Military Review

His calling is to be first


Our compatriot I.I. Sikorsky, who became one of the largest aircraft designers of the 20th century, managed to live several amazing lives before the very eyes of one generation, and each of them was great in its own way. The first flights of Russian aircraft, the first in the world design of multi-engine heavy airplanes, the first "flying boats" and amphibians, the helicopters of the classic single-rotor scheme and much more became possible thanks to the talent of Sikorsky.

Igor Ivanovich Sikorsky was born in Kiev, in the family of a famous doctor. However, he did not want to follow in the footsteps of his father. His early childhood attracted technology.

After graduating from the Naval Cadet Corps, Igor studies at a technical school in France, and from 1907 he returns to Russia and enters the Kiev Polytechnic Institute. In the summer of 1909, his brainchild is born - the first helicopter in Russia, which has reached the stage of field tests. Alas, the lift of its rotors was insufficient, and next year a new car appears. She - again for the first time in Russia - was able to lift her own weight. However, Sikorsky comes to the conclusion that the era of helicopters has not yet come, and directs all his time and energy to create aircraft. 3 June 1910, Igor Sikorsky - at the same time a designer and a test pilot - took to the air.

Sikorsky airplanes from the first designs differed by an original design, their flights attracted much attention. And the C-6 aircraft brought him fame: having good aerodynamic characteristics, he showed a record flight speed. For his creation, the designer was awarded an honorary medal of the Imperial Russian Technical Society and the Big Gold Medal of the Moscow Aeronautical Exhibition. In the spring of 1912, the young aviator was invited to the post of chief designer of the aviation department of the Russian-Baltic Carriage Works.

His calling is to be first

A number of aircraft are being built at this plant. One of them, C-6B, in September 1912 of the year took the first place in the competition held by the Ministry of Defense, defeating the best foreign samples. The other, the C-7, became the first Sikorsky monoplane and the first Russian aircraft to be sold abroad. At the next year’s competition, the Sikorsky aircraft, the C-10 biplane and the C-11 monoplane, won again in a tense struggle with the best models of foreign and domestic equipment.

The main directions of development aviation Russian aviator considered an increase in speed and carrying capacity. The first was embodied in 1913 in the three-seater S-9 monoplane, which had streamlined aerodynamic forms and, for the first time in Russia, a monocoque fuselage.

Once in 1911, during one of the flights, the engine suddenly failed. It turned out that the cause, which almost led to the catastrophe, was a mosquito caught in the carburetor jet. Sikorsky was thinking about improving the reliability of the aircraft. He came to the conclusion that in the future, aircraft should become larger in size, mass, power plant. Several engines will avoid accidents in case of failure of one of them. For the crew to work regardless of weather conditions, a closed and comfortable cabin is required. It is these planes that Russia needs with its vast distances, lack of roads and special climatic conditions. He foresaw the use of air giants on passenger lines, for the transportation of urgent goods, the development of remote areas of Siberia, including the creation of a network of "aviation stations" along the Northern Sea Route.

In September, 1912, despite the fantastic nature of the proposal and the idea of ​​a multi-engined heavy aircraft, rejected by most aviation specialists of that time, the young designer received permission to start building it. In March 1913, the Big Baltic C-21 was ready. A giant four-engine biplane with a spacious closed cockpit and a comfortable passenger compartment made the first flight of April 27 (May 10 in new style) 1913 of the year.

The aviation world was amazed: in Russia, technically backward compared to the leading Western powers, a unique airplane was built! After the engine was relocated from the initial position of the twin tandem to a row on the lower wing, the plane began to be called “Russian Knight”. He became the founder of a whole direction in aviation - heavy aircraft construction.

In December, 1913 went on the first flight of the Ilya of Murom. It was a real airship, which became the forerunner of modern passenger airliners. "Muromets" had a comfortable spacious passenger compartment, equipped with heating and electric lighting, a separate bedroom and a toilet. After numerous test, record and demonstration flights, the first “Ilya of Murom” was installed on the floats, and it remained until the 1917 year the largest seaplane in the world. On the second ship was made a unique flight Petersburg-Kiev and back. He highly appreciated the aircraft and the army as a highly effective means of long-range reconnaissance and bombing.

However, the initial scattered use of new multi-motor vehicles on the fronts of the First World War was unsuccessful. To prove their effectiveness, a squadron of aircrafts was created, which became the world's first strategic aviation unit. Together with the squadron went to the front and I.I. Sikorsky. First-hand information about the behavior of the aircraft in a combat situation made it possible to immediately make the required structural changes. Following C-22, subsequent modifications of Ilya Muromets went C-23, C-24. C-25, C-26, built serially. C-27 was a real "flying fortress" - with a roundabout, with no dead zones. About the survivability of the “Muromtsev” says the fact that, despite the large number of sorties, for the entire period of the war only one airplane was shot down and three were damaged. At the same time, there were up to three downed enemy fighters behind some crews.

During this period, under the leadership of Sikorsky, light aircraft were also created - fighters and reconnaissance aircraft C-16 and C-17. C-16 were used as the first in the world fighter-interceptor to protect the home base "Muromtsev". To cover the “Muromtsev” in the air, the escort fighter C-18 was also built. In 1916, the C-20 fighter was developed, which in all respects was not inferior to foreign models. At the same time, the first domestic one, and one of the world's first attack aircraft C-19, appeared. Thus, the whole range of combat aircraft was created.

After the revolution, work on new aircraft not Russian-Baltic plant stopped. Hunger and devastation reigned in Petrograd. Sikorsky decides to leave the city on the Neva: he was invited to work in France. In January, 1918, he sailed from Murmansk, unaware that he was leaving Russia forever.

World War I ended earlier than the French version of Ilya Muromets was created. France did not need it; there was a civil war in Russia. And Sikorsky decides to move to the United States: in his opinion, it is there (like Russia) that the need for heavy aircraft is great. However, the postwar years were marked by a downturn in industry. Not finding work in his specialty, Sikorsky nevertheless continues to be interested in aviation. Soon a small group of Russian émigré enthusiasts was formed around it. With the money they put together, in the spring of 1923, they create a “Russian” aircraft building company. At a critical moment, S. Rachmaninov provided crucial assistance.

By the summer of 1924, the twin-engine S-29А was assembled, the further development of Ilya Muromets. Moreover, part of the parts for the new aircraft had to be collected in landfills. Operation of the aircraft allowed to improve the financial situation. In 1925-1926, Sikorski already built several light aircraft.

The three-engine S-35 was chosen by French pilot Rene Fonck, who wished to add the honor of the pilot who made the first non-stop intercontinental flight to his fame as ace fighter. However, on takeoff, the overloaded vehicle was broken. Fonk ordered a new aircraft. Soon he was ready, but Fonk was ahead of Charles Lindberg, and the plane was sold to the South American airline.

This failure drew Sikorsky's attention to amphibians that do not need airfields. They built a successful six-passenger passenger car S-36, and then its further development - a ten-seat S-38. It showed excellent flight performance, was intensively exploited for a number of years by many airlines (primarily Pan American) in different parts of the world, from subtropics to Alaska.

Yet the main direction of work was still heavy multi-engine and multi-passenger airliners. "Pan American" ordered a heavy forty amphibian. Three four-engine S-40 were built, then, in the 1934 year, the much more sophisticated amphibian S-42. On this "air clipper" ten world records were set. Ten amphibians were the first passenger liners performing regular trans-ocean flights. Sikorsky's aircraft were also operated by Soviet polar aviation, used in the search for S. Levanevsky’s crew.

The last aircraft I.I. Sikorsky became the “air dreadnought” - a four-engine flying boat S-44, which first took off in August 1937. But the time of amphibians and flying boats is over. Airlines and military customers began to prefer land aircraft with the best technical and economic indicators. The United Aircraft Board, which included Sikorsky’s small firm, found his work uncompetitive and merged it with another firm.

But the designer did not accept the fate of a modest subcontractor. He never left the thought of returning to his first love - helicopters. Only now, at the end of the thirties, there appeared a real possibility of producing a workable sample. However, many were skeptical about the work of Igor Ivanovich. Moreover, the single-screw scheme chosen by him was the most doubtful. The successes achieved by the German "Focke-Wulf 61" led to the fact that all over the world they were carried away by the twin-screw transverse scheme applied on it. The US Army also chose to support the development of a cross-section helicopter rather than the Sikorsky apparatus.

The experimental small helicopter VS-1939 (S-300), built in September 46, had a primitive appearance: this was done to facilitate further changes and to simplify repairs. Indeed, the design subsequently underwent 18 major alterations, several hundred small changes and a number of serious repairs after accidents. Especially a lot of troubles caused the working off of the swashplate and the problems of dynamic strength characteristic of rotary-wing vehicles. And in May, the 1941 of the year on the VS-300 has already been set the world record for the duration of the flight. By the end of 1940, VS-300 was brought to such a state that it received an order to build on its basis an experienced communications and reconnaissance helicopter.

Double S-47 was built in December 1941 of the year. His flight tests and numerous demonstration flights destroyed all skeptics' doubts. He became the first helicopter adopted by the American army. For the first time, large-scale production of helicopters was launched.

During the Second World War, Sikorsky helicopters made their contribution, albeit small, to the defeat of fascism. Igor Ivanovich himself participated in the campaign to provide material assistance to the Soviet Union.

In subsequent years, a number of successful designs were created. With the production under license S-51 began serial helicopter in the UK. The successes of the designer contributed to the appearance in the United States, and then in other countries, numerous helicopter companies.

The main success was waiting for Sikorsky, as in aircraft construction, in the development of heavy vehicles. In the 40-50-ies in the global helicopter industry it was believed that heavy helicopters should be twin-screw, longitudinal scheme. Igor Ivanovich was one of the few who believed in the great possibilities of a single-rotor scheme. His like-minded person was the Soviet helicopter designer ML. Miles Tests in the 1948 year of the experimental S-54 showed that the harmful effects of the mutual influence of the bearing screws in the longitudinal pattern nullify all its advantages. The S-55 transport helicopter, capable of carrying up to ten passengers, is built in the 1949 year using a single-rotor scheme. Before the advent of the Soviet Mi-4, it was the best in the world in its class and was widely used for various purposes in all parts of the world. With its production under license began serial helicopter in France.

In the 1953, a heavy S-56 appeared, surpassing its predecessor by four times its take-off mass. He was the largest production helicopter of the first generation. Subsequently, at its base was built (in 1960) helicopter-crane S-60. Igor Ivanovich was one of the enthusiasts of developing the concept of a helicopter-crane.

"Swan Song" I.I. Sikorsky became the S-58, built in 1954 year. It is considered to be the best foreign helicopter of the first generation, built a large series in the United States, Britain and France. After that, there was an experimental light machine that tested gas turbine engines instead of piston engines.

25 May 1957 year II Sikorsky retired from active design, but continued, until his death (October 26 1972), to be a consultant to the company. With his participation, second-generation helicopters were created: light transport and rescue S-62 (1958 year), multi-purpose S-61 (1959 year), produced in 13 modifications and for many years, a regular helicopter of the US President; the most heavy-lifting foreign helicopters S-64 (1962 year) and S-65 (1964 year); speed and maneuverability S-67 (1970 year).

During his life, I. I. Sikorsky created about six dozen original designs, in many cases pioneering, paving new paths in the aircraft industry. The aircraft and helicopters developed by him cover practically the whole range of possible types - from light to heavy-lifting.

Living far from the homeland, Sikorsky always remained her patriot. He was one of the creators of the Russian aviation industry, the designer of the world's first multi-engine giant aircraft, intercontinental airliners. All over the world, his decisive contribution to the creation of helicopters is recognized.

Borisov V. Russian scientists and engineers in emigration. M .: Software Perspective, 1993. C. 168-174
Katyshev G., Mikheev V. Wings of Sikorsky. M .: Voenizdat, 1992. C.6-7, 64-67, 106-115.
Katyshev G., Mikheev V. The entire range of types // Civil Aviation. 1989. No.6. C.32-33.
Mikheev V. Chosen by the sky // Aviapanorama. 1999. No.3. C. 74-77.
Mikheev V. Igor Sikorsky: a hero, an exile, father of aviation // Nature. 1998, No. 9. C. 71-72.

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  1. RoTTor
    RoTTor 28 July 2015 07: 19
    Russian patriot of Polish descent, born in Kiev, the mother of Russian cities. For the Russian Empire and the USSR, this is not surprising.
    Nazi Ukrainians are already climbing out of their skin, trying to ascribe to themselves both Sikorsky, and the Vologda resident Amosov, a graduate of the Arkhangelsk Medical Institute, Antonov, who, together with the KB, was transferred to Kiev from Novosibirsk, and Sergey Korolev, etc.
    There are no heroes, if real heroes are only common heroes of our common great country.
    Sikorsky is a great aircraft designer, it’s a pity that he worked for the United States, but this was the fate.
    Our Soviet helicopter designers are not inferior to anyone, including Sikorsky. In seaplanes, perhaps, they are a little behind - not because of the designers, because of the less attention of the state, as a customer, to this class of aircraft.
    1. creak
      creak 28 July 2015 12: 45
      Quote: RoTTor
      Sikorsky is a great aircraft designer, it’s a pity that he worked for the United States, but so it happened

      The fate of another prominent scientist prof. Zvorykina worked most of his life in the United States. His name is primarily associated with the invention of television, and in all he owns over 100 patents for various inventions (in the field of radar, night-vision devices, etc.).
      After emigration, Zvorykin did not interrupt cooperation with the USSR and, in particular, Zvorykin's kinescope was used in the first Soviet television.
  2. parusnik
    parusnik 28 July 2015 08: 00
    Living away from the homeland, Sikorsky always remained its patriot... And this is the main thing ..
    1. Foul skeptic
      Foul skeptic 28 July 2015 09: 42
      always remained her patriot

      Sikorsky is certainly a talented engineer, most likely a good person (maybe kind, probably cultural, good in general), but why is he a patriot? The monarchist - yes, the patriot - is a difficult question. I am writing this so that someone here can advise what to read or give examples of what actions Sikorsky patriotism manifested itself in.
      1. parusnik
        parusnik 28 July 2015 21: 04
        Tell me, is Baron Wrangel a patriot? Those who organized anti-Soviet organizations, are they patriots? ... Sikorsky, left for the USA, didn’t spoil the country when the war started, he helped as he could ... After the war ... he didn’t do any dirty tricks too .. dirty tricks do not do to those whom they love .. If in the entrance, at home, where you live, someone will paint: Russia, go ahead! Putin cheers! .. that it will be patriotism or hooliganism? In my subjective opinion, hooliganism ... So, Sikorsky, like hooliganism, unlike those about whom I said above, I did not paint the walls with paint ..
      2. The comment was deleted.
  3. Noncombatant
    Noncombatant 28 July 2015 09: 34
    We mean countrymen with Sikorsky. request
  4. qwert
    qwert 28 July 2015 10: 12
    Quote: Nefarious skeptic
    Monarchist - yes, patriot - a difficult question
    Yes, he is just not a monarchist. There is a feature film (quite a documentary at the same time) "A.N. Tupolev" called (if I don't confuse it. There is an episode of Tupolev's meeting with Sikorsky. They seem to have met twice while Sikorsky was in the USA. Twice he called him back. But ... Sikorsky was obsessed with aviation. Creating helicopter planes was a pleasure for him. And there is a well-known company in the states. You can throw it all away. Well, you can understand him. But why is he a patriot? Well, at the dawn of aviation, he was a patriot? being in the states during the war years, he organized a personal fund for supporting the USSR, spent money on our Victory. And in the post-war years he was also there in the societies of friends of Russia. In short, he loved Russia, as we all love our small homeland, and did not want to give up business But his son is already on his side.
    1. RoTTor
      RoTTor 28 July 2015 20: 43
      the film "Wings"
    2. RoTTor
      RoTTor 28 July 2015 20: 43
      the film "Wings"
  5. fomkin
    fomkin 28 July 2015 12: 35
    Fucked patriot of Russia in the service of the United States. Something we have got such patriots. So in Leningrad they came up with a memorial tablet to another Russian patriot Mannerheim. They are already talking about perpetuating the memory of Vlasov. And what a monument was erected to Kolchak in Irkutsk, and they have comparable figures for the murder of Russian citizens. And even a touching film appeared about the brilliant and noble admiral. Now you can refer if necessary.
  6. Old26
    Old26 28 July 2015 19: 32
    Quote: fomkin
    Fucked patriot of Russia in the service of the United States. Something we have got such patriots.

    Of course, a patriot. If the Soviet government began to deal with him on the basis of who his father was (and not himself), then what could a person do? To bend or leave? Remain in Soviet Russia and be an outcast? Sikorsky chose his path, leaving the country. But he always considered himself a Russian designer ...
  7. Megatron
    Megatron 28 July 2015 20: 14
    Where is he a "patriot"? The fact that all his life the United States helped to increase its power?
    You may not agree, but I consider all immigrants who left for the 90s to be traitors. Right now, many are asking for the way back ....
    1. denis02135
      denis02135 28 July 2015 20: 40
      Dear Megatron

      Let's determine what a patriot, Homeland and who is a traitor.
      1. Megatron
        Megatron 28 July 2015 21: 07
        The fact of the matter is that for everyone there is a definition.
        1. denis02135
          denis02135 28 July 2015 23: 08
          Dear Megatron

          And for you personally, what are these concepts?

          For example, Yezhov, Berry, Beria are traitors or what? Tukhachevsky, Yakir and Blucher?
          Or for example Makhno and Antonov, Participants in the Tambov, Krondstat uprising?

          Or for example, Vlasov in 41 is the hero of the defense of Kiev and Moscow, and in 42 a traitor.

          Kim Philby is also a traitor to the motherland or what?

          If you give your definition, we can argue or agree with you.


          PS IMHO Sometimes people confuse the concept of homeland and state.
      2. Megatron
        Megatron 30 July 2015 02: 22
        An American flag, tampered with provocative questions?
        Or are you yourself, of those who have blamed it?
        1. denis02135
          denis02135 4 August 2015 13: 44
          Dear Megatron

          And here is the checkbox, and what is the provocativeness of my questions? If you want to conduct a normal discussion, this is one thing; if not, why are you writing (for rating), I can also raise my title on this site very easily, but why. I am interested in communicating with people whose opinion does not coincide with mine, so truth is born.

          PS. Can you answer my "provocative" questions?

          Pss. This site is only for residents of Russia?
    2. creak
      creak 28 July 2015 21: 38
      I consider all immigrants who have left as traitors. Right now, many back articles are requested.

      And you can, by the way, specifically name, surname, who asks for back ..
      Do you know anyone specifically?
      PS By the way, people who left the country, in this case from Russia, are emigrants, for the USA they are immigrants.
      1. creak
        creak 28 July 2015 22: 03
        By the way, some of the emigrants who left the country in different periods since the 20s subsequently turned out to be not traitors at all, but patriots, and some even sovereign people, if you know what it is ...
      2. Megatron
        Megatron 30 July 2015 02: 19

  8. RoTTor
    RoTTor 28 July 2015 20: 53
    Sikorsky was a patriot of the Russia in which he was born and raised. He did a lot for our aviation. "Ilya Muromets" on the fronts of the First World War - how's that?

    According to the logic of some commentators, it turns out that now Russians and just normal people living in present-day Ukraine are obliged to become natsyuko-Bandera and Russophobes together with a state that has gone off the rails and falls downhill?

    Life turned so that our Sikorsky worked in the United States (by the way, his amphibious aircraft actively participated in the defeat of the Japanese), and the Italian baron, also a brilliant aircraft designer Roberto Bartini and the famous balloonist Umberto Nobile, found a new homeland in the USSR.

    Special thanks to Sikorsky's parents: in order to buy a motor for his first aircraft, they gave away all their savings, sold out a lot.

    Thanks no less to the Russian railway workers who supported him in his engineering and design career, when all this was utopian.
  9. Megatron
    Megatron 28 July 2015 21: 09
    Many collaborationists who collaborated with the Germans during the Second World War also considered themselves "patriots", trying, in their words, "to free Russia from Bolshevism."