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Alexander Mozhaisky in the Presidential Library's collections: the Rear-Admiral and the creator of the first domestic aircraft

21 March 2018

March 21, 1825 future researcher and inventor in the field of creating aircraft heavier than air, Rear-Admiral Alexander Fedorovich Mozhaisky, was born.

"Through the fate of the design project of A. F. Mozhaisky, the historical choice of the Russian military department for the development of weapons between aircraft and balloons is viewed", - notes Y. Nikulin in the abstract for the degree of Candidate of Historical Sciences "Alexander Fedorovich Mozhaisky - Russian naval officer and aircraft designer: life and activity", which can be found on the portal of the Presidential Library.

The study is based on documents and materials, legislative acts, reference publications, periodicals, which allowed the author to detail the periods of Mozhaisky's life, to prove the priority of Russian scientists in the field of creating the first flying machine.

Like many major military commanders, engineers and statesmen, Alexander Fedorovich graduated from the Marine Cadet Corps founded by Peter I in St. Petersburg and began serving as midshipman in the military ships of the Baltic Fleet. After seven years of service, Mozhaisky received the rank of lieutenant. In 1853-1855, he took part in a march on the frigate "Diana" from Kronstadt to the shores of Japan through the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

But the idea of ​​creating an aircraft did not give the sailor any peace. He comprehensively studied the flight of birds, kites, the work of propellers - and kept notes in his diary. Mozhaysky on a "simple flyer" (a giant kite, or a guided towed glider) in 1873-1876, repeatedly rose into the air and, according to many eyewitnesses, flew quickly and "with great comfort".

After a series of studies and experiments, Mozhaisky began to design a celestial machine. Alexander Fedorovich was the first who refused the idea of ​​creating an aircraft with waving wings, and developed the design of the aircraft with a fixed wing relative to the body. This was one of the first practical attempts to build a manned aircraft.

Nikulin's thesis compares and analyzes documents that reflect Mozhaisky's struggle for turning his ideas into reality, his uneasy relations with the Technical Committee of the Naval Ministry, and the Main Engineering Department.

By the spring of 1878, the designer believed he was ready to create a full-sized controlled airplane. But if the commission, under the chairmanship of E. Totleben, approved the project of A.F. Mozhaisky in January 1877 and raised the issue of building an airplane, then six months later the commission, under the chairmanship of G. Pauker, gave the project a negative evaluation.

The author notes the heavy financial situation of the inventor, leads his petitions to the Maritime Ministry with requests for help. As a result, Mozhaisky was again enrolled in the state service in the St. Petersburg port. In November 1881, he was the first in Russia to receive a privilege (patent) in the Department of Trade and Manufactures for an aeronautical projectile and a place for its construction on the Krasnoselsky military field.

Alexander Fedorovich Mozhaisky became the founder of aerodynamic calculation. Historical documents irrefutably prove the primacy of the Russian engineer in creating the world's first aircraft; the Wright brothers managed it only two decades later.

Based on the experiments of A. F. Mozhaisky, Russian design engineers created in 1913 at the Baltic plant in St. Petersburg a heavy aircraft "Russian Knight". After it in 1914, a series of aircraft of the "Ilya Muromets" type was built, of an improved design. It was the world's first heavy multi-engine bomber with engines located in the wing.

Our Fatherland cherished the memory of Alexander Fedorovich Mozhaysky, the father of aviation. His name is recorded on the pages of history next to the names of the most talented people in Russia. The Presidential Library is a unique electronic repository of materials on the history of Russian statehood, today its fund contains more than 600 thousand units of storage.