Iakov Modestovich Gakkel

Gakkel’, Iakov Modestovich


Born Apr. 30 (May 12), 1874, in Irkutsk; died Dec. 12, 1945, in Leningrad. Soviet scientist and designer in the field of aircraft and diesel locomotive building; Honored Worker in Science and Technology of the RSFSR (1940).

Gakkel’ graduated from the St. Petersburg Institute of Electrical Engineering in 1897. For participation in revolutionary student organizations he was exiled for five years to Siberia, where he directed the construction and later the operation of one of Russia’s first hydroelectric power plants (near the city of Bodaibo, in the Lena placers). Upon returning to St. Petersburg, Gakkel’ worked on the design, construction, and operation of the St. Petersburg streetcar, at the same time teaching a course on electric traction at the Institute of Electrical Engineering (he became a professor there in 1921). He was associated with the Leningrad Institute of Railroad Engineering beginning in 1936.

Between 1909 and 1912, Gakkel’ designed and built a number of original airplanes, including the G-III fuselage biplane with an air-cooled 35-horsepower (hp) engine (1 hp = 0.736 kilowatt); the G-IV single-strut biplane with a 100-hp engine; the G-V, which was the first amphibious seaplane in Russia; the G-VIII biplane, in which the Russian pilot G. V. Alekhnovich set the national altitude record for that time (1,350 m); and the G-XI, the world’s first strut-braced monoplane. Between 1920 and 1921 Gakkel’ designed one of the world’s first powerful and efficient diesel locomotives (about 1,000 hp; built in 1924). Many of Gakkel’s design ideas (in particular the interlinked design of the diesel locomotive) have been further developed in the modern diesel locomotive. Gakkel’ was awarded the Order of the Red Banner of Labor and medals.


“Samolety Ia. M. Gakkelia.” Vestnik vozdushnogo flota, 1952, no. 4, pp. 94-95.
Uchenye i izobretateli zheleznodorozhnogo transporta: Sb. st. Moscow, 1956.