Buying something ready is always cheaper than doing it from scratch yourself. Therefore, when at the turn of the 1920-1930s the USSR faced the task of building its fleet large airships, the government made a wise decision to invite one of the world famous airship builders as a project manager. In 1930, Andrei Tupolev personally negotiated with Ferdinand Zeppelin, but he refused to help the Soviets. And the USSR turned to another expert - the Italian engineer Umberto Nobile, whose polar expedition was saved in 1928 by the Soviet icebreaker Krasin. The general assembled a group of assistants and in 1931 came to Moscow. Having built several medium-sized semi-rigid airships in the city of Dolgoprudny, in 1933 he proceeded to create, on the basis of his most famous airship N-4 "Italy", his Soviet version, called V-6 "Osoaviahim."
The construction of the pride of Soviet aeronautics was carried out at an accelerated pace and was fully completed in three months instead of the planned five. 5 November 1934, a cigar-shaped handsome silver B-6 under the friendly applause, shouts of "Hurray!" And camera flashes rose into the air. General Nobile personally commanded the car. The airship volume was 18500 cubic meters, which was 1000 less than that of “Italy”, length - 104,5 meter, maximum diameter - 18,8 meter. The capacity of the airship, equipped with three 240-strong engines, exceeded 8 tons, and the gondola was designed to carry passengers 20.
It was originally intended to use an airship for organizing passenger traffic between Moscow and Murmansk. However, as was often the case during the planned economy, the necessary infrastructure was not created between Petrozavodsk and Murmansk because of the inconsistency between the departments: neither normal mooring masts, nor hangars, or gas stations were built. Therefore, it was decided to transfer the car to another line - Moscow - Sverdlovsk. In 1937, a test flight was made along the route, which was quite successful.
And in the autumn of the same year, the Soviet government decided that it could well wipe the record. September 29 B-6 was loaded with fuel (5700 liters), loaded with products and sent to a multi-day non-stop flight. The crew consisting of 16 people was commanded by an experienced aeronaut Ivan Pankov. The original goal was to break the record for the non-stop flight of another airship produced by the same Nobile as the B-1926, such as Norway, set in 6. Then the ship passed from Svalbard to Alaska across the North Pole in 71 an hour. The flight of the Soviet machine was on the route Dolgoprudny - Kalinin - Kursk - Voronezh - Novgorod - Bryansk - Penza - Voronezh - Dolgoprudny. When the motorized flyer was already approaching the finish line, it turned out that there was still a bit of fuel and supplies on board, and the crew, after consulting with the Soviet government, decided to fly over the Moscow region for about a day. As a result, the records set by the giant English R-34 (volume - 55000 cubic meters) and German LZ-127 (volume - 105000 cubic meters) were broken. 130 hours 27 minutes, which "Osoaviakhim" hung in the air, became the absolute world record of the duration of a non-stop flight for airships of all types and types.
At the end of the same year, it was decided to convert the airship into a cargo ship, which was planned to be used on the Moscow-Novosibirsk line. But when in February 1938 broke up the ice floe, on which the polar expedition of Ivan Papanin drifted and required urgent evacuation, the B-6 crew stopped preparing for the test flight and asked the government to allow them to rescue the Papanins.
The government decided to conduct a test flight on the route Moscow-Murmansk-Moscow and, if successful, send B-6 to the Arctic.
February 5 19 hours 35 minutes aeronauts flew from the port of his registry - Dolgoprudny. Already in the 12 hours of the next day they flew over Petrozavodsk. The weather was the most non-flying: low clouds, snowfall. The airship was forced to go at a minimum height. In order for the car not to get lost, the railway workers made fires along the route, but the crew of the Osoavihim forgot to say this, and on board they were surprised at the chain of lights accompanying them. In 18 56 hours of minutes, before passing over Kandalaksha, the last message was received from the airship, after which the radio communication stopped. Local residents reported that they had heard a deaf explosion and saw the glow of a fire near the White Sea station. As it turned out, in the conditions of poor visibility, the airship crashed into a mountain and caught fire. Of the crew members 19 survived six. 13 dead were buried in Moscow at the Novodevichy Cemetery, their families were compensated in 10000 rubles. One of the streets of Dolgoprudny received the name “Dirigisteers Street”, and in Donetsk, Lugansk and Kazan the streets were named after Gudovantsev (first commander), Ritsland (first navigator) and Lyanguzov (second assistant commander).
In 1940, the program of building airships in the USSR was curtailed. And the image of the handsome B-6 was printed on postage stamps for a long time.
The principle of the airship today can describe any student. A soft or hard shell is filled with gas lighter than air — hydrogen or, more often, helium. The gondola is suspended from the bottom of the shell. Somewhere, too, are fixed undercarriage engines, and behind are stabilizers and steering wheel.
The Archimedean force pushes the device to a height of tens, hundreds, or even thousands of meters, and the engines equipped with propellers, together with the rudders, allow it to float through the air in a given direction, moving cargoes and passengers from one geographical point to another. At first glance, everything is simple to the elementary. And only people closely involved in matters related to aeronautics know how complex this unit is - a modern airship. And what it will be after a few decades, even difficult to imagine. It is quite possible that it will resemble what is known now, just as a modern car looks like a steam “Kyuno cart” with which the automotive industry began at the end of the 18th century. That is, with the exception of the wheels and the seat, does not look like.
But what we will use tomorrow is born today. The concepts of new aeronautics are distinguished by a high innovation component and extreme creativity, which makes it doubtful that such a thing is possible at all and will ever be used. But, as you know, human ways are inscrutable. Let us touch on those of the modern concepts of airships, which are already embodied at least in existing models.
The idea of a hybrid airship as a device somewhat heavier than air is far from new. Back in 1905, one of the world's first pilots, Alberto Santos-Dumont, created his “number 14”, which was essentially a hybrid of the airship and the aircraft. A little later, Alberto removed from it what was related to the airship, and in the remainder received his famous "14-bis", on which in 1906, he installed the first stories aviation world record: flying 220 meters in less than 22 seconds. In the early 1970s, designer Frank Clark, with the support of the famous millionaire Howard Hughes, tried to build a real Megalifter hybrid, but after the death of the investor, work was stopped. The hybrid is sometimes called the largest Zeppelin NT airship currently in use, but this is not entirely true. This descendant of the air giants of the first half of the last century is indeed heavier than air, but not by much, literally by a few percent. In the case of hybrids, the ship's engines should give at least 40% of the lift.
Hybrids attract designers for several reasons. Having a smaller size than the classic airships of the same capacity, they are less afraid of the winds. For their landing it is not necessary to bleed the gas and keep the landing team on the ground, just slow down until the landing. Unlike the aircraft, the hybrid does not need a special multi-kilometer runway. He is not so terrible engine failure or gas leak in flight: in the first case, he sits down as a simple airship, in the second - he plans as a simple aircraft. At the same time, it is almost as economical as the airship, and powerful as a transport Boeing.
Dynalifter, which is developed by the American company Ohio Airships, looks like a cargo plane with a very thick fuselage and two pairs of relatively small wings. It is they who give the air vehicle the missing lift. Presented at the end of last year, the prototype, the creation of which took almost 10 years and half a million dollars, has a length of 37 meters, and the volume of its shell is equal to 470 cubic meters. But its main “chip” is not a hybrid flight mechanism, but a load distribution system. The load - and in the maximum version the capacity of the Dynalifter will reach 250 tons - here it is attached to a special structure located inside the shell. Built on the principle of suspension bridges, it is a central chord farm made of composite materials fixed on the braces and allows you to distribute the weight of the load on the whole body. Which, in turn, will protect the volatile truck from primitive "folding" in the air. The device is supposed to be produced in three versions: cargo heavy truck PSC-1 (length - 300 meters, carrying capacity - 250 tons), cargo carrier PSC-2 (230 meters, 100 tons) and patrol trucker (180 meters, 45 tons). All hybrids will reach speeds up to 192 km / h, and for their take-off and landing there will be enough 120 meters of a specially prepared lane or a half-kilometer straight stretch of ordinary highway. And the winds blowing at a speed of the order of 50 km / h will not worry them much.
The most agile
If the Dynalifter looks like an airplane, then the STS-111 apparatus of the American-German company Sanswire-TAO most of all resembles an earthworm. Its working shell is divided into several independent sections connected in a lengthy “composition”. Actually, only the first, head section is working. It is filled with helium and bears on itself all payload, including running engines. The remaining sections are filled with any other light gases — methane or hydrogen — so as to simply compensate for the weight of the shell and fixed stabilizers. The airship is supposed to be used as a military intelligence officer or as a platform for telecommunications equipment. Due to its clever design, the air worm has increased agility. He quickly turns in the direction to which workers drive him (and they control not only horizontal, but also vertical flight of the machine), and the tail behind him does not allow him to go to a serious heel and promotes quick "calm" after the maneuver.
In August last year, the company had already successfully tested the first prototype STS-111. The 23 meter with a meter without any problems rose to a height of almost a kilometer 3, spun, drew a pair of eights and, turning the engines down, landed. Already this year it is planned to build the first operating model with a length of 33,8 and a height of 3,35 meters. A fully automated “worm” will carry 9 kilograms of payload and operate at altitudes up to 4600 meters. In addition to maneuverability, the workers of STS-111 have two undeniable advantages - relative cheapness and long duration of work: with a quiet mode of movement, it is able to perform its functions in a fully automatic mode or in radio control mode during the 5 day. In the future, it is planned to create a “worm”, which will lift the equipment to a height of up to 18 kilometers.
We all live at the very bottom of the ocean. Air. The man began to master the technique of moving in it only two centuries ago. But nature has been working in this direction for more than one billion years, and it is foolish not to take advantage of its achievements. Almost all the inhabitants of the depths of the sea use the same law of Archimedes, according to which the airships work. And if nature managed to solve the problem of working gas, many animals today would not fly through the air like birds and airplanes, namely, they floated like fish and aerostats. But, unfortunately, there are not so many light gases on our planet with which animal “flying bubbles” could be filled.
For several years now, representatives of the international concern FESTO have been transferring solutions created by nature for the aquatic environment to the airy environment. In 2007, at the Hannover Fair, they demonstrated the world of air-controlled radio-controlled stingrays hovering in the air. Slowly shaking their wings, the silvery aeronautical bionic devices floated through the air of the exhibition pavilion. A year later, the specialists of the same company demonstrated at the same fair a new device - the air bionic jellyfish AirJelli. The aeronautical robot was a shell with a volume of 1,3 cubic meters equipped with tentacles and filled with helium. The device swam in the same way as ordinary jellyfish do: pushing tentacles from the air, as if from water. A single charge of an 8-volt battery was enough for half an hour of unmatched beauty in flight.
It took the engineers and designers from FESTO another year to jump over several evolutionary steps at once. Last year, in the same Hannover, they all showed the public floating in the air 4-meter mechanical robots- penguins. They were quite free to navigate in space, tumbled, swam (or did they fly?) in a race, and even flirted with visitors. It remains only to guess how the company will please humanity this year.
Representatives of FESTO say that most of the principles of movement they have looked at from nature can also be fully applied in a large dirigible structure. And although it may take decades to develop the necessary technologies, the results obtained should fully recoup the effort expended.
It is difficult to say now which of the technologies reflected in today's concepts will take root and will serve people, and which ones will be sifted out and will be remembered only as technical incidents. But the very fact that these concepts exist, suggests that the airships are where and there is why to go. And going necessarily will master the road.