Military Review

The unequal battles of Ivan Orlov. The tragic fate of the commander of the first Russian fighter squadron

The unequal battles of Ivan Orlov. The tragic fate of the commander of the first Russian fighter squadronThis old photograph has survived to the present day: next to the world-famous French fighter pilot of the First World War, commander of the famous Aista squadron, Lieutenant Georges Ginememer, slightly bowed his head and smiling, stands one of the first aviators and aircraft designers of Russia, second lieutenant Army Ivan Alexandrovich Orlov, about which only specialist scientists and few romantics know today aviation... And once all the popular newspapers of Russia and Europe wrote about him, and the last Russian emperor with the empress took care of his family.

Ivan Orlov was born on January 6 1895 in Tsarskoye Selo of the Petersburg Province in a hereditary military noble family, where all men served in the guards units and did not think of any other service for the benefit of the Fatherland. At the same time, they all combined military and court service. Thus, the father of Ivan Orlov and his brother Alexei, Alexander Afinogenovich Orlov, was Major General of the Suite of His Imperial Majesty and commander of the 2 brigade of the 2 Guards Cavalry Division. He and his wife, nee Countess Stenbock-Fermor, were among the closest associates of Emperor Nicholas II and his wife. The Orlov brothers very early became full orphans in the care of the grandmother, widows-generals Elizaveta Karlovna Orlova. The emperor and empress became patrons of the brothers and took an active part in their education. Ivan was the favorite of the royal family. From childhood he was a rather painful child, but the iron will and persistence he showed made him one of the best athletes in St. Petersburg. The family of the emperor wanted the intelligent and inquisitive teenager to become a highly educated person and choose a civilian civil service. His brother, more prone to hereditary military service, went, like his father, on the way of a staffing officer-cavalry officer, and Ivan Orlov successfully graduated from the Imperial Lyceum, where Alexander Pushkin once studied, and entered the law faculty of St. Petersburg University. He was waiting for the most brilliant state career, but the new time has already begun - the time of science and technology, aviation and pilots, the most romantic and brave profession of the XX century ...

Aviation Ivan Orlov "ill" in his youth, reading the book of Jules Verne. As a result, he began to design airplanes and was one of those few amateur aircraft designers who understood the advantage of monoplanes in the future aircraft industry. By the beginning of the First World War, he created his own monoplane of the original Orlov-1 design. At that time, all the aircraft designers were professional pilots, and by the summer of 1914, Mr. Ivan Orlov had passed the pilot exam, having studied at Farman-4, and received a brie (diploma, patent) of the All-Russian Aeroclub No. 229.

He became a master of aerobatics under the leadership of aviator Alexander Evgenievich Rajewski, a descendant of Vladimir Fedoseyevich Rajewski - a participant in the Patriotic War 1812, a poet and a Decembrist. His teacher, who graduated from the famous French school of one of the pioneers of aviation, Louis Bleriot, was in the first, after P.N. Nesterova, the top five of Russian “Petleists” - pilots who performed a dead loop in the air (AA Vasiliev, ER Shpitsberg, AM Gaber-Vlynsky, MN Efimov). Ivan Orlov fully took over the experience of his teacher and could already claim to be a pilot-instructor. But at the time, such a prospect was not very tempting for him ... He was serious about his hobby, but, like many of the young representatives of the Russian nobility of the time, he sought to make a career in the public arena.

Possessing an enviable condition, Orlov could afford to buy the most expensive aircraft, and everyone around considered his hobby for aviation to be the whim of a rich man, which eventually would pass. It is not known how the fate of Ivan Alexandrovich would have been, if not for the 1914 war of the year ...

After the announcement of mobilization, law student Ivan Orlov, who was not to be drafted into the army, immediately decided to volunteer to the front to defend the Fatherland, as all his ancestors did. It is known that Nicholas II several times rejected his petitions, trying to save for future civil service. Finally, the emperor gave his consent, and Orlov entered the military aviation “hunter” -volunteer as a free-determined 1-level. He went to the front with his plane and a car with a driver. He was accompanied by numerous friends, relatives and the bride named Princess Volkonskaya. He was only nineteen years old, as was the case with most of the soldiers and young officers of the Russian army who went to war. He began his military service on July 21 1914 in the 5 corps aviation squad, and at first it was not easy to serve him. He, to a certain extent, spoiled by his pre-war position and the glory of a good pilot, hardly got used to army discipline. In addition, he was a private soldier, which put him in a certain official framework. In his memoirs, the well-known commander of Russian pilots of the First World War, the George cavalier, Major General Vyacheslav Matveyevich Tkachev (1885 — 1965) wrote about Ivan Orlov of that time: “He impressed me as too reckless and incontinent as a youth ...”. His grandmother knew about the character of his grandson and really wanted him to become an officer rather. This is how Empress Alexandra Feodorovna 23 of September 1914 wrote about this to Nicholas II: “I received a letter from the old m-me Orlova, whom Ivan wrote about his desire to continue military service after the war ... he received the cross of St. George, has the right to another distinction but is it possible to produce it as ensigns (or second lieutenants)? ... What a brave young man is that he flies alone so often! What strong nerves are needed for this! His father would have every right to be proud of him - that’s why grandma bothers him. ”

But the emperor believed that only a real military service could make his pupil a real officer and commander. And Ivan Orlov did not disappoint his sovereign. His titles matched his awards.

As a private, he received his first soldier’s Cross of St. George of the 4 degree No. 5661 “for aerial reconnaissance in East Prussia”; base corporal (01.09.1914 g.) - St. George Cross of 3 degree No. 11312 “for reconnaissance of enemy positions over the river. Neman "; junior non-commissioned officer (20.09.1914) - St. George Cross of 2 degree No. 4720 “for determining the bypass movement and crossing to r. Bzure.

Ivan Orlov was prevented from becoming a full cavalier of the soldier's St. George's cross: a dream of the armies of the North-Western Front No. 474 from 22.01.1915 for military distinctions he was promoted to officer and became an ensign of aviation.

It is interesting that, having already received all the military orders of the Russian Empire, he, nevertheless, considered his three St. George soldiers awards to be the most valuable.

The fourth George Cross, the Order of St. George of the 4 degree, he earned in the officer rank of a military pilot “because… 15 of August 1915 of the year under extremely difficult conditions, in the rain and at a height of clouds not exceeding 175- defying danger from the strongest rifle and machine-gun fire, from which there were already several holes in the apparatus at the very beginning, according to the assignment, made two flights over the enemy's position, revealing a significant reserve of the enemy hidden in the forest ... rose in 17 degrees and under particularly difficult flight conditions, being constantly under heavy artillery fire, broke through the veil of extremely close artillery gaps to Novo-Aleksandrovsk, where he threw 23 bombs and blew up one of the artillery depots there. ” The Empress wrote that in these battles Ivan was wounded, and two of his friends were killed.

By this time, Ivan Alexandrovich Orlov had become one of the best reconnaissance pilots of the Russian army, and on March 25 on 1916, by order of the Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich, commander of the Russian military aircraft, was appointed commander of the fighter squadron stories Russian army. The appointment was not accidental: the war years greatly changed the character of Ivan Orlov. Being already a second lieutenant and an experienced military pilot, he understood that the future of combat aviation was the creation of special fighter units and the serious training of Russian aviators in air combat. It is enough to read his job description:

"An outstanding combat pilot, brave and resourceful. Combat work is brilliantly placed in the detachment, he loves aviation. The internal order in the detachment is good."
Even General Tkachev changed his previous opinion about Ivan Orlov. In his diaries of this time, he gives the best characteristics to Second Lieutenant Orlov, as an officer and commander. Therefore, in May 1915, Mr. Tkachev appealed to Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich, then head of the Southwestern Front, with a report on the creation of special fighter units, and further recommends that Ivan Orlov be appointed to the position of commander of one of the units. The Grand Duke ordered the formation of the first Russian fighter squadrons for the 7 and 12 armies, according to the numbers of which they received the corresponding names - the 7 fighter squadron under the command of Second Lieutenant Ivan Alexandrovich Orlov, and the 12 th - in Pskov under the command of Second Lieutenant Max. Germanovich von Lerche.

4 (17) April 1916 can be considered the birthday of Russian fighter aircraft. On this day, Second Lieutenant Orlov reported to the Grand Duke that the first Russian fighter squadron had been formed and ready to go to the front. For the first time in the history of our aircraft, its structure included domestic fighters. The fighter plane C-16ser was developed by the famous Russian aircraft designer Igor Ivanovich Sikorsky, with whom Orlov was familiar from his studies at the Commandant airfield in St. Petersburg. In the detachment of Ivan Orlov served his close friends, the most famous pilots of the Russian army: Yuri Gilsher - “Meresije of the First World War”, flying without one leg, the pilot Yanchenko, famous for his frontal attacks and the number of downed planes, and other Russian aces. The first baptism of the detachment and the Sikorsky fighter aircraft took place in Galicia, near the town of Yablonov 15 (28) in April 1916. On this day, the commander of the first detachment of Russian fighters, Lieutenant Orlov, with the observer-aviator Lipsky, first went up to C-16ser No. 204 to intercept enemy airplanes and successfully drove them away from our positions. Further fighting squad no less successful. We present only the personal victories of his commander Ivan Orlov. 28 April 1916. He shot down his first enemy plane, killing an observer and injuring the pilot. 28 May 1916 won a second aerial victory, knocking down a double enemy plane. He was absolutely fearless and very often flew alone on combat missions.

The newspaper "Russian Invalid" wrote 28 June 1916 g .: "Second Lieutenant Orlov made 10 combat missions in a day! - the largest number of all the pilots for the entire war - and in the last flight shot down the Austrian aircraft "Albatross". " For these merits, Second Lieutenant Orlov was awarded the honorary St. George weapons.

Successfully developed and his personal life. Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna wrote from Tsarskoye Selo to her friend 16 in October 1916 g .: “Ivan Orlov got engaged to one of the princesses Volkonskys - both are still perfect children”.

In the First World War in the Entente countries, the best schools for training fighter pilots were in France, and in November, Second Lieutenant Orlov, along with other top squadron commanders, was sent there, through England, for an internship. The British Russian pilots familiarized themselves with the work of the Central Flight School in Apeivon, where they took part in the testing of new fighters "Vickers" and "Sopvich". Then they crossed the Channel to France, where they had an internship at the School of aerobatics and air combat (city of Pau) and in the Air Shooting School of the French Air Force (City of Cazaux), which trained pilots in the shooting of the Colt, Lewis, Vickers, San Etienne and Gochkis machine guns.

Ivan Orlov was trained in the 3 Squadron of the 12 Group of air combat among famous French fighter pilots commanded by Lieutenant Georges Guinemer, one of the most famous World War I fighter pilots. By this time, Ginemere had already shot down over thirty enemy aircraft in air battles. And by the end of the war I brought this bill to 53.

Orlov decorated the fuselage of his French aircraft with a personal emblem - the head of an eagle. The Russian officer became close friends with his commander. He was older than him only for one year. Both were sons of the military and came from the same social environment. Therefore, they spent time together in heaven and on earth.

Ivan very carefully studied the experience of French friends and already in France began to write, on the basis of his practical training, a book-guide entitled "Air Combat Techniques" - for the preparation of Russian fighter pilots.

It will be published in 1917 and will become the most popular book among Russian military aviators, including during the Soviet era. Together with Ginemere, Ivan participates in air battles at Rua, where he knocks down one enemy plane (according to other sources, two) and is awarded the highest military order of France - the Military Cross with palm trees (palm leaf on the ribbon of the order for each aircraft shot down). Abroad Orlov is also interested in the strategic use of long-range aviation. He asks for permission from a military agent in Paris, Colonel Count A.A. Ignatiev to fly with the mechanic Yanchenko on the Sopwich Klerzhe 130 aircraft from Thessaloniki to Odessa to test the route of our long-range aviation on the fronts of Greece. The command refuses this, considering such a flight unnecessarily risky.

Internships are interrupted by revolutionary events in Russia. Having learned about the revolution, the abdication of the emperor and the arrest of the imperial family, Ivan Orlov urgently leaves for Russia with all the Russian pilots. Further military service of the commander of the Orlov squadron takes place in continuous battles. Despite the collapse of the army caused by revolutionary propaganda and the actions of the new government, Russian aviation remains the most combat-ready and effective part of it. By 1917, the number and equipment of our aviation was not inferior, but in many respects superior to the air forces and allies and opponents, but the revolutionary "freedom" continues its destructive effect ... Officers loyal to the oath, insulted and attacked by lower ranks and local revolutionaries, continue to fight fearlessly with the enemy. Orlov’s detachment still retains the iron discipline established by him, but he himself deeply worries about the fall of the monarchy and the arrest of his teachers - the emperor and empress. Perhaps that is why, violating his own orders to fly in pairs, he recklessly engages in battle sometimes with several opponents and most often over enemy territory. He, according to some reports, shot down several more aircraft. But their exact number is unknown. During his military service, Orlov officially shot down 5 (according to other sources, 10) enemy aircraft. In the Russian Imperial Air Force navy only those enemy planes were considered to be shot down, the fact of the fall of which on the ground could be documented by Russian ground troops. Therefore, many downed enemy planes that crashed into enemy territory were not entered into the “asset” by Russian aces. Orlov was long known to the enemies, and the effective actions of his detachment interfered with the German offensive on this sector of the front. Therefore, the hunt begins for Ivan Orlov’s plane with an emblem in the form of an eagle’s head. According to German sources, for this purpose a group of German aces were sent to the Orlov detachment area under the command of the best German pilot of the Eastern Front, Lieutenant Leopold Anslinger. June 17, 1917 the plane of Lieutenant Orlov was attacked by two (according to other sources, four) German fighters. And at an altitude of about 3000 meters, the Russian ace launched an attack on an enemy detachment. Maneuvering, he made a dead loop, but the lower wing of his plane broke, and the aircraft, having lost control, fell to the west of the town of Kozov (Ternopol region, Ukraine).

Russian officer Ivan Orlov died in 23, and he was posthumously awarded the rank of lieutenant. Two months later, September 11 1917, on the Western Front in the sky of Flanders will disappear without a trace his French friend, fighter pilot Georges Guinemer, whose body and aircraft will never be found.

According to some reports, his plane was shot down over the battlefield and then shot by artillery shells.

Alexandra Feodorovna found out about the death of her pupil already in exile, in Tobolsk. She wrote to her friend Anna Vyrubova: “You know, Ivan was killed in the war, and the bride was killed out of desperation ...”. The Empress did not yet know that this human tragedy would be only an episode of that total tragedy that would cover both her family and the whole of Russia.

Now about how the further fate of the main military heroes of this story.

German ace, holder of the German Iron Cross 2-th and 1-Class, the Austrian Cross "For Valor» 3-rd and 4-th degree with swords, Baden Knight's Cross 2-th degree, Knight's Cross of the Order of the House of Hohenzollern and the Austro-Hungarian Order of the Iron Crown, Lieutenant Leopold Anslinger suddenly, after this battle, filed a report on his transfer to the rear, to the defensive service and never again participated in offensive military operations both during the First World War and the Second World War.

19 October 1917. The French parliament unanimously decided to transfer the ashes to the Pantheon of Glory from the place of the death of the 25 gentleman of military awards, including the Russian Order of St. George, Captain Georges Guinemer and perpetuate his name as a symbol of the aspiration and enthusiasm of the nation. In the House of Invalids in Paris, it was decided to put one of the planes of the hero "Slump S VII". The French remember their national hero and tell their children that Georges Guinemer flew so high into the sky over France that he was no longer able to return ... In the Belgian city of Langemark-Pelkapel, in the area of ​​which the pilot was killed, a magnificent monument of Georges Geeneme was erected as a tall column and a crane heading towards the sky.

The commander of the first Russian fighter squadron, who completed the combat test of the first domestic fighter aircraft, the cavalier of three soldiers of St. George's crosses, the Order of St. George, St. George’s Arms, all other military orders of Russia and the highest French military order of the Military Cross, Ivan Alexandrovich Orlov, the lieutenant of the Russian Army and the highest French military order, Ivan Alexandrovich Orlov, who was lieutenant-in-arms of Ivan Alexandrovich Orlov, who died in the Battle of France and France’s highest French military order, Alexander Alexandrovich, who died in 1937 air battle, was buried on June 26 1917 by his fellow soldiers in the Tsarskoye Selo Bratsk cemetery of the heroes of the First World War. His grave was crowned with a modest wooden cross.

By 2008, a wasteland overgrown with grass remained from this military fraternal burial, and therefore the place of the grave of Ivan Orlov is unknown.

11 November 2008, according to the decision of the Government of St. Petersburg, experts of the Foundation "Military Cathedral" to perpetuate the memory of the soldiers of the Russian army who fell in World War I 1914-1918. with the support of the Historical Perspective Foundation, a granite cross-monument was created at this military burial, and in 2013 it was decided to install a memorial plaque to the hero of the First World War, I.A. Orlov on the wall of his house at the St. Petersburg address: Pushkinskaya street, the house 11.
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  1. parusnik
    parusnik 13 March 2014 10: 57
    By 1917, the number and equipment of our aviation is not inferior, but in many respects superior to the air forces and allies and opponents
    What is it like? In December 1914, the Allies announced their decisions to drastically reduce the number of aircraft and engines sold to Russia.
    The news of this decision caused extreme alarm in the Russian Ministry of War: the plan to supply aircraft and engines to parts of the army was disrupted. “The new decision of the French military department puts us in a difficult situation,” wrote the head of the main military-technical department of the Russian military agent in France.
    Of the 1915 aircraft and 586 engines ordered in France in 1730, only 250 aircraft and 268 engines were delivered to Russia. Moreover, France and England sold outdated and worn aircraft and engines that had already been withdrawn from service in French aviation to Russia. There are many cases when, under the fresh paint that covered the plane sent, they found French identification marks.
    In a special certificate “On the condition of engines and airplanes received from abroad”, the Russian military department noted that “official acts testifying the condition of engines and airplanes arriving from abroad show that in a significant number of cases these items come to malfunctioning ... Overseas plants send used machines and engines to Russia ”.
    Thus, the calculations of the tsarist government to receive material from the "allies" for aviation supplies failed. And the war demanded more and more new aircraft, engines, aircraft weapons.
    Therefore, the main burden of supplying aviation with material equipment fell on the shoulders of Russian aircraft factories, which, due to their small numbers, an acute shortage of qualified personnel, and a lack of materials, were clearly not able to satisfy all the growing demands of the front for airplanes. and motors. During the First World War, the Russian army received only 3100 aircraft, of which 2250 from Russian aircraft factories and about 900 from abroad.
    Particularly fatal to the development of aviation was an acute shortage of engines. The rate of the leaders of the military department on the import of motors from abroad led to the fact that at the height of the hostilities for a significant number of aircraft built at Russian plants, there were no motors. Aircraft in the army were sent without engines. It got to the point that in some aviation detachments for 5-6 aircraft there were only 2 usable engines, which had to be removed from one aircraft and rearranged before other sorties.
    The tsarist government and its military department were forced to admit themselves that dependence on foreign countries put Russian aircraft-building plants in an extremely difficult position. So, the head of the organization of aviation in the army in one of his memorabilia wrote:
    “The lack of engines disastrously affected the performance of aircraft plants, since the calculation of domestic aircraft construction was based on the timely supply of foreign engines” 6.
    The enslaving dependence of the economy of tsarist Russia on foreign countries put Russian aviation during the First World War in front of a catastrophe.
  2. slon53
    slon53 13 March 2014 16: 46
    Many thanks to the author for the discovery, for me, in any case, of the name of a Russian hero. And the fact that the exact burial place is not known is, apparently, our cross.