Controversy in Soviet R&D

The Airship Case Study

by Heather Hinton Campbell

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Discusses the controversy over modern dirigible development in the Soviet Union as a means of shedding light on Soviet R&D organization and decisionmaking. All resources for the development and production of aircraft are concentrated in the Ministry of Aviation (MAP), which seems to reject radical changes in technology, particularly from the outside. Dirigible proponents have conducted research in Volunteer Design Bureaus. Proponents and opponents have debated in the press. Opponents argued that dirigibles were outmoded by aircraft, that they were unsafe and infeasible, and that operating cost estimates were incorrect. Proponents have been able to acquire the influence of neither the Scientific-Technical Council of MAP nor a prominent designer. Low-level political support has been insufficient to offset the bureaucratic process. And the ultimate users who felt airships were the solution to their unsatisfied needs have had little influence. Prospects for dirigible construction are therefore unpromising.

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