75 years ago the TsKB-30 “Moskva”, modified for record flight Moscow-North America, made its maiden flight75 years ago on April 16, 1939 V.K. Kokkinaki made the first flight of the TsKB-30 aircraft named “Moskva” from Frunze Central Aerodrome on Khodynka Field in Moscow. The plane was modified for the record flight Moscow-New York.
The M-86 engines (a Soviet version of the French-made engine Gnome-Rhône Mistral Major), originally fitted on the aircraft) were replaced with more advanced M-88. The designers also improved the steering system and made sure that the plain floated in case of emergency landing on water. The plane was kept afloat by an inflatable cylinder, made of rubberized fabric and placed in the fuselage nose section, and by wing integral tanks.
The order of People’s Commissar of Aviation Industry M.M. Kaganovich to “organize the flight from Moscow to New York on the aircraft “Moskva” for Hero of the Soviet Union V.K. Kokkinaki and the squadron leader and navigator M.Kh. Gordienko” was issued on February 13, 1939.
S.V. Ilyushin, chief designer of the factory №39 at the time, was appointed responsible for the overall preparation of the aircraft, calculations and flight tests. K.A. Petrov was the lead flight engineer, V.V. Semenov — the ground engineer during the preparation for the flight.
During a detailed discussion of the flight I.V. Stalin asked S.V. Ilyushin, “Do you guarantee that in case of emergency the plane can land on water?” To which Sergey Vladimirovich replied, “I guarantee that the plane will land in America.”
The flight from Moscow to North America was successfully completed on April 28-29, 1939. To provide radio communication with the plane a group of submarines, led by commander I.A. Kolyshkin, sailed in the northern part of the Atlantic ocean from April 15 till May 5.
One of the production DB-3 bombers was later modified into TsKB-30 “Moskva” for long-range record attempts.
V.K. Kokkinaki recalls:
“The “Moskva” aircraft, designed by Ilyushin, combines great qualities: very high altitude ceiling, high speed, long range and impressive load capacity. In can cover considerable distances in relatively short time.”
On June 27, 1938 the crew, consisting of V.K. Kokkinaki and navigator A.M. Bryadninsky, performed a flight from Moscow to the Far East (7,580 km) in 24 h 36 min.
On July 17, 1938 the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union awarded V.K. Kokkinaki and A.M. Bryadninsky the title “Hero of the Soviet Union” — “For heroic continuous flight from Moscow to Vladivostok and for the display of courage and professional skills.”
Flights of the “Moskva” aircraft made a big impact on the subsequent development of the DB-3 bombers, especially their engines, navigation and radio equipment.