TsAGI’s feet at Great Patriotic War
7 May 2019
- Tests of the Pe-2 bomber in the TsAGI large subsonic wind tunnel
- Studies of a model of the future Tu-2 dive bomber in a TsAGI wind tunnel
- TsAGI contributed to improving the accuracy of firing rockets for the famous Katyusha rocket launcher
- Determination of the fatigue strength of еру “Road of Life” ice
The peaceful life of Soviet people was interrupted on Sunday morning in June 22, 1941. The great patriotic war began. “Our entire nation should now be unified and united as ever,” announced over the radio V.M.Molotov, Foreign Commissar of the USSR. “Each of us must demand from ourselves and from others a strong discipline, organized nature, dedication, dignified to a Soviet Patriot, to provide all the needs for the Red Army, Navy and air force.” We can say that his words were directly addressed to professionals of the Zhukovsky Central AeroHydrodynamic Institute (TsAGI). Since that time their scientific life became subordinated to the single purpose — the struggle for the victory.
In the pre-war years the young Soviet country was developed and increased in production. TsAGI was no exception: they completed the construction of the Institute’s aerodynamic laboratories complex at the new venue in the floodplain of the Moskva River, not far from the Otdykh platform (the “Rest”). They conducted advanced research on high-speed monoplane aircraft. With the outbreak of hostilities, it was necessary to mobilize all forces to modernize and develop new types of weapons to have technical superiority over the enemy. TsAGI scientists took an active part in these works in the midst of hunger, cold and always concern about the fate of the motherland.
In particular, they put into operation large wind tunnels and hereby improved flight data of many combat aircraft. For example, the irrepressible Yakovlev Yak-1 and Yak-3 fighters were carried out to study the aerodynamics, engine cooling screws, sealing cracks. It significantly increased their maximum speed. The MiG-3 became the first airplane full-scale tested in the Institute’s wind tunnel. The MiG-3’ legendary test pilot A.I. Pokryshkin won a swift victory over the German Messershmitt Bf 109E. TsAGI had presented the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-3 with remarkable flight characteristics at high angles of attack, aircraft survivability, a significant range. Our specialists conducted strength research of the “Flying Tank” Il-2. TsAGI gave recommendations to increase the speed and vertical-flight characteristics of the bomber Pe-2, to improve the characteristics of the La-family fighters. All these measures brought significant progress at the front lines of the Great Patriotic War.
During the war the USSR created a unique type of field rocket artillery with the affectionate name “Katyusha”. TsAGI specialists did their best for Katyusha. They examined rockets to considerably reduce their dispersion and increase destructive ability. In the Institute’s record list there is a legendary T-34 tank. TsAGI managed to upgrade its engines cooling system and increase air circulation in the fighting compartments. TsAGI carried out works to improve navigability of torpedo motor boats, obstruction balloons of air defense systems. The Institute offered a helping hand to inhabitants of the blockade Leningrad. The Ladoga Lake ice had fatigue endurance limit tests at TsAGI laboratories. The famous “Way of Life” ran on it.
The Institute’s staff did not only work hard behind the lines. 1 286 TsAGI members were engaged in active combat, 174 of them died. Heroism, resilience and courage of our people enabled to retake peaceful skies and pave the way for future generations of scientists.