Military Review

The first Russian fighter

The first Russian fighter

January 22 1915 built the first Russian C-16 fighter Igor Sikorsky
In the autumn of 1914, the young, but already experienced aircraft designer, 25-year-old Igor Ivanovich Sikorsky, the creator of the famous Ilya Muromets bomber, was working on a new air vehicle. The works were carried out in St. Petersburg in the workshops of the Aeronautical Department of the Joint-Stock Company “Russian-Baltic Carriage Plant”. It was this plant that became the first Russian manufacturer of domestic cars, seaplanes and heavy bombers. Igor Sikorsky from 1912, was the chief designer of the Aeronautical (Aviation) department of the plant.

From school to fighter

The new Sikorsky unit, which received the name C-16 (“C” - from the designer’s name), was originally conceived as a training machine for the pilots of “Ilya Muromets”. That is why, instead of the usual control stick for small airplanes, in the future C-16 was installed a control typical of heavy airplanes - a cast aluminum steering wheel and brass foot pedals.

Together with Sikorsky, his closest associates and assistants, a lieutenant of the Imperial Russian Navy, worked on the new aircraft. Fleet Georgy Lavrov and the old associate of Sikorsky still in the Kiev Society of Aeronautics Anatoly Serebrennikov. As the world war deepened, the aircraft, originally conceived as a training aircraft, it was decided to do as a fighter, to cover from the enemy aviation the squadron of heavy bombers "Ilya Muromets" both in the air and during basing at airfields.

Since the plane C-16 was the first in our stories fighter domestic design. The project was ready in October 1914 of the year, since November, the construction of three prototypes began. The first of these, under the factory number 154, was ready on January 22 of the next 1915.

The plane was a typical single-engine biplane of the classical scheme with an engine in front and an open two-seat cabin. In addition to the steering wheel and pedals, the left and right of the pilot housed the motor control - a crane for gasoline, a gas handle, an indicator of the engine speed and a hand pump for pumping gasoline from the lower reserve tank to the main one.

The plane was created double, so that it can be used as a scout. The observer was located behind the pilot, his seat was mounted directly above the lower gas tank.

The C-16 crew used two machine guns as weapons. Stationary fastened on the left side of the fuselage. Initially, for these purposes it was supposed to use a lightweight version of the Maxim machine gun of Russian production. But the machine gun was badly lacking in a land army, and for arming the C-16 used imported machine guns - first the British "Vikkers" (the English version of the easel "Maxim"), and then the American "Colt". The cartridge drum was placed at the feet of the pilot.

The first domestic fighter with a "synchronizer"

Igor Sikorsky. Photo: Carla Bulla. 1914 year.

Since the shooting was carried out in the plane of rotation of the propeller, the aircraft required a special device - a “synchronizer”, which links the machine gun with the aircraft's engine to regulate the shots so that the bullets do not fall into the propeller blade. That C-16 was the first domestic aircraft and one of the first in the world, which was equipped with a machine-gun "synchronizer".

Previously, fighters had to install special “cut-offs” made of steel or armor on the rear surface of the propellers in order to protect the propeller from the bullets of their own machine gun. Such a design reduced the useful power of the propeller and sent nearly a third of the machine-gun bullets past the target when firing.

Created by Russian lieutenant G. I. Lavrov in 1915, the “synchronizer” made it possible to avoid these problems. The trigger mechanism of the machine gun through the system of levers and discs was connected to the shaft of the oil pump of the motor. The pump was driven by gears from a rotating engine — in this way, the engine speed and, accordingly, the propeller were synchronized with a machine gun, which could fire only when the propeller blade did not overlap its barrel. For that time, the “synchronizer” of machine-gun fire became a revolutionary invention, allowing a serious increase in the speed and firepower of the fighter.

The design of the C-16 provided for the possibility of firing from a stationary machine gun mounted on the fuselage by both the pilot and the observer behind him. In this case, the observer was armed with another, this time with a machine gun. For this purpose, they used either the Danish machine gun Madsen or the English Lewis. From 1917, it was supposed to use the new Russian automatic machine designed by Vladimir Fedorov to equip the observer C-16.

Although the first model of the C-16 fighter was ready at the very beginning of 1915, its mass production was delayed due to a shortage of engines. Originally it was supposed to equip the aircraft with engines of domestic production of the Kalep system (designed by the Latvian Fedor Kalep) produced at the Riga Motor plant.

But due to the onset of the Germans, the plant was evacuated to Moscow - at that time it was the only production of aircraft engines in Russia - and until the end of the war our country experienced an acute shortage. Only in 1917, the evacuated plant managed to start producing five motors per day, which somewhat reduced their shortage, but did not completely eliminate the deficit. By the way, this production exists and is successfully operating in our time: now it is the “Scientific and Production Center for the Gas-Turbine Construction Salyut”, one of the largest enterprises of the Russian Federation in the production of aircraft engines.

But back a century ago, in the 1915 year. C-16 fighters had to be produced with imported heavier and less powerful French-made Gnome-Rhone engines. Nevertheless, even with these engines, the new Sikorsky aircraft was easy to fly and had excellent flight characteristics for its time — when flying in a lightweight version with one pilot, it reached 144 km / h. And at full load in 225 kg the speed reached 125,5 km / h. To a height of 1, the kilometer C-16 climbed in just 4 minutes.

Combat use C-16

Fighter C-16. Figure:

Shortage of engines seriously delayed the production of the new aircraft. The first contract for 18 copies of the C-16 and the same sets of spare parts was issued only on October 24 of the year 1915. The kit of spare parts included, in fact, all the main parts of the aircraft, so the Tsar Treasury paid 16 rubles for each C-9500 fighter, and for each set of spare parts, 4500 rubles. By the way, the “synchronizer” for the machine gun cost quite a considerable amount - exactly 1000 rubles.

During production, we faced not only a shortage of engines, but also a breakdown in the supply of components (steel and brass pipes, sheet steel, wheels, bolts, etc.), many of which were delivered from abroad, mainly from Sweden. In this regard, Sikorsky and his assistants had to urgently redesign some parts and even start producing their own steel pipes. Because of the changes, the weight of the C-16 production aircraft turned out to be different, from 416 to 423 kg.

In the military, these aircraft nicknamed "Sikorsky-small" (in contrast to its large four-engine bomber "Ilya of Murom"). If originally C-16 was planned to be used as training vehicles, as well as “scouts at scheduled raids on certain points”, by the end of 1915, the order ordered them to be used as “fighters at combat bases to protect aircrafts against raids of the enemy air fleet ".

In March 1916, the first six C-16 arrived at the front. The combat debut of this aircraft took place on the territory of Galicia in the 7 squadron - the first special fighter squad created in early April 1916. 15 of April of that year at four o'clock in the afternoon, Second Lieutenant Ivan Alexandrovich Orlov and his “Letnab” (observer pilot) cornet Lipsky on С-16 №204 first rose in the area of ​​the town of Yablonov (now a village in Ivano-Frankivsk region of Ukriana) to intercept enemy airplanes. The plane successfully drove the enemy vehicles from its airfield.

Already 27 April 1916, the C-16 fighter won its first victory. On this day, the crew, piloted by Kornet Yuri Vladimirovich Gilscher, was shot down by an Austrian reconnaissance aircraft "Aviatic" from a machine gun.

Successful flights to C-16 continued and Ivan Orlov. 28 April 1916, he shot down his first enemy aircraft, killing an observer and injuring the pilot. Exactly one month later, on May 26 of the year 1916, he scored a second aerial victory, shooting down a double Germanic Albatross fighter.

The fate of the first fighter after the revolution

In February, Sikorsky 1917 completed the assembly of the second batch of X-NUMX C-15 aircraft, but because of delays in the supply of engines to the front of the First World War, they did not hit. In the 16 year, when Sikorsky himself emigrated forever from Russia, six of his C-1918 fighters remaining on the German front went to the Austro-German troops that had entered Ukraine.

In April of that year, the Germans handed over these trophies to the troops of Hetman Skoropadsky. In 1919, they went to the advancing Red Army, but some of the pilots soon flew to General Denikin. Due to the deterioration of the engines, in the future whites only one C-16 would fly, which would get into the 1 Kuban Cossack aviation squad. In 1920, this aircraft was relocated to the Crimea, and after the departure of General Wrangel's troops from there, he again went to the Red and was used for some time at the aviation school of Sevastopol.

The second batch of C-16, assembled in Petrograd and never reached the German front due to the lack of engines, went to the Soviet government. Two of these aircraft in the 1919 year, entered the Moscow School of Aviation and another five in the Division of aircraft in the city of Sarapul. This division, which consisted mainly of the Ilya Muromets bombers, fought on the Wrangel front and against the Poles of Pilsudski.

In the Moscow School of Aviation, C-16 aircraft were used up to 1923. It was then that the future teachers of Chkalov and other famous Soviet pilots 30-40 of the last century were flying.
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  1. parusnik
    parusnik 23 January 2016 07: 36
    but also with a failure to supply component parts (steel and brass pipes, sheet steel, wheels, bolts, etc.), many of which were delivered from abroad... Somehow it was .. they could do a lot ... but the little things were not brought from abroad ... Therefore, domestic businessmen did not honor Russian inventors .. They preferred to collect foreign ... Newpores and so on ..
    1. Amurets
      Amurets 23 January 2016 09: 25
      Quote: parusnik
      ..Therefore, domestic entrepreneurs did not honor Russian inventors.

      And now, what's wrong? Exactly. Under the USSR, more than a dozen factories were engaged in the production of marine and stationary diesel engines. Powerful diesel engines were also produced for the Navy, but where is everything now? After all, licenses and equipment were purchased. Light and powerful diesel engines were produced in Kolomna, St. -Petersburg, and now we are trying to buy from China, and now they themselves need high-quality engines for their fleet. So the "Kudrinskaya genius financial policy" will come out sideways, what kind of oil we will buy. I don't remember who is here at the forum, three years ago, even before that he predicted such a scenario. Now his nickname does not come across on the forum.
      1. bulvas
        bulvas 23 January 2016 09: 33

        Is it true that Russia will always have to grow talented engineers and inventors and send them to strengthen the enemy?

        Will it ever end?

        1. Amurets
          Amurets 23 January 2016 10: 28
          Quote: bulvas
          Will it ever end?

          I do not know? I will not list all those who brought glory to other countries, but the saying about the prophets and the fatherland is right. And now many talented people are leaving because they do not believe in Skolkovo.
      2. The comment was deleted.
      3. parusnik
        parusnik 23 January 2016 10: 44
        Now what, isn’t it?... And I don’t argue .. We have two pilot boats .. types made at the Moscow Shipbuilding Plant .. our iron and bolts, and everything else is German .. we will buy everything for oil..This started under Khrushchev .. In IRE (Inventor and Rationalizer) in the years 70-80s there were articles .. here they say our Lefty, did such an interesting thing, got a patent .. but it’s not being implemented .. we’ll buy abroad. .
      4. Cap.Morgan
        Cap.Morgan 23 January 2016 12: 47
        Under the USSR, all our national wealth was spent on the production of military equipment and weapons, all our minds in three shifts constructed mechanisms for killing instead of making people's lives easier and more comfortable. The same type of T-64 and T-72 tanks were developed and marching in thousandth series, the same picture in aviation.
        Now we are reaping. The USSR did not have its share in the world market of high-tech peaceful products. In addition to giving machines and combines to Africa and the backward countries of Asia. As a consequence, Russia does not have this share either.
        1. Amurets
          Amurets 23 January 2016 14: 10
          Quote: Cap.Morgan
          The USSR did not have its share in the world market of high-tech peaceful products. In addition to giving machines and combines to Africa and the backward countries of Asia. As a consequence, Russia does not have this share either.

          The USSR could not have a share in this market. And not because there was nothing to sell, but because there was a state technical commission in the USSR that secreted not only military developments, but also dual-use products, as well as civilian products used in the army .
        2. tolancop
          tolancop 24 January 2016 21: 18
          The USSR did not have its share in the world market, not because there was nothing to offer, but because the USSR did not intend to integrate into the international market, but mainly worked for itself - the country is huge and many products were needed for its development: machine tools, aircraft , cars and other and other. And, by the way, all of the above, the USSR sold for a hill and after all they bought and not always the low price was decisive.
  2. Amurets
    Amurets 23 January 2016 08: 00
    Plus to the author, at least for remembering the works of Sikorsky in Russia. In addition to Lavrov and Serebrennikov, Polikarpov worked with Sikorsky, only this was rarely mentioned. About the early works of Sikorsky in Russia was written in the first volume of Shavrov and I don't know if it was preserved where the book "Aircraft of the USSR". Somewhere in 1960, it was published, unfortunately they read mine. In it there were several Sikorsky machines. In addition to the "Russian Knight", there were briefly described "Grand", "Ilya Muromets", S-17 fighters; Moreover, the S-20 was the most successful fighter of Sikorsky. At this, the mention of Sikorsky in the USSR ceased. And only after the beginning of perestroika, I learned about Seversky, another designer from Russia, We knew about Alexander Kartvelli, since the basis of the antiwash strike groups was his aircraft F-20 "Thunderchif".
    This is the link
  3. semirek
    semirek 23 January 2016 08: 11
    A wonderful article. I think Russia lost a lot due to the departure of the greatest Russian aircraft designer, at that moment the Bolsheviks were not interested in the future of the country - the main class struggle. When Sikorsky at his factory proposed at the beginning of the 18th year another airplane model - some kind of commissar answered: why the hell are we for your planes, there is a revolution in the country. The result is known.
    1. erg
      erg 23 January 2016 09: 17
      Do not believe it, but also abroad Sikorsky faced the same problem. And he is not alone. The world war ended, no one needed new planes, much remained from the war. They then, participating in the war of the country, sold out cheap. Civil aviation did not form, and at first they used the remaining military aircraft in it. And by the time Sikorsky was in demand in the west and was already actively involved in aviation in our country (the relevant laws were adopted back in 1918). So Sikorsky built the first plane abroad in 1924, and for example Grigorovich, who did not leave anywhere, did not stop his design activity at all, developed and built both in 1918 and 1921, etc. Tupolev also created his first plane during the Soviet era in 1922.
      1. Cap.Morgan
        Cap.Morgan 23 January 2016 12: 54
        Unfortunately, not only aircraft designers left.
        Specialists in all fields of science and technology, the creators of television, video recording technology have left ....
        The industry of the Russian Empire was destroyed, and a scientific school suffered serious losses. Then everything had to be recreated paying for everything at a high price ...
        Sikorsky is not only the creator of the helicopter but also a specialist in the design of seaplanes ...
  4. evge-malyshev
    evge-malyshev 23 January 2016 13: 30
    Good article. I recalled a lot. She made me regret a lot, incl. and that such a "head" left the Motherland. It's a shame ...
  5. Volga Cossack
    Volga Cossack 23 January 2016 15: 16
    good article !!!! And the plane was not bad. Sikorsky outstanding designer - but there is no prophet in the fatherland ....... here you will involuntarily think .......
  6. Dekabrev
    Dekabrev 23 January 2016 22: 41
    At the expense of Skolkovo. Question? Why did you need to fence this miracle near Moscow from scratch when there are many research institutes with their own scientific schools lacking funding for everything? Maybe because if they give money to scientists, they will certainly spend it on some research, not soprut? And what new developments did Skolkovo create? They say that there is a plan to divide the Skolkovo village into two parts, and call one of them Raspilkovo and the second Otkatkovo. No one heard the details of this reform? And further. Everyone expects new tanks, planes, and smartphones from scientists. I would like to remind you that tanks are not being built in the laboratories. There they conduct basic and applied research, the results of which are new knowledge. Then, it is still necessary to carry out development work with the participation of design bureaus and pilot production facilities. Prototypes are manufactured, tested and turned into scrap metal. Then comes the stage of production development. Technology is developed and tested, the missing equipment is purchased and installed, or new plants are built, pre-production samples are tested and scrapped. If a complex complex is mastered, then all the same steps must be taken when mastering the production of components. All this needs to be planned, coordinated, organized and staffed. All this requires much more money than science. As long as we understand that high-tech products do not arise when a young scientist looks at the ceiling, we will wonder why we are lagging behind the west.
    1. tolancop
      tolancop 24 January 2016 21: 22
      Remember the name of the figure (according to the rules, the adjective "state" should be used, but ... I can't, my hand refuses to print !!!), who organized this very Skolkovo. Do you remember? Well? ... I would be EXTREMELY surprised if Skolkovo produced significant and useful results for Russia.
  7. Rich-ksy
    Rich-ksy 25 January 2016 19: 25
    In an Internet video there is, as Chu ... handed out awards, on a corporate party. And at the same time, someone doesn’t get paid
  8. Dekabrev
    Dekabrev 25 January 2016 23: 40
    The most important thing. Is it really incomprehensible that a good scientific school is of immense value. Over the decades, a lot of money has already been invested in it, both for training and research. She has such knowledge and, most importantly, skills that you cannot deduct in any article. At the same time, investing money not in these old schools, but from scratch in some incomprehensible people near Moscow - this is some kind of go ... An untranslatable ideomatic turn. It is clear that stealing from the Siberian Branch of Sciences is not as convenient as from outside Moscow and the climate there is not suitable. Again, money should not be invested in walls, even very beautiful ones, but in equipment and people. And this is a new agency for science! Who came up with such a brilliant idea? That is, only this layer was not enough to steal money. Do they understand anything in science? And what are their salaries? If scientists buy equipment for themselves to work on it, they will buy what works. And what for the sake of kickback can you buy for scientists alien in blood and spirit? By the way, officials scold scientists, usually on the principle of "himself", in response to complaints about the lack of funds. What can people not think of not to give money ?!