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Soviet Aircraft - Jet Engines

Being the only great power that came to the end of the Great Patriotic War without its own jet aircraft, the USSR did not long remain in the role of a catch-up. Despite the devastation and the post-war crisis in aviation production, the Soviet defense industry was able to make a real jet revolution as soon as possible, not only closing the lag in the aircraft race, but also bringing our air forces to advanced technical positions. Already in 1947, serial production of the world famous jet MiG-15 fighter, which during the Korean War proved that at least it is not inferior to the latest American developments, and in some ways even surpasses them.

Until the early 1950s, the basis of the Soviet air force's armament was piston aircraft designed and built before or during the Second World War. Although it was already clear at that time that the future belonged to jet aircraft, a transitional period was required, during which engineers and designers could develop new types of aircraft, and the pilots would be able to master them. In addition, the Soviet Union seriously lagged behind the leading aircraft-building countries in the development of reactive technology. In the conditions of the beginning of the Cold War, this lag needed to be overcome in the shortest possible time.

The idea of jet propulsion arose long before the advent of aviation. The patent for the creation of the first turbine engine was issued to the Englishman John Barber in 1791. In 1913 the Frenchman Ren Loren received a patent for a ram jet engine. In the first half of the twentieth century, scientists in different countries experimented with jet engines, but their work was more theoretical in nature, and since the first flight made by the Wright brothers in 1903 for forty years, the "fiery heart" of the vast majority of aircraft was a reciprocating internal combustion engine . The crisis of piston aviation began in the late 1930s and was even more evident during the Second World War, when the speed of serial fighters increased by an average of 100 kilometers per hour, and engine power doubled, from 1000 to 2000 liters. from. But the increase in the power of aircraft engines led to an increase in their weight and size, and therefore, to a deterioration in aerodynamics. Due to more powerful engines, the aircraft carried more fuel and weighed even more. To maintain the previous load on the wing, it was necessary to increase its area, which made the airplane heavier. As a result, a vicious circle formed: a stronger engine - more weight and resistance - worse aerodynamics - lower speed.

Jet engines are divided into two large groups: rocket and air-jet. Solid-fuel (most often powder) and liquid engines are called rocket engines, since they are capable of operating in an airless space. Liquid (LRE) operate due to the oxidant, which reacts with fuel. At the same time, they consume a huge amount of fuel in a short period of time and for this reason are not suitable for aviation. A distinctive feature of air-jet engines is the use of atmospheric air. Air-jet engines, in turn, are divided into non-compressor (direct-flow, pulsating) and compressor. The latter include turbojet engines (TRD), which became the most common type of jet engines after the Second World War.

In the Soviet Union, the first straight jet propulsion engines designed by Igor Merkulov were tested in the winter of January 25, 1940 on the I-15bis fighter-biplane. They could not give a big speed increase, since they were suspended under the wings and created additional aerodynamic resistance; in addition, they worked as a complement to the piston engine. Nevertheless, I-15bis can be considered the first Soviet airplane that used jet propulsion in flight.

February 28, 1940 test pilot Vladimir Fedorov flew on the experimental rocket-propelled SK-9 (RP-318) designed by Sergei Korolev, equipped with a liquid rocket engine RDA-1-150. The rocket was towed by a R-5 biplane to an altitude of 2,800 meters, after which it switched on its own engine and continued flying independently. The decision to create a high-speed airplane with a liquid jet engine capable of being lifted into the air without outside assistance was made in the USSR in August 1941. Thus, the Soviet leadership planned to seize the initiative from the Luftwaffe, which at that time dominated the air above the Eastern Front. Since the LPRE's operating time was very short, the new fighter was intended for a single attack on one air target, after which it had to be planned for landing at the aerodrome.

The experimental aircraft of the design of Bereznyak, Isaev and Bolkhovitinov received the designation BI-1 (near fighter). The first flight of test pilot Grigory Bakhchivandzhi at BI-1 took place on May 15, 1942. It lasted only 3 minutes and 9 seconds. During subsequent tests, a speed of more than 600 km / h and a height of 4000 meters was achieved. In the future it was planned to develop a speed of 800 km/h. However, on March 27, 1943, during the seventh flight, a catastrophe occurred in which BI-1 crashed, and Grigory Bakhchivandzhi was killed. After that the development of BI-1 actually ceased, although the tests of this aircraft continued until May 1945. In total, except for the pilot series, 9 machines were built and 12 flights were completed. LRE was not the best option for combat aviation, and Soviet industry by that time had already mastered the types of piston fighters, not inferior to the best world standards. It is noteworthy that already during the tests BI-1 (starting from the fourth copy) two 20-mm ShVAK cannons and armor protection of the pilot were installed on it - thus, this wooden machine became the first military missile aircraft in history.

The first Soviet turbojet engine RD-1 with an axial compressor and an annular combustion chamber, the pull of which was 513 kgf, was created by Arkhip Lulka in 1940. In 1943-1944, he designed the C-18 booster thruster with a thrust of 1360 kgf. However, the first Lulka engine, which received practical application, was TR-1, which appeared in 1945. It was a flight modification of the C-18 and was installed on the Su-11 and I-211 experimental fighters, as well as on the experimental Il-22 bomber. TP-1 had acceptable power and relatively low fuel consumption, but it was not reliable enough. Therefore, the first Soviet jet aircraft used British or captured German turbojet engines.

Before and during the Second World War, the Germans were world leaders in the development of jet aircraft. They created the first jet planes with LRE and TRD - He.176 and He.178, were the first to launch jet planes into mass production and tested them in the course of combat operations. It is not surprising that after the defeat of Germany, the development of German engineers, far ahead of their time, turned out to be trophies in the United States, Britain and the USSR and attracted the close attention of scientists from allied countries on the anti-Hitler coalition. The main German engines, which were used in the Soviet Union, were Jumo-004 (RD-10) with a thrust of 800 kgf and BMW-003 (RD-20) with a thrust of 850 kgf. It was the pair of the latter who stood on the first Soviet MiG-9 turbojet fighter that took off on April 24, 1946,

In the same 1946 in the design office of Pavel Sukhoi was created a Su-9 fighter, reminiscent of the German Me.262 with two Jumo-004. Because of bureaucratic difficulties, this aircraft did not get into mass production, although for the first time in the USSR such innovations as a catapulted chair, a booster device serving to reduce efforts in controlling an airplane and a brake parachute were tested, and Sukhoi was developed for the development of this machine to the Stalin Prize. Relatively small series (for several hundred machines) were built MiG-9 and Yak-15. The first could develop a speed of up to 910 km / h and armed with one 37 mm H-37 gun and two 23 mm NS-23, the second carried two 23-mm NS-23 guns and flew at a speed of 780 km / h.

The La-15 fighter with the RD-500 engine (Rolls-Royce Derwent-V)The fourth designer who took part in the "jet race" was Semyon Lavochkin. During the Second World War, he became famous as the author of a number of very successful machines, and the La-9 and La-11 fighters he designed became the swan song of Soviet piston aviation and took part in the Korean War of 1950-1953. The first La-150 jet with the RD-10 engine (later RD-10F) was built at Lavochkin OKB in September 1946, but it was not produced in series due to a number of design flaws. But two subsequent projects Lavochkin went down in history. La-160 became the first Soviet fighter with a swept wing (wing sweep is necessary to overcome the air resistance wave of air, arising at transonic speeds) and on the La-176 test pilot Ivan Fedorov December 26, 1948 for the first time in the USSR overcame the sound barrier. La 176 was also noteworthy for being equipped with a powerful Soviet version of the British turbojet engine Rolls-Royce Nene (VK-1 with a thrust of 2,700 kgf). VK-1, developed by Vladimir Klimov, became the first Soviet serial turbojet engine and was installed on a number of well-known Soviet aircraft: MiG-15, MiG-17 fighters, IL-28 bombers, and Tu-14 torpedo bombers.

In 1946, the British Labor government led by Clement Attlee allowed Rolls-Royce to sell 40 units of Rolls-Royce Nene in the USSR, which was copied by Soviet specialists first under the designation RD-45, and then in a modernized version (with a larger combustion chamber and turbine) was produced under the brand VK-1. It was installed on the most massive in history jet plane - MiG-15 fighter, designed in OKB Artem Mikoyan in 1947.

Another British engine, exported to the USSR, was Rolls-Royce Dervent-V (RD-500 with a thrust of 1590 kgf). Although it was not as widespread as the VK-1, this model was installed on the serial La-15, Yak-23, and Su-13, Yak-1000, Yak-25, Yak-30 (1948) , Tu-12, La-174TK, La-174 and La-180.

For a long time, Soviet assault aviation used piston engines. Until the mid-1950s, the Soviet air force was armed with the Il-2, Il-8, Il-10 attack aircraft created during the Second World War. At them from model to model perfected armor protection and armament. Speed ??was also considered a less important characteristic for aircraft, which will have to deal with ground targets.

The piston engine was used at the first post-war development of the Ilyushin Design Bureau - the Il-20 attack aircraft. This machine was distinguished by an unusual design: the cockpit was directly above the engine, which provided the pilot with an excellent view and the opportunity for sighting and bombing (with dive). The IL-20 was built and tested at the end of 1948. However, this machine did not arrive in mass production due to excessive vibration of the engine, insufficient firepower (it was noted that it is lower than that of the IL-10), and also because the piston plane was considered obsolete in the age of jet aviation. Although the next Ilyushin project - the Il-40 attack aircraft with two jet engines, built in 1953 - successfully passed the tests, it was also not adopted. By that time, there had been changes in Soviet military doctrine, from now on gave preference to missile weapons and universal fighter-bombers. Therefore, the next specialized Su-25 attack aircraft appeared in the Soviet Air Force only in the 1970s.

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Page last modified: 12-12-2019 19:05:05 ZULU