Nikolai Ivanovich Kibalchich. October 19 (31), 1853 – April 3 (15) 1881. Russian revolutionary, narodovolets, inventor, participant of the Alexander II assassination.


Life and Work:

1. They say that Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev regretted that the revolutionary activity had taken two outstanding students from him. One of them was Alexander Ulyanov. And the second one – Nikolai Kibalchich.


2. Indeed, the Great Soviet Encyclopedia describes Kibalchich, a son of a priest from the Chernigov Province, primarily as a narodovolets revolutionary and only then as an inventor.


3. But narodovolets revolutionaries widely used his skills and inventive abilities. It was Nikolai Kibalchich who invented and manufactured throwing projectiles with “explosive jelly,” which put a fatal end to Narodnaya Volya’s long hunt after Alexander II.


4. Nikolai Kibalchich was not present at the Catherine Canal. When the explosion happened, the “chief technician” of the organization was staying at the Narodnaya Volya secret apartment on Telezhnaya Street.


5. He was arrested seventeen days later. Kibalcic did not deny manufacturing the bomb. During the trial, a military expert spoke highly about the bombs designed by Kibalchich.


6. Kibalchich’s revolutionary work is much better researched than his invention activities. By the moment of the fatal explosion that ended not only the monarch’s life, but ultimately Nikolai Ivanovich’s life as well, his experience in Narodnya Volya was quite short – three years.


7. However, before becoming a member, he served three terms in prison: in 1875 Kibalchich, an under-trained railway engineer, who studied at the St. Petersburg Medical and Surgical Academy at the time, was put in the Lukoyanovskaya Prison in Kiev for revolutionary propaganda among the peasants.


8. Actually, the activity loudly labeled “revolutionary propaganda” was quite innocent. The liberal-minded student merely lent his peasant friend a forbidden book. The authorities agreed that the offence was not that grave and sentenced Kibalchich to one month in prison.


9. But Nikolai Ivanovich, who expected a lenient sentence, was forced to serve almost three years in prison. That first prison forged the narodovolets revolutionary.


10. The second prison sentence lasted just over two weeks. On April 15 (Gregorian calendar), 1881, twenty-seven-year-old Nikolai Kibalchich was hanged at the parade ground of the Semyonovsky regiment together with other assassination participants. But during these two weeks, the brilliant Kibalchich managed to write his name in the history of science.


11. It is almost impossible to believe: he developed the original project of a manned jet aircraft. “In his project,” the Great Soviet Encyclopedia reports, “Kibalchich described the powder engine, flight control by changing the engine inclination angle, the programmed burning mode, ensuring the aircraft stability, etc.”


12. Kibalchich accompanied the project he created in an incredibly short time with the words: “If... my idea, after careful discussion by scientists and specialists, is recognized feasible, then I will be happy that I will have provided a huge service to the motherland and humanity.”


13. During Kibalchich’s life and even immediately after his execution, no scientists saw his rocket project. I was deemed untimely: the manuscript was sealed and added to the dossier. It was printed and published under another regime – in 1918. Many Kibalcic’s ideas were confirmed by life itself and the entire subsequent development of space technology.


14. Forty years later, a 16-year-old student of the Odessa construction school came across a thin book by Kibalchich in the library. He started reading and got carried away. The boy’s name was Sergey Korolev.


15. A well-known figure of the Russian and international socialist movement, Lev Deutsch, wrote the following about Kibalcic: “In another country, Kibalchich would undoubtedly have become an outstanding scientist. Is it not highly characteristic that even when the gallows was being erected for him, in his final statement at the trial, he spoke about the drawings and calculations of the aircraft he invented?”