Military Review

“Firebird” by Konstantin Kalinin


He never walked along the beaten paths — mostly unusual machines that contained original solutions came out of his design bureau, and the development of new schemes included promising design and scientific techniques that were widely used only many years later ...

В Aviation K.A. Kalinin came in 1916, becoming a military pilot. The imperfection of the aircraft of that time was a motivation for the pilot to create aircraft of new schemes. However, he only had such an opportunity in 1925, when he began working as an aviation engineer at the Remvozdukhzavod in Kiev. Having headed the initiative group of aviation enthusiasts, which, in addition to himself, included D. L. Tomashevich, A. N. Graziansky and A. T. Rudenko, K. A. Kalinin created his first machine, which later became known as K-1.

The tests of this passenger elliptical wing monoplane were successful, the aircraft was found fit for work in the Civil Air navy, and the aircraft designer was proposed on the basis of K-1 to create several modifications of the airplane. K. A. Kalinin was to do this already in Kharkov, where he received an independent production base - the workshops of Ukrvozdukhput, later named GROS (Civil Experimental Aircraft Engineering). One of the modifications, which received the K-5 index, became perhaps the most popular passenger aircraft of the 30s. K-5 could carry 8 passengers at a distance of up to 800 km at a speed of 160 km / h.

In 1930, in KB K.A. Kalinanachali, the design of the giant K-7 aircraft with seven 750-powerful engines. It was a completely unusual two-beam bomber with a 38 T flight weight and a bomb load of up to 13 T. Unfortunately, its design was not strong enough and rigid, so the “seventh” did not go into the series. In addition, by the year 1933, when the machine entered the tests, the concept of the giant aircraft became more and more doubtful. High-speed aircraft with a high wing load, which had enhanced aerodynamic qualities, were already replacing the celestial slow-moving ships. It was in this direction that the search for a talented aircraft designer was going.

In February, 1989 marks 100 years since the birth of KA Kalinin. We celebrate this date with the story of the creation of the K-12 — one of the most extravagant aircraft of the designer. Machine drawings are published for the first time.

At the beginning of the 30-s, it became clear that one of the most popular and multi-purpose aircraft - the N.N. Polikarpov-designed P-5 no longer meets the increasing requirements for this type of aircraft. By February, 1931, the Air Force Research Institute developed tactical and technical requirements for the new aircraft, called the “military”. And 4 July 1932 of the Year, the Council of Labor and Defense commissioned the design and construction of such a machine to a team of Kharkiv Aviation Plant Experimental and Serial Aircraft Building (HAZOSS) headed by Director and Chief Designer K. A. Kalinin.

The first five-year plans for the Kalinin Design Bureau proved to be very successful. During this period, multi-purpose aircraft K-9 and K-10 were built and successfully flew. Completed manufacturing giant K-7. And, finally, a new task - a military aircraft BC-2 (indexing KB - K-12). It was assumed that the BC-2 will be able to stay in the front sky for a long time and perform the functions of a light bomber, troop reconnaissance, spotter, photographer, and, if necessary, transport and sanitary aircraft. The maximum speed of the car should have been 250 km / h at an altitude of 3000 m, the radius of action 350 km, the bomb load 300 kg.

In April, 1933 of Kharkov presented to the experts of the Scientific Research Institute of the Air Force preliminary draft designs of the future aircraft. And on their court three equivalent variants were taken out. The first was arranged according to the traditional scheme. The second was a double-frame frame aircraft with a tail machine-gun installation and a crew inside the wing. And finally, the third - tailless aircraft. The last option seemed to Kalinin the most interesting.

The specialists subjected the drawings and calculations to scrupulous verification. The project was also repeatedly discussed at meetings with the Chief of Staff of the Air Force V.K. Lavrov. The arguments of KA Kalinin turned out to be convincing enough to dwell on the “flying wing” scheme. It was really a bold step: the problem of creating tailless aircraft by that time was practically and theoretically not yet resolved. Both in our country and abroad, many designers were engaged in it, but it didn’t go further than the construction of tailless gliders and experimental machines.

Somewhat later, when K-12 was already flying, Konstantin Alekseevich described the possibilities of his brainchild as follows: “A plane without a tail, or else a tailless tail, has many advantages over an ordinary plane. When used militarily, it is especially valuable for its maneuverability and fire protection capability. ” Indeed, the absence of a tail empennage behind the wing made it possible to place behind the rear aft rifle tower for a full perimeter defense, which could not be done on aircraft of normal types. In addition, the machine of such a scheme had a smaller frontal resistance, and therefore a greater speed, range, and carrying capacity. With the power plants of the same power with the aircraft of the traditional scheme in the “flying wing” the weight is distributed over a larger area of ​​the wing, and its design is much easier.

“Firebird” by Konstantin Kalinin

The work began with the purging of models in the KHAI wind tunnel, and taking into account the experiments of echih in September 1933, a second draft design appeared. The new version was different from the classic “flying wing”, in the documents of the design bureau it was called the “short tail”. The car looked quite unusual. Thus, a powerful flap was placed along the entire trailing edge of the wing, which made it possible to significantly reduce the landing speed. That is why the elevator and stabilizer were attached to the rear of the fuselage. The ailerons, called the “garden bench,” are on racks at the end of the wing. Controls of this type in combination with flaps were later successfully used on high-speed machines by the American designer D. Northrop.

For the “short tails” wing, a little-known NASA R-106R profile was chosen, and the wing itself was equipped with automatic and controlled slats on its leading edge.

The project provided for a civilian modification of the aircraft on 11 passengers with luggage.

The new project entailed new purges, and their results forced KA Kalinin to abandon the “short tail” scheme and return to the tailless aircraft. Accordingly, no slat, stabilizer and remote aileron were needed. To ensure longitudinal stability, the wing profiling was also changed: instead of NASA R-106R with aerodynamic wing twist, the TsAGI R-11 domestic profile was successfully used, successfully modified by the designers of the control group headed by A. V. Kovalenko. And along the entire trailing edge of the wing, an auxiliary plane was hung on the brackets, performing the role of horizontal tail. Interestingly, she had the same profile - TsAGI P-11, inverted by 180 ° with respect to the wing. An equally unexpected solution allowed achieving reliable longitudinal stability in all flight modes. A wing with a modified profile, in addition, had good load-bearing properties when landing, in contrast to the wings with a negative profile twist.

The functions of vertical tail assembly were elliptical washers located at the ends of the wing. The rudders diverted separately and only to the outside.

Sketch design of aircraft VS-2

To test his theoretical calculations, KA Kalinin decided to build another aerodynamic model, but not a purge, but ... a flying one. In essence, this was a real glider. They made it all-wood, on the scale of 1: 2 - in relation to the aircraft. Test pilot P.O. Borisov made over a hundred successful flights on it, investigating various modes in real conditions. This technique, by the way, has become widespread today. Suffice it to recall the passenger supersonic Tu-144 and its reduced copy - analogue aircraft.

In one of the first flights there was a case that confirmed the correctness of the chosen scheme. At a height of about three kilometers due to insufficient strength, the elevator rocking chair broke. The glider nodded sharply, entering a steep dive, the seatbelts did not withstand the overload, and the pilot was thrown out of the cockpit. Borisov safely landed on the ground with a parachute. But the glider also remained intact: it suddenly leveled off, began to smoothly descend in a spiral and made a normal landing.

The high longitudinal and traveling stability of the glider-analogue made it possible to make long-distance towing flights on it. It was also practically proved the possibility of performing horizontal flight on a tailless tail with an abandoned control stick. This experiment, brilliantly demonstrated by Borisov, practically proved the possibility of longitudinal aerodynamic balancing of machines of the chosen scheme. In general, the analog model has greatly accelerated and facilitated the design of the aircraft.

The tests of the airframe coincided with the move of the design bureau to Voronezh, where KA Kalinin was provided with a new production base at the aviation plant. The entire 1935 year is spent on placement at a new location, and only at the beginning of next year, the pilot workshop of the plant starts building a real aircraft.

The new machine has absorbed the results of numerous calculations, as well as aerodynamic and field experiments. The frame of the aircraft was welded from chromansile pipes, the skin was linen, and in the cockpit of the pilot and navigator - duralumin. The ribs and spars of the wing, as well as the ribs of the plumage were performed uniform, from pipes. For their calculation, an original method developed by engineer V.K. Zolotukhin was applied.

Each of the wing consoles was an integral welded unit composed of spars, ribs, edges and other nodes.

Large welded steel units and three fuselage compartments, bolted together. Steering surfaces and end washers are made of duralumin pipes covered with canvas.

Chassis - non-retractable, two-wheeled, balloon, with brakes. The tail wheel had oil-pneumatic damping.

In a rather spacious fuselage, the designers positioned the CD-2 cluster bomb rack, the stationary photo-installation AFA-13 and the coherent radio station VSK-2. In the nose and stern of the fuselage, the installation of ShKAS machine guns in the transparent rotating turrets was located. Bomb load was equal to 500 kg.

Two engines M-22 for 480 l. with. With two-bladed fixed-pitch propellers with a diameter of 2,8, they were covered with NASA hoods with flaps adjustable in flight.

The crew consisted of three people: a pilot, a navigator and a tail gunner. The control of the aircraft was double - in the cockpit was located the steering wheel, in the cockpit of the navigator - removable handle.

In July, the 1936 of the year K-12 was rolled out onto the airfield. Pilot-Tester P. O. Borisov took his place in the cockpit, closed the lamp lock. A short run - and K-12 soared into the sky ...

Assessing the results of the first flights, the press noted that “... the aircraft of the design of the t. Kalinin, despite its relatively large dimensions, has good take-off and landing characteristics. It is not very sensitive to the bumpiness and is very stable in flight. ”

In Voronezh, K-12 completed a factory test program from 46 flights, and in early October 1936 overtook it at the Air Force Institute, near Moscow, where state tests had already begun.

Of course, not all flights went smoothly. The behavior of the aircraft in the air, due to the innovations applied by KA Kalinin, turned out to be unusual for many pilots. The psychological barrier that couldn’t let go of the usual stereotypes of controlling conventional machines, even for such an experienced test pilot as P. I. Stefanovsky, became insurmountable. The pilot for a long time could not adapt to the original control of the aircraft, and this largely determined the further fate of the car.

The military pilots K-12 aroused great interest. During the tests, they made comments and suggestions on which KA Kalinin and his small group promptly made improvements and changes in the design of the aircraft.

18 August 1937 year K-12 first shown on the air parade in Tushin. It looked very unusual, on the orders of the head of the Air Force Scientific Research Institute, P.I. Baranov, the plane was painted under the fabulous “Firebird”. The appearance in the sky of such an unusual machine made a great impression on the members of the government and the command of the Red Army present at the celebration.

During the tests, which lasted the entire 1937 year, it was proved that the aircraft tailless system has good stability and controllability and can confidently fly, and its take-off and landing characteristics allow the machine to be operated at almost any airfield.

At the same time, it became clear that not all of the problems that were standing were resolved. K-12 had unsatisfactory travel stability, a strong dive moment, the efficiency of the end washers was insufficient, Testers did not suit the planting facilities and the design of rifle towers.

According to the test results, the following conclusion was made: “The aircraft VS-2 is of undoubted interest, since its construction was the first to resolve the issue of creating a“ flying wing ”in the armed version.” None of the tailless ones received such high marks on the trials. Thus, KA Kalinin and the staff of his design bureau won a convincing victory.

12 December 1937, Assistant Chief of the Air Force Ya. V. Smushkevich signed an official decision on the test report of the K-12 aircraft, which stated:

“To note that the aircraft VS-2 in its concept is of great interest to the Air Force ... Provide fine-tuning of the aircraft VS-2 to 1 March 1938, then present it for testing ...”

At the end of 1937, Konstantin Alekseevich was given one of the aircraft factories for further development of K-12. Within two months, the machine was equipped with more powerful M-25 engines with propellers of variable pitch, retractable electric chassis and slightly modified armament.

In this form, K-12 has already been recommended for mass production. At the same time, the design of the new aircraft began to be worked out - KA Kalinin proposed to install vertical plumage in the jet of propellers, removing the washers from the ends of the wing.

After a short but intense test, K-12 was approved by the state commission, and in April 1938 of the year an act was launched on the deployment of mass production of the aircraft. However, the designer was not destined to see his “firebird” in the series. Shortly after his arrest, K.A. Kalinin died in a prison in Voronezh. For a while, a small series of ten K-12 was still being built, but soon by the order of the People's Commissar of the defense industry all work was stopped ...

В history Aviation aircraft K-12 (BC-2) entered as the world's first real bomber tailless scheme that meets all the requirements of the military tactics of its time. In 1958, the English magazine Air Pictorial posted a photograph of the K-12 with an eloquent signature: “This machine was the prototype of all modern supersonic aircraft.”

Aircraft K-12: 1 - weight balance, 2 - aileron, 3 - elevator, 4 - annular tubular oil radiator, 5 - propeller, b - ShKAS machine gun, 7 — sight, 8 — control handle of an aircraft, XNXX — XKXXXXXXXXX —Wheel 9X10, 1100 - bombshell compartment casements, 475 —cap hnNXX11, 12 — FAB-300 bombs, 150 - bomber CD-13, 50 — handlebar, 14 - throttle-hpn, nnXXX2-15-16 — 17; 18 - navigator's hatch, 19 - navigator's seat, 20 - elevator trimmer, 21 - M-22 engine, 23 - Venturi tube, 22 - engine mount, 24 - rear suspension first hand, 25 - oil tank, 26 - the docking station and the center-console, 27 - Flettner ailerons, 28 - rudder, 29 - rear gunner hatch, 30 - trim steering, 31 door pilot. 32 - carburetor air intake, 33 trim-canvas, 34 — trim-metal, 35 — PVD tube.


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  1. Nayhas
    Nayhas 16 March 2013 09: 35
    Author! Please correct "The work began with the blowing of the models in the HI wind tunnel." Kharkiv Aviation Institute is abbreviated as HAI, not HI ...
    1. Vend
      Vend 1 March 2017 13: 27
      Shortly after his arrest, K. A. Kalinin died in a Voronezh prison.
      A talented designer, could create stunning winged cars. Did not happen. And all thanks to the nonexistent Stalinist repression.
  2. knn54
    knn54 16 March 2013 14: 26
    Clarification: In the March and April issues of the English Air Pictorial magazine for 1989, a large article was published, Kalinin - A Forgotten Pioneer, illustrated by a photograph of K-12, and for the first time it was proved that Kalinin aircraft made according to the “flying wing” scheme became a prototype all supersonic planes of the future.
    PS An outstanding Soviet mechanic, academician I. Artobolevsky said: “There were two great aircraft designers - Igor Sikorsky and Konstantin Kalinin. America buried the first as a national hero, and nobody knows the second. On top of his fame, he was ruined by the young at home. ”
  3. Thunderbolt
    Thunderbolt 17 March 2013 02: 17
    And no one knows what charges were brought against Kalinin?
  4. tanit
    tanit 17 March 2013 15: 30
    "Anti-Soviet activity and espionage." I'm talking about the charge.
  5. tanit
    tanit 17 March 2013 15: 34
    Since March 23.03.1916, 25, Lieutenant Kalinin has been a cadet at the Gotchinsky Military Aviation School. Theoretical course at the Petrograd Polytechnic and at the Lebedev Aircraft Plant, where “Voisins” with the Salmson engine were being built at that time. From May - flights, and June 7 - an independent flight. Kalinin masters the Farman-16 biplane, the Farman-20, -22 and XNUMX biplanes, and the combat Voisin.

    From October 1916, Lieutenant Kalinin - a military pilot of the 26th corps air squad of the 9th Army (Romanian Front), from November 1916 - he was appointed chief engineer of the detachment, and since December he was acting commander of the detachment.

    In one of the sorties, he was shell-shocked. Awarded the Order of St. Anna and approved by the squad leader. Personally managed to bomb the bridge across the river. Bystric. He was the first in the unit to use radio communications to adjust artillery fire. After the October Revolution of 1917, Kalinin withdrawn his detachment to the East. In December 1918, he was appointed Director of the division commander and receives the rank of captain, and since January 1919 - he is an inspector of the Kiev region.
  6. Johnagle
    Johnagle 17 March 2013 19: 12
    the article is of course softened: he died in a Voronezh prison ...
    and he was shot there immediately after a short closed session of the "court"
    1. mvbmvbmvb
      mvbmvbmvb 28 June 2017 17: 29
      Fly from here, needles.
  7. knn54
    knn54 17 March 2013 19: 37
    On May 31, 1938, by the decision of the Voronezh City Party Committee, even before the court sentenced, he was expelled from the party. And on October 22, 1938, as “an enemy of the people” he was convicted “for undermining Soviet aircraft construction” and was shot the next day.
    PS Among the developments Kalinin design bureau:
    work on a REACTIVE aircraft with a deltoid wing of small elongation and a powder charge carrying the factory code K-15 (1936!) was approaching the final stage.
    The designs of the high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft K-16 with a ceiling of 11000 m, the long-range bomber K-17, which was supposed to carry four tons of bomb load over a distance of up to eight thousand kilometers, were being worked out. But due to the arrest of the chief designer, these developments were curtailed ...
    1. The Dragon
      The Dragon 25 June 2017 14: 51
      ... "But due to the arrest of the chief designer, these developments were curtailed ...". Yeah. The fifth column did not doze off. No man - no invention. Reduced combat effectiveness of the Red Army Air Force. And this is on the eve of the war. Whatever the howl about Stalin’s “bloody tyrant”, I’ll just in case give a link to a competent article about the actual situation of this “tyrant” in those years. Not everything is as simple as any liberoids and Suvorovs-Rezuns present to us. Link here. Erase the front letters erase. If her admin skips it at all.))) But the article is sensible. XXXXhttp: //
  8. StolzSS
    StolzSS 17 March 2013 19: 42
    As always with us ... they don’t cherish their talent, and then the human factor is blamed for mismanagement .. so right 10 times before you think something fundamentally new to do ....
  9. Drosselmeyer
    Drosselmeyer 17 March 2013 19: 57
    1937 - this is the ulcer that destroyed the USSR.
  10. Lenhard
    Lenhard 17 March 2013 20: 02
    1953 - this is the ulcer that destroyed the USSR
  11. Woldemar
    Woldemar 1 March 2017 15: 40
    What is the advantage of this aircraft over an aircraft of the standard scheme? If he excelled in all respects the machines of the standard circuit, then it would be possible to talk about something. Compare it with the ANT-40 (SB) bomber, which went into production in the same 1938. With the same mass, the SB had a speed of 450 km / h, and the K-12 only 200 km / h. Explain what speed means for an airplane, I think, is not necessary. There is no advantage with K-12, and it is not clear why it was allowed into the series, it’s good that you changed your mind. It was obviously difficult to pilot, just one phrase is enough - “For a long time, the pilot could not adapt to the original control of the aircraft, and this largely determined the fate of the aircraft.”. And they stopped mass production, not because the designer was planted, but because the plane turned out to be bad. But this does not mean that it was necessary to shoot the designer. If the article is about the designer, then this is one thing, and if about the plane, then it’s completely different. Something still does not build planes according to the tailless scheme, there is one B-2 and then there are 20 of them in all, apparently, not everything is so simple. But you cannot refuse originality.
  12. slovak007
    slovak007 1 March 2017 21: 56
    The article is pulled from the model designer.
    1. The Dragon
      The Dragon 25 June 2017 14: 53
      Is this bad?)) For example, I do not read this magazine. But the article is helpful.
  13. Saints
    Saints 7 August 2017 20: 22
    The article says that the drawings are published for the first time. I remember exactly these drawings and drawings in the magazine model designer.
  14. fighter angel
    fighter angel 8 August 2017 13: 12
    Quote: Svetoch
    The article says that the drawings are published for the first time. I remember exactly these drawings and drawings in the magazine model designer.

    I confirm. In the "Model Designer" these drawings were published. If not mistaken, then in the 90th or 91st year yet. But for the first time in this article, I didn’t find anything in the text ... In any case, thanks to the author for "digging out" ... For some, especially aircraft models, this is a real gift.
  15. fighter angel
    fighter angel 8 August 2017 14: 08
    The pre-war history of Soviet Aviation is full of paradoxes. It would seem that there are so many talented designers, so many interesting, promising developments ... Moskalev, Bisnovat, Bakshaev, Cheranovsky, Kalinin, Shevchenko, Nikitin, Chizhevsky ... But if you look closely at their projects, Moskalev has a two-frame fighter with pull-push engines "how to leave such a car - it’s not clear at all, and armament - 2 ShKASA - about nothing ... Bisnovat has a fighter with a cockpit" recessed "into the fuselage, landing on the periscope ... Bakshaev - sliding wings ... Cheranovsky and Chizhevsky - flying wings, BEACH and BOK ... although Chizhevsky was still working on pressurized cabins, he built high-altitude experimenters ... Shevchenko with Nikitin - an IS aircraft, a monoplane biplane with a folding lower wing and a retractable landing gear, which in speed and maneuvers "didn’t" want to clean / unfold ... But for example, Sylvansky is Ostap Bender from aviation, he thought that a fairly new, powerful engine was put on an old glider, and now he had a new "miracle fighter", and now his own KB, Th 200, no less secretary, and a Packard with a personal driver ... Konstantin Kalinin with a giant K-7 frame and a promising tailless K-12, which turned out to be insolvent ... But this is only with one hand! But in fact what was in the Red Army Air Force at the same time? The obsolete I-16, SB and TB-3, I-15bis, I-153 can’t even be spoken about! AND THERE IS IN THE USSR Air Force, AT THE END OF THE THIRTEENTS, IT IS NOT ON ARMS OF A MODERN KILLER, NEITHER AN SCIENT, OR BOMBER !!! Fun, great, wonderful !!! But there is a bunch of design bureaus doing everything that is pleasing, except that it really needs to be done !!! Evil takes; "frames", "sliding wings", "tailless" are being built, and the armament is equipped with outdated cars. AND NO ATTEMPTS! EVERYONE GONE WITH THE HEAD IN “EXPERIMENTS”! A normal combat vehicles SOMEONE TO BUILD ??? !!! But thank God, Alexander Sergeyevich Yakovlev became Deputy People's Commissar of the Air Industry, created a special commission under the direction of Professor B.N. Yuryev, "missed" all these "projects" through it, closed 70-80% of the "developments" of these "designers", AND MAKED THEM TO DO IT !!! Thanks to him, the USSR stepped into the war, already armed with modern combat vehicles: MiG-3, LaGG-3, Yak-1, Pe-2, Il-2 ...