More on Flying Machines Press's The Imperial Russian Air Service--Famous Pilots

Robert J. Mills, Jr. (
Mon, 15 Jan 1996 19:04:04 -0500


- This post expands on Jim Maas' earlier post. These are my first
impressions of this new book--I haven't read it in detail--however, if you
have any interest (or even think you might ever be interested in) Russian
World War One aviation, you must have this book.

- This book is a monumental effort and goes a long way for building a solid
foundation for further research on Russia's Imperial air arms. Alan
Durkota led a team of people (duly acknowledged in the Foreward) in piecing
together this history. He and his team must have found this task, on their
best days, formidable, and, on their worst days, impossible. (Having
contributed to history of the South Viet Namese Air Force (Flying
Draffons)I can appreciate the difficulties this book must have entailed.)
Imagine what it's like to piece together the history of an air arm that has
not existed for almost 80 years is never an easy task; it becomes vastly
more difficult when the regime responsible for building that air arm is
violently overthrown, the nation lapses into a lengthy and costly civil war
and with spasms of violent unrest, and the succeeding regime is actively
hostile to any aspect of the history of the previous regime. These
considerations provide a measure for the significance of this book.

- Summary. Authored by: Durkota, Alan, Thomas Darcey and Victor Kulikov.
The Imperial Russian Air Service--Famous Pilots and Aircraft of World War
One. Published by Flying Machines Press, of Mountain View CA and Stratford
CT in late 1995. Illustrations by: Alan Durkota (85 color aircraft
profiles and color section design and layout); Terry Waldron (sketches of
Russian pilots and color illustrations of Russian air services uniforms;
and James Dietz (three paintings: "Cossacks and Scouts" (also on the dust
jacket), "Flowers," and "Yevgraph Nikoliach Kruten"). Includes 40 1/48
and/or 1/72 scale view drawings by Ian Stair and Harry Woodman. Book
cover, design, layout, and typesetting by John W. Herris. Edited by R.D.
Layman. 544 pages. ISBN 0-9637110-2-4. List price $79.95. 600 B&W

- The full title aptly describes this book: it concentrates on the
aviators, their aircraft, and Russian airplane designers and builders.
Alan Durkota notes that there is no existing Russian (or Soviet) history of
any of the World War One Russian air arms. He forthrightly acknowledges
that this work is incomplete and likely to remain so until access to
Russian archives (if any of the Imperial archives remain) permits a more
detailed assessment of their operational history. Much of the source
material is derived from contemporary German, Austro-Hungarian archives,
and access to Russian emigre families. In short, this work is based on
secondary and tertiary sources--which are still limited. The military
historian seeking information on the operational employment and combat
achievements of Russia's three separate air arms will find minimum
information beyond anecdotes relating to the individual exploits of the 41
aviators whose careers are summarized in this book. Despite these
limitations, this book provides a feeling for the scope of Russian air
operations. The book's strength is that it concentrates on what is best
known about Russian air service operations: the famous pilots and their
aircraft. The 600 or so black and white photographs display an amazing
collection of aircraft, markings and people. American readers may be
familiar with some of the individuals profiled: Igor Sikorsky's
extraordinary accomplishments as an airplane designer and Alexander
Seversky, founder of the Seversky

The book has eight sections:

- Section 1: Overview of the Main Branches of Imperial Russian Aviation.
(This short section provides a macro view of the organization and
operations of Russia's major air arms:
-- The Imperial Russian Army Air Service;
-- The Imperial Russian Navy Air Service; and
-- The EVK (Eskadra Vozdushnykh Korablei or Squadron of Flying Ships).)

- Section 2: The Russian Aces. Includes short biographies of 17 Russian
Aces as the aircraft they flew (number of victories indicated in
parenthesis): Pavel d'Argueff (Argeyev) (15); Juri Gilsher (5); Nicholai
Kokorin (5); Alexander Kozakov (20); Yevgraph Kruten (7); Ernst Leman (5);
Ivan Loiko (6); Donat Makeenok (8); Ivan Orlov (5); Alexander Pishvanov
(5); Mikhail Safnor (5); Alexander Serversky (6); Ivan Smirnov (11);
Valdimir Strizhesky (7); Grigory Suk (9); Konstantin Vakulovsky (6); and
Vasili Yanchenko (16).

- Section 3: Aces in Foreign Services. Covers 6 Russian aviators who
achieved "ace" status in other air arms: Louis Coudouret (6); Victor
Fedorov (5); Mauric Gond (5); Georges Lachmann (8); Eduard Pulpe (5); and
Charles Revol-Tissot (5).

- Section 4: Distinguished Russian Pilots. Other Russian aviators who
achieved aerial victories and/or significant combat accomplishments: Ivan
Bagronikov; Jezups Basko; Jaan Mahlapuu; Petr Neterov; Alekei Pankrat'yev;
Marcel Plait; Boris Sergievsky; Alexander Svevshnikov; Olgerts Teteris;
Vyatcheslav Tkachev; Peter Tomson; Victor Utgoff; and six Russian Pioneer
Women Pilots, including the world's first four female combat pilots.

- Section 5: Famous Russian Aircraft Designers.
-- Dimitry Grigorovich
-- Igor Sikorsky

- Section 6: Russian Aircraft Manufacturers
-- The Rossiya B
-- Anatra
-- Dux
-- Lebedev

- Section 7: Colours and Markings

- Section 8: Appendices. Includes five appendices, a Glossary,
Bibliography, and Index of names, as follows:

-- Appendix 1: Lighter-than-Air Aviation

-- Appendix 2: Imperial Russian Awards and Orders (including color
photos of the awards)

-- Appendix 3: Combat Victory Lists of the Aces (Somewhat
mistitled--also includes victories achieved by other distinguished pilots
(see Section 4, above) who did not achieve ace status.)

-- Appendix 4: Aircraft of the Aces (includes 85 aircraft color profiles)

-- Appendix 5: Aircraft Scale Drawings. Cover 40 different aircraft
types drawn to 1/48th scale (unless noted as 1/72) by Ian Stair or Harry
Woodman. Types covered in this section are:

--- Lebed VII, XI, and XII;

--- Anatra D (Anade);

--- Anatra DS (Anasal);

--- Curtiss: Triad, F-Boat (1914), F-Boat (1913)(1/72);

--- FBA Type C (1/72);

--- Deperdussin TT;

--- Grigorivich M-5 (1/72), M-9 (1/72), M-11 with skis; and M-15;

--- Maurice Farman MF.11 (landplane and floatplane) (1/72);

--- Henri Farman F.22 (landplane and floatplane) (1/72);

--- Morane Saulnier: G, H, L, I, N, and P;

--- Nieuport: 6M (type 4), 9, 10 (wheels and skis), 11 & 16 (wheels
and skis); 12, 17 (wheels and skis), 21, and 23;

--- Spad: A.2 & A.4; and 7;

--- Vickers F.B. 19;

--- Voisin LAS (1/72); and,

--- Sikorsky: S.12, S.16, S.20, S.10 Hydroplane (1/72), Grand Baltic
(The Grand) (1/72) and Il'ya Muromets Type V (1/72 foldout).

-- Glosssary

-- Bibliography

-- Index of names

- This book displays the same hallmark production standards of other Flying
Machines Press books: beautifully designed, carefully laid out with large
photographs or illustrations on almost every page, and expertly bound and
crafted. Every aspect of its production and presentation suggests that it
represents a labor of love by everyone concerned with the book from author
to publisher to the fellows in the shipping room. Buy it! You will not
regret it.

- Future Flying Machine Press releases (with no dates) include:

-- French Aircraft of World War One by Dr. James Davilla;

-- German Aircraft of World War One (in several volumes) by Peter M.
Grosz; and

-- Flying Circus by Howard Fisher.

FMP is also considering doing some soft backtitles--like the Aircraft in
Profile and Datafile series. Additionally you can expect to see them
expand out of their WWI niche and into the Second World War aviation in the
next year or so.

Bob Mills

(I have copies of this title as well as all of the other current FMP titles
for sale at a 25 percent discount ($60.00 for this title), plus postage and
packing at cost). Please e-mail me directly if interested.)