Is Franz Leppich an adventurer or a genius?

In 1811, the German mechanic Franz Leppich won an audience with the French emperor Napoleon. He proposed to Napoleon the idea of ​​creating an airship, with which it would be possible to raise shells and strike at the enemy from the air.

Alas, Leppich's plan did not cause delight among the ruler of France and the "air conqueror" was refused. But the German did not intend to abandon his plan. He decided to propose his project to the Russian ambassador in Stuttgart, who immediately sent a letter to Alexander I. This time Leppich was more fortunate: soon the German received an invitation to come to Russia.

At the end of May 1812, Leppich arrived in Moscow. His arrival took place in the strictest secrecy, even the documents were given to him under the name of Schmidt.

In the village of Vorontsovka near Moscow, a visiting mechanic was organized workshops with enhanced security. The director of the Moscow branch of the state bank was ordered to immediately issue any money to the Moscow governor FF Rostopchin, who personally supervised the process of creating a formidable weapon for the Russian army.

By the way, Leppich himself was not modest in his inquiries. Already in the first days, he demanded 5 thousand rubles for setting up workshops and 20 thousand for cloth for the ball.

150 employees worked hard to create an unprecedented aircraft. It had to take off with the help of wings, which were powered by specially trained "air rowers". Interestingly, Governor Rostopchin never doubted the success of this experiment for a second and wrote with enthusiasm to Alexander I about the progress of this miracle of technology.

The first tests were carried out at the end of July 1812. The apparatus barely got off the ground, but the failure was explained by the weakness of the rowers and it was decided to recruit new, stronger ones.

Meanwhile, Napoleon's army was already approaching Moscow and it was decided to evacuate the workshop to Nizhny Novgorod. Leppich himself was sent to Oranienbaum near St. Petersburg, where he continued to work until the end of 1813. By that time, even Rostopchin, who openly began calling Leppikh a charlatan, had lost confidence in the success of the event.

In 1813, the inventor was able to lift the aircraft into the air, but it took off only a few meters and it was impossible to control it in the air. By that time, the need for an airship disappeared, work was stopped, and the traces of Franz Leppich himself were lost.

An attempt to equip the Russian army with supernova weapons failed. Either Leppich was too ahead of his time, or he simply pulled off an ingenious scam, it is unknown. But the amount spent on the creation of the "bomber" has survived in history - about 320, 000 rubles. A lot of money!