Ilya Muromets Airplane by Sikorsky, First four-engined bomber which first flew in 1913.
The Sikorsky Ilya Muromets ("Илья Муромец" in Russian) was the first mass producedbomber aircraft in the world, a massive four-engined biplane that could penetrate deep into the enemy territory and drop a significant load of bombs. It was named after a Russian mythical hero Ilya Muromets.
Designed in 1913 and constructed by the Russo-Baltic Carriage Factory in Riga, the Ilya Muromets was designed by the great Igor Sikorski, based on his earlier creation, the Bolshoi Baltiski. Conceived originally as a luxury passenger aircraft, it was to become the worlds first four-engined strategic bomber at the outbreak of World War 1 and featured a fully enclosed cabin for the pilots and internal bomb racks that could carry up to 800kg of bombs. 73 examples of this extremely successful aircraft were built and only one was lost due to enemy action during the 400 sorties flown, during which their bombing accuracy was claimed to have achieved a commendable 90 percent success rate.
The Ilya Muromets was designed and constructed by Igor Sikorsky at the Russo-Baltic Carriage Factory in Riga in 1913. It was based on his earlier Russky Vityaz, which had played an important role in the development of Russian aviation and the multiple-engine airplane industries of the world.
Interestingly enough, Russia had a chance to become the birthplace of the first multi-passenger and multi-engine airliner. The Ilya Muromets was first conceived and built as a luxurious airplane. For the first time in aviation history, it had an isolated passenger salon, comfortable wicker chairs, bedroom, lounge and even a bathroom. The airplane also had heating and electrical lighting. On December 10, 1913, the Ilya Muromets was tested in the air for the first time, and on February 25, 1914, took off for its first demonstrational flight with 16 passengers aboard. From June 21-23, it set a world record by making a round-trip from St Petersburg to Kiev in 14 hours and 38 minutes with just one landing. If it had not been for World War I, the Ilya Muromets would have probably started passenger flights that same year.
With the beginning of World War I, Sikorsky decided to change the design of the airplane to become the world's first purpose-designed bomber. Internal racks carried up to 800 kg of bombs, and positions for up to nine machine guns were added for self-defense in various locations, including the extreme tail. The engines were protected with a 5mm armor.
In August of 1914, the Ilya Muromets was adopted by the Russian Imperial Army. On December 10, 1914, the Russians formed their first ten-bomber squadron, slowly increasing the number to 20 by the summer of 1916. During World War I, the Germans often refused to attack Ilya Muromets in the air due to its defensive firepower. On September 12, 1916, the Russians lost their first Ilya Muromets in a fight with four German Albatroses, three of which it managed to shoot down. This was also the only loss to enemy action during the war, while three others were damaged in combat, but managed to return to base to be repaired.
The heavy bombers of other participants appeared in 1916, all resembling the Russian pioneer to a certain degree. The Russian government and Sikorsky himself sold the design and production license to the English and the French. The Germans tried to copy its design, using the fragments of the example they had shot down over their territory in September 1916.
By the end of 1916, the design was generally believed to have exhausted itself. The ensuing modifications, such as additional armor, made the airplane too heavy and not worthy of upgrading. Even though the English, French and German bombers were faster, Sikorsky decided to switch to a new type of aircraft he would call the Alexander Nevsky.
The Russians built 73 Ilya Muromets bombers between 1913 and 1918. During this period, the Russians were the first in aviation history to perform bombing from heavy bombers, group bomber raids on enemy targets, night-time bombing and bombing photographictactics for a single bomber engaged in an air combat with a number of enemy fighters. Due to systematic weapon upgrades, the effectiveness of bomb-dropping reached 90%. The Ilya Muromets performed more than 400 sorties and dropped 65 tons of bombs during the war. control. They were also the first to work out defense
Specifications (Ilya Muromets Type E-2)
- Crew: four to eight (max. twelve)
- Length: 18.8 m (61 ft 8 in)
- Wingspan: 34.5 m (113 ft 2 in)
- Height: m ( ft in)
- Wing area: 220 m² (2,367 ft²)
- Empty: 5,000 kg (11,000 lb)
- Loaded: 6,500 kg (14,300 lb)
- Maximum takeoff: 7,460 kg (16,412 lb)
- Powerplant: 4x Renault 12 engines, 162 kW (220 hp) each
- Maximum speed: 130 km/h (81 mph)
- Range: 560 km (350 miles)
- Service ceiling: 3,200 m (10,496 ft)
- Rate of climb: m/min ( ft/min)
- Wing loading: 29.5 kg/m² (6 lb/ft²)
- Power/Mass: 0.10 kW/kg (0.06 hp/lb)
- Various numbers and combinations of guns at various points during the war, including 12.7 mm, 15.3 mm, 25 mm, 37 mm, and 76.2 mm guns, Maxim guns, Lewis guns, and Leonid Kurchevsky's experimental recoilless guns among them.
- Bomb loads including 8x 100 kg (220 lb) bombs, 16x 50 kg (110 lb) bombs, or 1x 656 kg (1,450 lb) bomb or
- 6x 127-mm rockets (under the wings)
Ilya Murometz (the 1st flight in 1913 !) was a 4-engined plane of gigantic size designed by Sikorsky and built by Russo-Balt factory in Riga. It was an excellent aircraft for long-range recon and bomb (starting from V version, which had the bombsights installed) missions. Ilya Murometz's endurance equaled 4..5 hours with the bombs or 10 hours for reconnaissance. The bombload consisted of multiple small bombs or several big bombs (160, 240, 400 and even 640 kg i.e. 300, 400, 750 and 1200 lbs). The bombsights accuracy was excellent with 60..90% of the bombs hitted a targets. Another instruments were very good too, ones allowed even to perform night operations from the begin of the war. Defensive armament was upgraded during the war and consist of 3..8 mashineguns and automatic rifles).
Starting from G-series IM had the spherical area of fire. That was quite enough to hold enemy fighters away: only one IM (commander - lt. Maksheyev) was shot down by the interceptors during the war, and Germans lost 3 planes of 4 in this battle (Sept. 12, 1916). In total the IMs have shot down at least 12 German and Austrian planes.
The 1st air combat of IM was on 19th July 1915, when the plane of lt. Bashko was attaked by 3 Branderburgs and shot down 1 of them. The IM was damaged, but landed with only 2 engines working.
Another combats: in June 6, 1915 alone Ilya Murometz was attacked by 3 Heinkels and shot down 2 of them.
In June 1916 Ilya Murometzs of capt. Lavrov was attacked by 4 Fokkers and shot down 3 of them and damaged the 4th one. IM took some damage too, and one of his engines was quit, but the plane managed successfully return to the homebase.
On 8th May 1917 IM of capt. Klembovskiy had a battle with 3 Fokkers and shot down 2 of them.
In 1914 "Squadron of Air Ships", the 1st world group of heavy strategic bmrs was created and served during whole War. This group consisted of several platoons of IMs and support (recon and escort) planes that have served all around German and Austrian fronts. Few other squadrons (ex: 14KAO) had IMs too.
During the war the IMs acomplished about 400 combat flights, and lost only 2 planes (1 by flak fire on 5th Novenber 1915).
Most of the flights were performed by single IMs, but sometimes were group operations: for example 4th Septermber 1916 four IMs destroyed German hydroplane base at Angern lake.
ILYA MUROMETS AIRPLANE. Pictures
|Manufacturer||Russo-Baltic Wagon Company|
|Designed by||Igor Sikorsky|