The Beginnings of Russian Air Power, 1907–1922
In mid-August 1910, a group of Russian military officials gathered at Gatchina to observe tests of a new weapon acquired by the War Ministry: an Antoinette biplane. Elsewhere in Europe events moved more rapidly, and patriotic Russians became dissatisfied with their own slow progress. From 1912 to 1914 the Russian air services made rapid strides forward in equipment, technology, and organization. For, in spite of the dreams of some military thinkers and the remarkable achievements of some inventors, Russia’s primitive technology and limited industrial base made the creation of a powerful air fleet impossible. Domestic production of aircraft and engines was primarily confined to foreign designs as Farman biplanes, Nieuports, Moranes, and Spads, and the low level of Russian technology meant the Russian-built product was usually inferior to the original. The year 1909 proved to be significant for the airplane, both in Europe and in Russia.