Thursday, October 6, 2011

Airship Memorial

SSSR-V6 OSOAVIAKhIM (Russian: СССР-В6 ОСОАВИАХИМ) was a semi-rigid airship constructed as part of the Soviet airship program, and designed by the Italian engineer and airship designer Umberto Nobile. V6 was one of the largest airships built in the Soviet Union and one of the most successful. In October 1937 it set a new world record for airship endurance of 130 hours 27 minutes under command of Ivan Pankow, beating the previous record by the German airship Graf Zeppelin.
In February 1938, a Soviet Arctic expedition led by Ivan Papanin became stranded on the drifting ice pack. It was decided to send the V6 on a rescue mission, starting from the city of Murmansk. The flight between the airship's base at Moscow, and Murmansk would serve as a test of the behavior of the airship in an Arctic climate.
During the flight, at 16:45 on 5 February 1938, the airship collided with the high ground near Kandalaksha, 280 km south of Murmansk. Of the 19 people on board, 13 perished. The official version of the accident determined that the "pre-revolutionary" chart being used had the wrong altitude marked on it. An unofficial version suggests instead that the crash was jointly due to the old charts, poor visibility, and human error. Supposedly, the commander Nikolai Gudovantsev ordered the airship to gain altitude and rise to 800 metres, but it was too late, and the ship struck the mountain around the 300-metre mark.

The crew of V6 are buried in the Novodevichye Cemetery in Moscow.

Photographed on September 11, 2011

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