History Сreators

Sever the Sky. Essay on the biography and activities of Alexander Prokofiev-Seversky

The ninth essay from the “Creators” series is dedicated toAlexander Prokofiev-Seversky, an outstanding pilot, aircraft designer, military analyst, one of developers of modern military aviation doctrine. He was born in Tiflis, studied in St. Petersburg, lost his leg on the island of Saaremaa. He built airplanes in America. He was awarded the highest honor in the United States. In the “Creators” project, T-invariant together with RASA (Russian-American Science Association), continues to publish a series of biographical essays about people from the Russian Empire, who have made significant contributions to world science and technology, about those to whom we owe our new reality

Born in Tiflis

Alexander Nikolaevich Prokofiev was born in Tiflis on May 22, 1894. The fact that he was born in Tiflis was rather an accident. The nobles and military members of the Prokofiev family lived in St. Petersburg, although Tiflis was not a stranger to them. Alexander’s father, Nikolai Georgievich Prokofiev (1870-1941), was born in Tiflis. The grandfather of the future pilot and aircraft designer was a colonel, a military engineer, one of the builders of the Georgian Military Highway.

A few years before the birth of Alexander Prokofiev, ( 1888-1953) was born in Tiflis Mikhail Grigorashvili (1888-1953), and two years later – Alexander Kartvelishvili (1896-1974). And all three became aircraft designers. True, they developed their talents already in America. They also had the chance to work together in the company organized by Alexander Prokofiev, Seversky Aircraft Corp. True, at that time they all already had different surnames: Grigorashvili became Gregor, Kartvelishvili – Kartveli, and Prokofiev – Seversky.

Alexander’s surname – Seversky – was beautifully played with by his biographer, American military pilot Walter Boyne: “Sever the Sky” (which can be translated as “tearing the sky.” (“разрывая небо”) See: Boyne, Walter J. “Sever the Sky,” Air Classics 4 (February, 1968)).

But a whole trend in American fighter aviation began, which played a huge role during the Second World War, precisely in Tiflis.

Nikolai Seversky – the star of the Russian café-chantant

The fate of Nikolai Georgievich Prokofiev was predetermined at birth. He was supposed to become a military man, like his father.

Nikolai Seversky. Wikipedia

But things turned out differently. Nikolai Prokofiev sang gypsy romances wonderfully. At the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, these romances were extremely popular in Russia.

Nikolai Prokofiev not only sang well, but also had real acting talent. As a result, he abandoned his military career. But her artistic career was very successful. The French café chantant was gaining popularity in Russia. Nikolai Prokofiev came up with a special type of musical performance, which he called “Gypsy songs in faces.” These were theatrical performances based on gypsy romances. Having started his artistic career, Prokofiev took the pseudonym Seversky. And this pseudonym became much later the “American” surname of his eldest son Alexander.

Nikolai Seversky not only performed romances and played them on stage, he was a director and entrepreneur. Charles Aumont built a theater for the cafe “Buff” in the Aquarium garden. And “Gypsy Songs in Faces” was a huge success at this theater in Moscow.

Recordings of Nikolai Prokofiev’s voice have been preserved and can be listen to. His singing is reminiscent of the first silent films – harsh affectation to the point of cartoonishness, but it sounds really good, and the quality, considering that the recordings are over a hundred years old, is quite acceptable. For example, in the gypsy romance “Tell me why…” (A.M. Davydov, lyrics by L. Esber, recording 1905) all the words are clearly audible.

Nikolai Seversky toured a lot, and his son Alexander was born during such a tour to Tiflis, where Seversky went with his wife Vera.

But the choice of an artistic career was not the last drastic change in the fate of Nikolai Prokofiev-Seversky. He saw an airplane. And he decided that he would fly. In 1911, an airfield was opened in Gatchina, where Nikolai began taking lessons in flying an airplane. And the hobby soon became a profession. Nikolai Seversky bought Farman with his own funds. It was one of the first private jets in Russia.

Nikolai Seversky became an aviation instructor. And after him, his youngest son George rose into the sky. But Alexander’s time to fly has not come yet. He studied in the Marine Corps and studied conscientiously. So I couldn’t spend much time in Gatchina. But the family business delayed him too. In 1914, Alexander Prokofiev graduated from the Naval Corps with the rank of midshipman. But he became not a sailor, but a pilot.

World War I

In 1914, the First World War began. The navy decided to create aerial reconnaissance groups. Alexander Prokofiev entered one of these groups. He graduated from the Sevastopol Military Aviation School of Naval Aviation Pilots. On July 2, 1915, he passed the exam and received the rank of naval pilot. Prokofiev was sent to serve at the Concord seaplane base, located on the Baltic island of Ezel (now Saaremaa, Estonia). But he served there for just a few days: on July 6, 1915, while returning from a combat mission, Prokofiev was blown up by his own bomb and was seriously wounded – his leg was amputated.

The Russian writer Alexander Kuprin spoke about how this explosion occurred in his essay “Sashka and Yashka, who knew the Prokofiev family closely. Of course, this is not documentary evidence, but it looks quite reliable, and the presentation itself is quite realistic (unlike many other descriptions of this event, where Prokofiev looks like a superhero, in Kuprin it is the case and, so to speak, the “design features” of the seaplane that are to blame) .

Kuprin’s story begins with a short introduction about Alexander Prokofiev’s step-sister, Nika. The girl tells the writer the story of her older brother, in which she herself took part as much as possible. But it’s worth paying attention to Kuprin’s words: “…I offer her story in a presentation verified and supported by third-party references.” How verified? Including, in the words of Alexander himself: “Prokofiev told me later…”. So let’s focus on this version.

After an unsuccessful patrol (the crew did not find the German submarine in Leo Bay, which they were going to bombard), Prokofiev’s seaplane returned to its parking lot. Prokofiev’s assistant, Blinov, was responsible for the bombing.

Kuprin writes: “The seaplane approached its parking lot. The Tserel Lighthouse has already opened. The fire of the signal fire, deliberately lit on the shore, increased with every second… With extraordinary dexterity, he managed to lower the seaplane sharply and descend onto the water… And suddenly a disaster happened. One of the bombs exploded

The cause of this explosion can only be judged speculatively. Most likely the following: not yet reaching Leo Bay, Blinov, overcome with impatience, began to unscrew the fuse in one of the bombs and, having unscrewed it, held this bomb in his hands, ready to throw it at the first sign, while the other bomb lay between his feet at the bottom gondolas. When, after a vain search, the seaplane returned home, the mechanic remembered the fuse and began to return it to its original place, holding the bomb with his knees. The bomb was pear-shaped. Apparently it somehow slipped and fell on another bomb. It is remarkable that this second bomb did not explode from detonation. The seaplane was completely damaged. Blinov was literally torn into pieces. The midshipman was saved by some miracle.

Prokofiev later said that at that moment he did not hear an explosion and did not see a pillar of flame. He only felt that some devilish force snatched him out of his seat, threw him into the air and threw him into the sea. He managed to get to the surface with great difficulty… Then he was struck by the fact that he could not feel his left leg with his right leg, no matter how hard he tried to touch it. But soon he accidentally found it with his hand. She surfaced, all mutilated, broken, and dangled almost on the surface, following the movement of her body, rocked by the waves. And at that second he heard the hasty chugging of an approaching boat. It was a moment of intense consciousness and deep joy. It was followed by decline and sleepy torpor.”

The main reason for the explosion in this case can be called the “human factor” and the design flaws of the seaplane: it did not have bomb racks with which it was possible to bomb automatically.

Yashka, a stuffed monkey, was given as a gift from Nika to her wounded brother when he was in the hospital. And Yashka became the pilot’s talisman and accompanied him on flights throughout the war.

Bombing during the First World War. A still from the Walt Disney animated film “Victory Through Air Power – Animated History Of Aviation” (1942). Time 12:52

Prokofiev’s right leg was amputated below the knee. For a twenty-year-old boy who dreamed of heaven, this was a disaster. But he didn’t give up. First he learned to walk on crutches, then on a prosthesis, and then returned to the sky. And he began to fly again. At the request of Rear Admiral A.I. Nepenin, with the personal permission of Nicholas II, Prokofiev was allowed to serve in naval aviation. In the spring of 1916, Prokofiev was enlisted as a naval pilot of the 3rd aviation station of the Aviation Department of the Baltic Fleet Communications Service. He fought heroically and was awarded the Order of St. Stanislaus, 3rd degree with swords and bow and the Arms of St. George. (Sometimes other awards of Prokofiev are listed, but researchers of the pilot’s biography were unable to confirm them.)

Prokofiev-Seversky in the hospital. Newspaper clipping

While Prokofiev was seeking permission to fly, at the beginning of 1916 he began working at the St. Petersburg plant of the 1st Russian Aeronautics Partnership as an observer for the construction and testing of seaplanes. And gradually began to work as a designer. Prokofiev proposed a scheme, developed drawings and technology for converting seaplanes from floats to skis, which allowed fleet aviation to operate in winter. Design talent and willingness to test a flying machine himself made Prokofiev a true creator of aircraft. But this talent of his showed up much later.

Who inspired Maresyev?

In the book by Boris Polevoy, extremely popular in Soviet times, The Story of a Real Man there is such an episode. After the disaster, hero pilot Aleksey Maresyev had both legs amputated. He falls into a deep depression because he realizes that he will no longer be able to fly. But his roommate shows Maresyev a clipping from an old “pre-revolutionary” magazine, which tells the story of a pilot whose leg was amputated, but was able to rise up to the skies again. This story has an inspiring effect on the hero of the story; he learns to fly with prosthetics and returns to military aviation. The hero of the book has a real prototype – this is the military pilot of World War II Aleksey Maresyev.

Philologist Tatyana Latkina researched the possible connection between the biography of Alexei Maresyev and the episode from Polevoy’s book with the biographies of real pilots of the First World War war. She writes: “The impetus for Maresyev’s return to duty could have been the story of the life and return to the sky of the pilots of the First World War: Prokofiev-Seversky, who lost his right leg, but despite this, returned to the sky, or Yuri Gilscher, whose left leg was amputated leg to the knee, but he got used to the prosthesis unusually quickly. The field pilot Valeryan Arkadyevich Karpovich mentioned in B.’s book never existed… In a telephone interview on March 9, 2016, V.A. Maresyev notes that “Alexei Petrovich never remembered the name of the pilot, whose fate inspired him to believe in himself, but in the recovery room next to Maresyev was the battalion commissar Semyon Vorobiev. Alexey Petrovich forever retained in his soul great gratitude to the person who helped him survive , survive the first, most difficult days.”

Judging by the interview with Alexey Maresyev’s son, Viktor, which Latkina gives, no one in particular inspired Alexey Maresyev. But Boris Polevoy could be inspired by two people – Alexander Prokofiev or Yuri Gilsher is a military pilot who lost his leg, but continued to fly. On July 20, 1917, he was killed in an air battle.

Emigration from the Russian Empire

After the October Revolution of 1917, Alexander Prokofiev found himself out of work. The army was gone, aircraft factories were closed. The familiar world was plunging into chaos. And already in February 1918, Alexander and his mother decided to emigrate. They are going to America. Prokofiev had documents for the Russian embassy in Japan and extensive contacts in military and diplomatic circles. Prokofiev and his mother travel through Vladivostok. Some trains are still running. They take a long time. The officer’s chevrons had to be torn apart. In Vladivostok, emigrants board a ship and get to Tokyo.

There Prokofiev meets with the military attaché of the Russian Embassy, ​​Rear Admiral Boris Dudorov. They knew each other well, since Dudorov commanded the naval aviation of the Baltic Fleet. The admiral wrote and handed over to Captain Prokofiev a letter of recommendation for the Russian embassy in Washington.

The transoceanic liner left Tokyo for San Francisco on April 7, 1918. Captain Prokofiev and his mother Vera were on it.

Perhaps the journey from Russia was relatively smooth because Prokofiev left so early. His brother and father remained. They had yet to join the banner of the White movement, and only a few years later they found themselves in Paris.

In Washington, Alexander Prokofiev finally became Seversky. Partly – so as not to torment people with his difficult surname for Americans, partly – to draw a line and start a new life.

Seversky (standing, third from left) among the military attaches of different countries in Washington. 1918 Source. Leonid Antseliovich. Russian wings of America. “Thunderbolts” by Seversky and Kartveli., M. “Yauza-press”, 2015

But first, Alexander became an employee of the Russian embassy in Washington. He did not work there for long: at the end of 1918 the embassy was closed.

Alexander Seversky worked for several companies as a test pilot and consultant. He actively collaborated with Igor Sikorsky and participated in the testing of his aircraft. During one of the air shows, he met General Billy Mitchell, the commander of American air units in France during the First World War. They became friends.

Alexander Seversky and Billy Mitchell (right). 1919 Source. Leonid Antseliovich. Russian wings of America. “Thunderbolts” by Seversky and Kartveli., M. “Yauza-press”, 2015

The general was an active supporter of the creation of the American air force. And he spoke out very sharply against the construction of battleships. He was convinced that if ships were to be built, they should be aircraft carriers. Prokofiev fully shared Mitchell’s point of view. And they started working together.

Bomber sight

While still in Russia, Seversky began to think about creating a sight for bombing. The plane on which he once crashed did not have not only a sight, but even a bomb rack. Throwing bombs with your hands, especially if you throw them at moving targets, for example, ships, is almost hopeless: it is very difficult to hit, unless by accident. If you throw bombs from a holder, it works best if the plane dives at the object: then the inertia of the bomb should coincide with the inertia of the plane, and it will most likely hit the target. But such tactics are dangerous for the plane and the pilot.

It is safest to bomb from a high altitude. But how then to hit the target? This is the problem Seversky was thinking about. It was for this purpose that he developed the bomber sight.

Mitchell really wanted to prove that planes were stronger than ships. And for this, planes must be able to sink ships – even those covered with thick armor. And ships are moving targets and it’s not so easy to hit them. So when Mitchell found out that Seversky was thinking about this, he firstly realized that he had met a like-minded person, and secondly, he immediately decided to help him. And he helped with everything he could, while he could.

Seversky began working on a bomb sight commissioned by the American army. But such a sight is a very complex device. Hitting the target depends on the speed and direction of the aircraft (the pilot himself is responsible for this), on the wind speed and on the point of bombing. This is the bombing point and the bomb sight must calculate it. And give a reset signal.

Seversky developed and patented his bomb sight. The company Sperry Gyroscope undertook to make it. But she needed the help of an inventor. And Seversky became a company employee seconded from the army.

The sight was built. But it was so massive that it did not fit inside the plane. The most complex part was the electromechanical computer, which, receiving information from the pilot, had to calculate the bombing point.

Seversky had to work hard so that he wouldn’t have to rebuild the plane. Tests of the new sight design on a bomber in early July 1922 gave good results. The dummy bombs, dropped from a height of 2500 m, landed no further than 25 meters from the target.

But there was still a lot of work. The scope was still heavy, bulky and expensive. But it was the most accurate among all the proposed solutions. And the army nevertheless began to purchase Seversky bomber sights, albeit in small quantities.

In September 1925, the US Navy’s first helium-filled airship, the USS Shenandoah, crashed during a storm. 14 crew members were killed. Three seaplanes crashed while flying from the West Coast of America to Hawaii. Bill Mitchell issued a statement accusing senior Army and Navy leaders of incompetence and “almost treacherous management of the nation’s defense.”

In October 1925, on the direct orders of President Calvin Coolidge, Mitchell was charged with violating Article 96 of the Military Regulations. The court-martial lasted seven weeks. He suspended Bill Mitchell from active duty for five years without pay. President Coolidge commuted this penalty to “half wages.” Mitchell never returned to service.

Seversky always remained his friend and never abandoned Mitchell’s ideas.


Her name was Evelyn Olliphant. Her mother’s name was also Evelyn – Evelyn Kennedy. In the 1920s, the Kennedy clan was not as famous as it is today, but it was rich. They met at a nightclub in New York. He asked her to dance. And he immediately warned that he wasn’t a very good dancer, that he had a prosthesis, and she might refuse. She didn’t refuse.

The wedding took place on June 23, 1925 at the Methodist Church in Biloxi in the southernmost state of Mississippi on the Gulf Coast. Apparently, this was not a burden for Orthodox Alexander Seversky.

His financial problems were somehow resolved immediately. A new home appeared in New York. In general, one can suspect Seversky of a marriage of convenience. But if so, then the calculation turned out to be correct, it was enough for many, many years to come.

Evelyn became his true companion not only in life, but also in the sky. At first Seversky himself was at the helm, and then Evelyn began to fly herself. She became a famous American pilot and took part in organizing the club of American women pilots “99”. This organization still exists today and consists of female pilots from 35 countries.

Alexander and Evelyn lived together for more than forty years. And it was a good time for both, although difficult.

Evelyn Seversky at the controls of an aircraft built by Alexander Seversky. Leonid Antseliovich. Russian wings of America. “Thunderbolts” by Seversky and Kartveli., M. “Yauza-press”, 2015

In 1927, Alexander Seversky received a certificate of naturalization and became a US citizen. In the same year, he received a pilot certificate of the highest category and could officially fly any aircraft. And in 1928, for his services to the American army, he was awarded the rank of reserve major. Seversky was proud of this title and signed himself “Major Alexander P. de Seversky.” He became an American pilot when he was 33 years old.

Breastplate. Source: Leonid Antseliovich. Russian wings of America. “Thunderbolts” by Seversky and Kartveli., M. “Yauza-press”, 2015

Seversky Aircraft Corporation

In 1931, Alexander Seversky finally began the business he had dreamed of for a long time: building airplanes. For this, Seversky opens the company Seversky Aircraft Corporation. And he invites Alexander Kartveli and Mike Gregor, who have already become famous aircraft designers, to join it. Kartveli becomes the chief designer of the company, and Seversky becomes president. Seversky had a great team, many great ideas, but from the very beginning everything did not go as he planned.

The Great Depression is not the best time for a startup. Seversky was counting on military orders, but even here everything was not too smooth. Since his collaboration with Bill Mitchell, Seversky has not had a good relationship with the fleet. And naval aviation was precisely his strong point – both as a pilot and as an aircraft designer.

The first aircraft that the company developed was the Seversky SEV-3, a three-seat amphibious monoplane.

The Seversky SEV-3 amphibious aircraft as it appears, Wright Field, summer 1934. — US Army Air Corps. Seversky SEV-3. Wikipedia

It was a successful model, but rather not a production aircraft, but a prototype. On September 15, 1935, a SEV-3 powered by a Wright Cyclone engine set an amphibious speed record of 370.8 km/h, which stood for 49 years. The model was perfect for naval aviation, but the admirals did not have a soft spot for Seversky, who never stopped talking about Mitchell’s ideas. The plane had to be specially developed for the ground forces: they needed a regular landing gear, not floats.

The land version of the SEV-3 was used for a time as a trainer aircraft for the US Army Air Corps under the designation BT-8. The military ordered 30 vehicles in 1935, but soon abandoned the SEV-3 in favor of more powerful solutions.

But the design that Seversky and Kartveli developed influenced a long line of aircraft from Seversky (and then its successor, Republic). Ultimately, these ideas led to the creation of one of the main fighters of World War II, the P-47 Thunderbolt. But Kartveli made this heavy fighter without Seversky.

The company made excellent aircraft that set records, constantly improved, but did not enter large series. Seversky Aircraft Corporation was a kind of laboratory where the most daring ideas were tested. But since the navy was not at all interested in its work, and the army was in no hurry to choose the company’s aircraft, debts grew. When today we analyze Seversky’s work in the company, it seems that he still wanted not to make money on sales, but to build the perfect machine. He was a skillful leader. He knew how to look for money, he had extensive connections both among the military and among politicians. But still, he was constantly distracted from sales. He found it more interesting to build airplanes. He could, for example, recall a good car in order to once again rebuild its lines and reduce aerodynamic drag. And all this was useful – and in the end brought a lot of money. But not Seversky.

In 1939, Alexander and Evelyn went to Europe for a long time. Seversky really hoped to conclude large contracts with European armies. Everyone knew that a big war was approaching. And Seversky even succeeded. He signed a contract for the supply of 65 fighters for the Swedish military aviation. But here too everything ended in failure. The contract was not fulfilled, although not through Seversky’s fault. Following the German invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939, the American government placed an embargo on the export of military aircraft. Politicians decided that now America itself needs military aircraft more. And Seversky came under attack.

For him it all ended in a real disaster. In 1939, the company’s board of directors fired him from the post of president, and then removed Seversky from its membership. The company was renamed and became Republic Aviation. Kartveli became its chief designer. He took as a basis the aircraft developed together with Seversky, the Seversky P-35, and built his masterpiece, the P-47 Thunderbolt.

P47 Thunderbolt heavy multirole fighter. Wikipedia

Seversky went to court. But while the proceedings were ongoing, America entered the war, and a golden shower fell on Republic Aviation. The company settled the litigation with a settlement agreement and paid Seversky the amount of the claim. It was already like pellets to an elephant.

Seversky received money, but much more money, he wanted to build airplanes. After 1939 he never succeeded.

“Air force is the path to victory.” Bestselling author and Disney hero

On December 7, 1941, Japanese planes and ships attacked the American naval base at Pearl Harbor, located on the island of Oahu (Hawaii). This is one of the most famous episodes of World War II. The losses of American sailors and pilots were great. But the confusion was even stronger. No one seemed to believe that Japan would risk attacking America. And she not only took a risk, but also achieved major military success. But America was not ready for the attack.

Alexander Seversky, having learned about this attack, probably exclaimed: “But General Mitchell warned! But how many times have I said, America needs its own air forces, and not just aircraft assigned to the navy or army.”

And Seversky writes a book that made him truly famous: “Victory Through Air Power.” The book was published in 1942 and immediately became a bestseller. It went through several editions and its total circulation was about 400 thousand copies.

https://wiki-cdn.lesta.ru/images/a/ab/Victory_Through_Air_Power1 .jpg

This book came at a very good time. She restored hope to America, restored faith in herself and her strength. A book has been written based on the latest materials: the defeat of France (and the role of German aviation in this defeat), the Battle of Britain, the loss of Crete and other examples of air and ground battles. In the book, Seversky sets out his doctrine of the air force.

But no less (probably even greater) interest in the figure of Seversky and his ideas was attracted by the animated film produced by the Walt Disney film studio. It is called almost the same as the book “Victory Through Air Power – Animated History Of Aviation” (1942). But the contents of the book are supplemented by a fairly detailed outline of the history of military aviation, starting with the Wright brothers’ aircraft. But then the film does not stop at today’s bottom, but goes straight to victory over Japan and Germany.

The film is animated, but not all of it. Planes, air battles, bombings, ships, moving maps – all this is drawn. But Seversky himself, who comments on what is happening, is quite alive. If you look closely (and know this in advance), you can even notice how he limps, moving from card to card. But you just have to take a closer look, and Seversky walks on a prosthesis.

The film contains special “Easter eggs,” as they now say, especially for connoisseurs. For example, in one of the frames a pilot with a mustache and a hat appears, and his face is somehow very familiar. Suddenly his hat is torn off… With a high degree of probability, this is a friendly cartoon of Igor Sikorsky, who loved to show off in the pilot’s seat, not in a helmet, but in a hat. In general, he and Seversky had a good relationship, but it seems that such a cartoon was included in the film. On the left is a still from the film (0:14:56), on the right is the famous photograph of Igor Sikorsky.

In the film, Seversky sharply and firmly says that America made a big mistake by refusing to develop a special type of troops – the air force – and shows the public a portrait of General Mitchell. By the time the film was released, the general was no longer alive; he died in 1936, dismissed from the army, rejected, but unforgotten.

And Seversky, relying on Mitchell’s authority, sets out his strategy for creating an American air fleet. He convinces the Americans that the air fleet will not only bring victory in the war, but will also radically reduce losses – both people and equipment.

Towards the end the film becomes more and more like a fantasy. Strategic bombers take off from Alaska (where at that time there is no real airfield) and attack Japan. And in the last shots, a bald eagle (the symbol of America) tears apart an octopus right on the Japanese Islands and rises into the sky.

Seversky is very good in this film. And very convincing.

His book and Disney film played a role in the creation of the American Air Force. In 1945, Alexander Seversky was awarded the United States’ highest civilian honor, the Meritorious Service Medal. President Harry Truman’s message on the occasion of the award said: “Mr. Seversky’s aviation knowledge, determination and energetic propaganda activities were of great assistance in ending the war.”

But the main reward came a year later: in 1946, the US Air Force was created.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki

In the Disney film, Seversky talks a lot not only about airplanes, but also about machine guns, bombs and missiles – weapons of destruction. In particular, Seversky describes the type of heavy rockets that are dropped from an airplane and not just fall under their own weight, but turn on the rocket engine and accelerate to very high speeds. Since this device weighs tens of tons, and its speed is very high, the rocket pierces the soil, goes deep underground and explodes only there, causing a real earthquake and destroying an entire city.

Such a weapon has never been created. But while Seversky was fantasizing about earthquake-causing missiles, bombs of even greater power were already being developed under the leadership of Robert Oppenheimer – this was the Manhattan Project for creating nuclear weapons. (Perhaps Seversky knew about this project, but he does not mention it either in the book or in the film (which is natural, given the strict secrecy of the atomic project).

When American planes dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9, 1945, Seversky joined one of the first commissions that examined the bombing sites.

First of all, he was interested in the destructive power of nuclear bombs. And he came to the conclusion that it was relatively small.

(Atomic bomb hysteria. By Major Alexander P. de Seversky. Author of “Victory Through Air Power,” etc. Reader’s Digest, February 1946, pages 121 to 126. Forum Quote). In his article, which was published in a popular magazine, Seversky writes that the enormous destruction caused by the explosion in Hiroshima, and the smaller, but still serious in Nagasaki, is due to the fact that the nature of the development of these cities and the type of air attack perfectly coincided.

Both bombs were detonated at an altitude of several hundred meters, and the explosions caused a powerful shock wave. And most of the buildings, especially in Hiroshima, were not built at all – they were simply demolished. Seversky writes that if such a bombing had occurred in a city built of concrete (for example, Chicago), the losses would have been incomparably smaller. Seversky compares Hiroshima and Nagasaki with the carpet bombings of German cities in 1944 and 1945. American and British aircraft and comes to the conclusion that a massive bomb attack is much more destructive than an atomic bombing.

But he ends by saying that atomic bombs are likely to become even more powerful. And then the comparison will lose its meaning. And so it happened.

After the victory

After the war, Alexander Seversky writes two more books (de Seversky, Alexander P. (1950) Air Power: Key to Survival, Simon & Schuster, de Seversky, Alexander P. (1961) America: Too Young to Die!, McGraw-Hill ), but they did not achieve success with the first one. Seversky remains an influential military analyst. He will continue to fly airplanes for many years. He becomes a celebrity, the press follows him and the New York Times writes about him.

Seversky became the founder and trustee of the New York Institute of Technology, which acquired an elegant mansion in 1972. Today the mansion is called NYIT de Seversky Mansion. This is a popular place for wedding celebrations. And this is a good memory of the marriage of Alexander and Evelyn. If marriages are not made in heaven, then this marriage took the spouses to heaven, in the most literal sense. They lived together for 42 years. When Evelyn died in 1967, it was a heavy blow for Seversky.

NYIT de Seversky Mansion. Wikipedia

Alexander Seversky died in 1974 at Memorial Hospital in New York, in the city he loved and where he lived most of his life. The pilot and aircraft designer was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx.

In 2020, American military analyst Everett Dolman wrote an article on the creation of the American military space force. The article is called “Victory through Space Power.” The title of the article differs from Seversky’s book in one word: instead of “Air” it is replaced by “Space”. But it’s not just about the name. Dolman analyzes Seversky’s argument not as historical evidence that should be given its due and forgotten, not at all like that. A modern military analyst argues with Seversky in the most lively way and analyzes his ideas.

No, America has not forgotten him.


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