The Russian Aircraft Genius
The name of Sikorsky is quite familiar to American ears today, but as an helicopter designer, his models spanned decades and flew everywhere in the world, both for civilian companies and the military, and proved indispensable, from tossed far north sea offshore stations to various naval air services, and this story is certainly not over yet.
Igor Ivanovich Sikorsky (И́горь Ива́нович Сико́рскийwas born May 25, 1889 in Kiev (died in Easton, Connecticut in 1972) was formed at the Maritime Cadet Corps, in 1903, learning fast he would choose an engineering career. But this changed when visiting Germany with his father in 1908, seeing the Wright Brother and a zeppelin airship. He immediately thought he will be an airman. He made a trip in Paris in 1909, perhaps by then the mecca of aviation, and immediately working upon his return to an helicopter. Unfortunately he also understood it will never fly. But soon, he became an aviation pioneer first with fixed-wing aircraft in Imperial Russia, frail pushers propelled by a 15 hp Anzani 3-cylinder fan engine. The S-2 was his second design, and knew success. His fifth S-5, won him national recognition as well and was also licensed. The S-6-A won the 1912 Moscow Aviation Exhibition and at the end of the year, earned his young designer, builder and pilot the first prize in the military competition at Saint Petersburg.
Sikorsky Bolshoi Baltisky of 1913, before receiving its pair of pusher engines
In early 1912, he became Chief Engineer of the Russian Baltic Railroad Car Works aircraft branch in Saint Petersburg. Bold enough because of this backing, he attempted his first four-engine aircraft, the S-21 Russky Vityaz ("grand") later known Bolshoi Baltisky in 1913. This was the blueprint for future developments like the amazing S-22 Ilya Murometz airliner in 1914, by then the largest plane on record worldwide. For such a young designer that was amazing, just after having graduated by the Saint Petersburg Polytechnical Institute in 1914. That shows the caliber of the man. He soon converted his giant plane into a bomber for which he was decorated with the Order of St. Vladimir. He also turned his attention to smaller planes. Outside the S-6, a 1912 three-passenger plane and the two twin and four engines planes, he also worked on two little-known fighter aircrafts, motivated by Lt.Col. Chidlovski, from the Russo-Balt front, to maintain a previously canceled order for 32 Murometz type bombers, and after experience on the front, ask for a complement of escort fighters. Sikorsky rose to the challenge and went with a RBVZ design, the S.16. It was designed in a short time, it was influenced by Farman, but was a "faux" fighter with side-by-side pilot and gunner, for the sole Vickers off-axis MG synchronized by Lavrov system. But this system suffered many issues and a second 7.7mm Lewis light MG was mounted on the upper wing. The S.16 was to be propelled by a Le Rhone 90 or 100 hp but a 80 hpwas chosen at the end. Production started in February 1915 and went on with 18 more ordered, until March 1916 but Russo-Balt was criticized for the plane was obsolete then, despite of this, more S.16 were delivered until early 1917 with more improvements in turn. Ultimately the S.2 was worked out as a successor in early 1916 as a true one-seat biplane, this time with a more potent Gnome 100 or 120 hp. It was really influenced by the Nieuport 17, but had some specifics and they revealed faster than their inspiration. However only five were built ultimately. With the revolution, Igo Sikorsky fled to the US, and from there a new story began...
- S-6 passenger plane (1912)
- S-7 monoplane trainer (1912) (1)
- S-8 biplane trainer (1912) (1)
- S-9 monoplane (1913) (1)
- S-10 floatplane (1913) (16)
- S-11 monoplane (1913) (1)
- S-12 monoplane (1913) (12)
- S-13/14 monoplanes (paper projects)
- S-15 light bomber (1913) (1)
- S-21 Russky Vityaz four-engine biplane (1913) (1)
- S-22 Ilya Muromets four-engine biplane (1913) (85+)
- S-16 fighter biplane (1915) (c30)
- S-17 fighter biplane (1915) (2)
- S-18 light bomber (1915) (2)
- S-18 prototype bomber (1915) (1)
- S-20 fighter biplane (1915) (5)
- S-28 bomber designed in France (1918) (proposal)