Bolshoj Baltijskij, Russkij Vitjaz, Le Grand I.I.Sikorsky

44k and 80k. Courtesy of Carl J. Bobrow (ilyam@pipeline.com) and the National Air and Space Museum;

H
uge wooden biplane. The 'Russkij Vitjaz' (The Russian Knight) was the world first four-engine aircraft. First flown 26 May 1913, it was a strong answer to fanatic supporters of 'light-only' aviation. Aircraft was re-designed few times during 1913. The most critical changes included move from 2 to 4 engines and later positioning of engines along the wing instead traditional tandem scheme. Increase of engine-induced drag was overpowered by increase of propeller efficiency.
Some foreign papers called reports about Grand "the Petersburg Duck", but giant plane was flying during the summer 1913 without a single broke. Plane proved to be flyable with any two of four engines shot down, demonstrating strong reliability of the multi-engine scheme.
Emperor Nicholas personally inspected the Grand, and gave Igor I.Sikorsky a timepiece.
Major shortcoming of the Grand was its inability to attain high altitude. The end of the aircraft in September 1913, I guess, is a unique one. Indeed, was any other aircraft in the world hit by engine broke loose from a passing airplane? At the time I.I.Sikorsky was already working on the next generation heavy aircraft "Ilya Mourometz", and it was decided not to restore the Grand.
References:
  • "History of aircraft construction in the USSR" by V.B.Shavrov, Vol.1 p.97-101;
    Links:
  • "Russki Vitjaz" at Virtual Aircraft Museum
  • Technical data
    Function technology demonstration
    Year 1913
    Crew 3
    Engines 2*100hp Argus 4*100hp Argus
    in 2 tandems
    4*100hp Argus
    along the wing
    Wing Span 27m/20m
    Length 20m
    Wing Area 120m2
    Empty Weight 3000kg 3400kg 3500kg
    Flying Weight 3400 4000 4200
    Max. Speed 80km/h 90km/h 90km/h
    Landing Speed 65km/h 70km/h 70km/h
    Ceiling 100m 500m 600m
    Range 150km 170km 170km
    Duration 2h
    Take off run 650m 400m 350m
    Landing Roll 150m 200m 200m
    Modified August 14, 1997
    by Alexandre Savine;
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