America’s Part in Soviet Engineering Triumphs (Jul, 1935)

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America’s Part in Soviet Engineering Triumphs

FEW people realize, even today, how important a part America played in the greatest drama in history, the Five Year Plan of Soviet Russia.

This octopus-like rebuilding program, which provided mighty power plants, towering steel mills, and humming factories surpassed in size only by the American plants after which they were patterned, was brought to a highly successful conclusion in 1932. The second Five Year Plan of the U. S. S. R., now half-completed, calls for more factories and more machines, but stresses the production and consumption of Soviet-made goods.

With the establishment of friendly relations between the Soviet and American governments, greater and greater interest is being taken by Soviet engineers in the mass production methods employed by American manufacturers. Many Soviet commissions are being sent to this country to make studies in different industrial fields, and to make preliminary arrangements for the purchase of American-made machinery.

In the great iron and steel-working factories American technical methods are most evident. Largest in Europe are the Gorky and AMO (Moscow) automobile factories. At Gorky alone 140,000 Ford trucks and passenger cars a year can be turned out by American assembly line machinery.

High in the Ural mountains is Magnitogorsk, largest of European steel mills, the supply center for the metal industry. Here four blast furnaces are belching flame and smoke into the heavens day and night, converting a daily quota of 1,000 tons of iron ore into high quality pig iron. At Kuznetz, in Central Siberia, are three huge American-type blast furnaces, half a dozen open hearth furnaces, and other steel-working equipment.

Serving the steel machinery industry is the impressive Moscow ball-bearing plant, capable of producing 24,000,000 steel balls and roller bearings a year, of 100 different types.

Probably the largest caterpillar-type tractor plant in the world is at Cheliabinsk. This single plant is capable of turning out 40,000 tractors a year for Soviet agriculture and industry.

Soviet metal workers point with pride to the largest welded steel bridge in the world, spanning the Avushka river at Stalinsk.

Starting operation this year at Kharkov, the world’s largest turbo-generator works is to produce power generating units of up to 200,000 kw. size, for future hydro-electric projects.

Preliminary work is now under way on the greatest power plant in history, the Lower Volga hydroelectric plant, which is to have four times the output of the world-famous Dnieper River project. Over 10,000,000 acres of the drought-ridden trans-Volga region will be irrigated by use of this power.

Standing out among Soviet hydro-electric achievements is the Dnieper River dam and plant, now known as Dnieproges. Nine American-made turbo-generator units are here rapidly approaching their capacity output of 756,000 h.p., as the waters of the turbulent Dnieper rise to a height of 120 feet behind the largest masonry dam ever built. The power project and inter-connected industrial plants at Dnieproges will eventually involve a total cost of $800,000,000.

The completion of the Dnieper dam, with three 40-foot navigation locks, makes navigable a waterway linking the Black Sea with the Baltic—a project discussed and dreamed of by engineers of the old regime in Russia for centuries.

First in the world as regards the use of airplanes in forestry and agriculture is Soviet Russia. Not satisfied to wait until ground is dry enough in spring for tractor sowing, U. S. S. R. farmers spread seed from planes at ten times the speed of ordinary planting equipment. Almost 500,000 acres of land were sown in this way in 1934.

Airplanes Chase Frosts

Airplanes have been used effectively to spread smoke clouds in fighting early frosts in orchards and gardens. Airplane dusting has cleared almost a million acres already, of both farm and forest land, from insect pests.

On a par with other nations now is the Soviet Union in aviation development work. All-steel, electrically welded planes, tailless craft, autogiros, gliders—countless other types of aircraft have been designed and built at TSAGI in Moscow, and at two other aviation institutes.

Umberto Nobile, former commander of the ill-fated dirigible Italia, is engineering consultant for the Soviet dirigible construction trust. Six experimental non-rigid and semirigid dirigibles have already been built and successfully tested; a 5,000,000 cu. ft. capacity rigid giant of the air, but little smaller than the U. S. Macon, is now being designed.

Moscow Gets Subway Line

The first 7-1/2-mile long line of Soviet Russia’s first subway line is now completed in Moscow. John Morgan, American consultant on this gigantic tunneling project, considers the Moscow subway superior in many respects to any underground railway in the world.

Pioneering in the manufacture of synthetic rubber on a commercial scale, Soviet engineers are now completing, in Armenia, a plant which will convert limestone and coal into a synthetic rubber of low cost and excellent wearing qualities, to be known as “sovpren.”

The recently completed graphite and asbestos manufacturing plants, and the nearly-completed abrasives plant in the Urals, are probably the largest of their kind in the world.

American architects have willingly given of their experience and knowledge to Soviet Russia. Soviet and American designers worked together in planning the Palace of the Soviets in Moscow, to be the largest public building in the world. Actual construction is scheduled to begin this year.

  1. relaxing says: July 12, 20075:18 am

    Of course what party central wasn’t letting out is that most of these projects were spectacular failures, completed at huge cost and without regard to human life. (See Graham’s “The Ghost of the Executed Engineer”.) 100,000’s died building Magnitogorsk, Dnieper River dam, White Sea canal. I wonder were the famines of that time because of, or despite the aerial seed-sowing?

  2. Blurgle says: July 12, 20077:13 am

    relaxing, many of the famines at that time were actually deliberate actions by the Stalinist government and had nothing to do with weather. Stalin meant to break the Ukrainian people from their hatred of collective farming, and murdered (to use the correct word) six million Ukrainians in the attempt. Government apparatchiks appropriated harvests (including the seed crop for the following years) and in many areas deliberately poisoned the soil to make the food grown in the soil inedible. They sabotaged irrigation systems, tore up roads to prevent migration, and watched in glee as millions starved.

    In fact, one of the reasons why the Nazis did as well as they did against the Soviets at the beginning of Operation Barbarossa was that many Ukrainians saw the Nazis as liberators and aided them. This is also one of the reasons why the Ukrainian horrors aren’t well-known to the outside world (news blackouts being the other): after the war, Ukrainians were seen as having collaborated with the Nazis and were vilified. In many parts of Russia in the postwar era, “Ukrainian” was a synonym for “quisling” or “traitor”.

  3. Andrew says: December 13, 20097:44 pm

    Of course, once again the Soviet’s are portrayed as villains and subject of numerous, evil, conspiracy theories, like causing the Holodomor, or killing millions of Poles. Ironically, the American’s are no better and do/ did much the same thing in that Era. Furthermore, the Holodomor was a result of Stalin’s and his administrations incompetance near the beginning of his reign. He was uncertain of food distribution, and his staff feared him, and therefore this caused widespread famine throughout the Soviet Union, in both Russia and Ukraine. A disadvantage of a centrally planned economy, and distribution.

    As regards to Soviet Engineering, it was the result of influences from many countries, like Germany, France, etc. And manifested itself after the fall of Tzarist Russia when people could finally obtain an education, and the Soviet government required a modernization of the State.

  4. Firebrand38 says: December 13, 20098:22 pm

    Andrew: To say that the United States in 1935 was no better than the Soviet Union under Stalin just floored me. I don’t know whether you’re joking, naive or just plain stupid.
    I mean, alright Huey Long was a US Senator but come on!…

  5. jayessell says: December 14, 20091:22 pm

    Supposedly, when Stalin needed an engineer to design a
    canal, rather than hire him he had him arressted on
    trumped-up charges and made him work for free!

    Was there an American president or other official who wondered
    how the Soviets were paying for all the new projects?

    I wonder if that’s the “I have seen the future
    and it works.” that Lincoln Steffens reported on.

    Didn’t that guy convince hundreds of Americans to move to the
    USSR during the depression and they were later sent to the Gulags?

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