World’s First Dedicated Bomber Squadron in Russia
Igor Sikorsky was born in 1889 in Kiev, Russia. He showed an early interest in aviation as a child, designing and building a rubber band-powered helicopter at age 12. In 1907 while studying at the Mechanical College of the Kiev Polytechnic Institute, his father took Sikorsky on a trip to Germany where he saw a Wright Brothers Flyer and Zeppelin dirigible. These remarkable aircraft led him to the study of aviation. In 1909 he had designed and built his first aircraft. His aircraft design is not based on other European designers. Sikorsky is named winner of the Moscow aircraft exhibition held by the Russian Army in February 1912.
In 1912, Igor Sikorsky became Chief Engineer of the aircraft division for the Russian Baltic Railroad Car Works. He built the world’s first four-engine aircraft, and served as the test pilot for its first flight on May 13, 1913. Zeppelin in Germany and Caproni in Italy are the only other aircraft manufacturers in the world building such large complicated flying machines.
With the onset of military conflict in August 1914, the plane was redesigned from a passenger plane to an bomber, the Ilya Mourometz S-22 which delivered an unbelievable a bomb load around 660 lbs and had a top speed of 68 MPH for a five hour flight duration. It was armed with a variety of defensive machine gun and cannon. Nothing like it had ever been seen before. A first order of 10 was made and delivered in December 1914. The Russian Air Force is organizing these 10 new aircraft to be utilized against Germany.
On February 12, 1915 the world’s first dedicated bomber squadron, Eskadra Vozdushnykh Korablei – “Squadron of Flying Ships” was formed and it’s first operational bombing mission occurred against German front line positions in East Prussia. The 10 ships flew in a formation group which intimidated German fighter pilots who were reluctant to attack such a large aircraft, especially one that sported four to five defensive machine guns. No losses were experienced by the new bombers.