A guest post by Alexey Belokrys.
On 29 August 1930, near Moscow, one of the earliest Soviet airships “Komsomolskaya Pravda” (Комсомольская Правда) took off for her maiden flight. After a one-hour flight over Moscow she successfully landed.
For the decade of the 1920s the Soviet state refrained from building airships. Neither the Red Army neither the Soviet Navy wished to order an airship for military purpose, nor was there interest by any civilian agency. Komsomolskaya Pravda was built by volunteers with private donations; some 12,000 Soviet rubles were raised from Soviet and foreign donors to fund the construction. This was roughly equivalent to 6,000 U.S. dollars.
Key facts about Komsomol’skaya Pravda
“Komsomol’skaya Pravda” — literally “Komsomol Truth” — was an official countrywide newspaper of Komsomol, the All-Union Leninist Young Communist League. The airship was named after the newspaper as its editorial board was a fundraiser for her construction and the majority of donations were received from the Komsomol members.
Komsomol’skaya Pravda was a simple non-rigid airship with a volume of 2500 cubic meters of hydrogen and a length of 46 meters. The ship carried one 185 hp BMW aircraft engine. The envelope was made of the fabric remained after old Russian WWI observation balloons of the Parseval type, and a metal open car was rope-hanged beneath the envelope.
As there were no airship hangars around Moscow at the time, the Komsomolskaya Pravda’s units were fabricated in a former church building. The entire airship was finally assembled and filled with gas outdoor in a natural trough. The same place was used as a mooring in 1930″“1931.
Komsomolskaya Pravda was used as a training airship by aeronautics students as well as for propaganda flights. During 1930″“1931, Komsomolskaya Pravda made 55 flights and covered 3555 km. She was sent for total reconstruction because of deterioration in 1932.
Though unsophisticated, Komsomolskaya Pravda made a great impression on the Soviet people. Her successful operation was a valid argument for the authorities to eventually launch a state-run airship program.
Alexey can be reached at [email protected]