Rare Antique Photos of Imperial Russian Sikorsky Aircraft circa 1913
Three rare antique imperial Russian snap shot style photographs of air planes designed by Russian engineer Igor Ivanovich Sikorsky (1889 – 1972), circa 1913.
He was a Russian-American aviation pioneer in both helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. First success came with the S-2, the second aircraft of his design and construction. His fifth airplane, the S-5, won him national recognition as well as F.A.I. license Number 64. His S-6-A received the highest award at the 1912 Moscow Aviation Exhibition. and in the fall of that year the aircraft won for its young designer, builder and pilot first prize in the military competition at Petrograd.
Sikorsky began studying at the St Petersburg Maritime Cadet Corps, in 1903, at the age of 14. In 1906, he determined that his future lay in engineering, so he resigned from the academy, despite his satisfactory standing, and left Russia to study in Paris. He returned in 1907, enrolling at the Mechanical College of the Kiev Polytechnic Institute. After the academic year, he again accompanied his father to Germany in the summer of 1908, where he learned of the accomplishments of the Wright brothers' Flyer and Ferdinand von Zeppelin's dirigible. Sikorsky later said about this event: "Within twenty-four hours, I decided to change my life's work. I would study aviation."
Sikorsky's first aircraft of his own design, the S-1 used a 15 hp Anzani 3-cylinder fan engine in a pusher configuration, that could not lift the aircraft. His second design called the S-2 was powered by a 25 hp Anzani engine in a tractor configuration and first flew on June 3, 1910 at a height of a few feet. On June 30 after some modifications, Sikorsky reached an altitude of "sixty or eighty feet" before the S-2 stalled and was completely destroyed when it crashed in a ravine. Later, Sikorsky built the two-seat S-5, his first design not based on other European aircraft. Flying this original aircraft, Sikorsky earned his pilot license; Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) license No. 64 issued by the Imperial Aero Club of Russia in 1911. During a demonstration of the S-5, the engine quit and Sikorsky was forced to make a crash landing to avoid a wall. It was discovered that a mosquito in the gasoline had been drawn into the carburetor, starving the engine of fuel. The close call convinced Sikorsky of the need for an aircraft that could continue flying if it lost an engine. His next aircraft, the S-6 held three passengers and was selected as the winner of the Moscow aircraft exhibition held by the Russian Army in February 1912.
In early 1912, Sikorsky became Chief Engineer of the aircraft division for the Russian Baltic Railroad Car Works (Russko-Baltiisky Vagonny Zavod or R-BVZ) in St Petersburg. His work at R-BVZ included the construction of the first four-engine aircraft, the S-21 Russky Vityaz, which he initially called Le Grand when fitted with just two engines, then as the Bolshoi Baltisky (The Great Baltic) when fitted with four engines for the first time, each wing panel's pair of powerplants in a "push-pull" tandem configuration previous to the four tractor-engined Russki Vityaz. He also served as the test pilot for its first flight on May 13, 1913. In recognition for his accomplishment, he was awarded an honorary degree in engineering from St Petersburg Polytechnical Institute in 1914. Sikorsky took the experience from building the Russky Vityaz to develop the S-22 Ilya Muromets airliner. Due to outbreak of World War I, he redesigned it as the world's first four-engined bomber, for which he was decorated with the Order of St. Vladimir.
By the start of World War I in 1914, Sikorsky's airplane research and production business in Kiev was flourishing, and his factory made bombers during the war. After the Bolshevik revolution began in 1917, he fled his homeland, because the new government threatened to shoot him. He moved to France where he was offered a contract for the design of a new, more powerful Muromets-type plane. But in November 1918 the war ended and the French government stopped subsidizing military orders.
Seeing little opportunity for himself as an aircraft designer in war-torn Europe, and particularly Russia, ravaged by the October Revolution and Civil War, he immigrated to the United States, arriving in New York on March 30, 1919.
After immigrating to the United States in 1919, Sikorsky founded the Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation in 1923 and developed the first of Pan American Airways' ocean-conquering flying boats in the 1930s.
List of aircraft designed by Sikorsky:
S-6 – three-passenger plane – 1912
S-21 Russky Vityaz four-engine biplane – 1913
S-22 Ilya Muromets four-engine biplane – 1913
S-29 twin-engine biplane - 1924
S-42 Clipper – flying boat – 1934
VS-300 experimental prototype helicopter – 1939
VS-44 Excambian flying boat – 1942
R-4 world's first production helicopter – 1942
Largest Size: 13.5 x 8 cm approx