Soviet and Russian airships

This article outlines some of the non-rigid and semi-rigid airships used in or built in Russia and the Soviet Union.

In 1812, desiring to attack Napoleon's army during the French invasion of Russia, Alexander I commissioned the German engineer Leppig to build a large fish-shaped airship propelled by fins:[1] the craft inflated but became damaged and failed to lift off.[2][3]

Like other nations in the early 20th century, Russia began researching and developing its own airships. Russia also purchased airships from the French and then from the German firm Luft-Fahrzeug-Gesellschaft, and in the 1920s and 1930s built others such as the USSR-V5 and the SSSR-V6 OSOAVIAKhIM with help from the Italian airship designer Umberto Nobile. Details of Soviet airship development remain obscure; the proclaimed rigid "Zeppelin"-style airships announced in the five year plans were probably pure propaganda; there is no known evidence that the Soviets ever built a rigid airship.

In the early 1910s, the German firm Luft-Fahrzeug-Gesellschaft delivered the small semi-rigid PL 7 "Grif",[4] and the PL 14 Burewestnik to the Russian military.

The Albatross was used in World War I.

From 1920 to 1947, the Soviet Union apparently built a series of airships mostly designated with the prefix "СССР-B".

In 1944, the airship Pobeda (Russian Победа = Victory) was built and later used to transport cargo, mainly hydrogen gas for balloons used to train parachute jumpers, on short routes from 20 to 500 kilometres long. It crashed on 29 January 1947, killing the whole crew. UdSSR-W12 was another airship used for the same purpose, delivering hydrogen gas and cargo.

After World War II, airships were still used for connecting airfields and research. In 1946, the last passenger airship, the "Patriot", entered service but by 1950 regular inland service had ended.

See also


  1. George Whale, 1995, Chapter II / Early airships and their development to the present day / Germany
  2. Haydon, Frederick Stansbury; Crouch, Tom D. (2000). Military Ballooning During the Early Civil War. JHU Press. p. 16. ISBN 0-8018-6442-9.
  3. "Important Events in Balloon History". Aerodacious. Retrieved 2009-06-09.
  4. Dirigibles of Imperial Russia (up to 1917 year), Smartsoft Ltf, 2008


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