The only photograph of his father during the rocket launch
I did good with love in my heart!
Dedicated to our father
Dedicated to our father
In my childhood, which fell on the 1980s, almost all the boys in our yard built rockets. We lived in the "Khrushchevka" of the working area of the ZIP, almost on the outskirts of Krasnodar. Many guys at that time were fond of the chemistry of explosives precisely because of its practical application. Everything that burned or exploded well was used. I remember how rockets were stuffed with film that burned like gunpowder. They tried to use for these purposes and pieces of spent carbide, which the welders threw away after work. Various compositions have been invented based on magnesium or aluminum with the addition of manganese or potassium nitrate. File sharpened magnesium parts aviation wheels. Each student could accurately identify magnesium by attaching a copper coin to the metal and at the junction taste the acidity of the "galvanic couple" with his tongue. Used yellow sulfur, and instead of coal, sometimes ordinary granulated sugar was used. If someone managed to get hunting gunpowder, then it was a "holiday" for the whole yard. Today it may seem terrible, but in my childhood we made all the New Year's pyrotechnics ourselves, and it exploded no worse than the Chinese brought in today. I remember these bags with 100-300 explosive packets prepared for the New Year, rolled from cardboard punched cards, with matches strapped head to head. A fly-by is when an explosion occurs in the air after 2-3 seconds, while the explosion pack flies to the ground. Yes, there were burns and injuries, even mild concussions, but this is the only way the boyish character is tempered.
Most of our rockets simply burned up right at the launch site. Some exploded into small pieces, but some managed to get off the ground and under our enthusiastic cries, describing an arc, fall dangerously close to car garages. And then we had to have time to run away or hide from the men who were constantly dismantling and assembling something there. Some "yard" missile developers managed to achieve some results, but me and my older brothers Alexander and Boris were much more fortunate. We had a father, and our childhood dreams came true in his rocket science club.
When I was ten years old, my parents took me with them for the whole shift to the pioneer camp "Divnomorsk-Energetik". This is in the village of Divnomorsk, which is nestled among a forest near Gelendzhik on the Black Sea coast.
I remember how the smell of the sun-warmed resin from the surrounding pines mixed with the aromas of the sea, how restless cicadas sang in the crowns of trees.
Mom worked as a nurse in the camp's medical unit, and his father, Viktor Ivanovich Kantemirov, led the rocket science club. There, I was also lucky enough to make my first "combat" rocket, which soared high into the azure blue sky.
My father already had the technology of making and launching homemade solid fuel rockets, honed by many years of experience. More than once before that he had gone to pioneer camps for a season with his "rocket case" and taught the boys the basics of rocketry.
First, we collected the charcoal left over from a large pioneer bonfire lit at the opening of the camp shift. Then we carefully grinded the coals in a porcelain mortar to a state of dust. In the proportions verified by my father, we mixed coal, sulfur, saltpeter, adding a little black powder to the composition. A composition unthinkable today for use in modern realities! The boys worked in their father's circle with enthusiasm and passion. They laughed at each other when someone rubbed their nose or touched their face with their hands accidentally stained with coal. The guys already knew that coal burns in the rocket charge, sulfur only slows down combustion, and nitrate, when heated, gives the much needed oxygen. This mixture was poured into cardboard sleeves of hunting cartridges of 12-16 caliber and compacted with a hammer and mortar of the appropriate shape. But instead of a primer for the time of tamping the combustible mixture, the sleeve was mounted on a tapered rod, which formed inside not only an opening for inserting a fuse-cord, but also a future combustion chamber with effective thrust.
We also made the Bickford cord ourselves, soaking a hemp rope in saltpeter. After drying, it was coated with a pasty mixture of black powder with PVA glue. Then it was hung from the ceiling in the workshop and dried for a long time. When all the moisture had evaporated, the cord was ready.
We made rocket bodies, fairings and stabilizers out of paper, gluing it with silicate glue. On a polished metal blank, previously greased with Vaseline (to make it easier to remove from the workpiece), paper coated with glue was wound in several layers. For the head parts - fairings used conical blanks. Then the cardboard blanks were dried, they were removed from the blanks and everything unnecessary was cut off. The tail fins were also glued to the hull according to a template marked into 3 sectors with equal angles. There were cases when the boys managed to screw up the installation of stabilizers, and then the rocket was thrown to the side during takeoff.
The assembled rocket consisted of a body with stabilizers and a removable conical fairing tied to the body with a stern thread to fix it after "shooting".
Sliding rings were attached to the hulls that held the rocket in an upright position at the start and at the stage of the starting acceleration during launch. We painted the finished rockets with lacquer with "silver" like metal, decorated with red stars and inscriptions.
An equipped "solid-state" rocket engine was tightly inserted inside the hull, an auxiliary charge of pure gunpowder was filled over it, then a wad and a rolled silk parachute went. In multistage rockets, a small charge of gunpowder was also used to separate the used stage, which fired off the first stage and set fire to the second.
The principle of operation of the "rescue system" of the rocket was ingeniously simple. When the propellant burned out to the end, a powder charge exploded above it, which pushed the parachute with a wad, it dropped the fairing and flew out. Upon successful firing of the warhead, the rocket with a tied fairing descended on a parachute. But if something went wrong, then she fell down the fairing, crushing it into an accordion.
The launch pad itself was a long pin with a diameter of up to 8 mm, stuck in the ground. Depending on the size of the rocket, its length was from 1,0 to 2,5 meters. When the rocket was launched, the launch pad ensured the vertical direction of flight at the acceleration stage, and after the rocket left the launch pad - the pin, the rectilinear movement was provided by aerodynamic stabilizers.
How many starts, so many enthusiastic, breathtaking emotions! Almost all solemn lines and celebrations were accompanied by massive missile launches. Of the three missiles, at a simultaneous launch, at least one accurately fulfilled the entire "flight program". But unsuccessful starts lifted everyone's spirits and were a reason for jokes.
I remember how our circle was instructed to fire rockets at the Neptune Day celebration. The pebble beach is very narrow there, and there will be a lot of people on it. So it was decided for safety to launch rockets from a concrete breakwater that goes into the sea. To do this, we drove the shortened starting rods into the scraps of the found boards. The idea was not bad, but ... During the launch, some of the "launch sites" were overturned by the missiles taking off, and the missiles flew in different directions. One rocket fell to the foot of the throne of Neptune, the other flew towards the audience, who screamed and screamed to the sides. And the rocket, raising its charge, finally fired, throwing out its rescue parachute. Everyone but my father was having fun, but he was aware of the full scale of the disaster. Fortunately, no one was hurt then, and my father escaped with an oral reprimand from the head of the camp, whose son also made rockets with us.
By this time, both of my older brothers who went with their parents to pioneer camps on the Black Sea coast of Anapa also passed through my father's rocketry club. The eldest of us, Boris, fondly recalls the time when they lived in the village of Dinskaya in the Krasnodar Territory, my father worked at school and led several circles in which he loved to tinker.
In those years, thousands of future engineers and technicians attended the circles.
Lessons of skill
I remember well the events that preceded Gagarin's first flight on April 12, 1961, the first flight of an artificial Earth satellite and the flight with dogs on board - Belka and Strelka. And the point, of course, is not about propaganda and information campaign, it was our Victory, it made us HIGHER, BIGGER and BETTER than those who were in the West, and all of us. We then felt that we were a part of the people more than the current generation. These events raised the appreciation of our national identity. And I felt it already then. Then everyone raved about space.
This state of society has left its mark on the sphere of public education. In schools, and without that, in contrast to modern trends, a huge extracurricular circle work was carried out. The children were eagerly drawn to sports, to music, to all kinds of technical circles.
During this period, my father taught physics, astronomy and mathematics at school number 3, which is closer to the center of the village of Dinskaya. Mother, Margarita Andreevna, taught at the same school history, Russian language and literature. And the "circle" work for school teachers was an integral part of their teaching and educational function. Although it was charged at a lower rate.
My father received a load of conducting several circles at once: rocket, aircraft modeling and ship modeling. I, in the status of the son of a teacher, have often been to his classes since the 1st grade. I enjoyed the patronage of the participants, I was given tools, allowed to plan, glue, cut, in general, to create.
Classes were held not at the school, but in the old building of the House of Culture. The room was cramped, the building was old, although large by the standards of the village. On the right side there was a cinema, and on the left side there were two or three rooms used as workshops. There were wooden tool cabinets around the perimeter, some with glazing. They exhibited models of ships: sailing ships, military, submarines. Even then, the quality of their workmanship, detailing, and plausibility were striking.
I liked sailing ships the most. Subsequently, I built their models, and the first cases were carved with a knife even then.
The workshops had large windows, it was light, it smelled like glue, ether and something else that touches the soul of any boy whose dreams soar in the sky, sea or space.
In my recollections, they went to the circles from the 4th to the 8th grade of the school. After the 8th grade, the guys were already engaged in more serious matters, for example, driving courses, studying to be tractor drivers and combine operators. Grown up early. There was also an 8-year education. But this experience left its mark on the personalities of the children, raising their general culture, knowledge of history, technology, design, cultivating perseverance, and most importantly, it took them away from the street.
In the middle of the room were large work tables, cut and lined with tools, stained with glue and paint. There were also a couple of joinery workbenches.
Various aircraft models were suspended from the ceiling: airframes, rubber-engined, controlled, cable-controlled, with various engines. Were already completed and in varying degrees of readiness.
And - rockets! They were beautifully painted: bronze, silver, colored paints, inscriptions and symbols typical of that socialist era.
And Victor Ivanovich taught the guys all this. Where did he get these skills, I do not know, but he enjoyed great authority among the guys. In general, he possessed wide knowledge and skills, which made it possible, for example, to build a house, repair everything and everything, from the radio to the furniture. These qualities were generally characteristic of people of that generation. Survival, well-being and success in life depended on their presence.
Drawings and modeling manuals were then published, were available for use and distributed through a subscription to Soyuzpechat. The manuals were accompanied by "patterns" for the models. How and from what funds were the work of the circles provided by schools, houses of culture and creativity? Of course, then I could not be interested in this. But everything was needed. There were glue, paints, solvents, specialty paper, wood, bamboo chips, and even cartridges and gunpowder. My father was engaged in this, he had acquaintances from among the fishermen and hunters in the village.
The most memorable events were the days when models of gliders, airplanes were tested and when missiles were launched. Near the House of Culture there was a village bazaar with a couple of shops and several trading wooden rows-sheds. And behind it was a large vacant lot. A lot of people gathered.
Gliders were launched "from hand" as far as they could. But it was necessary to measure the push so that during launch the wing planes did not fall off. They flew as far as the aerodynamics were well calculated and as far as the wind allowed. The wings and tail unit were flimsy, translucent, spars and ribs - elements of the longitudinal and transverse set - were visible through and through. Instead of the fuselage, there is a thin wooden plank, and instead of the cockpit, there is a round plywood plate for counterweight to the center of gravity.
The rubber-engine models were the same gliders, the design of which included a drive from a harness of so-called aviation rubber of white color and a round cross-section with an aircraft propeller - a wooden propeller. The propeller is the most complex element, handcrafted from drawings with the utmost care. It was polished, weight balanced and varnished.
Before launching the model, the rubber band was twisted manually, with fingers or with a hand drill attached to the propeller shaft. Electric drills were then a huge rarity and value. After "winding up" the drive, the propeller was released, the rubber began to unwind, rotate the propeller, and the model began flying. It lasted until the end of the "tightness" of the rubber drive and planning from the inertia of acceleration.
A longitudinal and transverse set of glider models was made of bamboo chips with fixing bends and heating chips over an alcohol burner. Then the parts were joined with threads, fixed in the right position and soaked in bone glue. Bone glue stored in brown tiles half a centimeter thick was crushed and softened to a liquid state in a steam bath. He stank terribly. But after drying, he kept the structure well. The design dried for several days until the new meeting of the circle. Then it was glued over with sheets of tissue paper soaked in casein glue or flour paste, and again it was dried for a long time on a suspension bracket under the ceiling. After drying, the paper was pulled onto the frame like a drum, and the structure became a wing.
The senior schoolchildren who went through the glider and gum stages constructed cordless controlled models with real aviation micromotors. They were imperfect, badly launched, especially in the wind, when the ether used for the initial launch quickly disappeared. The big problem was getting aviation gas. But the father organized the business so that all this was at the disposal of the guys. But in the end, these flights became very spectacular. Modellers were on top of happiness.
The USSR won the space race for a school desk.
The construction of existing rocket models, and they were all operational and, moreover, were launched several times into the sky, began with a cylindrical body. The missiles were different in size and design: single-stage and multi-stage, thick and thin, for beginner modelers simpler and for experienced - more complicated.
The main event - model tests and missile launches. There are many children, and it was necessary to ensure control over everything that was happening. But security measures were indifferent to me in those years, I did not notice this. Nevertheless, I have not heard of any injuries or emergency.
Missiles were alternately, and sometimes several, installed at the starts, Bikford cords were inserted, all departed several meters, and the cords were set on fire. These were tremulous moments when fire and smoke ran across the field toward the rocket, the engine was ignited and the rocket took off. Small models - quickly, large ones - more slowly and more effectively. How high, I don’t know, but in the sky they were almost indistinguishable. Only when the parachute was opened did they become noticeable. And then they were carried downwind, and all the crowd rushed to pick them up. Sometimes it was carried quite far, sometimes they sank into the yards of the village. Then they were asked to be allowed into the courtyard and removed from the tree or from the chicken coop.
Subsequently, on large models, in the head parts in special containers they began to place passengers - frogs. This caused particular interest and, probably, gave rise to youthful fantasies. Then the flight into space was already becoming a real dream. Surprisingly, there were no “victims” among the “astronauts”!
My father was very warm about this type of teaching, and the guys paid him in return. This was felt by me during the classes that I sometimes attended. I always really liked to plan, saw, cut, draw, organize, in general, do something. And this period of life was remembered in details precisely for these moments. At least, it’s better than just studying at school or at a music school. It was just an adventure!