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W-6 Ossoaviachim wiki.jpg
Role Passenger/commercial airship
Manufacturer Soviet airship program
Designer Umberto Nobile
First flight 5 November 1934
Status Destroyed in crash on 6 February 1938
Number built 1

SSSR-V6 OSOAVIAKhIM (Russian: СССР-В6 Осоавиахим) was a semi-rigid airship designed by the Italian engineer and airship designer Umberto Nobile and constructed as a part of the Soviet airship program. The airship was named after the Soviet organisation OSOAVIAKhIM. V6 was the largest airship built in the Soviet Union and one of the most successful. In October 1937, it set a new world record for airship endurance of 130 hours 27 minutes under command of Ivan Pankow, beating the previous record by the German airship Graf Zeppelin.

In February 1938, a Soviet Arctic expedition led by Ivan Papanin became stranded on the drifting ice pack. It was decided to send the V6 on a rescue mission, starting from Moscow with a short intermediate landing in Murmansk.

During the flight, at approximately 19:30 on 6 February 1938, the airship crashed into the hillside near Kandalaksha, some 220 km south of Murmansk. She caught fire and was destroyed. Of the 19 people on board, 13 perished. Their remains were laid to rest at the Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow. In 1972, a memorial was erected at the crash site by local authorities and the citizens of Kandalaksha. There is also a memorial sign in Dolgoprudny, the then Soviet airship base.

As was officially communicated by TASS, the crash was due to poor visibility and insufficient flight altitude. The conclusions of the government commission appointed to investigate the disaster were never made publicly available and remained classified for the decades. Among the circumstances resulted in the disaster there have long been rumored act of sabotage, outdated charts, and human error, but no evidences were ever presented.

The recent research[1] revealed that the airship flew off her route as the crew lost orientation in completely unfamiliar district because of darkness and snowfall. Supposedly, contributing to the disorientation were inefficient use of radio navigation equipment (Telefunken's and Fairchild's RC-3 radio direction finders), lack of general navigational experience, and human fatigue. Barometric altimeters could have accumulated error while the crew was unable to maintain constant visual control of the altitude.

The accident was a severe blow to the Soviet airship program which was eventually terminated in 1940.


Data from[citation needed]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 15
  • Length: 105 m (344 ft 6 in)
  • Diameter: 20 m (65 ft 7 in)
  • Volume: 19,400 m3 (685,000 ft3)
  • Gross weight: 12,000 kg (26,400 lb)
  • Useful lift: 9,300 kg (20,460 lb)
  • Powerplant: 3 × Piston engines, 140 kW (190 hp) each


  • Maximum speed: 93 km/h (58 mph)

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Belokrys, Aleksei. Deviat'sot chasov neba. Neizvestnaia istotriia dirizhablia "SSSR-V6" [Nine Hundred Hours in the Sky. The Unknown History of the Airship "SSSR-V6"]. Moscow, Russia: Paulsen, 2017. ISBN 978-5-98797-174-1 (in Russian).


  • Belokrys, Aleksei. Deviat'sot chasov neba. Neizvestnaia istotriia dirizhablia "SSSR-V6" [Nine Hundred Hours in the Sky. The Unknown History of the Airship "SSSR-V6"]. Moscow, Russia: Paulsen, 2017. ISBN 978-5-98797-174-1 (in Russian).

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 67°02′53″N 31°56′13″E / 67.0480°N 31.9370°E / 67.0480; 31.9370