Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Gotta jet!

To fly higher than all, farther than all, faster than all!
D. Pjatkin, 1954

The poster dates 1954, a year after Stalin’s death. After the victory Stalin did not cancel research and development of new weapons. On the contrary soviet military base was rapidly growing after receiving reparations from Germany. War reparations to Soviet Union were to be USD 10 bln of the total 20 bln, as it was the soviet country, which suffered the major losses. Besides, the allies agreed to this demand at the Potsdam Conference in 1945 partly in exchange to Stalin’s promise not to expand the communist regime on the liberated territories and further. This sum was paid not only in cash but also in machinery, intellectual property and labor of German captives.

In 1944 the Messerschmitt Me 262 “Schwalbe” ("Swallow") became the world's first operational turbojet fighter aircraft. Russians were behind in development of turbojet engines, although the piston aircrafts fought German machines pretty well. The first soviet turbojet prototype “BI-1” took off in 1942, but unfortunately in 1943 upon hitting 800 km/h speed fell into a spin and crashed. Actually, Me 262 suffered from the same aerodynamical problems – it even had a special instruction for pilots prohibiting speeding over the deadly 800 km/h mark.

Nevertheless, the German reparations (documentation along with the people who created it) allowed Russians to fill in the technological gap.

So MiG-9 Fargo and Yak-15 Feather became the soviet first generation turbojet fighter and attack aircraft hitting the skies in 1946 and 1947. The perspectives of the turbojet aviation were bright and ample resources were invested in the development. The propaganda responded correspondingly as you can see on this “Fly High” poster.

The pilot in the foreground is a soviet ace of the WW2, flying on a piston aircraft. The red stars on the fuselage are his kill score. And the jets in the background are a collective image of a modern soviet jet fighter of the fifties.