The educational project “Personalities of the Russian Community Abroad. 1920-1945”

Dimitri Riabouchinsky

18.08.2020
Dimitri Riabouchinsky

Dimitri Riabouchinsky

(1882 – 1962)

A fluid dynamicist and founder of the Institute of Aerodynamics, the first one in Europe. He was one of the founders and professor at the Russian Higher Technical School in France.

Dimitri was a son of Pavel Riabouchinsky, a manufacturer. In 1901 he graduated from the Moscow Non-Classical Academy for Commercial Sciences and received a golden medal for successful learning.

In 1904 Riabouchinsky founded the Institute of Aerodynamics, the first one in Europe. He involved eminent scientists to take part in aerodynamics and hydrodynamics  works, such as professor N.Zhukovsky; V.Kuznetsov, the well-known hydrologist and initiator of aerological investigations in Russia; S.Nezhdanovsky, an inventor and construction engineer; L.Leybenson, a scientist and hydraulic engineer; academician S.Chaplygin; aircraft designer A.Tupolev.

When the WWI started, the Chief Artillery Department got in charge of the Kuchino Institute. During these years the research work on pneumatic rocket vehicles was conducted there in Kuchino, along with development of the first “recoil-free” cannon that was deployed by all armies since the WWII.

In April 1918 upon request from Riabouchinsky the Institute of Aerodynamics was nationalized (in 1921 it was renamed as the Moscow Institute for Space Physics and later became part of the State Scientific Research Institute of Geophysics). However, in October 1918 the founder of the Institute had to immigrate to Denmark following his short-term arrest by Petrograd Cheka. In 1919 he moved to France.

Since 1919 Riabouchinsky was hired by the French Ministry of Aeronautics. In 1922 he defended his thesis in Sorbonne to become Doctor of Science in Mathematics.

In 1931 Riabouchinsky was given the title of professor at the Higher Russian Technical Institute in Paris where he was one of the founders. Universities of Europe and America invited him to deliver lectures on aerodynamics and hydrodynamics. Also, Riabouchinsky was appointed an assistant to the lab director of the Institute of Fluid Mechanics at the Paris University. In 1935 Riabouchinsky was elected as a corresponding member at the French Academy of Sciences, which was the acknowledgement of his outstanding merits in science. He wrote about 200 research papers during his lifetime.

Interestingly, Riabouchinsky never accepted the French citizenship; he insisted he was Russian and used his Nansen passport of a Russian emigrant until his death.

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