chapter  1
14 Pages

Introduction

ByRobin Higham

The story of Russian aviation blends a number of themes from both outside and inside the Soviet Union. Aviation has thrived in the Soviet Union because the airplane, like the dynamo, is a visible symbol of the modern age and of the Bolshevik revolution. Aviation found a natural home in Russia even before the Bolshevik revolution placed an emphasis upon technology because of the country’s late industrialization and shortage of capital. In contrast to the investment that would have been required to upgrade the country’s relatively scant rail network, aviation needed little capital. Ever since the days of the medieval Hansa, Germans have acted as a middle-merchant class in agrarian Russia. In 1919 Russia and Germany, united by their common defeat, embarked upon a long and mutually profitable collaboration. During the pre-1941 period, Russia aviation efforts were for the most part internal, largely because the Russians had to stay within their boundaries for both physical and political reasons.