You are here

Mikulin Oleksandr Oleksandrovych - a prominent designer of aircraft engines

Мікулін Олександр Олександрович

Chief designer of aircraft engines that have raised tens of thousands of airplanes into the sky, the student of KPI in 1912-1914 years, Oleksandr Oleksandrovych Milulin was one of the pioneers and founders of aviation in the USSR.

For his works Oleksandr Oleksandrovych was awarded the title of Hero of Socialist Labor. Four times he became the winner of the State (Stalin) Prize of the USSR in 1941, 1942, 1943, 1946. He was awarded the Order of Friendship of Peoples, the Red Star Medal, "Medal of Honor "and many other medals.

O.O.Mikulin is an Academician of the USSR Academy of Sciences, a Major General aviation engineer.

Oleksandr was a man of many talents. He was good at drawing, knew many European languages, was interested in medicine. As a mechanical engineer he made a significant contribution to solving the problems of health improvement and extension of human life. Mikulin’s original talent is inspirational for people nowadays.

O.O.Mikulin was born on February 2, 1895 in Vladimir, in the family of technical clerisy representatives. His father, also Oleksandr Oleksandrovych Mikulin, worked as a mechanical engineer, and later distinguished himself as a public official. His mother was a sibling of Mykola Egorovych Zhukovsky - "father " of Russian aeronautics. His childhood Oleksandr Mikulin, Jr. spent in the estate of Mykola Egorovych Zhukovsky. In his early age Oleksandr showed a tendency to design, well understood and spoke Russian, German and French.

In 1901 the family moved to Kyiv. When Oleksandr was 6 years old, he began his training in real Charity School, the teaching there was conducted in German.

In life of O.O.Mikulin there were several key moments that defined his engineering and scientific way.

The first of them was his acquaintance during training at school with the German Shcraiberg, the driver and private car mechanic of "Daimler- Benz". This acquaintance contributed to the fact that Oleksandr became interested in the study of automotive engine and even began constructing an independent internal combustion engine in physical Laboratory School. The idea failed, but it was the first design experience.

Another important event was the arrival of Mikulin from the house of Mykola Egorovych Zhukovsky to Kyiv at the end of October, 1908. "Father" of Russian aviation read a lecture on aeronautics and its prospects in KPI. At the end of the report Zhukovsky launched modelplane that was brought by him from Paris, greatly impressing the audience and his own nephew. During this lecture Mikulin met Igor Sikorsky, future famous aircraft designer. At home Oleksandr tried to make a similar model, but he failed. Zhukovsky nephew suggested that the reason was the insufficient spacewing surface. Sasha reconstructed the model and received a favorable outcome. Thus, for the first time his interest in motors design met with an interest in aerodynamics.

In spring, 1909 in Kiev there was the race of aeromodellers. Mikulin and Sikorsky met again at the competitions, and afterwards they became friends. At the competition the Sikorsky model won the first place and Mikulin’s – the second one.

The third important point in Mikulin’s life was acquaintance with famous aviator Sergei Utochkin, who came to Kyiv in spring, 1910 for demonstration of flights. Mikulin and Sikorsky attended the first speech of Utochkin then Mikulin attended every single flight of the aviator. During one flight the magneto stopped working, and Utochkin’s plane engine turned off. But everything ended up well - the plane landed as a glider. To avoid this in the future Mikulin proposed Utochkin to duplicate magneto. He immediately realized this simple but brilliant idea, and thanked Oleksandr. Since then magneto was duplicated almost in all aircraft engines. For Mikulin it was an important moment - his conclusions were useful and have been implemented.

The fourth key moment for Mikulin was entering KPI, the decision which was partly influenced by Igor Sikorsky. In 1912, Oleksandr graduated from a technical school, and faced a question of where to study. Friendship with Sikorsky, who at that time was already a famous aviator, made it possible to understand that KPI (where he studied with Sikorsky from1907 to 1911) - was the perfect place for a person with design skills, offering shops, foundry, forge with a small steam hammer machine, shop of turning, drilling, planing and milling machines. Mikulin was involved in all these things since he started training at the institute, and captured the ideas in a few months. How useful would this experience become for him in future!

Another significant moment for Mikulin was acquaintance with Moscow Professor Mykola Romanovych Bryllinh, a specialist in internal-combustion engines, whom he met during the fair of agricultural machinery in Kiev, in 1913. After getting acquainted with the idea of engine with no carburetor, which at that time was developed by Mikulin, Bryllinh invited him to go to study at the Moscow Imperial school, where he worked.

In spring, 1914 Mikulin successfully passed the exam for the second year of study at KPI and received permission to be transferred to the Moscow Imperial College.

In Moscow student Mikulin was actively involved in the work of Aeronautic circle of his uncle - Professor Mykola Egorovych Zhukovsky. Many members of the group then became well-known scientists and designers - O.O.Arhanhelsky, V.P.Vetchinkin,A.M.Tupolyev, B.M.Yurjev, B.S.Stechkin. Even then among the members of the group Mikulin’s design talent was distinguished. His ideas were not only listened attentively by students, but also by teachers.

Another significant moment in the life of Mikulin was cooperation with B.S. Stechkin over internal combustion engine medium-power - it was the beginning of real development activities in Mikulin’s Motors design.

In December, 1918 on the initiative of Mykola Egorovych Zhukovsky was founded Central Aero-Hydrodynamic Institute - CAHI. At first, in terms of disruption and collapsing of aircraft production, the organization had narrowed practical orientation.

In 1921 there was established the Scientific Research Institute for motor design (SRIM). Work in SRIM under the conducting of M.R. Bryllinh began with the development of domestic automobile, tanks and aircraft engines. Mikulin actively participated in the work. In 1926 O.O.Mikulin became the chief designer of aircraft engines. He turned 31.

Taking into account the prospects of development of domestic aircraft engine builders the SRIM had the important task of development of powerful aircraft engines for modern bombers, attack aircraft and fighter jets. On the basis of the purchased license for the best engine of that time BMW -VI was launched into a series the engine under the designation M-17.

In 1930, Mikulin started to create the engine, which would exceed the power of M- 17. Given a code M - 34 the engine successfully passed state trial and in early 1932 was transferred to series production. Motor M -34 had outstanding for its time specifications and was superior to the best foreign models.

During the period from 1932 to 1938 on the basis of the motor M - 34 were developed various modifications for different purposes. Engine M -34 in different versions was installed on serial aircrafts : bombers, fighters, attack planes. The largest aircraft in the world of that time "Maxim Gorky " was equipped with these motors

In 1934, an airplane RD- 1 with motor M -34 with the crew consisting of M.M. Gromov, A.B. Yumasheva and S.O. Danilin made flight at the route Scholkove - North Pole- San Dzhasynto (USA). They set a new world distance record flying in a straight line without landing. It was a triumph of Pavlo Ossipovych Suhoy – Designer of the aircraft and O.O.Mikulin – Designer of the Engine.

In August, 1936 by order of the Narkomvazhprom the motors of the type of M -34 were given the name after their designer Alexander Mikulin, and they, as well as all subsequent developments, started to be known as AM.

In 1938, the group of O.O. Mikulin developed more powerful engine options under the designation AM- 35 and AM- 35F, and then AM -37 and AM -39.

The beginning of World War II dramatically changed the work of aircraft manufacturers. Now it was necessary only to create the most effective weapons and equipment and supply front as soon as possible. One of these products was aircraft engines of Mikulin AM-38. It was a strategic breakthrough in the domestic Motors design. There were no similar engines in any other country in the world.

At the end of 1941 there was developed a whole family of engines AM- 38.

The main feature of all developments of Mikulin in the future was wide deployment of research and operational activities, the use of generated systems of the latest advances basic and applied research in hydrogaz dynamic fields, mechanics, thermal physics.

As a result of their conduct was publishing of the monograph of O.O. Mikulin "Perspective evaluation of development of airmotor design" , "Directory of airmotor design" and many other works that have become classics for aircraft.

In 1943, this contribution to the scientific and practical aircraft was estimated by the Academy of Sciences of USSR, that chose him as its member without defense.

In the second phase of the war Mikulin started working on increasing the altitude of the engine AM- 38 using turbo chargers. This work of Mikulina initiated in creating effective propulsion for high-altitude aircraft based on low-height engines. In fact, it was a further significant achievement which allowed Mikulin to successfully develop such planes at the end of the war and immediately after the end of strategic acting and altitude bombers.

Creating of the engine AM- 42 in May, 1943 was an important achievement of Mikulin that allowed radical improvement of tactical flight characteristics of Soviet aircraft. Further improvement of AM- 42 led to the creation of engine AM- 43 with direct injection of fuel into the cylinder. It was a new step in airmotor design.

In 1944 O.O.Mikulin was awarded the rank of Major - engineer of aircraft.

In subsequent years, the team of Mikulin moved to creation of powerful turbo Series AM: AM 1, AM 2, AM 3 (the last one for many years successfully worked on TU-104).

In total from 1934 to 1955 under the leadership of O.O. Mikulin were created dozens of types of gas turbine engines, eight of which were put into mass production.

In 1935 - 1955 years Mikulin, despite the huge involvement in design and production work, was teaching at the Moscow Higher Technical School of M.E.Bauman and Air Force Engineering Academy.

In 1955 Mikulin was suspended from work in the aviation industry. He was 60. Upon his retirement, Mikulin remained as active and creative, as he always was. He took up the problems of maintaining health, proposed a number of ideas, some of which were used in sanatorium treatment. When the Ministry of Health a refused to publish Mikulin’s book devoted to medical subjects, under the pretext of his lack of medical education, academic in 76 years entered the medical school and in 81 defended the thesis in medicine on material prepared in his book. Then it was published under the title " Active long life".

The outstanding designer died on May 13,1985, when he was 91 years old.

Mikulin’s original technical solutions are still relevant today and worthy of their depth study.

From scientific readings 04/20/1910 of M.J. Ilchenko, Correspondent Member of the Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Dr.Sc. in engineering, Professor


Електронний кампус

Інформаційні ресурси

Викладачі КПІ

GitHub репозиторій