Not a few so called family “duets” left their mark in the development of science and technology. Monuments are erected in their memory; their portraits are printed on the pages of school textbooks; books are written about them as well as films are shot. This is as it should be: mankind should know the names of great seekers and builders of the truth. Their list is rather long. The Solun Brothers – Saints Cyril and Methodius, which are considered to be educators and religious teachers who devised the own alphabet to the Slavic peoples – are probably the first in this list. A rightful place is occupied by the Brothers Grimm – outstanding German folklorists and philologists, better known to the general public as tales collectors. Non-exhaustive it will be without the “Fathers” of cinematography – French bothers Lumière. Of course, an honorable place is given to the American aircraft designers – the brothers Wright – who were the first to sustain heavier-than-air human flight… However not everyone knows that there was a similar family “group” in the Ukrainian history, in the history of Ukrainian aircraft engineering, to be more exact. Unlike those, mentioned above, it is less famous. This can be explained by the disastrous repressions of the 1930s, which impact our present and prevent us from considering even the significant figures of the Ukrainian past. That is why it is so important to turn the names of these people back in the context of national history, since they did a lot for the development of home aviation (and not only aviation).
So, the Brothers Kasianenko.
The historians of science and technology, which make reference to the family name of Kasianenko from time to time, mention mostly only the names of three of them: Andriy (1886 – 194?), Ivan (1887 - 1942), and Yevgen (1889 - 1938). However, there was another one – Grigoriy (1891 – 193?), who also was enthusiastic about aviation and worked in the sphere of aircraft engineering. Though the brothers came from the rustic family it did not prevent them to take a prominent place among the pioneers of home aviation, and later each of them played a significant role in the formation of whole brunches of Ukrainian economy and education.
Currently, it is not known where the brothers were born. They are often considered to be from Cherkasy, since in this very city they used to return during the student’s vacation and here they tested their first constructions. In fact, they were from the Kyiv region. Some researchers believe that they came from the village Ivankiv (the Pereiaslav district), which was the part of the Poltava government (guberniya) in the 19th century and now it is the Boryspil district (the Kyiv region). According to other sources, they were from the town Ivankiv (now it is a small town and a district centre), which is situated in the north of the Kyiv region. By the way, not far from the district centre Ivankiv there is a tract, which is called Kasianivshchena by the local public. Ethnographers say that Ivan Kasianenko, the father of the future aircraft designers, once owned this very territory. But at the end of 19th century he sold his soils (which were either on the Pereiaslav territory or on the Polissia one) and moved to Cherkasy with his family. The reason for such a decision is not known too. But the family settled not bad on the new place: in any case, the sons could finish Cherkasy grammar school and continue studying in Kyiv: Ivan, Yevgen and Andriy at Kyiv Polytechnic Institute named after Olexander II; Grigoriy – at Kyiv Imperial University of Saint Vladimir.
Study and Hobbies
The interest to aviation united the brothers since school time. This interest was rather active: the boys not only looked for any news about flights, pilots, new constructions and records, but also tried to construct an airplane by themselves. Their contemporaries talked that once Yevgen Kasianenko published in one Kyiv newspaper the announcement as follows: “I am in search for 1,000 rubles for building an airplane of the own construction; the one who lends will receive great benefits. E. Kasianenko”. No matter how naïve such dedication may seem today, the brothers pursued their objective persistently and steadily. And in order to start its implementation, the brothers Andriy, Ivan and Yevgen one after another entered Kyiv Polytechnic Institute: Andriy and Yevgen – Mechanic Department, Ivan – the new Electric Engineering Department. The choice of the higher education institution was not random at all, since it was known that the flying enthusiasts gathered in Kyiv Polytechnic Institute. Since the very beginning they were in favour of opening the first Aeronautics Department in the country. Although they failed to open such a department, a separate Aeronautic Section was created as a part of the Mechanical Circle of KPI at the beginning of 1906. Its first honorary chairman was Stepan Prokopovych Tymoshenko – young but rather famous within the circle of scientists Professor of the Materials’ Resistance Department. However, soon Professor of Mechanics Mykola Borysovych Delone succeeded him in this post (in addition, he was an undisputed head for the entire period of the section existence and later of the circle itself). Viktorin Bobrov, a student of the Department of Mechanics, was chosen to be Vice-chairman of the section (later he became a recognized specialist of aviation, an organizer and the first manager of Kyiv Aircraft Manufacturing Plant; a rector of KPI and a founder of the Department of Aviation; the first Dean of the Faculty of Aircraft Designing MAI and the author of numerous works on the technology of aircraft engineering).
In 1908 the Aeronautic Section gained the status of circle, in which, in turn, four departments were organised. Those were of airplanes, helicopters, ornithopters, and engines. The introductory meeting of the new circle was chaired by Andriy Kasianenko. Moreover, the brothers Kasianenko further played an important role in the work of this group that two of them became heads of departments: Andriy was the Head of the Helicopter Department, Yevgen – the Head of the Airplane one.
Soon new enthusiasts of aviation entered the circle. Their number increased significantly in 1908 after the arrival of Professor M. E. Zhukovskiy to Kyiv. He delivered a lecture about the development and perspectives of aeronautics and aviation in the Merchant’s House. The lecture presented to the Kyivan the achievements of Chanute, the bothers Wright, Santos-Dumont, Farman, and Voisin and was accompanied with “cinematic demonstration”. It aroused great interest in Kyivan that it was decided to repeat it. But because of an illness of Professor Zhukovskiy, Professor Delone was the one who superseded him. The second lecture took place in the Big Lecture Theatre of Physics at KPI. A lot of people were present there. Suffice to say that the trams to the institute were taken by storm and the lecture theatre itself could not even hold a half of those who wanted to be present.
So, very soon the circle had approximately 200 members. At the end of October 1909 the Kyiv Aeronautic Society (KAS) was formed on the basis of the Aeronautic Circle of KPI. The sci-tech and sports committees worked at the KAS. After a while pilot-amateurs and mechanics were taught here on a voluntary basis. Moreover, the society managed to build its own aerodrome on the former outskirts of Kyiv – Kurenivka. It was anticipated that the performance of the KAS would spread on the whole territory of the south of Russian Empire with the exception of Odesa, where there already was a flying club, and Kharkiv, where the department of the 7th Aeronautic Department of the Russian Technical Society was located.
However, the institutional circle did not stop its activity. Every week two lectures were delivered to the members or two their reports were given. The brothers Kasianenko were among the most active reporters.
In the 1909/1910 academic year M. Delone started to give lectures on Fundamentals of Aeronautics, which were not obligatory for the students (today we would call them optional) for free. The success of these lectures was so great that Mykola Borysovych was constantly invited to other higher educational institutions and cities to give at least an overview of his lectures. These lectures were popular in many regions and it was the evidence of people’s interest to flights. They were delivered in Moscow, Orel, Vilnius, Katerynoslav, Kharkiv, Poltava, Berdychiv, Proskuriv, Uman, and Yelisavetgrad. Another direction of the circle was the organisation of the museum with the aviation department and fund raising for the construction of a wind tunnel in Kyiv Polytechnic Institute to enable experimental work in the sphere of aeronautics. Furthermore, the students and their teachers created a library which specilised in aviation. They could take books home. Some editions were translated by the members of the circle and published at the expense of donations. Among these works there was a work “Sail Flying” of a German author Alexander Seier, which was translated by Yevgen Kasianenko.
However, the members were not satisfied only with the theoretical classes. Young and full of energy students were eager not only to study the achievements of others, but also to create something by themselves. And, of course, they wanted to fly! That is why a lot of them took up drafting equipment and tools in order to construct soaring machines, airplanes, and airships. To evaluate their projects and final designs a permanent expert commission at the Aeronautics Circle was created. It included professors and teachers of KPI and the most prepared students. To tell the truth, most of the new aviation constructors were short of funds. That is why soon they started to associate small groups of constructors. Those were groups of constructors and producers, to be more precise, because the authors of the projects turned them into reality be themselves. Each and every member of the circle could find here congenial task well within his powers. Moreover, it was great success for the most of the members to be, at least, involved in the process of the construction, if not to create an airplane be themselves from the very beginning.
It is natural that the brothers Kasianenko undertook to design and construct flying machines. Their family group managed to construct six planes which had relatively good characteristics during the period of 1910 – 1921. Every machine had at that time new ideas. Those were really outstanding designs. The evidence of this can be found in the fact that they were not lost among the projects of their famous colleagues – Fedir Tereshchenko, Dmytro Grygorovych, Igor Sikorsky and others.
The First Constructions
The first plane of the brothers Kasianenko was constructed and tested in August 1910. It was the third designed and constructed plane in Ukraine, which could fly. It is necessary to mention that not all young designers of that time met with such success – not every new construction managed to overcome gravity.
The year 1910 was special for those interested in aviation. In April the famous in the whole Russian Empire bicycle and motor-racer, Sergei Utochkin, who became an aviator, began his air shows on the airplane “Farman” from Kyiv. These first flights above Kyiv were very successful. For two days, on which the shows of Utochkin took place, that is on the 21st and 25th of April, the Siretske Racing Field (that is the racetrack of the Kyiv Engaging Racing Society, which was situated not far from Kyiv Polytechnic Institute) became the major place of interest of all Kyiv citizens regardless of their age, sex, and financial situation.
Only in a month, on the 23rd of May (on the 5th of June by the Gregorian calendar) the first domestic plane took off from the Siretske Racing Field. Professor Alexander Kudashev, an executive of Extraordinary Professor of the Department of Engineering at Kyiv Polytechnic Institute designed, constructed, and tested it.
Two weeks later, on the 3rd of June (on the 16th of June by the Gregorian calendar) there was a successful flight on the Kurenivske Field in Kyiv which lasted for 12 seconds and was made by monoplane BIS-2 constructed by the students Fedir Belinkin, Vasiliy Yordan, and Igor Sikorsky. The sports commissioners of the Kyiv Aeronautic Society were present there. Igor Sikorsky was the pilot.
One more plane of constructors from Kyiv appears in the sky at the end of August! But this time it is not above Kyiv. The brothers Kasianenko designed their first airplane during the summer vacation in Cherkasy. Here their father supported them financially, because he noticed that the hobby of his sons was serious. The plane, biplane as it was designed, was constructed from bamboo, wood and canvas. The engine – French 15-power “Anzani” – was installed behind the pilot in the back of the push system, the altitude control – in front of the pilot, rudders – on the tail. In front of the pilot, below his seat, a skid with a wheel was installed in order to prevent nosing-over.
Long anticipated testing took place on the 31st of August. Since no one of the brothers was specially trained for making flights and they had only some theoretical knowledge about it, the question of who would be the first to take the plane off was solved by random draw. Yevgen was the pilot. The first flight was successful. After a short run the plane took off, and was on the height of 3 meters above the land. The flight lasted 4 seconds. However, during one of the following flights because of lack of experience the pilot put the steering wheel slightly left. Because of this the machine slanted sharply. In order to find a balance, Yevgen had to lend the airplane immediately. The put-down was terrible – the machine was damaged and the pioneer pilot broke his leg. Nevertheless, the main aim was reached: the airplane took off!
The brothers developed the ideas of the first airplane in their next construction – airplane “Kasianenko-1bis”. However, the tail and the airplane empennage were made as those, which “Farman-VI” had, and there was no front altitude control. Ailerons appeared on the upper wing. The plane was tested in Cherkasy in 1911, but it did not demonstrate significant advances in contrast to its prototype model.
“Kasianenko-3” became an implementation of completely new ideas and conceptions. It was a biplane with narrow triangular-section fuselage and “Oerlikon” engine, which due to chain wheel gears drove not one, but two propellers: one – tractor rotor, the other – pusher propeller. But the main peculiarity of the airplane was a wing cellule which gave an opportunity to fly the plane transversely without ailerons and swash. To be more exact, the central part of the cellule with the wingspread of 1.5 meters was fixed and side half-cellules could change the angle of pitch rotating the wings around front longerons.
It is necessary to mention that for the first time the members of the Aeronautic Circle at KPI found out about such a way of using the plane’s space in November 1911. Yevgen Kasianenko delivered a report about the “wings that fly”. Soon together with his brothers he tried to turn this idea into reality. The airplane was constructed in St. Petersburg in 1912 deliberately for a competition, but it crashed while testing on the 28th of October. The damage was too heavy and the brothers decided not to repair it.
“The Wings That Fly”
The idea of flying the plane changing the angle of wing siting relative to the fuselage the brothers bore not a year and tried to turn it into reality in their other constructions. However, only some researchers of the history of aviation know that this idea was connected with the implementation of conception of flying machines, which are heavier than air; prominent pilot and aviation theorist Petro Mykolayovych Nesterov worked on this conception.
The know-how of the man, whose name is given to one of the most spectacular stunt, is rarely mentioned today. And it is unfair. Because if Nestorov had not been a rational researcher and if he had not anticipated his actions in the air, would he be the first in the world make do the loop in 1913? Could he develop the methodology of its making for other pilots? Could he suggest the methods of air fighting, which are used in military aeronautics even today? For certain, the answer will be “no”. Nestorov also had some constructional projects, which, unfortunately, almost no one remembers. They were implemented in Kyiv, where Nestorov (at first he was a lieutenant, and then a captain) served from 1913 until the beginning of WWI.
Nestorov – a person who not only carried out his duty in army, but also did the job he liked – almost immediately after arriving in Kyiv entered the Kyiv Aeronautics Society and was involved in its activities. Here he made acquaintance with the brothers Kasianenko, and it appears that he became friends with Yevgen Kasianenko. Historians of Science and Technology owe Yevgen Kasianenko that technical ideas of Nestorov are extant nowadays. He carefully noted the reports of his prominent friend to the members of Kyiv Aeronautic Society. The most detailed report was the one about the development and perspectives of the Aviation which was delivered on the 12th of April 1914.
One of the projects on which Petro Nestorov had been working for a couple of last years of his life, was the construction of the plane with the steering system which had to provide a durable balancing state while taking off, landing, and different flight operation modes as well as manipulations. It was anticipated that the main working body of the system would be the wings, which could change the angle of pitch with the help of camshaft gears. Actually, it was the idea of “the wings that fly” on which the brothers Kasianenko worked! So, it is obvious that Nestorov and the brothers Kasianenko worked on turning this idea into reality side-by-side, though on different constructions.
For the first time this aircraft was tried by Nesterov at the beginning of 1914 (its construction had been based on his old “Newpour” - 4). However, Nesterov had been working on the theoretical basis of a similar design from the time he actually devoted himself to aviation. Kasianenko brothers, as it was already mentioned, have published this concept and tried to put it into practice in 1911. Beginning from their third vehicle, the brothers successively were building the aircrafts taking into consideration the use of “live wing”. Concurrently, it is worth mentioning, that there were no disputes between Petro Mykolaiyovich Nesterov and Kasianenko brothers as for the priority of this concept. It is also clear from this particular fact: it was Nesterov, who took the fourth vehicle of Kyiv “polytechinical” brothers – a light airplane “Kasianenko №4”, which had been designed for 15-horsepower “Anzan” engine, into the air.
It is worth to consider this small aircraft separately. Firstly, unlike the previous Kasianenko brothers’ constructions, this was a monoplane. Secondly, and this is the most important fact, “Kasianenko №4” was designed as an aviette (baby plane), i.e. it was a superlight sporting airplane, which, however could also be used for educational and other purposes. That is why this aircraft was also known by its second name – “air motorcycle”. It is to be added that, it was the first aviette in national aviation history.
Kasianeko brothers quite frequently discussed and wrote about the convenience of similar low-power and cheap airplanes. The first report on this topic was presented at the “KPI” aeronautical society session by Yevgen Kasianenko on 13th December in 1912. He represented it later on 3d of January in 1913 at the Russian Technical Society session (Kharkiv branch). So the appearance of the “air motorcycle” was quite logical. Moreover, an airplane, which had no horizontal stabilizer, but had a narrow tetrahedral fuselage and two-longeron rectangular wings (the wings were able to change the angle of their fixing), turned out to be surprisingly light-weighted (the weight of the vehicle as such was only 175 kg) and efficiently sophisticated as far as aerodynamical properties are concerned. As it was mentioned above, the airplane was tried by Peter Nesterov on Kyreniv flying field at the beginning of September in 1913. Experts presume that due to the layout and constructional features the vehicle might have possessed quite efficient flying properties. However it could fly (at the longitude no higher than 30 m though), the airplane had a low power supply, which resulted in too long running distance, accompanied by rather low air speed (up to 60 km per hour), that was just enough by calm weather… It should be mentioned, that this airplane had been exhibited in “KPI” museum many years after.
Concurrently, it should be added that, Kasianenko brothers put all their constructions into practice on own account. For this they even sold out their father’s plots in Cherkasy region and became penniless in the long run. Kasianeko brohers were threatened by expelling for late tuition fees and skipping classes. In order to get out of difficulty, the brothers had been performing locksmithing and woodwork at the KPI workshops. The skills, obtained during the creating of their own airplanes, came into handy at it.
The War Times
Nevertheless, it was not only airplanes Kasianenko brother’s had been designing. They also developed and manufactured airscrew (propellers). After the beginning of World War I this practice gained in scope particularly.
After the first months of War the institute’s airplane society almost went out of business. The majority of its members were called up by aviation specialties (by the way, one of Kasianenko brothers - Ivan Kasianenko got to be a chief mechanical engineer at 11th institution detachment, which was headed by Peter Nesterov). However, thanks to financial support provided by the Military-industrial Committee, located in the right wing of the Major (now – the Fisrt) institution building, the KPI workshops were established and started to operate. They were located in the lecture theatres, laboratories, even in the passages and in the partly-redecorated Assembly hall, and also in the yard – near the mechanical workshops. Shot German and Austrian aircrafts were repaired there, and at the same time four airplanes of “Albatros” system with a hundred-horsepower “Mersedes” engine and also the vehicles, which had been designed by the institution enthusiasts, were constructed in these workshops. “Kasianenko brothers” brand airscrews were also manufactured there. These proved to be much better than the French propellers, which had been widely used in Russian constructions before the war in, therefore the military department continued to give more and more orders so as to meet sufficiently the acting army’s needs. Soon the whole South-Western front was supplied by the KPI manufactured airscrews.
It should be stressed, that not only had the brothers thoroughly planned the geometry and construction of their propellers, but they had also put forward the advanced technologies for producing them. As Yevgen Kasianenko has mentioned later in one of his articles, a specific technological equipment had been manufactured: special compressible iron slabs, which were used for assembling and gluing the propellers, furnaces, in which the workpieces were preheated and the glued components were dried, etc; they also developed the manufacturing technological processes and the procedure, according to which the completed parts were dried and assembled. Moreover, in those workshops the propellers were ultimately aligned not on the technological sleeves, but directly on their bushes, which spared the flight squadron’s mechanics from this wearisome labour. Not only all these developments ensured a high quality of propellers, but they also contributed to their cheaper and quicker producing.
The government orders for more and more batches of propellers provided financing, which in turn provided an opportunity to work on a new aircraft. This was a war-time vehicle and, of course, it had been planned as battle plane. A single-seater fighter with wings, assembled according to Kasianenko brothers’ favorite “reviving” scheme, i.e. with a changeable positioning angle, with thrusting one hundred-horsepower “Gnom-Monosipan” engine and three-blade (for the first time in Russia!) airscrew was unusual in every respect. And the first thing, which caught everyone’s eye, was a special aerodynamic arrangement. It was actually a real winged torpedo with a spindle-like streamline fuselage and vertical and horizontal tail surfaces which ensured relative control surface and protected the propeller. This vehicle got, in fact, the nickname “torpedo”. The construction’s legal name was – «“KPI-5” – “Kyiv Polytechnic Institute” – the 5th».
As the designers were planning, not only had the airplane to be high-speed, but also very maneuverable, so as to be resistant to the hostile fire. However, this fighter as such was quite well-armed – there was a machinegun installed at the fuselage’s pike, which enabled a pilot to control the fire from his cockpit with the help of the pass rope thrust.
The designing, components manufacturing and assembling of the airplane were accomplished in 1916 - at the beginning of the 1917. The workers and young engineers were able to focus on it only during the breaks in military orders, that is why the work dragged. Not to mention all those revolutionary events. So Kasianenko brothers tested the vehicle only at the end of June. The testing was held, as usual, at Sirets flying field. Andriy Kasianenko got to be a test pilot. Nevertheless, there was a breakdown at the end of the first flight on 1st of July in 1917 – the plane rapidly crashed into the ground with its lower tail units. This resulted in damaging the tail skid, and consequently – propeller’s blades and the wings. Although, the pilot was unhurt, there had been no further testing. As it may seem, not because some considered this construction a failure, but because of revolution, which by that time had spread throughout the country …
The Whirlpool of Changes
The events of 1917 changed the life of the whole country dramatically. Things, which had been considered as the most important, became minor. Actually, the mere country existed no more. History was rushing forward implacably, taking the debris of the former empire into unknown future and destroying every obstacle on its way. It was not only the country that had gone in pieces; it was also the whole way of life in every respect. Some were making efforts to grab on the debris of the past, the other, who believed in bright tomorrow, found themselves utterly plunged into the whirlpool of the historical events. Some were desperately trying to resist it, some were full of revolution enthusiasm and unconsciously devoted themselves to this movement.
Kasianenko brothers also came under the influence of the revolutionary ardour. However, they didn’t want to wait passively for the changes, but to take an active part in the creation of bright tomorrow. It should be mentioned that, the brothers weren’t novices in politics, Yevgen and and Grigoriy in particular. According to some evidence, Yevgen Kasianenko joined the Ukrainian Social-Democratic Labour Party (it was also known as “the party of esdecs”). Soon all the brothers also joined it.
The history of USDLP (the Ukrainian Social-Democratic Labour Party), which was founded in December 1905, started from the Ukrainian Revolutionary Party, set up on the Ukrainian areas, which had been a part of Russian empire. Nevertheless, the ideological principles of USDLP were a bit different: in the fisrt place, it was an obvious Marxist party, which had been operating though independently from Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party. At the same time the Ukrainian Social-Democratic Labour Party, as well as it’s antecedent, pressed for the Ukraine national autonomy. This party was headed by V.Vinnichenko, S. Petlura, D. Antonovich, M. Porsh and others. However, if the truth to be told, the active operating of USDLP during the first stage of its establishment was suppressed after the 1905-1907 revolution’s defeat, as well as the operating of the other parties. The authorities were determined to fight back the prestige, they had lost during the two previous years. Nevertheless, the members of the party were craving to air their views, and this turned out to be possible owing to operation of the legal social organizations. It was after this very revolution, when the national and commercial societies of different kind became mushrooming in the institutes of higher education throughout the Russian empire. “Ukrainian societies” became quite influential among them. These were located not only in the institutes of higher education on Ukrainian territory, but also far beyond its boundaries.
Such a society had been also actively operating in KPI and it is worth mentioning that it’s work was not restricted to performing authorized orders like familiarizing students with the national history, ethnography and every-day culture life. In fact, it’s members were taking an active part in the political life of institute and city, and, sometimes they were also contributing to the establishment of illegal organizations. “Ukrainian societies” were performing a unifying function, in these societies many representatives of ideologically different organizations could came to agreement on the national grounds. Kasianenko brothers were the most active among them. Moreover, Yevgen Kasianenko even joined the society’s governing body. It was in this very period, by the way, when he published his works in party’s revolutionary press, which soon determined his destiny.
…So Kasianenko brothers met the February revolution in 1917 as a long-expected event, which was to change the state of things in the whole country. Yevgen and Grigoriy from USDLP, which resumed its work, were chosen to Ukrainian Central Rada body. In October 1917 Grigoriy became a member of revolution safety Kray Committee – a revolution democracy emergence body, which was founded by Mala Rada after the collapse of Provisioning Government in order to take on the functions of central government in Ukraine. Soon, however, Yevgen Kasianenko, who was in “Neronovich’s Group” (the role of Kasianeko in it is clear from the fact that this group is sometimes called “Neronovich-Kasianenko Group”) suddenly stood for the agreement with Russian Bolsheviks and the establishment of soviet regulations in Ukraine. Moreover, he even took part into the campaign for dismissing the Central Rada and passing the Ukraine government to the boards of worker’s and soldier’s deputies. On the reveling he went underground for some time. However, he proceeds with his political activity, now as a party journalist. When the soviet UNR government moved to Kyiv. Y. Kasianenko took part into the publishing of the first Ukrainian-language newspaper “UNR Visnyk (Reporter)”. Don’t let this title to bewilder you: in those times to provide a higher propaganda efficiency the Bolsheviks were trying to coincide “national” definitions of soviet UNR and UNR, founded by Central Rada, therefore the titles of their legal publishing editions sounded almost the same – “UNR Visnyk”.
Against this background Kasianenko’s decision to break up with USDLP and join KPU (Ukraine Communist Party) seems logical. Soon he became one of the most prominent workers in “Kyiv Communist” newspaper, later – in newly-founded “Visty (News) of Kyiv Rada worker’s deputies”, “Silska (Rural) Commune” (later retitled as “Bolshevik”). Kasianenko’s publications were particularly valuable for Bolsheviks not only due to their polemical enthusiasm, but also because there were very few people in Bolsheviks’ publishing establishments, who spoke the Ukrainian language. Having taken the nickname “Larik”, Y. Kasianenko positioned himself as a consistent leading Bolshevik’s supporter and an intolerant fighter to their ideological opponents. He was so consistent and intolerant, that the opponents gave him a nickname (A word dropped from a song makes it all wrong!) “An iron head with oak tongue”.
Yevgen Kasianenko was also into publishing: the first edition of KPU (Bolshevik’s) Politburo’s Ukrainian publishing house “Сosmos”, which was founded in February in 1919 – F. Engel’s work “The Principles of Communism” – was translated from Germany by A. Nitka, who also had written the preface to it. This is another Kasianenko’s nickname, who also edited also the Ukrainian translation of V. Lenin’s work “The attitude of communists to the middle peasantry”.
Being a technical expert, Yevgen Kasianenko was ordered for some time to Moscow Committee of War Industry in autumn 1919, but in several months he got back to the political work in Ukraine.
Yevgen Kasianenko elder brother – Ivan – was also an active revolutionary: he was a commissar in the 145th regiment, and joined the Bilshovik Party in 1919.
It is worth mentioning, that brothers’ opinions as far as politics is concerned were rather different in that time. The evidence of this is the following: Andriy Kasianenko’s article; though he never relearned to be a journalist, he didn’t mind publishing his works on most topical issues, which were stirring the society. This article entitled “Blood and Wine” was published in USDP “Worker’s newspaper” when Kyiv government was very unstable. In this work the author shared his impressions as far as Bilshoviks’ occupation of Kyiv is concerned and he also wrote about U. Kotsybinsky’s (who was the armed forces Сommander-in-Chief then) headquarters revision: lots of empty bottles, dirty blood-stained rags, crashed furniture looked rather depressing, and Kasianenko bluntly shared his impression with the audience. What he saw reminded him of a tragic M. Kotsybinsky’s painting “On the debris of Messine”, and he asked a rhetorical question: “Had this world-known artist and poet ever expected, that it would be not an element, but a mob of militaries, who would lead to a mess similar to what he had pictured. And that his son Yurko would be their People’s Secretary?..” Kasianenko answered himself: “Of course, he had not, since the mere thought of it can drive a man crazy…”
Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean that Andrew Kasianenko was an opponent to the social changes, which were seething in Ukraine. On the contrary, he also wanted to contribute himself to the creation of a new country, but to do this not in the politics, which was unfamiliar to him. He wanted to do something as an expert in the technical field. Therefore in February-January 1918 together with his brother Grigoriy he took part in the preparation of extended “Report by Ukrainian aviation experts on the use of aviation during peacetime”, which was addressed to UNR (Central Rada) and in which they elucidated in detail the aviation’s development perspectives and the use of it for social needs in times of peace. It should be added that, among the authors of this extremely interesting paper there was their good acquaintance from KPI Aeronautic Society – it’s former vice-chairman Victorin Bobrov, a head of UNR Air fleet Administration (previously – a head of emperor’s air defense detachment), colonel Victor Pavlenko and others. And what is more, there was also a future well-known soviet aircraft designer, and in those times – a celebrated military pilot with several battle orders – Konstiantin Kalinin, who soon became one of Ivan Kasianenko best friends.
Back again to Alma Mater
In twenties- at the beginning of thirties of 20th century brothers Kasianenko got all the possibilities to develop their intellectual and organizational potential to its fullest, although they gave up the vehicle construction as such. However, even in their new role they managed to find time and opportunities not only to keep up with the trends of aircraft construction of those times, but also to popularize this knowledge among their compatriots to the best of their might and to train national aircraft construction experts. Soon they also contributed to the establishment of Ukrainian air transport service. Nevertheless, they already began to move forward each in their own direction, though their way was common for both.
From the outset, however, Kasianenko brothers got together in their alma-mater for some time. In November 1920 Kyiv high school education commission issued an edict as for Kyiv Polytechnic Institute reorganization and the resumption of a proper educational process there. For this there was an Organization Committee assigned and Yevgen Kasianenko had joined this body. Andrew and Ivan Kasianenko were also extremely active in the development of the renovated institute. Moreover, soon Ivan was appointed a vice-rector of KPI.
The introducing of a new special subject in KPI – aviation – was considered by the brothers as one of the most important issues. What is more, Victorin Bobrov, whom we have already mentioned, (he was appointed a rector of KPI after the organizational process had been finished) and who was at the same time the head of aviation factory, which had been founded in 1920 (now – a public industry Kyiv factory “Aviant”) supported this idea with all his might and heart and pleaded for this initiative in every possible instance. So since autumn 1921 future experts in aviation have been studying in KPI, however not in a separate faculty, but in the mechanical faculty, where the new subject had been introduced. Concurrently the aviation society was in operation again, now it was named Aviation Technical Society (ATS) and apart from its other functions, began to play the role of a Subject Aircraft construction Committee. Moreover, from the very outset it’s work was organized so, that this Society began to function as the aviation faculty, since it also provided the training of students. At the same time, not only the students and experts were visiting extra lections, but they also kept working on the old technology’s repairmen.
The Head of the university managed to recruit the best university lecturers to work with prospective specialists in the sphere of aviation. Kasianenko brothers also found their place among them. The theory of aero planes was read by Andriy Kasianenko, and the practical work was supervised by Ivan Kasianenko and V. Bobrov. It should be mentioned that by 1923 this society numbered 32 students of different years of study.
During that period Kasianenko brothers made their last attempt to construct the airplane of their own design. In 1921 at newly-built Kyiv aircraft factory according to brothers’ project a new airplane was built. It was aimed at close scouting and horse troops tracking. Its specific function determined Aerokobyla (Aerohorse) as the second, humorous, name of the apparatus.
According to constructor’s plan this small aero plane was designed to the requirements of air-cooled engine which has a power of 35 hp and could provide a possibility of its transportation in a special container due to its collapsible wings. However, because of the absence of the engine and materials’ deficiency (the plane was being constructed external to the companies’ driver) the project had not been finished. Especially when the main designer and inspirer of the project – Yevgen Kasianenko – an educated person, who had showed his loyalty to the Bolshevist party, could not be directly engaged in the project shortly after as he was sent in a long-term business trip to work for a trade mission of USSR in German.
The War Time.The Compliance Officers
From 1922 to 1925 Yevgen Kasianenko worked at the commercial consulate of USSR. There he became the head of the foreign mission of the Commissariat of Education of the USSR. In addition, he was the co-founder and the editor of Ukrainian-Soviet foreign missions, initiated by employees under Ukrainian-American publishing house "Space", which was organized with the purpose of publication and distribution of reprinted into Ukrainian Marxist literature among the Ukrainian diaspora. Therefore, those translation skills and experience in printing of political literature that Ye. Kasianenko had already gained were beneficial in that business.
However, he was still inseparable with aviation during that period. The point is that in March 1923 Ukrainian Air Service Corporation (more known as "Ukrpovitroshlyah") was based and assigned with the task of setting up the passenger and cargo air transportation in Ukraine. Since there was no own production of civil aircraft in the Soviet Union, the Board of the Company had taken steps of purchasing such equipment abroad. The first six passenger-mail planes under the name Comet II made by "Dornier" arrived in Ukraine in the autumn of the same year. As an aviation expert Yevgen Kasianenko was directly involved in the purchase of the planes.
After his mission abroad Yevgen Kasianenko did not return to Kyiv, but to the Ukrainian capital of that time – Kharkiv. His new place of work was the editorial office of the popular daily newspaper Visti VUTSVK (The News of All Ukrainian General Executive Committee), where he was appointed as assistant editor. Soon after the tragic death of the chief editor – a famous poet and politician – Vasyliy Ellan-Blakytnyi, Kasianenko was entrusted to head the editorial office.
Despite the fact that Ye.Kasianenko was not a novice in the newspaper-publishing business, it was not just a new job for him, but a new way of life, a way that dictated a fixed schedule of such issues and their numerous supplements like a newspaper Kultura ta Pobyt (Culture and Daily Life) which is known today as Kultura ta Zhyttya (Culture and Life), literary magazine Vsesvit (The Universe), which is still coming out, the satirical magazine Chervonyi Perets (Red Pepper). Moreover, he was not only the chief editor of these publications, but the regular author of them. It is a significant fact that from the beginning of the first year of his editorship of the newspaper attention to the domestic aircraft industry and the development of air transport had increased. But cultural and educational traditions that V. Ellan-Blakytnyi had started, were not renounced in the editorial offices headed by Ye. Kasianenko. So he quickly became an insider among creative minds.
And this surrounding was very interesting indeed: among the contributors of so-called in modern terminology editorial and publishing holding were V.Sosyura, M.Hvylovyi, V.Polishchuk, M.Yohansen, P. Tychyna, M.Kulish, Yu.Smolych, the most popular Ukrainian writer of that time in USSR O.Vyshnya and many others, and O. Dovzhenko worked as an illustrator of Visti (The News). Many authors of the newspaper Visti (The News) and its supplements Ye. Kasianenko’s neighbors, since a few years later, he took up quarters in the Word (Slovo) – famous cooperative house of writers in Kharkiv. It should be added that it took a few years, and 40 of the 68 apartments of the house remained without their owners, like Ye.Kasianenko they had been taken to Stalin's torture chambers ... But by that time one more period of Ukrainianization had come after which Visti (The News) became the most popular Ukrainian edition, and its editor – even the member of the State Commission of Ukrainian Spelling Ordering that went down in history of linguistics as Kharkiv Spelling or Skrypnykivka. By the way, the editorial office of Visti (The News) during the period of commission’s activity had been publishing one more supplement– Ukrainian spelling. Discussion Bulletin...
To mid-20s Ivan Kasianenko worked in Kyiv. After opening at the Agronomy Faculty of the Kyiv Polytechnic Institute a new university – Kyiv Agricultural Institute (now the National Agrarian University) – he became its first rector. A few years before the construction of KAI buildings in Holosyeyevo, he worked under the same roof in KPI.
Of course, a new institution was not started from scratch, in two decades of work within the Kyiv Polytechnic its teachers and staff have gained sufficient experience in training scientists and agronomists, relevant programs were tried and tested, but in the new post-revolutionary conditions and the requirements for a new institution of higher education were new. Now from its graduates more practical abilities and skills of organizational work were required.
But Kasianenko had to start his new rector’s activity not with the upgrade of educational programs and plans, but literally with mundane affairs. The point is that the KPI model scientific and research farm Zatyshya (Calm) which was located not far from Kyiv with its 600 acres of arable land during the revolution passed to farmers and only a piece of land of 30 acres on KPI the estate, three horses and one ox were left in the property of newly founded institute. That is why among the priorities that were set before the newly appointed rector, the creation of the material conditions for training qualified specialists in agriculture was of the most importance. And due to Ivan Kasianenko’s energy and perseverance in a short time KAI with the help of the Heads of Professional Education received an additional 60 acres of adjacent to the KPI territory land and could combine them with machine-institute research station in one household. A little later, the institute also got 430 acres of the territory near Boryspil, and after a while – nationalized Verhovinsky Industrial Complex along with Agricultural School. It was already a solid base both for experimental work and educational and practical purposes.
Along with the rector's worries I.Kasianenko concerned himself with work in ATS. The work he could not forget, even if he wanted to, because in 1924, the sister of his wife Tatiana Illivna married his friend, who was scientific secretary of the Society (and famous aircraft designer in the future) at the time – Konstantin Kalinin. Both families lived in one apartment in the building, situated on the territory of the institute.
The experience and expertise of Ivan Kasianenko had not gone unnoticed, and in the late 20's, he became chairman of the State Ukrainian air service corporation "Ukrpovitroshlyah", which was located in Kharkiv. At the beginning of his administration the discussion flared up about what aircraft – of domestic or foreign production – should serve Ukrainian airways. In fact, the fate of the newly created Kharkiv Aircraft Building Factory "USSR Aircraft Factory of Regional Economic Council" (now it is a world-known Kharkiv State Aircraft Industrial Company) and its chief designer Konstantin Kalinin had to be decided. Despite the fact that at that time three Kalinin’s constructions passed all the tests successfully, and received a number of approvals, and even raves from foreign experts, some of the functionaries of "Ukrpovitroshlyah" opposed the purchase of the Kharkiv machines. Only I.Kasianenko’s intervention put an end to this debate and allowed the talented designer to work and create several more planes, which were widely used on the air routes all over the Soviet Union.
During his work in the KPI I.Kasianenko began to cooperate with Ukrainian Meteorological Service (Ukrmet). In general agricultural meteorology was one of the disciplines that future scientists, agronomists studied, and besides, it dealt with aviation and, therefore, had become another area where Ivan Ivanovich applied his strength and intelligence. During his work in "Ukrpovitroshlyah" this bound had acquired a new quality – civil aviation needed precise and prompt weather forecasts every day thereto it was necessary to create an appropriate own service. After a while Ivan Kasianenko headed Meteorological Service of Ukraine. This happened in 1929 after the merger of Ukrmet and hydrometric service of the People’s Commissariat for Agriculture and the further creation of Hydrometeorological Committee of the USSR (HIMEKOMu) and Hydrometeorological Institute (HIMEINu), the management of which was made from Kharkiv.
By that time the Meteorological Service Network of Ukraine has been sufficiently developed. Hydrometeorological Committee of the USSR (HIMEKOM) included 3 meteorological observatories (in Kyiv, Kharkiv and Odessa), 360 meteorological stations, 1538 pluviometric stations, 13 pilot balloon stations and so on. In Kasianenko’s time the formation of weather bureaus: the Central in Kharkiv, the Southern in Odessa, the Right-Bank in Kyiv. This great economy required skilled personnel. So I.Kasianenko submitted this project to the State Planning Commission and the People's Commissariat of Education of Ukraine in order to create a new institution of meteorological profile. This institute was established by Resolution of the Council of People’s Commissars of the Ukrainian SSR on April 21, 1932 became an educational institution, subordinated to the Union. It was the second establishment after founded in 1930 Moscow institution of such specialization. By the way, such institutions for training specialists in the sphere of hydrometeorology existed nowhere else in the world. After the war, this university was moved to Odessa and now it is called Odessa State University of Ecology.
Unlike his brothers, Andriy Kasianenko stayed uninterruptedly in touch with aircraft. He worked in ATS, taught subjects on aviation cycle at the mechanical department of KPI, took an active part in the activities of the Aviation and Aeronautics Society of Ukraine and Crimea (TAPUK). Then, in Kharkiv he headed the section of air sports in All-Ukrainian Society Council for the defense, aviation and chemical construction, better known for the Russian acronym OSOAVIAHIM. Then he worked as an executive secretary, was one of the organizers of flight schools in Ukraine. After some time he became the head of the equipment department in the Kalinin’s Assembly bureau in Kharkiv, allegedly he was even engaged in developing of aircraft which could have wings with variable area during the flight. Moreover, he was a tireless propagandist of aviation, not only as a member of these societies, but also as an aviator-practitioner and a talented journalist. His articles on a numerous issues of aviation, reviews of the achievements of the foreign aviation companies, statements on the development of light aviation as a major component of the future pilots training regularly appeared in the pages of almost every issue of the aviation publications – in the magazine Aviation and Aeronautics, Aerohem, Air fleet and so on. Note that most of his materials Andriy Kasianenko had been publishing in Ukrainian ("Aэrohem" and "Air fleet" were bilingual).
The Era of the Great Purge
The brother’s Kasianenko stars were extinguished at the end of late thirties. However, the destruction of them began at the beginning of decade.
His last issue of Visti VUTSVK Yevgen Kasianenko signed January 17, 1931. He was doing a political work, then worked as an engineer at the Kharkiv Aircraft Factory (a transfer to a professional job then considered quite "soft" form of punishment for the employees of the party-state machinery, who somehow committed offence to the government), then he worked as a designer at the Moscow Aviachemical Factory. Then, for a while, again return to journalism – he edited the magazine «Sturm Schritt» («A quick step"), that was published in German. For the last year of his life he worked for the Writer’s Union of Ukraine. August 11, 1937 Yevgen Ivanovich was arrested as allegedly one of the “leaders of the anti-Soviet nationalist organization that sought to overthrow the Soviet regime ...” The investigation did not last long, and in a closed court session, he said that was “the victim of a hostile slander”, but the repression machine, in which he was, was working at full speed and close to 1938 he was sentenced by the Tribunal of the Supreme Court and executed by shooting.
According to some evidences, along with his brother was arrested and Grygoryi Kasianenko. Year of his death is unknown.
After being dismissed from the position of the head of the Hydrometeorological Service of Ukraine Ivan Kasianenko worked at the Supreme Council of National Economy and in the central office of the People's Commissariat of Heavy Industry. After his arrest in the spring, 1938 his friend Konstantin Kalinin was one of the few people who have not turned away from his family. However, October 15, 1939 Ivan Kasianenko was also arrested. He received the highest possible term of imprisonment – 25 years, and had never come out from the concentration camp.
As for the fate of Andriy Kasianenko, even for today there is no certain information about his life during the Great Terror. Even the date of his death is different in different sources: some of them states that he passed away in 1942 in Moscow, others – in 1946…
Instead of an Epilogue
... For many years later, in 1987, far across the ocean, the publishing house of the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies (Edmonton city) published the memoirs "Meeting and Farewell" of the famous Ukrainian literary critic and former prisoner of Stalin's camps, who spent most of his life in exile, Grygoryi Kostiuk (the book was reprinted in Ukraine only in 2008 in the publishing house Smoloskyp (Torch)). One of the meetings in the prison, which is forever imprinted in his memory, was the meeting with Grygoryi Kasianenko.
As mentioned H.Kostiuk, “he was tall, handsome, about 50 years old, the typical intellectual. Spoke Ukrainian excellently.” And then – apt characteristic of Ukrainian Bolshevik Romantic, "He is obviously one of those Ukrainian communists who believed that as a separate republic, USSR should also have its own air track, aircraft, design, its own aircraft factories – everything that a properly developed modern state can possess. Obviously, such thoughts in 1930s made his way to Vorkuta." In 1939 G. Kasianenko was transferred to another camp and traces of him were lost in the darkness of GULAG.
And H.Kostiuk had also remembered bitter, extremely candid reflections of Grygoryi Ivanovich about the fate of his brothers Ukrainian of romantic revolutionary change: "... his views about events in Ukraine were too pessimistic. The mass demolition, as he was saying, had begun. Ukraine had been already decapitated and left bleeding ... Could we even assume of this to come up ?! - He obviously thought about those socialists who moved to the Communist Party of Ukraine and strengthened its position during the revolution. – But came up! Our fate is settled. Here our bones will decay ... and no one will remember us.
There was something memorable to me in these words ..."
The government had done a lot to make them come true. However, it was impossible to destroy all the mentions about brothers Andryi, Ivan, Yevgen and Grygoryi Kasianenko in various articles, books, and memoirs of contemporaries – too many good things they left after themselves. Of course, in order to explore their lives more, one needs a lot of effort as the information left after them is too incomplete. But still there is enough information to find a decent place for these names in the pages of the history of our country.