The Sikorsky Russky Vityaz ("Русский витязь" in Russian, or Russian Knight), also called Le Grand, was the first four-engine aircraft in the world, designed and built by Igor Sikorsky in Russia in the spring of 1913.
Sikorsky conceived the Russky Vityaz in 1911, when no known aircraft could lift more than 600 kilograms. The carrying capacity record belonged to a French pilot Ducis, who had flown 800 meters with a load of 600 kg. On hearing about the ongoing construction of the Russky Vityaz and its capabilities in the early spring of 1913, the experts and the media around the world were predicting its complete failure. However, the first aerial test of the Russky Vityaz on May 10, 1913 was successful. At the time, many people in other parts of the world considered it to be a newspaper hoax, and did not believe it. Observers believed that an aircraft with such dimensions would never leave the ground.
The Russky Vityaz was a four-engine multi-stanchion biplane with different-sized wings. The dual-spar wings had a rectangular form and a depth of 2.5 m. The distance between the wings was 2.5 m, as well. Its fuselage represented a girder with a rectangular section, trimmed with plywood sheets. The aircraft had a cabin with a duplicated steering column, two passenger cabins and a storage room for spare parts. There was also an area in the pilot's cabin equipped with a searchlight and machine gun. The ailerons on the upper wings secured the aircraft’s stability. The Russky Vityaz was equipped with four engines, installed in tandem (it was designed as a two-engine plane).
After the Russky Vityaz's first test flights between May 10 and May 27, 1913, it was established that a passenger could even walk around the cabins without causing any problems to stability. The aircraft left the ground after a 700-meter takeoff run.
Unfortunately, Sikorsky’s aspirations for the Russky Vityaz proved to be short-lived. While parked on the runway, the aircraft was crushed by an engine, which had fallen off the landing one-passenger Morane aircraft. Sikorsky decided not to repair the seriously damaged Russky Vityaz and began working on his next brainchild – the famous Ilya Muromets.