Saturday, August 18, 2018

1934 Soviet fictitious airships

Scott C57: Putative Soviet airship Lenin.  Attrib: Wiki Commons
The Soviet Union made exceptional use of propaganda in all media, and stamps were no exception.  

Scott C53: Soviet airship Pravda and airship hanger.
The early 1930s were the age of the dirigible, an airship with an aluminum skeleton in which lifting cells filled with hydrogen or, for the United States only, helium, were installed.  

Scott C56: Soviet airship V.I. Lenin.
The expense of building and an operating a dirigible was so great that only the wealthiest nations could afford them, and so they became, briefly, a symbol of a country's economic success and technical achievement.

With this in mind, in 1934, the Soviet Union released a series of five airmail stamps.  Soviet stamp design was often innovative and dramatic, this issue in particular. 

The 20k, Scott C56, showed the side and driving engines of a large airship, apparently the Lenin.  The engines are mounted in "nacelles" with crewmen shown riding in each nacelle to control the engines.  (This was the practice in certain airships.)
Scott C55: Soviet airship Voroshilov

The 15k depicted Voroshilov, named after Stalin's toady, Klimenti Voroshilov, who was soon to prove to be an incompetent general and a war criminal.

These stamps seem to show real airships.  They appear to have been based on photographs.  Look at the 30k at the top of this article.  It actually shows a route map running from Moscow to Kazan, and presumably points east.

Scott 54: Soviet airship.

None of these airships ever existed.  There appears to be no record of any program to build them.  The stamps were designed to trick the Soviet peoples into the belief that their country was economically and technologically capable of building and operating several airships simultaneously.   

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