FLYING OVER THE WAVES

FLYING OVER THE WAVESHardly anyone would dispute that the twentieth century was for the engineers of gold in the literal and figurative sense. Discoveries and inventions made in those years will be used more by many generations of earthlings, and some of them will be further developed.

 
Among the significant inventions of XX century, there are non-traditional vehicle for a number of reasons not yet fully mastered by mankind. These include, first of all, hovercrafts and ground effect vehicles — aircraft is actually moving at very low altitude over a relatively smooth surface. Both of these apparatus are “tied” to the water or the ground thereby finding its “all-flying” properties.
 
Abroad is considered to be the father of the hovercraft, English engineer Christopher Cockerell. His “Hovercraft” in the summer of 1959 overcame the English channel between Calais and Dover. But few know that at the end of the 1920-ies the Soviet engineer Vladimir Izrailevich lion Cove started and then quite successfully continued the development of such devices.
 
In 1927 Konstantin Tsiolkovsky published a paper “air Resistance and the Express train”, which proposed to reduce the resistance to the movement of the train pumped between the profiled base of the car and the tracks with compressed air. The thrust for the movement of trains was also created by compressed air flowing through the holes of the nozzle. The ideas of Tsiolkovsky was interested in a young teacher of hydraulics and aerodynamics of the Donskoy Polytechnic Institute by V. I. Levkov, who saw in them a promising direction for high-speed transport. For a start, he decided to determine key dependencies, allowing to carry out the practical use of air bags.
 
It all began with experimental models. Today there is no need to elaborate on the operational principles of air cushion, they are known even to schoolchildren, but then it was something outlandish.
 
From scrap materials V. I. Levkov produced a small experimental model resembling an inverted bowl with a hole in the center. This hole was assigned to light weight and improved household electric fan. The model hovered above the floor of the lab, and young Professor (at the end of 1929 V. I. Levkov approved in this post at the Department of applied aerodynamics) continued to improve the concept of the world’s first apparatus on the air cushion. Gradually, from model to model, I could make out the shape of the future vehicle. For five years, investigated several types of models: chamber (single-round and teardrop-shaped in plan), as well as twin-engine flow with a U-shaped cross-section chamber. Last option is scientist and was chosen as basic for further work.
 
In 1930 on the basis of the aviation Department of the don Polytechnic Institute organized Novocherkassk aviation Institute, and V. I. Levkov was appointed its rector.
 
In 1933, V. Levkov on the basis of previous studies started manufacturing large model hovercraft with a length of about 2.5 m. the electric Motors with propellers installed in a sloping bow and stern, rectangular in plan, a small aircraft allowed him not only to hang above the surface, but when you change the angle of the axis of propellers, their pitch or engine speed to move in the longitudinal direction. Air cushion minimizes the contact of the hull of the boat with the water surface, except in the ideal hydrodynamic component of drag and increasing its speed. A boat, unlike a plane, had a lifting force not only when moving, but hovering.
 
Boat L-5 during trials in the Baltic in 1938
 
Boat L-5 during trials in the Baltic in 1938
 
About their work and their prospects Levkov wrote to the Directorate of military inventions, which has offered to demonstrate the invention of scientists of Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute. Known aerodynamics — students.GN E.Zhukovsky — G. H. Sabinin and K. A. Ushakov after the demonstration Levkova one of the first models of a critical assessment of its suitability for practical use, considering that aerolizer hovercraft can only find limited application.
 
In the spring of 1934, after the closure of Novocherkassk aviation Institute of V. I. Levkov was transferred to teaching at the Moscow aviation Institute, where he continued improving his invention. After another successful demonstration of a large model of the naval control of the red army in the summer of 1934 concluded with the MAI agreement on designing and construction of wooden air torpedo boats.
 
Levkov led the special technical Bureau of the MAI, where he built the first hovercraft, deservedly received the name of the author — “Levkov-1” (L-1). It was a small wooden catamaran. To create an air cushion used two aircraft engine M-11, installed horizontally on the platform connecting the boats. There was a third engine meant for moving forward. The layout of the apparatus resembled a floatplane with a wing of very small aspect ratio, which was not destined to rise high.
 
Testing began on the Pleshcheyevo lake near Pereslavl-Zalessky, Yaroslavl region, in the autumn of 1935 and it took only ten days. This lake for a number of reasons it was a favorite destination not only for citizens, but was used for testing new techniques of secrecy, to which belonged the boat and Levkov.
 
Not to be unfounded, I will result only one example. At the nearby airfield was based a skilled squadron of fighters equipped with Dynamo-reactive cannon by Leonid Kurchevsky, with creepy secret name “Z”. These weapons in those years predicted a great future
 
But back to the hovercraft, the test which allowed to make the first and very encouraging findings. The machine moved freely, not only over water but also over boggy meadow And it was already a sign of its amphibiotic. The speed of L-1 reached 60 knots, as the best gliding torpedo boats, but unlike them had a prospect of further increase.
 
The success was great, and the military rushed to give the order for an experimental all-metal boat, L-5, based on the same principle. At the same time planned to build two or three training L-1, without which the development of the combat L-5 could be delayed. I must say that the plans Levkov was great. Under his leadership, OTB MAI at the same time developed a few devices, but ahead of 26-local airborne L-5.
 
The scheme of the boat, L-1 later became a classic. However, if you develop your military of the firstborn Levkov went the other way. Location adjustable louvers for ventilators has enabled the use of flow produced by them is not only for airbags, but the thrust needed for horizontal flight. The reasons for this step, we can only guess, but from the standpoint of current knowledge, this technical solution allows to combine in one apparatus the advantages of hovercraft and wig.
 
L-5 was built in 1937 at an aircraft factory number 84 in Khimki near Moscow, by that time, mastered the technology of all-metal aircraft (in April 1936 was transferred OKB V. I. Levkov). Therefore, all the terminology of documents on the boat were consistent with aviation. For example, the Central part of the L-5 was classified as center — similar to the technological articulation of the wing of the aircraft.
 
Unfortunately, detailed information on L-5 were not found, but found the documents that had boat hydroplanes, and they are located along the trailing edge of the wing. For directional control and stabilization course is intended tail vertical tail with rudder.
 
Torpedo boat L-5
 
Torpedo boat L-5
 
Torpedo boat L-5:
 
1 and 22 handrails; 2,6,14 and 20 navigation lights; 3 — the air intake of the carburetor of the motor M-25; 4 — a cover of the hatch of the neck of the oil tank front engine M-25; 5 — window; 7 — antenna short-wave radios; 8 — keel; 9 — rudder; 10 — tilt section of the steering wheel; 11 — cover technological hatch of the service management system; 12 — hook; 13 — mooring eye; 15 and 17 — step; 16 — cover the filling neck of the fuel tank; 18 — cover the filling neck of the oil tank aft of the engine M-25 19— intermediate steering rod; 21 —gun on turret TUR-9; 23 — window; 24 — visor; 25 — the mast of the radio antenna; 26 — PVD; 27 — water wheel; 28 — a stabilizer; 29 — shutter; 30 — air screw; 31 — thrust blinds; 32 — engine mount; 33 – the inlet channel of the carburetor feed motor M-25; 34 — oil tank feed motor; 35 — 53 torpedo 38; 36 — 37 tank — torpedo hardpoints; 38 cargo compartment; a 39 — seat Navigator; 40 — table Navigator; 41 —seat minder; 42 — oil tank front motor; 43 — posting of blinds; 44 — carb; 45 — M-25 engine; 46 — brace stabilizer; 47 — compass; 48 — wheel; 49 — instrument panel; 50 — column of the motor control; 51 — control devices of the plant; 52 — radio; 53 umformer radio station; 54 – seat of the commander of the boat

 
A housing made of aluminum alloy, characterized by a streamlined shape, the subordinate to achieve the highest speed. In its center section and L-1, placed horizontally, also aviation, but more powerful radial engines, the M-25, adapted to operate in a horizontal position.
 
In fully closed cabin, speakers on the boat was the crew. Provided and the space for landing.
 
Missile boats armament consisted of three machine guns, one of which is heavy, designed to protect from air attacks, was placed on the cabin.
 
The exact date of the beginning of the test boats is not known, but from available documents it can be concluded that this event occurred in the summer of 1937 in the Baltic sea. A state Commission headed by the chief inspector of the Naval forces of the red army P. I. Smirnov-svetlovskiy. The immediate supervisor of the test boats were the Commissioner of the Permanent Commission of the new ships in Leningrad, the then captain of the third rank, B. V. Nikitin, a renowned expert on torpedo boats, commander of the first brigade radio-controlled torpedo boats in the Baltic sea Commander boats L-5 appointed senior Lieutenant I. F. Kudina, a mechanic — petty officer 1st article of V. S. Kamaeva In the trials of the boats took part Navigator T. I. Savenkov and miner B. Kuznetsov Along with seamen went to sea for sea trials and chief designer of boats V. I. Levkov.
 
Test L-5 was completed satisfactorily in late 1937. In the act of Commission on the test results noted the deficiencies identified. The main one is overheating of the motors after prolonged use. And again. If relocation of the air rudder by a large angle, the boat was severely tilted and sought to overturn. Indicated for inadequate directional stability of the boat But the General opinion on the further course of work was positive. At the same time, the military has proposed to transform the boat from landing in the torpedo.
 
For the training of crews of the hovercrafts in the OKB of V. I. Levkov type L-1 have developed a simple training boat L-9. According to some sources, this boat was manufactured in 1939, on the other, he was ready in the autumn of 1937.
 
Here as later recalled rear Admiral B Nikitin “in the autumn of 1937 in Kronstadt was preparing for the important task “Krasin”. A veteran of the icebreaker fleet of the country was out in the Greenland sea and make its way to the drifting station “North pole” to remove brave wintering I. D. Papanin, E. T Krenkel, E. K. Fedorov, and P. P Shirshov. The head of the expedition, the government appointed P. I. Smirnov-Svetlovskogo. Peter Ivanovich decided to take on Board the icebreaker hovercraft. In the Leningrad L-9 — ship with wooden case and two 140 horsepower motors, were taken on the train platform. Decided that the boat will come to “Krasin” on their own, over the frozen Gulf of Finland. Unfortunately, the track transition has not been examined, exit is clearly premature. As a result, the captain-Lieutenant K. Shilov who led L-9, lost control and could not overtake encountered in the hummocks. The boat received significant damage to the hull, which are unable to resolve before the release icebreaker at sea. From the participation of the hovercraft in the polar expedition had to be abandoned, which was a shame: after all, the skillful use of the ship V. I. Levkov probably would have acted successfully in the Greenland sea. And it is possible that after this many of the organizational difficulties encountered in finalizing the drives from the motors to the fans, have been able to solve in a short time”.
 
However, according to archival documents, to rescue papanintsev planned to use the developed Baltic boat L-5 and L-9.
 
In the spring of 1938 began testing the hovercraft in the torpedo variant. The suspension components of two torpedoes with a total weight of about two tons with locks aircraft type placed under the center of the boat, closer to the boats. Instead torpedo boat can take on Board up to 50 depth charges or smoke devices, and a hydrophone to monitor submarines
 
On the test boat, it took almost six months. The reasons for this are missing, incidents and emergencies. But it so happened that the denial of one or another system has opened new opportunities for the boat.
 
An example is the transition of the boats L-5 from Leningrad to the base of torpedo boats in Papiu. According to the documents: “I came from the area in the Rowing port in 11.22 and went to Lahti. At 11.35 started flying, but due to strong sprinkling (as in the text. — Approx. ed.) three times sat. The rear motor is stopped and reversed horizontal rudders to give trim by the stern.
 
At 11.55 got up in flight. Rowing from port 6 km. of Spray no. At 12.10 sat down near the red cruiser “Aurora”, moored to him as. burst pipe, “connected to a pressure gauge for determining” oil pressure, and almost all of the oil leaked. Repair tubing and dobavka oil (…) to 16.50. With up to 16.50 17.21 verification of motors In 17.21 running rear motor, and 17.35 in (…) front.
 
Warming up the engine, were afloat top Leningrad lighthouse in 17.52. Soared 18.04. Without stopping the flight, passed the Shepelev lighthouse B18 29ив18 59 approached the descent on the basis of Papia came at him and turned 180 degrees with the help of four people.
 
Went to a speed of 85 km/h (on the device). Stability and handling good. At the meeting, with waves no knocks and bumps, sometimes a bit of chop…”
 
Trials L-5 (which achieved a speed of 72.8 per node) have shown that it can be used for martial purposes, as an ordinary torpedo boat, and also on rivers, lakes, marshes and shallow water with access to a beach…” the Latter circumstance allowed to use it for amphibious operations without the construction of berths or special sites.
 
Analyzing the results, the state Commission decided not to stop and to conduct additional testing in the fall of 1938, when, as you know, is the “nasty” weather. As a result, confirmed the possibility of firing torpedoes in the entire speed range of the boat, starting with “stop”. At the same time for shooting high-speed goal required a new sight, take into account the wind drift of the boat, and the relevant rules of shooting
 
At the same time revealed the ability of the boat to overcome Bo-new boom from bundles of logs, speaking over water at 0.25 — 0.3 meters. Even when one of the engines of L-5 confidently overcame these obstacles, however, at a speed not exceeding 20 km/h In the rear motor L-5 do not overclock above 70 km/h and when the boat touched the water For this reason, and also due to the poor design of the blinds was not possible to carry out a “barrier” jump at high altitude booms. Besides overcoming antiboat and other special booms wanted a bigger slice of the stem to strengthen them, knife, metal spikes and special spring on the nose and tail parts of the bottoms of boats.
 
A significant disadvantage considered flooding the engines with water, which has sometimes led to their stop. For this reason, failed to test the seaworthiness of the boats at sea more than 4 points.
 
The L-5 was absent characteristic in service torpedo boats disadvantages: big unmasking breaker; a high enough speed, forcing long to be under fire of the enemy during attack; poor seakeeping; strong shaking does not allow fresh weather to run a successful machine-gun fire.
 
Basic data of torpedo boats
 
Basic data of torpedo boats
 
L-5 could be used to reset (though manually through a hatch in the center) depth bombs, but these defects were minor and easily eliminated. Not surprisingly, the military quickly made the main conclusion: the boat is an urgent need to implement in sereine trade and master it in the fleet. The result was the letter of the people’s Commissars of the Navy M. P. Frinovsky and shipbuilding industry, I. F. Tevosyan, dated 27 January 1939, which stated in particular: “Boats Levkov do not require expensive basic equipment, such as existing torpedo boats, and can be based in the coastal strip with light on-land facilities.
 
The individual identified on the test (…) shortcomings, including a strong roar of engines, disposable when finalising the design of a boat…
 
For the rapid implementation of the mass production boats lyaukou, having a clear advantage over existing torpedo boats, you must:
 
1. To adopt RKVMF as training a combat pilot boat “L-5”.
 
2 Charging NCSP to build in 1939, 3 boats of the “L-5″ referring to the crews of torpedo boats of KmPlot, the black sea fleet and the Pacific fleet with the purpose of training and practicing tactics of the new weapons. At the same time (…) to build more advanced and powerful boat L-10 (calculated for a speed of 90 knots — Approx. ed)..”
 
Following this letter, a draft resolution of the State Committee of defence on the adoption of the L-5 as a training-fighting boat and on the construction of three L-5 and one L-10 larger displacement. It should be noted that by the time the Bureau was also designed boats L-4, L-6 and L-8, which remained on paper.
 
In March 1939, the order of people’s Commissar of the shipbuilding industry V. I. Levkov was appointed chief and chief designer of Central design Bureau No. 1 at plant No. 445, located next to the airfield in the Moscow suburb of Tushino. The enterprise Vladimir I. continued work on the improvement of the hovercrafts. Based on the results of trials L-5 OKB in 1940 he developed a three-engine experimental hovercraft L-11. In the opinion of the chief engineer, the third engine located in the middle of the center section, was to increase the pressure of the air cushion and to improve the performance of the boat. Test L-11 on the Baltic sea confirmed the rightness of the chief designer. The results of these tests modified boats L-5 and L-9, giving them indices of L-and L 5T-9T (t — engine). When finalizing the all-metal boats L motors 5 M-25 was replaced by a more powerful M-62 with three-bladed screws. By inserting with a third motor in case of L-5 increased the length of the boat, fuel, and total mass.
 
In the summer of 1941 test boats V. I. Levkov had to be continued. But with the beginning of the great Patriotic war, the trips stopped.
 
In August, in connection with the approach to Koporye lip torn Leningrad to the Nazis, all hovercraft — L-5, L-9, L-11 and L-13 — transferred from Papei to Kronstadt, where they were kept until 1947, when they disposed of along with other outdated equipment.
 
At the beginning of the war the plant № 445 and CDB-1 were evacuated to the town of Alapaevsk, Sverdlovsk region, where the company returned to the people’s Commissariat of aviation industry and requested the production of airborne gliders, which he did until 1939. V. I. Levkov was appointed chief engineer of the plant No. 445. His life Vladimir Izrailevich was able to close only in 1943, after the return of the CDB-1 in Moscow. The implementation of the hovercraft project 171 proposed Levkova at the end of 1942 the people’s Commissariat of the shipbuilding industry instructed the factory No. 709. In the postwar period, this team was built some experimental boats, including single project 171.
 
Boats built under the leadership of V. I. Levkov, the Navy was not accepted. The reasons for this are not technical but organizational, there were several. Before the war, because of lack of time; in those circumstances, in order to achieve the final result, it was necessary to focus the team on the main, an already selected direction. After the war, changed the approach to the creation of new technology. Small groups (including the CDB-1), located at the junction of the two giants, which were Minaviaprom and Min-sudprom with powerful design office, who worked closely with science industry and customers, it was hard to survive, when the reduction and consolidation of the design team.
 
After the next reorganization of the industry in 1952, Professor V. I. Levkov, he became a Professor at the Moscow technological Institute of food industry, where she continued to teach hydraulics to students. He died in January 1954 in the five and a half years before the British hovercraft crossed the English channel, making designer, Christopher Cockerell no less famous than the Wright brothers.
 
N. YAKUBOVICH

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