The royal Russian wait Service, the world’s biggest air force at the time, had every chance of becoming additionally the strongest one in people War I. However, in the end, quantity failed come transform into quality.

At the start of civilization War I, the Russian realm possessed the largest air force in the world, consist of of 264 airplanes and 14 airships. It remained in Russia the the an initial multi-engine bomber in history, the ‘Ilya Muromets’, was created, and on that basis, a seaplane for the Russian imperial Navy that had actually no equivalents somewhere else in the people at the time. In December 1914, Nicholas II developed the an initial bomber squadron in the background of aviation.

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And yet, the imperial Russian Air business failed to become the world’s leading air force. The main reason was its technological weakness.


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Aviation pioneer Igor Sikorsky (R).

The main State save of Film, Photo- and Phonographic papers of the city that St. Petersburg/russiainphoto.ru

Russia’s fleet of aircraft, which together of august 1914 consisted mainly of French Nieuport monoplanes, was rather worn out. Together a result, in ~ the start of the war, most of the losses of aircraft (sometimes as much as 90 percent) were not down to air battles, yet to mishaps caused by technological malfunctions.


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The Russian empire did not have actually its very own production of aircraft engines. A few were made at a branch of the French Gnome et Rhône factory, when the mass of engines to be purchased abroad. This strategy brought about severe shortages in 1916, once the Allies drastically decreased the it is provided of engines, due to the fact that they essential them themselves after heavy losses of aircraft in the battle of the Somme.


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Another serious trouble was the bad training the pilots. It took a lengthy time, and even at the height of the war, pilots regularly had come be sent to France for practical training. One officer recalled: “...Very couple of officers, from amongst the more inquisitive pilot cadets, take it the plan to examine the structure and operation the engines, how to fix and adjust them, through observing the occupational of engine operators. Vice versa, the bulk of officers thought about that unnecessary.” In addition, Russia to be the only country fighting in WWI that did not have a mobilisation arrangement for civilian pilots.


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In terms of the number of victories won, the finest Russian pilots lagged much behind the renowned ‘Red Baron’, Manfred von Richthofen, and also other German and British aces. However, once it came to acts the heroism, Russians often outshone your Western counterparts. Because that instance, it was the Russian pilots Pyotr Nesterov and Alexander Kazakov, that became first in the background of aviation come ram enemy aircraft.


Often, the Russian command did not understand just how to successfully use its air force, and sometimes considerably underestimated it. The catastrophic loss of the Russian troops in ~ the battle of Tannenberg in late August 1914 was partially the an outcome of the ignore the 2nd Army commander, basic Alexander Samsonov, had for aerial enlightenment reports around the motions of the 17th Corps of respectable von Mackensen.


Right before the war, inventor Gleb Kotelnikov designed the world’s first parachute. However, the head the the royal Air Service, Grand fight it out Alexander Mikhailovich, who, top top the whole, walk a lot for the development of Russian aviation, failed to see the potential that this most necessary invention: “Generally speaking, parachutes in aviation room a harmful thing, because at the slightest hazard posed come them by the enemy, pilots will try to to escape by parachute, thus losing the aircraft. Aircraft are an ext valuable 보다 people. We import them indigenous abroad, for this reason they must be taken an excellent care of. Whereas world are never in brief supply!” Parachutes became widely offered abroad, yet not in Russia. Hasty initiatives to carry out Russian pilots through them were made only as soon as the war was already in complete swing.


That said, over there were likewise examples of positive mindsets towards the waiting force. On august 31, 1914, the command of the 8th Army, basic Aleksei Brusilov, appealed come the high command: “I have actually lost every my aircraft, which room so an important for reconnaissance, which place the command and control of the troops in an extremely complicated position. ... Ns humbly asking Your royal Highness to aid the army with Farman and also Nieuport aircraft. Pilots are necessary for reconnaissance.” In 1916, currently as the command of the Southwest Front, Brusilov made considerable use of aviation throughout one that the biggest operations the the entire war, known as the Lutsk or the Brusilov Offensive. Plane played vital part in the Erzurum Offensive against the Turks (in early 1916), in locating opponent submarines in the black color Sea and also in bombing the Przemysl fortress, on which Russian aviation dropped over 200 bombs.

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At the time when the February revolution of 1917 placed an finish to the Russian Empire, the country’s air force had 1,039 aircraft, that which only 590 to be in usage on the battlefield. Over the four years the the war, the situation remained practically the same: a far-reaching part of the aircraft fleet had outdated models in one unsatisfactory technological condition, an ext than half of which to be lost, no in air battles or shot down by opponent air defense, however fell victim to technical malfunctions. Together before, the Russian air force had to rely not on its aircraft, but on the diligence, perseverance and also heroism of its pilots.


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