The term "sharashki" is the slang term for a closed-type design bureau at factories, research institutes, laboratories where scientists and specialists worked to create and improve technology. The first wave of repression swept in the late 1920s and early 1930s. It was conducted under the slogan of combating sabotage in industry. The label of the "wrecker" was invented in order to explain a number of failures in the development of the economy. So, in 1929 there were almost no own serial production planes in the USSR, the aviation industry was based on the issue of licensed samples of fighters and scouts of Western countries, and their production volumes were several times inferior to the number of combat aircraft produced in England or France. Bombers and seaplanes were not built at all.
Instead of objectively understanding the reasons for the backlog of the pace of technical development, the country's leadership decided to blame everything on individual experts, allegedly specifically harming the industry, in order to please the West to weaken the country. To make public the "wrecking" in 1928-1930. in Moscow, held several high-profile trials: the Shakhty case (about wrecking in the coal industry), the trial of food industry specialists (the organizers of the famine), the Industrial Party process, at which the leaders of several industries were judged. Threats and blackmail from defendants even before the start of court hearings were made to put the blame for the failures in the economy on themselves, therefore public hearings of the court resembled well-rehearsed performances.
Aviation specialists were not tried in the above-mentioned processes. Like many other innocent engineers, they were arrested without any publicity and sent to prison. The victims were primarily people of "non-proletarian origin" - the son of a priest, NN Polikarpov, intellectuals D. Grigorovich, B.S.Stechkin, etc. In total in the late 1920s and early 1930s, more than 30 experts on aircraft, engines and aircraft equipment were arrested.
The first aviation prison design bureau was organized in December 1929. Beginning in 1930, a large company to combat sabotage under the leadership of the Economic Department of the OGPU led to the emergence of a mass of highly qualified specialists, the use of which was irrational in the sawmill. Therefore, on May 15, 1930, the "Circular of the Supreme Council of the National Economy and the United State Political Administration" appeared on "the use of specialists convicted for sabotage in factories" signed by V. V. Kuibyshev and G. G. Yagoda. In particular, this document stated: "The use of pests should be organized in such a way that their work takes place in the premises of the bodies of the OGPU."
During the period of Menzhinsky's chairmanship in the OGPU, the organization of specialty ("sharashka") organization began, in which prisoners scientists and engineers created samples of new technology. Aviation Plant # 39 / TsKB-39 - the first in the history of aviation prison design bureau was organized in December 1929. Originally located in Butyrskaya prison. In 1930, in the Butyrskaya prison, TsKB-39 was organized, in which aircraft designers DP Grigorovich and N.N.Polikarpov designed the first Soviet fighters. Condemned in the case of the Industrial Party, L.K.Ramzin, in conclusion, is developing a ram-fired engine. These experiences were used by Menzhinsky's successors. VR Menzhinsky established a record of the length of his tenure as head of the special services of the Stalin era - 8 years.
On the territory of the plant there was a wooden one-storey hangar No. 7, adapted for housing for prisoners. In it 20 prisoners lived and worked under protection. The staff was small, but very highly qualified. The core of the designers were the employees of the Department of Marine Experimental Aircraft Construction (OMOS, formerly led by DP Grigorovich), who shared the fate of their boss: ANSedelnikov (former deputy head of the department), VL Korvin (production manager) and H G.Mihelson (Head of the Drafting Bureau).
Together with Polikarpov, his colleagues EI Mayoranov and VASisov were in the Central Committee. In addition to them, in the OKB sat a prominent specialist in small arms, A. V. Nadashkevich (the creator of the PV-1 aviation machine gun), the former director of the pilot factory No. 25 B.F. Goncharov, Testing Engineer P.Kreyson, Assistant Director of the Plant No. 1 IM Kostkin, etc. Grigorovich was appointed chief designer of the design bureau, but virtually all major design issues were resolved collectively.
The connection of the convicts with the production units of the plant was provided by the free engineer SM Dansker. Before the "pests" have set a difficult task - to urgently design a single-seat fighter of mixed design with an air-cooled engine. - The main designer of the design bureau was appointed Grigorovich, but in fact all major design issues were resolved collectively.
The abbreviation "BT" (internal prison) was the name of the model of the aircraft, designed by the prisoners in the first years of the functioning of "sharashek." The aircraft VT-11 (better known as the I-5 fighter ) was designed by a team of aircraft designers from TsKB-39 under the guidance of DP Grigorovich. The hopes placed on the Central Design Bureau did not materialize.
After the completion of the I-5 fighter, the Political Administration decided to encourage the arrested aircraft designers, reducing their punishment. So, the verdict of the Collegium of the OGPU on March 18, 1931, Polikarpov replaced the death penalty with a sentence of 10 years of camps, with the adjournment of the sentence. On July 10, 1931, Pravda published a resolution of the Central Executive Committee of the USSR, according to which the prisoners of the "inner prison" TsKB-39 were released.
By order of the All-Union Aviation Association (VAO) No 265 of August 27, 1931, the OGPU Central Committee's TsKB-39 and TsAGI were united in a single project organization under common control.
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