CENTENARY OF THE LEGENDARY ACADEMY
This year, the Orders of Lenin and October Revolution Red Banner Air Force Engineering Academy named after Professor N.E. Zhukovsky celebrates its Centenary. It is a higher military educational institution that was engaged in training and refresher trained of engineers for the Aviation of the USSR and the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.
The Zhukovsky Air Force Academy dates back to 1919, when, on the initiative of Professor Nikolai E. Zhukovsky, the first aviation technical school was founded in Russia with the purpose of comprehensive theoretical and practical training of specialists in airplane-building, motor-building, operation of aircraft and motor-aviation plants. In September 1920, a decision was taken to reorganize the Moscow Aviation Technical School into the Institute of the Red Air Fleet Engineers. The Revolutionary Military Council approved the Institute Regulation on November 23, 1920. To commemorate the 50th Anniversary of N.E. Zhukovsky’s scientific achievements, the Institute was named after him.
In 1922, the Institute was named the Air Fleet Academy named after N.E. Zhukovsky. In March 1923, the Decree of the Revolutionary Military Council announced November 23, 1922, as the official date of the annual holiday of the Academy. That was the starting point of the life and activities of the Academy. However, in 1960, the Directive of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the USSR set November 23, 1920, the day of approval of the Regulation for the Institute of the Red Air Fleet Engineers named after N.E. Zhukovsky as the date of the Academy foundation.
In 1923, a decision was taken to move the Academy into the building of the former Petrovsky Travelling Palace, which was renamed to the Red Aviation Palace. The adjacent territory was assigned to the Academy, and the construction of educational and dwelling buildings of the Academy commenced. In April 1925, it was renamed the Air Force Academy of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army named after Professor N.E. Zhukovsky.
The Petrovsky Travelling Palace was built by the order of Catherine the Great in 1776–1780 upon the project of outstanding architect Matvey Kazakov in a Russian Neo-Gothic style on the access way to Moscow.
Until the early 1930s, the Academy was the first and the only one aviation higher educational institution in the USSR, which ensured training of commanders and engineers for the Air Force aviation, engineers for the aviation industry and civil aviation research institutions. In the 1930s, its students and staff members were directly involved in the heroic deeds of that time:
— participation in the development of stratospheric balloon SSSR-1 and in its record-beating ascent (over 19 km) into the stratosphere as part of the crew (1933);
— rescue of the expedition of the Chelyuskin steamship by pilots, the first Heroes of the Soviet Union, who at various times became graduates of the Academy;
— participation of A. Belyakov, the Head of the Navigational Service Faculty, in the famous Chkalov flight from Moscow to the USA via the North Pole (1937);
— the flag-navigator of the air flight for the deplaning of the I. Papanin’s expedition to the North Pole in 1937 was I. Spirin (since 1938, the Head of the Navigational Faculty);
— M. Raskova, for whom the Academy opened the doors to aviation, participated in a non-stop flight of a female crew from Moscow to the Far East (1938) as a navigator.
Due to the outbreak of the Great Patriotic War, the Academy started evacuation to the city of Sverdlovsk on July 26, 1941, and a week after arrival it resumed the educational process. At the same time, with regard to the demands of the front, the Academy ensured several express graduations of engineers. The Academy returned to Moscow in 1943. In total, almost 2.5 thousand military aviation engineers graduated from the Academy during the war years, not to mention graduates of various refresher training courses. In addition, the Academy scientists provided great assistance to the front with their developments, such as operation improvement of aircraft and weapons in field and winter conditions, demagnetizing the armored hulls of attack aircraft, new high-explosive bombs and cumulative ammunition, methods of increasing the accuracy of bombing, choosing the optimal flight modes and engine operation for extending range. Important investigations were made related to designing jet engines and more advanced aerodynamic aircraft configurations. During the war years, as many as 672 research projects were performed.
In August 1946, the Academy was renamed as the Air Force Engineering Academy named after Professor N.E. Zhukovsky. In the postwar years, the Academy developed activity aimed at training specialists in jet aviation, electronic warfare capabilities and automated monitoring systems. In 1976, the Academy, along with the traditional training of military aviation engineers, started training senior engineering executives for Air Force units, forces and formations.
Among the students and the teaching staff of the Academy there are 11 Twice Heroes of the Soviet Union, 109 Heroes of the Soviet Union and Russia, 29 Heroes of Socialist Labor (of which 1 is a Thrice Hero and 9 are Twice Heroes). The Academy has trained 600 doctors of sciences, more than 3,000 candidates of sciences; 206 students and teachers of the Academy are laureates of the Lenin and State Prizes of the USSR and Russia. Of considerable fame are Designers General of aviation equipment, graduates of the Academy: N.F. Bolkhovitinov, S.V. Ilyushin, A.I. Mikoyan, A.S. Yakovlev, and N. D. Kuznetsov. V.P. Glushko, the famous designer of rocket engines, used to work at the Academy.
Two graduates of the Academy, K.A. Vershinin and P.O. Zhigarev, became 4-star generals of aviation; eight more graduates attained the rank of air marshals. The Academy gave engineering training to many legendary evaluation pilots. Let us name just some them: G.A. Sedov, S.V. Ilyushin, S.A. Mikoyan, A.G. Kochetkov.
Among the famous graduates of the Academy, there are 30 cosmonauts, including the USSR pilot-cosmonauts Yuri Gagarin, German Titov, Valentina Tereshkova, Vladimir Komarov, and Alexei Leonov.
In 1998, during yet another reorganization of the military education, the Petrovsky Palace, which for 75 years had been the main building, the heart and one of the symbols of the Air Force Engineering Academy, was rendered under the charge of the Moscow City Government.
The history of the Air Force Engineering Academy has made a noticeable dent in philately. Thus, a 1941 stamp of the USSR issued for the Professor N.E. Zhukovsky’s 20th death anniversary (see above) features his portrait photograph against the Petrovsky Palace.
The artistic stamped envelope and the postcard with the commemorative stamp issued in 1980 and the artistic stamped envelope produced in 1990, in addition to the building of the Academy, provide the image of the bust of N.E. Zhukovsky (sculptor G.V. Neroda, architect I.A. Frantsuz), installed to the right of the central entrance to the building in 1959. Two years earlier, the bust of K.E. Tsiolkovsky, the founder of astronautics, (sculptor S.D. Merkurov, architect I.A. Frantsuz) had been opened on the left side. The monuments made of red and pink granite and of similar proportions, formed an accomplished sculptural composition in front of the main entrance to the Academy.
BY THIS TOKEN
In the 1970s-80s, philately was a very popular hobby among the teachers and students of the Academy, and the driver in the philately popularization was I. Nikolaeva, the teacher of the Academy. At that time, Irina Nikolaeva stood at the origins of Russian space philately and helped to promote this topic on the global stage. Her own collection comprised unique materials, including letters from designers who developed aviation and space technology, correspondence that had been sent to spaceships and stations. This is not surprising because many of her colleagues and astronauts, her former students, willingly supplemented her collection. Nikolaeva's exhibits devoted to the Soviet space program were highly appraised at international exhibitions.
Worthy of note is an interesting fact of that time: in 1980, on the Nikolaeva’s initiative, special envelopes were issued on the eve of the 60th Anniversary of the Academy. In addition, the philatelists of the Academy manually produced envelopes from letter headed paper! Nowadays, only a few of these envelopes are known, which were sent out by registered mail on the day of the Air Force Engineering Academy Anniversary.
In 2008, a new educational institution was established through reorganization in the form of a merger of the Air Force Engineering Academy named after N.E. Zhukovsky and the Air Force Academy named after Yu.A. Gagarin. The new university was named the Air Force Academy named after Professor N.E. Zhukovsky. However, already in 2012, Military Educational and Scientific Center of the Air Forces Air Force Academy named after Professor N.E. Zhukovsky and Yu.A. Gagarin was formed and dislocated in the city of Voronezh.
The undertaken reorganization resulted in the Military Educational and Scientific Center combining scientific, research and educational resources for training military specialists in aviation maintenance. The new educational institution is intended to take the place of several air-force universities at once: the N.E. Zhukovsky Air Force Engineering Academy, Yu.A. Gagarin Air Force Academy, Voronezh Military Aviation Engineering University, Voronezh Military Institute of Radio Electronics, and several higher Air Force engineer colleges and research centers.
Graduate of the Air Force Engineering Academy