October 14 in Russian history. First scientist on an aerostat. Admiral Ushakov.


(3 October Old Style)

Birthday of Yakov Dmitrievich Zakharov, Russian scientist, chemist and pioneer of aeronautics. In 1785 he entered the Göttingen University. Having returned to Russia, he sent his work, titled "Specimen chemicum de differentia et afffinitafe acidi nitrosi cum aliis corporibus", to the Russian Academy of Sciences and in 1790 he became an adjunkt (assistant professor) of the Academy. In 1798 he was promoted to the academician (full member).

He was interested in the recent developments in aeronautics and, especially, in the usage of hydrogen in balloons. On 31 July 1803 (Old Style) he set an experiment in large scale production of hydrogen, which he later described in his paper "On the decompounding of water in a very large vessel by means of overheated iron". He made enough hydrogen to launch a 35 feet balloon.

In 1804 Yakov Zakharov organized and participated in the first flight on scientific purposes in an aerostat ever. The Academy arranged a contract with a Flemish aeronaut E. Robertson and on 30 June Zakharov flew to 2550 meters. The flight took 3 hours and 45 minutes. 100 puds (1600 kg) of iron raspings were used to produce the hydrogen for the balloon. During the flight, Zakharov measured the temperature, pressure and magnetic field and calculated how they decrease with altitude. He also took two birds to observe their flight on high altitude. Using a speaking trumpet, he measured the time for the sound to reflect from the earth and return to the balloon, calculating the height. To a certain degree, it was the first sonar.


(2 October Old Style)

Fyodor Fyodorovich Ushakov, one of the best Russian admirals ever, died in his village Alekseyevka in Mordovia. His most famous victories were in the battle of Fidonisi, the battle of Tendra, the battle of Cape Kaliakra and the liberation of the Ionian islands.

Here's an article about Ushakov, taken from Voice of Russia website:

Fyodor Ushakov, one of the very best naval commanders Russia ever had, just like Generalissimo Alexander Suvorov was widely touted as “invincible”. Attesting to this is the unheard of before fact where Fyodor Ushakov’s fleet, by twice outnumbered by the Turks, lost a hundred times less men. Without losing a single ship, Ushakov routed the Turkish navy sinking more than 50 enemy ships and restoring Russia’s dominion on the Black Sea.

Fyodor Ushakov was born into a family of country gentlemen in central Russia in 1745. After finishing the naval Cadet Corps in 1766, the gifted young warrant officer was given the plum job of commanding the yacht of Empress Catherine II. The appointment promised brilliant career opportunities for Ushakov at the royal court but he still asked to be sent to the Navy. Shortly after Fyodor Ushakov, already a Captain Second Rank, got an appointment to the Black Sea Fleet where he immediately busied himself with building up the navy and training the naval staff. His arrival coinciding with a cholera epidemic, Ushakov promptly ordered his unit into a special encampment with stringent hygienic controls and thus managed to check the spread of the deadly disease. Fyodor Ushakov always cared much for his men’s physical and moral condition.

Back in those days European and other navies, above all the British, consisted of a motley assemblage of sailors forced into slave laboring on the ships and only very rarely allowed to step ashore. There was a small cadre of women allowed on board to entertain the sailors and tend to the wounded during the war. Forced to live in such inhuman conditions, the sailors often went berserk much to the amusement of their commanders who rationalized that the more furious their crews were the better they would fight. Ushakov flatly disagreed. He made sure no woman was allowed on aboard but arranged for special settlements to be built for his sailors ashore so that the people could live a normal family life. Each time the sailors went out to sea their families received all the help they needed. Ushakov also worked hard to keep his men away from the usual debauchery of the port cities. He tempered his kind attitude by no-nonsense exactingness though. He was even more demanding of his officers all this resulting in sailors readily fulfilling orders and the squadron fighting with clockwork precision.

Back in those days Turkey was ruling supreme on the Black Sea. Ushakov and his squadron became the first to dent the Ottoman domination smashing the Turkish fleet off Fidonisy Island. Other grand victories followed and before long the once formidable Turkish navy all but ceased to exist. Several years later a rash of Napoleonic wars that engulfed Europe in the wake of the French Revolution forced Russian Emperor Pavel I to dispatch Field Marshal Alexander Suvorov to Northern Italy and Admiral Ushakov into the Mediterranean to take on the French who had fortified their positions on the Ionian islands. This time round Turkey and Russia were fighting hand in hand and Ushakov led a joint Russian-Turkish flotilla to engage the French troops who had dug themselves in on the Mediterranean islands. Several artful landing operations later the French were forced to vacate the islands and fall back. In that naval campaign Fyodor Ushakov distinguished himself in the assault on the impregnable fortress on Corfu Island and its subsequent capture in 1799. Getting word of that momentous victory Alexander Suvorov, now a Generalissimo, wished he had fought in that battle even as a midshipman. Shortly after capturing the Corfu Island and the Ionian Islands the Russian squadron commended by Admiral Ushakov drove the French out of Rome and Naples. These victories led to the establishment of the so-called Seven-Island Republic – a Greek Orthodox state and a protectorate of the Russian Emperor Pavel I.

Fyodor Ushakov was a very religious man always ready to help those in need. A bachelor and a Spartan in his everyday needs, he never missed a single church service. Playing flute was his only diversion and he was working hard to instill Christian values in the hearts and souls of his men. The Europeans were quick to appreciate the well-mannered and neatly attired Russian sailors. And also their cold-blooded reserve and unbending perseverance.

Upon his retirement in 1807 Fyodor Ushakov settled down near a monastery where his uncle, a monk, was buried, and spent this ebbing years in daily prayers.

In 2000 Admiral Fyodor Uhakov was canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church in a much deserved acknowledgement of this great warrior and a devout Christian…

wikipedia adds an interesting piece of information:

Distinguishing features of Ushakov's tactics were the using of unified marching and fighting orders, resolute rapprochement with the enemy forcies on a short distance without evolution of a fighting order, a concentration of the basic efforts against flagships of the enemy, reserve allocation («Kaiser-flag squadrons»), a combination of aim artillery fire and maneuver, chasing the enemy up to its full destruction or capture. Giving great value to sea and fire training of staff, Ushakov was the supporter of generalissimo Suvorov's principles of training of sailors and officers. Ushakov's innovations were the one of the first successful development of naval tactics from its "line" to manoeuvring concept.

Manoeuvre used by Ushakov in Battle of Cape Kaliakra (1791) was also successfully used by British vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson in Battle of the Nile (1798) and Battle of Trafalgar (1805.)

Does anyone know if Nelson was really familiar with the tactics of Ushakov?

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