers, when he cruised from Komendantski to Gatchina, Tsarskoe Selo, and return, at a height of 3,280 ft., remaining airborne for 2 hr. 6 min. Imperial recognition followed, for Tsar Nicholas II inspected the ‘I.M.’ at a Krasnoye Selo military parade, being no doubt pleased to note the Imperial Eagle motif gracing the front of the crew cabin. Impressed by the machine’s obvious war potential, the Tsar ordered it to be produced in numbers for the Imperial Russian Air Service, the Central Board of the General Staff immediately drafting an order for 10 to be constructed by Russo-Baltic, delivery to be made by March, 1915. This order had been anticipated, and work on a production prototype, the ‘I.M.’ Type A, was already well advanced, but by this time the tension between Germany and the ‘Entente Cordiale’ had increased, cutting off the supply of German aero-engines and spare parts, and Sikorski was forced to fit French Salmson engines to the ‘I.M.’ Type A. These radial engines developed 150 h.p. but did not have the reliability of the Argus, the latter having such a reputation that ‘second-hand’ units were often fitted in preference to the new French engines. Nevertheless, the ‘I.M.’ Type A made a remarkable flight on June 18th, 1914, when it remained airborne for 6 hr. 33 min. with seven persons on board. The original prototype was re-engined with Argus power units as stocks permitted, flying with two 132 h.p. engines outboard and two 140 h.p. units inboard on June 17th, 1914, when it made a long sortie to Kiev from its St. Petersburg base, returning on the 29th of that month. As a result of this outstanding flight, the machine was re-named ‘ Kievski ’.
'I.M.' Type A No. 1107
‘I. M. Kievski’
First production 'Ilya Muromets' Type A.
Three versions of Sikorski’s S.10 followed, the first, a biplane powered by the 80 h p. Gnome engine, and entered for the military competition ol 1913. A two-seater, this first S.10 was a development of the S.6, with a deeper rear fuselage and a four-wheel undercarriage. When test-flown its performance proved far from satisfactory, so Sikorski modified it by fitting a more powerful engine, the 100 h.p. Argus, and by reducing the wing spun these modifications gave better handling and an increased speed. The third and last alteration was the installation of a 125 h.p. Anzani engine, in which configuration the S.10 took a prize at the competition. This machine was also flown as a floatplane.
The Sikorski S.9 3-seater monoplane, with the S.10 biplane in background. Russo-Baltic airfield, 1913.
It seems that Sikorski was a very busy man at this time, for also entered in the same military competition was his S.11, a development of the S.9 with a flattened fuselage underside and the original engine.
Following the S.11 came the S.12, powered by an 80 hp Gnome. Little is known of the S.12, except that it was a two-seater monoplane of which several examples were built.
In 1912. Igor Sikorski had been appointed to head the newly-established aircraft design bureau of the Russo Baltic Waggon Factory (R.B V.Z.), a concern manufacturing railway rolling stock in factories at Riga and St Petersburg. The first aircraft to be built by R.B.V.Z. as a ‘pilot scheme’ to train the workers were in small number of Sikorski S.6s. Rapidly becoming a leading figure in Russian aviation, with his S.6 having won the highest award at the Moscow Aeronautics Exhibition and also the first prize in the 1912 military trials. Sikorski built the S.9 three-seater monoplane in 1913.
  This machine had a long tapering fuselage ol monocoque construction, with triangular tail surfaces, the wing being braced from two pylons and fitted with ailerons. The undercarriage was of the four-wheel type, and the engine, a 100 h.p. Gnome Monosoupape. was enclosed in a stream lined cowling. The pilot sat in the rear cockpit, in front of which was a larger cockpit for the two passengers, with side-by-side seating. The S.9 attained a speed ol 62 m.p.h., but due to high weight it had a very limited speed range, landing at 50 m.p.h.
The Sikorski S.9 3-seater monoplane, with the S.10 biplane in background. Russo-Baltic airfield, 1913.
In April, 1914, the Imperial Navy became interested in the ‘I.M.’ and ordered one machine for use on naval patrol and reconnaissance from their base at Libau. In this case, the land undercarriage was removed and replaced by two main floats and a smaller tail float, together with the necessary modifications to the undercarriage strut system, while the engine installation consisted of two Salmson radials on standard mountings inboard and two Argus units outboard, the latter on strut-supported bearers which raised the thrust lines some 3 ft. to give spray clearance to the propellers. Later, several more machines of this type were modified in similar fashion.
<Илья Муромец> № 107, установленный на поплавки на базе в Либаве, май 1914 г.
A naval ‘Ilya Muromets’ equipped with float undercarriage. This is an early production aircraft, with fuel tanks above the engines.
The first months of the war brought trouble for the ‘Ilya Muromets’ bombers. The General Staff regarded these machines highly, as did the Tsar himself, and this led to a further order for 32 of the huge aircraft, Russo-Baltic receiving an advance of over 3 million gold roubles for expansion of production facilities. The first three ‘I.M.s’ had been sent to the North-Western Front on August 26th, 1914, for operational trials, but nine weeks later the second order was cancelled, a report stating that the ‘I.M.’ was unsuitable for further development for military use. It is highly probable that the initial burst of enthusiasm did not take into account the inevitable teething troubles of the aircraft and the fact that its pilots needed special training to handle it.
  In December the Supreme Command of the Russian Armed Forces received a cable: ‘The I.M. aeroplanes are unfit for military purposes. Do not send them to the Front. Do not order more of them. Cancel existing order.’ As a result of this cable, the balance of the first order for ten machines was indeed cancelled. To Sikorski and Russo-Baltic this was a bombshell, and the Chairman of R.B.V.Z., the retired Lieutenant-Commander M. V. Shidlovski, hurried to the Secretary of the War Ministry with a bitter protest, to such effect that the Commander-in-Chief, Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolayevich, consented to a series of operational tests of the ‘I.M.’ to decide its fate.
  The R.B.V.Z. proposed the formation of all available machines as one squadron, and the supervision by themselves of maintenance, and of ground crew and aircrew training. This recommendation was accepted, and the responsibility of the scheme laid firmly at the feet of Shidlovski, who was given command, returning to active service with the rank of Major-General. Officially formed on December 10th, 1914, this unit became known as the E.V.K., Eskadra Vozdushnykh Korablei, or 'Flying Ship Squadron' a sly reference to its Commander’s former service in the Navy! Equipped with the first three machines, the squadron soon felt the benefit of Shidlovski’s outstanding ability as an organiser, and within a short time it possessed its own workshops, school, photographic report section and many other facilities. Efficient bombsights were developed and equipment modified and improved, Shidlovski later claiming, with some justification, that ‘The bombing of the “I.M.s” is vertical artillery fire, and we reached 60 to 90 per cent of hits ’.
  By the end of 1914 three ‘I.M.s’ were in service. The third machine was fitted with four Argus engines, as in the prototype, but its wingspan had been slightly reduced and the cabin nose made more pointed. This version was classified as Type B, and only four of these were built. It is reported that the Argus engines of the prototype were later fitted to at least four other machines, and that these four power units amassed a total of over 700 flying hours during a period of some two and a half years.
  ‘The Flying Ship Squadron’, operating from Yablonna, near Warsaw, ensured the continued existence of their machines by very effective bombing and reconnaissance sorties, which, early in 1915, evoked a report by General Odeshilidse in glowing terms, serving to underline the decision to reinstate the second production order.
At the beginning of 1915 the first Sikorski S.16 two-seater biplane scout emerged from the Russo-Baltic Works, designed to fill a requirement for an ‘Ilya Muromets’ escort fighter, although the bombers were soon to prove quite capable of looking after themselves. The S.16 was a small machine, having a wingspan of only 27 ft. 6 in., and unusual in that both pilot and observer were seated one behind the other in a single cockpit. The specification had called for a 90-110 h.p. Le Rhone rotary engine, but since these power units were in short supply and the S.16 was somewhat experimental, the 80 h.p. Gnome engine had to be installed, and once again an excellent Sikorski design suffered the effects of underpowering. Two more examples were completed in March, 1915, and delivered for trials to the bomber squadron where the pilots received them with enthusiasm, no doubt pleased to fly an aircraft which did not require large amounts of muscular effort.
  In September a Government contract was signed with the R.B.V.Z. for eighteen S.16 aircraft, the first being delivered in December and seven more at the beginning of 1916. Unfortunately, by this time, the S.16 was outclassed by the German Fokker D.II and D.III, and following a highly critical report made by a member of the Russian Parliament, further production was halted. Alternatively fitted with a 100 h.p. engine and with the Russian-manufactured 60 h.p. Kalep engine, the S.16 was interesting in many respects - its propeller was designed by Professor Zhukovski, the most important point being that it provided one of the world’s first examples of an aircraft armed with a machine gun synchronised to fire through the propeller disc, the synchronising gear having been designed by Lavrov, an ‘Ilya Muromets’ pilot and engineer. Other Russians were working on this type of device, notably Smyslov for the Dux Works and Lt.-Cdr. V. V. Dybovski, the latter collaborating with Warrant Officer F. W. Scarff to produce an efficient gear used on early Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter aircraft.
  It should be mentioned that the Lavrov gear was far from perfect, suffering numerous failures when in use, this presumably being the reason for some S.16s having a Lewis gun on an upper wing mounting in addition to the fixed gun with Lavrov gear. Among the S.16s produced, several structural differences were apparent, some machines having ailerons on upper and lower wings and a raked fin and rudder, others with ailerons on the upper wing only and a fin and rudder of curved profile. One machine was equipped with floats, and in winter conditions a ski undercarriage was generally fitted, as with other Russian aircraft. The S.16 had a good performance for its time, with a service ceiling of 10,000 ft. and a maximum speed of 73 m.p.h., but no record can be found of operational use, and although one or two S.16s may have been used at the Front, its probable role was that of a trainer and general-purpose aircraft. An armoured version of the S.16, the S.17, powered by a 150 h.p. Sunbeam engine and intended for ground attack duties, did not proceed beyond the prototype stage.
The RBVZ S-XVI, the first fighter to be designed by Igor I Sikorsky.
The Sikorski S.16 2-seater fighter biplane in winter setting. The skis were interchangeable with wheels.
С-16 с синхронным пулеметом "Виккерс".
A Gnome-powered Sikorski S.16, with synchronised machine gun fitted to the port side of the nose cowling.
Sikorski's S.16 fighter. This particular aircraft han increased upper wing area and no armament.
The purchase by the Russians of 40 Sunbeam engines (actually Sunbeam ‘Cossacks’) has already been mentioned, but further to this, a limited licence production of this engine was ordered from the Ilyin Works in Moscow, and regardless of its unreliability was installed in some ‘I.M.’ aircraft for lack of a ready alternative. In an attempt to fill the gap of engine shortage, Russo-Baltic took a short cut by copying the best features of the German Argus and Benz engines and building them into a power plant of their own making, the R.B.V.Z.-6, of 160 h.p. Naturally, this took time, and only 80 engines of an order for 300 were completed by the spring of 1917, by which time Russo-Baltic had been fortunate enough to secure 10 Renault licence-manufactured engines of 220 h.p. for their ‘I.M.’ production line. During 1915, orders for 34 of the giant bombers had been received, and throughout production many improvements were made, as a result of reports from the ‘Flying Ship Squadron’. This unit was now becoming hard-pressed by the enemy, having had to evacuate three bases as the Russian forces fell back, but nevertheless managing to drop nearly 45,000 lb. of bombs by December, 1915, plus marking up a respectable score of German aircraft shot down, for this early ‘Flying Fortress’ was no easy target!
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  A classic example of the engine availability problems experienced with the ‘I.M.’ aircraft was the Type V of 1915. At first powered by four MRB engines, which were 155 h.p. units manufactured at the Riga factory, the Type V was then successively fitted with Argus, R.B.V.Z.-6, and Benz engines. The difficulties of the design staff in coping with such a multiplicity of engine mountings and petrol, oil and water systems can well be imagined!
Type V.
Sleeping giant - an ‘Ilya Muromets’ with canvas covers over engines and propellers.
Early in 1916 Russo-Baltic produced the ‘Ilya Muromets’ Type G, with an increased wing area, the first machine having provision for an armament of five Lewis guns. The engine installations were dependent upon the supply situation at the time, the ‘I.M.’ Type G1 having four Sunbeam engines. Following the G1 came the G2, powered by two R.B.V.Z.-built 220 h.p. Renaults inboard and two 160 h.p. R.B.V.Z.-6 engines outboard. The Type G2 retained the increased wing area of the G1, but in this case the structure was strengthened in an attempt to obviate the fuselage twisting during turns, a fault which had an alarming effect on lateral stability and on occasion was the cause of structural failure. The Type G2 was the first machine to have both nose and tail gun positions, to which were added beam positions on the Type G3, while the G4, last of the Type G ‘I.M.’ aircraft, embodied all the modifications applied to the series.
The 'Ilya Muromets' Type B, with an extended nose and deeper cabin, powered by four Argus engines.
Ilya Muromets Type G with Russo-Baltic engines
The rear gun position of the Type G.
The world’s first four-engined bomber, flown extensively during the 1914 1918 War by the Imperial Russian Air Service.
An armoured version of the S.16, the S.17, powered by a 150 h.p. Sunbeam engine and intended for ground attack duties, did not proceed beyond the prototype stage.
After a small production batch of ‘I.M.’ Type D machines, which were a lightweight version of Type G powered by four R.B.V.Z.-6 engines, the ‘I.M.’ Type Ye emerged in August, 1916. This was the most powerful of all the series, having four R.B.V.Z.-built 225 h.p. Renault engines and able to carry a useful load of 5,510 lb. to 10,000 ft. in 44 minutes, the maximum bomb-load being 1,764 lb. Defensive armament consisted of seven Lewis guns, self-sealing tanks were fitted, and the pilot and co-pilot provided with armour plate below and behind their positions. The Type Ye2 was truly a ‘Flying Fortress’ with defensive armament of eight Lewis guns and a 50 mm. quick-firing cannon, the gunner’s positions featuring armour plate protection. Due to the extra weight, the bomb-load was reduced in the Ye2, the armour alone weighing some 600 lb. Both Type D and Ye machines incorporated an internal bomb-bay, which much reduced the drag experienced in earlier models equipped with external bomb racks beneath wings and fuselage.
  In late 1915 the ‘Ilya Muromets’ Squadron received the first supplies of the specially-designed Oranovski bombs, these being missiles of good aerodynamic shape and fitted with fins, their sizes ranging from 70 lb. to 882 lb. Two ‘Flying Ship Squadron’ officers, Captains Zhuravchenko and Ivanov, had designed an improved bombsight at about the same time, the result being a marked increase in the percentage of direct hits scored by the giant bombers. The U.S. Military Attache in Russia reported to his Government (Report No. 987, December 15th, 1915) that an ‘ I.M.’ had dropped a bomb weighing no less than 1,425 lb.!
  During all their raids, the ‘I.M.s’ carried cameras and two reconnaissance officers, their photographs of target damage and of enemy areas being developed after landing and despatched to Army Headquarters. Some 7,000 photographs were taken in this fashion during the war.
'Ilya Muromets' heavy bomber at Pleskau in 1916. This variant had a much enlarged crew cabin.
Igor Sikorski designed another multi-engined aircraft in 1916, two examples of which were built by Russo-Baltic. This was the S.19, powered by two 150 h.p. Sunbeam engines and with a wing structure of similar layout to the ‘Ilya Muromets’ but scaled-down to smaller dimensions, the tail surfaces being carried on twin fabric-covered booms. Probably due to the failings of the Sunbeam engines as experienced on the Lebed XI, the two machines were added to the strength of the ‘Flying Ship Squadron’ as trainers, having been deemed unsuitable for front-line service.
In 1916, a 24-year-old engineer named N. N. Polikarpov was placed in charge of the ‘Ilya Muromets’ production at Russo-Baltic, and Igor Sikorski, having a little more time to spare, set about the design of a new single-seater fighter, the S.20. Developed both from the S.16 and the French Nieuport 17, at least two examples were built, one with an 80 h.p. Le Rhone engine and another with a 110 h.p. engine of the same manufacture. Powered by the latter unit, the S.20 had an outstanding performance, being capable of a maximum speed of 118 m.p.h. and a climb rate of 1,000 ft./min. However, the production of this fighter would have impinged upon the R.B.V.Z. heavy bomber programme, and the design was abandoned in favour of fighters of French origin.
  The fate of the S.20 was not unique in early Russian aviation history, although the reason for other cases was not as straightforward, as it would appear that a number of Russian high officials received considerations from representatives of foreign aircraft manufacturers in return for preventing competition by the Russian industry. It is a sad fact that Russian units received French aircraft indifferently repaired after being damaged on the Western Front, while the goods were invoiced as new! Many Russian aircraft designs of great promise were abandoned and in some cases the designers suffered imprisonment for political reasons, even valuable men like Hackel, Ufimtzev, and many others, while the work of some, such as Olchovski, Slessarev, Steglau, Klimov, and Professor Botezat, was ‘lost’ in the desks of officials who should have been safeguarding the interest of the State.
The success of the ‘Ilya Muromets’ bombers inspired another designer to produce a giant aircraft, and in 1916, with the support of the War Ministry, V. A. Slesarev’s 117 ft. span ‘Svyatogor’ was completed. Larger than the Sikorski machines, this aircraft had two 220 h.p. Renault engines installed in the cabin behind the pilot’s seat, with geared drives to two propellers placed in mid-gap between the biplane wings at the trailing edges. A feature of this design was the enormous 6 ft. diameter main wheels, together with twin 5 ft. diameter nose-wheels. Somewhat hopeful calculations forecast a maximum speed of 100 m.p.h., a flight duration of 20 hours, and a useful load of 5,400 lb. The all-up weight is lost to history, but it is certain that the available 440 h.p. fell far below the power required to lift such a monster, and the ‘Svyatogor’ was eventually moved to the airfield boundary and abandoned.
The Slesarev 'Svyatogor';
In 1911, the first instance occurred of an industrialist in Russia taking an interest in aviation, when I. I. Steglau, an Esthonian-born civil engineering business owner of St. Petersburg, commenced the construction of a biplane of rather advanced design for its time, with a power unit of one 100 h.p. Argus. In the case of this machine the actual structure was well in advance of its contemporaries, for extensive use of electrically-welded steel was made in spars, struts and longerons, while the airframe received a plywood covering. Another feature was the tandem undercarriage, equipped with four wheels, fitted as a precaution against overturning on landing, a common type of accident in those days. Equipped with somewhat spartan seating for the pilot in an uncovered fuselage, the machine flew well, attaining a speed of 75 m.p.h.
Steglau’s 1911 biplane, notable for its use of welded steel construction.
Encouraged by results, Steglau built a second biplane, again powered by the Argus engine, repeating the construction method of its predecessor but dispensing with the four-wheeled undercarriage and replacing it with a more conventional two-wheeled type augmented by twin skids. The fuselage was streamlined and covered in with plywood. In both of these machines the strength of construction obviated the requirement for interplane struts or bracing, therefore representing one of the earliest examples of cantilever mainplanes.
Steglau’s second biplane, built in 1912, was well in advance of its time with design features including steel construction and cantilever wings.
As already mentioned, there was great interest among the early Russian designers in the rotary-wing or helicopter theory, and in 1904 Zhukovski had published a paper entitled ‘On the useful load lifted by a Helicopter’, in which he discussed the main problems of such a machine. In 1908, Vladimir Valerianovitch Tatarinov, having managed to obtain official financial help, designed and commenced the construction of a four-rotor helicopter, to be powered by a 25 h.p. EDTT water-cooled engine. For all this, however, the ‘watch-dog’ commission of scientists appointed by the Government declared that the project was not practicable, and Minister of War Suchomlinov withdrew the financial grant. The frustrated Tatarinov promptly set fire to his incomplete machine, receiving serious burns in the process. Understandably, he lost all interest in aviation, but after the Revolution he became a member of the TsAGI.
Before the outbreak of the 1914-1918 war many businessmen had noted the financial possibilities of aircraft production, and invested accordingly, although most of them knew little about aviation, putting their faith in the designers and engineers they employed. In Britain, France, and Germany, a combination of sound business sense and the ever increasing skill of the aircraft designers and manufacturers generally provided a good dividend on such investments. On the other hand, in Russia there were few good designers, and a much lower standard of practical aviation knowledge. Thus the odds lay heavily against the Russian financiers, and as is the way of the world, some of them lost their money, such as F. F. Tereschtschenko, a Kiev factory owner who financed the design and construction of a two-seater monoplane in 1914, powered by an 80 h.p. Gnome engine. Although capable of 62-5 m.p.h. and able to carry a useful load of 484 lb., which was a creditable performance at the time, the machine failed to satisfy the officials empowered to examine all new aircraft for some reason and it was rejected. Tereschtschenko then abandoned all interest in aircraft as a financial venture, although his factory was later to join others in the production of aircraft and components during the war.
Possibly inspired by the Wright brothers’ success in 1903, the impact of which was not felt in Europe for some time, the year 1907 saw an upsurge of interest in heavier-than-air flight in Russia. Still lacking a lightweight power unit, the designers and would-be aviators turned to the next best thing - gliders, and in that year a large number of designs were created. The most successful gliders were copied, resulting in a more or less standard biplane layout with tail control surfaces carried aft on outrigger struts. The pilot’s position, or rather posture, owed something to the Lilienthal gliders of the late nineteenth century, for this consisted of hand-holds only, the aviator using his legs as an undercarriage! Among these enthusiasts was A. N. Tupolev, who had been interested in this type of aircraft for some time, and had built several efficient flying models.
Student A. N. Tupolev airborne for a glider flight in 1909.
The year 1910 also saw the completion of an aircraft of unusual conception; the annular-winged machine designed by A. G. Ufimtsev, a talented engineer. The fuselage consisted of a framework of struts carrying the 11 ft. diameter wing, engine, and pilot’s seat, with the tailplane to the rear and vertical stabilisers mounted on the upper surface of the wing. Ufimtsev had designed and built the engine himself, and driving a four-bladed propeller it developed 20 h.p. The machine failed to fly, so, undeterred, its designer built a second version to the same basic configuration but of larger size, and with a 60 h.p. engine, also home-made. This second machine also failed to fly, and Ufimtzev undertook no further development, returning instead to the field of engine design in which he found national recognition with the award of the Great Silver Medal at the Moscow Aeronautics Exhibition of 1912.
Ufitmsev’s 'Spheroplane' of 1910, with annular wing and 20 h.p. engine. Although both machines failed to fly, they were unique in that Vfimtsev constructed his own engines!
The year 1910 also saw the completion of an aircraft of unusual conception; the annular-winged machine designed by A. G. Ufimtsev, a talented engineer. The fuselage consisted of a framework of struts carrying the 11 ft. diameter wing, engine, and pilot’s seat, with the tailplane to the rear and vertical stabilisers mounted on the upper surface of the wing. Ufimtsev had designed and built the engine himself, and driving a four-bladed propeller it developed 20 h.p. The machine failed to fly, so, undeterred, its designer built a second version to the same basic configuration but of larger size, and with a 60 h.p. engine, also home-made. This second machine also failed to fly, and Ufimtzev undertook no further development, returning instead to the field of engine design in which he found national recognition with the award of the Great Silver Medal at the Moscow Aeronautics Exhibition of 1912.
The larger and more powerful version built in 1911. Although both machines failed to fly, they were unique in that Vfimtsev constructed his own engines!
A further Gnome-powered design of 1912 was the monoplane built by Hioni, a Russian citizen of Finnish descent. Similar in appearance to the French Antoinette, the machine had a semi-elliptical fuselage with a flat top decking and a 100 h.p. tractor engine. Lateral control was effected by wing-warping, operated by wires running from a central pylon, and although a large tailplane was fitted, the machine was without a vertical fin. The undercarriage, of four-wheel type, also featured long skids. A two-seater, Hioni’s monoplane proved to be quite efficient when tested, and speeds in the order of 80 m.p.h. were reached, but with no fin the torque of the rotary engine rendered directional stability marginal, and no further development took place.
Hioni monoplane
A very interesting design at this time was the TchUR 1 monoplane by N. W. Rebikov, assisted by Chechet and Ushkov. Fitted with an 80 h.p. Argus engine and with a fuselage resembling the French Antoinette, it had a small aerofoil surface above the cockpit and another over the tail, both of these auxiliary lift surfaces having manually-operated variable incidence, with the idea of improving the initial rate of climb, and of shortening the landing run by using the surfaces as airbrakes. An additional device to provide extra lift took the form of flaps fitted at the wing tips. This machine, test-flown at Mezhdunarodni in 1912, must surely rank as one of the ancestors of modern S.T.O.L. (short take-off and landing) aircraft! This principle of variable lift and drag was later evident in two British aircraft. The Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.4 had movable portions of the wing trailing edges by which the pilot could increase lift, and the Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter was fitted with hinged wing panels to increase drag during landing runs.
The TchUR-1 of 1912, designed for short take-off and landing. The auxiliary lifting and aerodynamic braking surfaces are visible above the wing and tailplane, also the wingtip ‘flaps’.
The 100 h.p. Gnome Monosoupape engine was used to power an experimental single-seater flying-boat designed by Naval Lieut. Engels, but little is known of this project, for the machine crashed after reaching over 100 m.p.h., killing Engels, who was making the first test flight. The cause of this accident was put down to structural failure of the wings due to high speed.
The efforts of Tatarinov, Sikorski and Antonov in the helicopter field have already been mentioned, but it is through the experiments and designs of a fourth pioneer that the helicopter exists as we know it today. B. N. Yuriev was one of Zhukovski’s students at the M.V.T.U., and together with G. K. Sabinin and V.P. Vetchinkin made a special study of helicopter theory. Of Sabinin’s work little is known, but in 1913 Vetchinkin found the formula for the evaluation of rotor lift whilst hovering, which we use at the present time. Yuriev’s first step into practical application of his theories was the construction of a co-axial rotor helicopter in 1909, which proved to be a failure, but he succeeded in obtaining the support of the Ledentsov Society and constructed in 1912 a second machine, the design of which was a radical departure from the co-axial layout. In all helicopters, the rotor torque will cause the fuselage to rotate unless counterbalanced, and in 1910 Yuriev designed a single-rotor machine, putting the engine and rotor in the centre of an open-work girder and a small propeller at each end, driven from the main shaft and with pitch controllable by the pilot, including reverse! By this means, Yuriev obtained counterbalance, steering and forward (also rearward) propulsion. His 1912 machine was this design virtually halved, with one main rotor at the forward end of an open fuselage, and one small tail rotor, a layout used subsequently for most aircraft of this type. The engine was a 30 h.p. Anzani, and the all-up weight a mere 445 lb. No provision was made at this time for forward propulsion. Shown at the Moscow Aeronautics Exhibition, Yuriev’s helicopter was awarded a Gold Medal, but later, during extensive ground tests, the main rotor shaft fractured, and lack of financial support forced Yuriev to discontinue development. After the establishment of the Soviet regime his ability was recognised, and he was able to play a leading role in helicopter development.
Yuriev's award-winning helicopter of 1912. Plainly visible in this photograph, his lifting and directional system of main and tail rotors is basically that of a modern helicopter.
Helicopter designer and his aircraft. B. N. Yuriev is seated on the undercarriage of his second helicopter, winner of a Gold Medal at the Moscow International Aeronautics Exhibition in 1912.
A Wright biplane at Gatchino Flying School, 1910.
The first ski-equipped aircraft, a Bleriot, flown by Capt. Kedrin at Sevastopol in 1911.
Airfield scene at Petrograd in 1917. The aircraft shown are a Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter, Caudron G.4, Nieuport 24bis and Nieuport 17.
Ex-Russian Nieuport;
A group of pupils at the Imperial All-Russia Aero Club, St. Petersburg, 1911, including a lady, name unknown. The aircraft in the background appears to be a Farman biplane.
'Old Faithful' - a 1909 Farman biplane. Many of these aircraft were still in use as trainers for Russian pilots in 1918!
Dux-Farman
The first Dux-built Farman, slightly modified from the original.
A ski-equipped Farman of the All-Russia Aero Club, 1911.
A Farman fitted with improved skis designed by N. P. Lobanov in early 1913.
Trainee pilot and victim! The dignified appearance of ‘Old Faithful’ is somewhat ruffled by a very heavy landing.
Another grey hair for the Chief Flying Instructor. Morane-Saulnier and Farman biplane after collision at a Russian flying school.
The Dux version of the later Farman F.16. Aircraft carry the factory name on the rudders.
Farman F.16 in flight.
Farman F.16 with ski undercarriage.
Skis and skids. A Farman 16 equipped with winter-type undercarriage, interchangeable with wheels for operation in more temperate conditions.
Nieuports and Farmans under construction at the Dux factory in Moscow. Founded in 1910, this concern also built Voisin and Morane aircraft.
Spads, Nieuports, 1 1/2 Strutters and Farmans of the Red Air Force.
Captured Farman F.30
Farman on Northern Front.
The Farman F.30, built under licence by the Dux and Lebedev factories. Some of these dependable aircraft were still flying in 1920, giving excellent service throughout their operational life.
A version of the basic F.40, purchased from France and also built under licence in Russia.
A Morane-Saulnier H monoplane, the pilots of which were armed with pistols or carbines.
Another grey hair for the Chief Flying Instructor. Morane-Saulnier and Farman biplane after collision at a Russian flying school.
September 8th, 1914 - P.N. Nesterov destroying a German aircraft by ramming; the first recorded instance of this method of attack. (From a contemporary painting.)
"Моран-парасоль" на лыжах в России. Данный самолет интересен своими опознавательными знаками: на крыльях нанесены русские кокарды, а на фюзеляже остались незакрашенные французские.
The two-seat Type L was also used in single-seat form, such as this one in Russian service.
Markings mixture. This Morane Parasol L carries a French roundel on the fuselage and Russian markings on the wings!
A Morane L Parasol
Morane Parasol captured by Fl.Abt.53;
Russian trainer of 1918, at the Samara Flying School. The rather skeletal appearance of the Morane-Saulnier 'Parasol' was a deliberate modification employed bu many Russian Flying Schools to prevent trainees from becoming airborne during engine handling and taxiing practice!
Russian trainer of 1918, at the Samara Flying School. More purposeful and efficient is the Morane-Saulnier LA, previously in front-line service but now relegated to the role of fighter trainer for advanced pupils.
Completed Nieuport IV ready for delivery from the Dux factory;
Nieuport IV captured by Austrian troops;
Two views of Nieuport IV captured by Fl. Abt. 35 of the German Air Force;
A French monoplane built under licence in several aircraft factories.
Kazakov, ace Russian pilot with his Maxim-armed Nieuport 11. The Imperial Russian insignia is painted on the cowling front.
The personal machine of the Russian Ace, Kazakov, as fitted with Maxim gun armament.
Problems concerning aircraft armament were not confined to enemy types, however, for the first examples of the Nieuport 11 ‘Bebe’ arrived in Russia without guns. As the Russians did not possess, or could not obtain aircooled machine-guns at the time, to arm the Nieuports, a solution had to be found. Some pilots bowed to the inevitable, and took their machines into the air with a carbine or pistol in the cockpit, but not Cavalry Captain A. A. Kazakov, Russia’s leading ace, whose personal ‘Bebe’ was specially modified after the failure of attempts to obtain one of the highly-prized and very rare Lewis guns from the ‘Ilya Muromets’ Squadron. An engineer named V. V. Jordan, fellow-student of Sikorski at Kiev, and now on the staff of Russo-Baltic, heard of Kazakov’s plea and undertook to fit the ‘Bebe’ with a water-cooled Maxim machinegun. A triangular piece of the upper wing leading edge was cut out and the gun installed in the fuselage, between engine and cockpit, angled upwards so that the line of fire cleared the propeller. To use this weapon, Kazakov had to attack from below, without direct aim at his target. The fact that he added to his considerable number of victories - officially 17, but unofficially double that figure - while using the Maxim gives further indication of his ability.
A Russian Nieuport 12. Without armament, this aircraft was used in the 2- seater trainer role.
Early in 1917 the situation regarding obsolescent aircraft in the Russian fighter squadrons was eased by the arrival from France of a number of the superb Nieuport 17s, a larger, stronger and more powerful development of the Nieuport 11, fitted with a 110 h.p. Le Rhone rotary engine. A production of licensed machines was started at the Dux Works, but only 14 machines were built in all, the labour force being preoccupied at first with the construction of Nieuport 21s, a lower-powered (80 h.p. Le Rhone) trainer version of the 17. A total of 68 of the latter type were completed and sent to the Front.
Nieuport 17 of No. 1 Fighter Group, displaying the white skull and crossbones originally identifying the XIX (Death or Glory) Corps Air Squadron. The fuselage inscription reads ‘Bob’. The significance of the name ‘Bob' is not known.
Nieuport 17 at Kiev retains Imperial roundels.
1st Red Air Force fighter unit, 1918;
Airfield scene at Petrograd in 1917. The aircraft shown are a Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter, Caudron G.4, Nieuport 24bis and Nieuport 17.
Spads, Nieuports, 1 1/2 Strutters and Farmans of the Red Air Force.
Kazan Air Detachment, 1919.
Nieuports and Farmans under construction at the Dux factory in Moscow. Founded in 1910, this concern also built Voisin and Morane aircraft.
Nieuport 21, with 80 h.p.Le Rhone engine, used as a trainer during 1916-1917. Note positioning of roundels on all flight surfaces.
A Nieuport 21 (1810) awaiting delivery to Russia from France. Note the Russian roundels on wings and French-style rudder striping. National colors on the rudder from front to rear are white, blue and red.
Wreckage of Nieuport 17 No. 2232, which crashed during landing approach in, May, 1917, killing Russian ace Capt. Kruten.
Airfield scene at Petrograd in 1917. The aircraft shown are a Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter, Caudron G.4, Nieuport 24bis and Nieuport 17.
Red Air Force unit entrained for the Front.
Nieuport 17 bearing the early red disc marking of the Red Air Force.
Nieuport 17 displaying revolutionary red disc marking
Nieuports on an ice airfield in March, 1921, during the action against the rebellion at Kronstadt naval base.
Bottom: Fighter unit, Southern Front.
Nieuports on Polish Front, 1920;
Nieuports on the Southern Front, 1919.
Red squadron on the Western Front.
A far less welcome French aircraft to be received was the Salmson-Moineau SM 1, only three of which were ever built. The engines of this aircraft, two 150 h.p. Salmson radials, were mounted between the longerons at the forward end of the fuselage, with the propeller shafts at 90 degrees to the fore-and-aft axis and extended into the wing bays on either side, where strut-braced gearboxes converted the drive forward to tractor propellers. While this system of propulsion had its advantages in decreased drag, the disadvantages were legion, the SM 1s spending most of their time on the ground with fractured drive-shafts, stripped gearboxes and engine failure. The French rejected the type, and a Salmson agent sold all three examples to Russia!
One of the Salmson-Moineau SM.1 aircraft purchased by Russia. The propellers were driven from engines mounted in the fuselage.
The stand of the Russo-Baltic factory (Riga) at the All-Russian Aeronautical Exhibition in St. Petersburg, 1912. A number of these exhibitions were held between 1910 and 1914.
The Imperial Air Service also received 57 Spad A.2s and 10 A.4s. These rather peculiar machines, fitted with the 80 and 110 h.p. Le Rhone respectively, featured a ‘pulpit’ nacelle in front of the propeller for the observer/gunner, this nacelle being braced by struts to the undercarriage and top wing, and carrying a ball-race on its rear bulkhead in which revolved a propeller shaft extension. Both types were understandably unpopular with the French, for even in a minor crash the observer was ‘meat in the sandwich’! The Russian crews had no choice but to fly these machines; the French Air Force had abandoned them with alacrity.
In the late Spring of 1917 the Spad Company retrieved its good name in the Imperial Air Service by sending 43 S.7s to Russia, a scant eight months after their first appearance on the Western Front, and at last the Russian fighter pilots had a potent weapon. The S.7 power unit was the 200 h.p. Hispano-Suiza, which gave the machine a maximum speed of just under 120 m.p.h., and this, combined with its great strength, made the Spad S.7 a fighter to reckon with. Most of the S.7s were sent to supplement or replace the Nieuports and Moranes of the newly-formed No. 1 Fighter Group, comprising four squadrons under the command of the leading fighter ace, Kazakov. This Group adopted the insignia of Kazakov’s XIX Corps Air Squadron of 1915 - a white skull and cross-bones on a black rudder - although the Commander and his deputy, Shangin, had the colours reversed on their personal machines.
Spad S.7 aircraft of No. 1 Fighter Group, the nearest machine serialled S1424. Newly delivered, both lack the skull and crossbones rudder insignia.
Austrian personnel with captured Spad, 1917. The black skull and crossbones indicate that this was the aircraft of Capt. Kazakov or his deputy, Shangin.
Spads, Nieuports, 1 1/2 Strutters and Farmans of the Red Air Force.
The Voisin LA.
Voisin LA is examined by German personnel
Early tricycle - a Voisin LA with winter undercarriage. The high gloss visible on the wing fabric is caused by weather-protective varnish.
Shot-down Voisin LA.
A strong and reliable machine of French origin built under licence in Russia.