One of the highlights of the immortal was a scene in the hospital ward, when fallen into depression after amputation of the foot regiment Alexey Vorobyov Commissioner Simon gives read an article in a pre-revolutionary journal, narrating about the pilot Valerian Karpovich, who lost in the First World War the foot, but the right to fly with dobivshemsya wood prosthesis. Specifically, his example and has promoted Maresjev turn evil fate.
Whether there was in fact that of the Russian pilot or a fiction of professional creator?
It turns out to be! Only his name was Alexander Prokofiev-Seversky. After the turmoil in 1917, he emigrated from the Russian of, because Stalin Prize winner Boris Polevoy could not directly call his name.
And yet mind-boggling fate of this man deserves a separate book …
The resolution of the monarch
He was born in 1894, when about air flights in Russia only wished. But after fifteen years, a whole galaxy of the first Russian pilots — Utochkin, Nesterov, Efimov, Sikorsky and others — far attacked the fifth ocean, and their names were not on the lips of citizens and newspaper pages.
Became interested in aviation and the father of our hero Nikolai G. Prokofiev, known at the time the operetta artist and performer Gypsy, who spoke under the pseudonym Seversky (alias later become his second name). Began to dream about flying and his sons. The first took to the skies, Sr., Jora. Jr., Alexander, had already been a naval officer in the Baltic Sea, but also dream about flying a hundred percent possession of them. Brother Jora with the permission of his superiors began to give him lessons in control airplane.
Soon they really needed: first came the global — and in February 1915, Alexander became a student of Marine aviation school. In the first day of July, successfully passing the final examination, he obtained a diploma pilot. Flight service began on the seaplane base of the Baltic Fleet, located at the entrance to the Gulf of Riga, on the peninsula of Saaremaa. How annoying would that sounds, it lasted only four day or …
July 6, 1915 aerial scouts reported that in one of the bays found German submarine. The crew of midshipmen Prokofiev-Seversky received puzzle to kill the enemy submarine. But because of the worsening weather could not find a boat, and Alexander vorachivatsya decided to base. Seaplane on the suspension were given in fighting condition two 10-pound bombs.
Beginning fall, pilot instructed the mechanic unscrewed from their detonators. He climbed out on the wing and took up a risky operation. And here or at Alexander shook hand and he jerked the waves rolling in most aircraft mechanic or carelessly touched the fuse, but underneath the flying boat explosion, tearing the car apart.
The blast wave threw midshipman from the cabin into the sea. His partner died on the spot. The crash occurred at the sight of his colleagues at the Alexandra, who were waiting on the shore was returning from a mission crew. Within half an hour, as Prokofiev took on duty cutter. The pilot was alive, but his right leg below the knee was represented by a mangled mess. Doctors Kronstadt Naval hospital, where hastily brought the pilot, nothing to do but to make an amputation. And so they did everything possible to save the young man knee joint.
For 21-year-old midshipman it was a heavy blow. As recalled writer Alex Kuprin, close friend of the family of Prokofiev-Seversky and Alexander came to visit in the hospital, the guy constantly stroked a crippled leg and asked only one the question, "Am I no longer fly?"
But the will and strong character have taken their toll. Slightly Petersburg masters have done for him prosthesis, Alexander immediately began training a stubborn: despite the sometimes sochivshuyusya stump of blood, a lot of walking, and later began to swim. With the coming of winter in Kronstadt squares filled rinks, and Warrant Officer … started skating!
In late winter 1916 Alexander returned to the aircraft. However, the sky was not allowed — led by Inspector acceptance seaplanes built at the plant of the First Russian friendship ballooning in Petrograd. During this period he began to wake Design talent Prokofiev, who sought to make a better fighting properties seaplanes. He worked to strengthen the arms, has developed a mobile system installation machine guns, proposed the use of armored plates to protect the crew. And all this time, did not leave the dream to be back behind the wheel of the aircraft and lift it into the sky.
One day in May, when the party acceptance of new flying boats Commission was delighted skill pilot, flawlessly performed the flight and jewelry has planted a car. But when the pilot left the cockpit, all have seen that the seaplane operated legged Ensign. Admiration of senior officials replaced the fear: invalid without permission, no one with the knowledge, took to the air, risking not only their own unlucky head, and costly equipment!
The officer gave a tribunal which rendered a verdict of Prokofiev's demotion and dismissal from the army. According to the laws as long as serious decision against the officer had to approve sir. The monarch also owned the right to mitigate the sentence. And Nicholas II of this right enjoyed thoroughly. "This act may serve as a striking example of the love of the fatherland, so necessary in wartime. Permission granted and continue to serve in the battle Aviation "- such was the resolution of the ruler, inscribed on the sentence.
Irresistible call of the sky
The war was in full swing, and Prokofiev immersed himself in combat work. Soon after returning to the flights he had to take part in the first air combat itself, during which Alexander was rescued by the commander of the squadron, covering his seaplane to attack enemy aircraft. With all of this Prokofiev himself was again on the verge of death: a bullet, I ask him flying boat, split the prosthesis. The car lost control, fell into a dive. Warrant officer, acting with one foot, miraculously was able to align its own seaplane and … continued the fight. Moreover, he even managed to bring down the 1st of enemies!
Alexander changed the prosthesis, and he again began to rise into the sky, often on the fly combat missions and engage in aerial combat. In the end, flying boats Baltic Fleet as dopekli Germans, that they decided to do away with them at once, having made a massive raid on the airfield, which anticipated the fire of the two forced their way to the sea shore of the destroyer.
On the basis of Russian seaplanes make real hell. Only three breaks in the middle of the pilots managed to pick up their car into the air. One of them was a midshipman Prokofiev-Seversky. But his motor in the sky seaplane damaged by shrapnel, he began to falter. I had to urgently sit down on the shore, on the ground, controlled by the Germans. After landing, Alexander removed from the aircraft gun and the whole day was dragging it on for you until it crossed the front line …
By the end of summer 1917 legless pilot made 60 sorties, writing on his own account downed 13 enemy aircraft, and was one of the first Russian aces! For his exploits, he was awarded the George weapon, the Order of St. ZHoru 4th degree and a lieutenant.
In August 1
917, twenty-three became lieutenant commander Marine Fighter Detachment, and a bit later — the technical adviser at the Admiralty. By this time he was already widely known in our own country and abroad. And the interim government has proposed Prokofiev assistant naval attache at the Russian Embassy in the United States.
In Europe, the war continued to rage, because in America was one way: first by train to Vladivostok and then by boat across the Pacific Ocean. But it was not harmless: along the railways acted as a gang hide behind slogans of revolutionary soldier and sailor and entirely unprincipled deserters. Near Chita train, in which Alexander was driving was stopped by gang of anarchists. Composition looted, and all were in the officers took him into the forest — to be shot.
And once again got the best of Prokofiev happy coincidence of events: in the middle of the anarchists were several former Baltic sailors, and they learned to walk with a limp Lieutenant famous pilot, with whom fate brings them earlier in Kronstadt. The courage and bravery were in honor even among such inveterate scumbag, what were the Siberian anarchists: the pilot not only saved lives, and put in a subsequent train, issuing a mandate to freely follow up to Vladivostok.
Next to America, he got no problems. But a diplomatic service Prokofiev-Seversky did not last long: soon after the Russian Russian separate peace with Germany, Russian embassy in the United States were closed. Before Alexander Nikolayevich was a question of what to do next?
He decided to stay in a foreign country, it is devoting himself to aviation. In 1922, Seversky (under the name of such a Russian officer received a South American citizenship) was able to organize his company, engaged in the development of flying boats. In the 1930s, they were designed amphibians 5EU-3, ATG-8, F-35 and some others. On these seaplane pilots Frank Fuller and Jacqueline Cochran set several global high scores.
In 1938, Seversky Aircraft 2pa design and license their creation were acquired Russian Union. During the second World War in the Soviet Union sent 196 of the P-47 "Thunderbolt", made from drawings by Alexander Nikolaevich and has the highest combat features.
Since the early 1940s until his death, Seversky was a consultant to the U.S. government on the development of aviation and lecturer at the Institute of Aviation, which studied the future commander of the U.S. Air units. In 1946, he was awarded the medal "For merits" — the very highest merit for U.S. civilian officials. At the same time Alexander was a member of 17 scientific and public organizations such as the Society of American Military Engineers, the South American air Legion, Association of pilots, athletes, adventurers club, had the honorary degree of Doctor of Science. And for many years continued to fly the aircraft and the incident at the end of the 50's more than 13 thousand hours!
This man is prodigious destiny passed away in 1974.
In pictures: Alexander Prokofiev-Seversky (left) meets with the 33rd U.S. President Harry Truman, the picture of the First World War, dedicated to the pilots of the Baltic Fleet.
Photo courtesy of the creator.