Sikorsky Bolshoi (“Grand”)

In 1912 Igor Sikorsky, chief engineer at the Russo-Baltic Wagon Works in St Petersburg embarked on the design and construction of the world’s first four-engined aircraft. A huge machine by the standards of the time, it was appropriately named the “Bolshoi” (“Grand”) – although sceptics, convinced that it could never fly, dubbed it the “Petersburg Duck”.
Sikorsky proved them wrong on 10 May 1913, when the Grand made the first of many successful flights. Its performance improved further from July when the four engines, originally configured as two baek-to-back tractor-and-pusher pairs, were rearranged in a row along the wing leading edge.
The aircraft’s scale allowed Sikorsky to offer his passengers unprecedented comfort. A saloon was furnished with wicker chairs, a
table, electric lights, curtains, and linoleum on the floor. At the rear were a wardrobe and washroom. During flight, hardy passengers could stoll on an open balcony at the front of the aircraft to enjoy the view, while mechanics clambered out along the lower wing to tend the engines.
The Grand’s brief but brilliant career was ended by a freak accident on 24 September 1913. The aircraft was on the ground when the engine from an aeroplane flying overhead fell off and crashed through its wings. The Grand was never repaired, bul Sikorsky was soon testing the even bigger Il’yn Muromets. His huge biplanes served as bomber aircraft during World War I.

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