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Depending on Users: The Case of Over-Snow Motorized Transport in Russia

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Abstract

This article examines the history of aerosledges – a Russian-invented class of over-snow motorised transport vehicles. It looks at the use of existing industrial capacities in the automotive and aviation industry to create motorised sliding vehicles to generate mobility over vast Russian snow landscapes. This resulted in a series of novel designs of aerosledges and the adoption of principles from aviation and automobility as well as components produced in large quantities for these industries. Aerosledges are used in conditions and locales where little ordinary servicing and maintenance are available. This placed much demand on the users of motorised sliders to be not only drivers and navigators in remote or military terrains but equally on-site mechanics and repairmen. The article argues that Russian motorised sliding transport would not have prospered if it was not for the “user infrastructuring” of diagnostic and repair skills. Therefore, it looks at the aggregated input of the aerosledge sector of technology towards developing technological literacy and the diagnostic and repair skills necessary to keep the technology working in severe environmental conditions. The article investigates the bricolage way of building in these vehicles as a deliberate design strategy that in turn shapes user infrastructure. The article illustrates the historical narrative with selected examples of aerosledge design and concludes with practical lessons for the still relevant challenge of developing good vehicles for the diverse and harsh conditions of Russian roadlessness. * The uploaded file is the uncorrected proofs. For citation please refer to the final version at http://www.icohtec.org/icon/
tacit challenges of mobility and human-technology interaction, areas with naturally
severe conditions proved to be a fertile ground for harvesting insights into
complementary user inventiveness.
This article is based on a long-term interest in how design strategies contribute
to user inventiveness. It explores early twentieth-century Russia, a time and place of
political, economic, and social upheavals, as well as creativity outbursts among
inventors and engineers.With a focus on the particular sector of over-snow sliding
technology, this exploration is centred around a little-known type of transport
vehicle: aerosledges (aerosani in Russian). Aerosledges are close relatives of
snowmobiles and snow scooters, but have a fundamentally different running
principle: while a track-driven snowmobile gains its motive force from contact to
snow, an aerosledge is propelled forward by air. These light over-snow machines
appeared as a testing area for the aviation industry and, for about half of a century,
served as the only motorised solution for mobility in remote winter terrains.
The article contributes to the history of technology by showing the other side
of the phenomenon of “lonely ideas” defined by Graham as “clever technical solutions
that never become commercialised and mass-produced.”Aerosledges were
developed by both professional engineers and amateurs under the severe economic
and social circumstances of Tsarist and Soviet Russia. Rather than dismissing these
machines as “lonely ideas,” it is useful to consider how they influenced the users’
capacity to build and maintain needed technological literacy and diagnostic and
repair skills necessary to keep the technology working in severe environmental
conditions. Crucial here is seeing the bricolage way of building these vehicles as a
design strategy that augmented user efforts at building and maintaining material
infrastructure and associated knowledge and practical action through the use of
widely-available, standardized, mass-production parts as well as through exercising
widely available mechanic skills needed in dealing with machines. Thus, from
commercially (and sometimes functionally) unsuccessful and short-lived products,
aerosledges turned into DIY-stimuli. They came to embody principles of machinery
construction and known hacks for keeping vehicles going.
The article is structured as follows: after outlining the data and methods
employed, it describes the historical and geographical context of the invention and
further development of aerosledges. It then gives several examples of traditional
designs of human- and animal-powered sledges before investigating selected models
of innovative, motorised systems. It gives particular emphasis to the form-giving
approach of bricolage and the “scaffolding elements” of “user infrastructuring” – the
ICON, VOLUME 25, NO 2 (2020) 77
Woodcock, “The Opportunity for Design Led Transport Futures.”
Schwanen, “Geographies of Transport I.”
Usenyuk, Hyysalo, and Whalen, “Proximal Design.”
Graham, Science in Russia and the Soviet Union; Graham, Lonely Ideas.
Graham, Lonely Ideas, x.
ICON: Journal of the International Committee for the History of Technology , No  (): -
RESEARCH ARTICLE
DEPENDING ON USERS:
The Case of Over-Snow Motorized
Transport in Russia
Svetlana Usenyuk-Kravchuk, Nikita Klyusov,
Sampsa Hyysalo, Viktor Klimenko
Abstract: This article examines the history of aerosledges – a Russian-invented class of
over-snow motorised transport vehicles. It looks at the use of existing industrial capacities
in the automotive and aviation industry to create motorised sliding vehicles to generate
mobility over vast Russian snow landscapes. This resulted in a series of novel designs of
aerosledges and the adoption of principles from aviation and automobility as well as
components produced in large quantities for these industries. Aerosledges are used in
conditions and locales where little ordinary servicing and maintenance are available. This
placed much demand on the users of motorised sliders to be not only drivers and navigators
in remote or military terrains but equally on-site mechanics and repairmen.
The article argues that Russian motorised sliding transport would not have prospered
if it was not for the “user infrastructuring” of diagnostic and repair skills. Therefore, it
looks at the aggregated input of the aerosledge sector of technology towards developing
technological literacy and the diagnostic and repair skills necessary to keep the technology
working in severe environmental conditions. The article investigates the bricolage way of
building in these vehicles as a deliberate design strategy that in turn shapes user
infrastructure. The article illustrates the historical narrative with selected examples of
aerosledge design and concludes with practical lessons for the still relevant challenge of
developing good vehicles for the diverse and harsh conditions of Russian roadlessness.
Introduction
Transport is a truly difficult problem at the heart of some of today’s most significant
societal grand challenges. With society’s growing demand for environmental
protection and safety of technology use, the transport sector is in a greater need of
researchers and practitioners re-engagement than ever before. In addition to
automotive design improvements, better match of technology to the user and the
environment of use has received intense attention. For an in-depth exploration of
the Soviet era.Particular attention has been given to studying aerosledges that
survived to this day as museum exhibits: the NKL- combat aerosled at the
Museum of Military Equipment of the Ural Mining and Metallurgical Company
(Verkhnyaya Pyshma, Sverdlovsk Region); the Sever- postal aerosledge at the
Central Air Force Museum (Monino, Moscow Region); and the Ka- postal
aerosledge at the State Military Technical Museum (Chernogolovka, Moscow
Region). Archival and museum materials have been analysed and processed digitally
to obtain images of specimen vehicles using D modelling.
The evolutionary portrait: from muscle-propelled to motorised sledges
Traditional sledges
Historically, Russia – even its most developed European part – did not have hard-
paved roads until the early nineteenth-century, and so travelling options depended
to a great extent on the season and the environment. Up to  per cent of the
country’s area has always been naturally harsh and hard-to-reach. In this bare land,
survival has required the ability to move about in a wide area covered with snow for
approximately nine months of the year. For local inhabitants, however, winter was a
good and productive time despite the challenging conditions: it was traditionally the
season for transporting goods and making long trips on the network of natural snow
and ice roads. The climate and terrain together formed the basis of a “snow-centric”
transportation system: the snow cover made it possible to get anywhere with drag
sledges, or sleighs pulled by reindeer or horses (fig. ), even with a heavy load.
By the beginning of the twentieth-century, humanity developed technologies
for travelling in practically all environments – on the ground and water and even in
the air. Nevertheless, those technological advancements did not affect the modes for
travelling on snow: locals relied on the same “good old sledge” drawn by “living
motors” horses, reindeer or dogs. In the geographical and climatic context of Russia,
where the traditional sledge has been by far the most popular vehicle for more than
a thousand years, the scope for applying technological advancement to the sector
of winter transport was obvious. The antecedent conditions for the invention of
aerosledges included: () the countrywide lack of built roads; () the abundant and
long-lasting snow-cover; () the time- and nature-proved principle of sliding used
in numerous sledge designs from different regions of the country; and, () available
engineering expertise for developing complex technology. Indeed, while having
resources and expertise to develop advanced transport technology, Russian engineers
ICON, VOLUME 25, NO 2 (2020) 79
active process of establishing a combination material, knowledge and practical skills
needed to render technology reliable and usable at user sites even in disconnect from
its designers and manufacturers.Lastly, it outlines today’s situation in the sector of
aerosledge technology. This leads to a discussion of the implications of the design
strategy resting on user infrastructure and the limitations of the study and further
research directions.
Data and methods
The data on the history and variations of traditional sliding vehicles originated and
used in the snow-covered terrains of the Russian Far North came from ethnographic
studies conducted at the Peter the Great Museum of Ethnography (Kunstkamera)
and the Institute of Ethnography named after N. N. Miklouho-Maclay, USSR
Academy of Sciences. Most of this literature available primarily in Russian
represents field observations and detailed descriptions of existing museum exhibits.
The article complements anthropological and ethnographic sources with first-hand
data taken from field diaries, drawings and photos about skis and reindeer sledges
obtained in several field trips to Western Siberia, Yamal, and Northern and Polar
Urals in the period from the s to s.
The main body of information on aerosledges their construction and user
practices of making and maintaining – has been compiled from various descriptions
published by engineering professionals and aerosledge enthusiasts in popular
periodicals, technical books, tutorials and assembly manuals.For immersion into
the social context of and R&D on aerosledges the world of engineers and
inventors – the article draws on analytical reports produced by inventors as well as
memoirs and biographies of eminent engineers,a review of outstanding Russian
inventions, and a selection of unimplemented Arctic development projects from
78 RES EARC H ARTI CLE Usenyuk-Kravchuk, Klyusov, Hyysalo, Klimenko
On the concept of infrastructuring see Karasti and Blomberg, “Studying Infrastructuring
Ethnographically”; Pollock and Williams, “E-Infrastructures”; Bødker, Dindler, and
Iversen, “Tying Knots.” On variations on how users handle both design, use and
infrastructure building and maintenance see Usenyuk, Hyysalo, and Whalen, “Proximal
Design.”
See, e.g. Levin and Potapov, Historical and Ethnographic Atlas of Siberia.
Dmitriev and Beliaev, Spravochnaya Kniga Avtodorovtsa [Reference Book of an
Avtodor Member]; Kuzin and Sonkin, Aerosani i ikh ustroystvo [Aerosledges and their
design]; Shpanov, Sovetskiye snegokhody [Soviet snowmobiles]; Yuvenaliev, Aerosani
[Aerosledges].
 Kuzmina, Konstruktor vertoletov [Designer of helicopters]; Hunt, ‘Heelicopter’; Saukke,
Neizvestnyy Tupolev [Unknown Tupolev].
 Skorenko, Izobreteno v Rossii [Invented in Russia].
 Filin, Yemelina, and Savinov, Arktika za gran’yu fantastiki [The Arctic beyond fiction].
 Vasiliev, “Russkiye sukhoputnyye kommunikatsii i skol’zyashchiy transport X–nachala
XX vekov” [Russian land communications and sliding transport of the X - early XX
centuries], .
Sergei Nezhdanovsky. Although described by contemporaries as “a sledge with a
propeller for travelling on snow,” the aerosledge was not yet a vehicle. Instead, it
was a setup for testing airscrews that also demonstrated the basic aero-sliding
principle: a rectangular frame on which an engine with a wooden propeller was
mounted. The entire structure rested on two skis (fig. ).
Sergei Nezhdanovsky’s invention set the ground for an entirely new technology:
the motorised over-snow sliding transport. The aerosledge originally belongs to the
aircraft class of vehicles, but in contrast to the “parent industry,” its design readily
lent itself to low-cost improvement, modification, and adjustment depending on
locality and use.
At first, aerosledges were called “snowmobiles,” though today, the construction
of the earliest aerosledges does not fit into the contemporary understanding of this
term. A simple structure composed of a frame, engine, fuel tank and propeller
combined with inventors’ enthusiasm opened up the possibility of high-speed travel
across vast snowy spaces. This inspired further developments by the best aviation
engineers of the time: Igor Sikorsky, Andrey Tupolev, Nikolai Kamov. Aerosledges
ICON, VOLUME 25, NO 2 (2020) 81
of the early twentieth-century did not have a proper infrastructure of land roads to
use their products nor repair workshops to quickly and efficiently maintain them.
In this vein, two environments, i.e. the air and the snow, rebalanced the equation of
human, nature and technology in the history of transport in Russia and, eventually,
yielded innovative solutions to the countrywide problem of roadlessness.
Aerosledge: A wingless aircraft
A qualitative leap in sledge design occurred at the beginning of the twentieth-century:
muscle-powered technology became motorised, and the so-called aerosledge (Russian:
aerosani) was invented. The prerequisite for the invention was a breakthrough in
aviation, which required an experimental base for the further development of flying
machines. Such a base needed to provide for the ground testing of engines, propellers
and other parts. The first aerosledge was designed and constructed in  by a
colleague of Nikolai Joukowsky, “the father of Russian aviation,” an engineer named
80 RES EARC H ARTI CLE Usenyuk-Kravchuk, Klyusov, Hyysalo, Klimenko
Figure 1. Examples of traditional sledges. Left: reindeer-drawn; right: horse-drawn.
(Photos from the team’s field materials and open sources. Compilation by
Aleksandra Raeva).
Figure 2. The first aerosledge, made by Sergei Nezhdanovsky in 1904.
(3D model by Artemiy Belopashentsev, visualisation by Denis Kukanov.)
 Graham, Lonely Ideas.
 “ in Aviation,” Wikipedia, accessed  June ,
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/_in_aviation.
 J.J. O’Connor and E.F. Robertson, “Nikolai Egorovich Zhukovsky,” MacTutor History
of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews, May , available at
https://mathshistory.st-andrews.ac.uk/Biographies/Zhukovsky/.
 N. Ya. Stechkin (ed.), “Vozdukhoplavatel,” Nauchno-populyarnyy illyustrirovannyy
zhurnal, .
 Shpanov, Sovetskiye snegokhody [Soviet snowmobiles].
took place in the s through the introduction of an amphibious sliding vehicle
(fig. ), which was designed for all-season transportation of passengers and light
freight in remote northern areas of the Soviet Union. This type of vehicle was called
an airboat – still with a propeller and aircraft engine, but with the ability to travel on
open water. The airboat eventually replaced “classic aerosledges.” The very concept
of an aerosledge implied a ski chassis, consisting of three or four skis and took the
land (snow and ice) as its primary medium. Gliders and airboats were designed for
movement also on the water. This marked the end of the aerosledge; the last officially
mass-produced four-ski aerosledge Ka- appeared in early s.
Between  and the s, the aerosledge sector followed the general trends
of the automotive industry’s development in Russia/U.S.S.R. Significant gaps in
development were caused by the First and the Second World Wars, the revolutionary
events of , and the Civil War. The history of the aerosledge can thus be divided
into three periods: () of the single-piece production in the s-s, () of the
small series production in s-s, and () of the serial production in the
postwar period of s-s.
ICON, VOLUME 25, NO 2 (2020) 83
first appeared as testing machines and developed further into vehicles for winter
entertainment: engineering competitions and long-distance races. Apart from testing
aircraft components, engineers’ minds were busy with developing functional, low-
maintenance vehicles for moving people and loads through vast snowy terrains. For
instance, Scottish historian William Barr, describes how the idea of such a vehicle
appeared to naval pilot D.N Aleksandrov in  as an emergency solution during
the Arctic Ocean Hydrographic Expedition, when his aircraft suffered irreparable
damage during a test flight. Aleksandrov came up with the idea to remove the engine
from the plane and mount it on a solidly built sledge to produce an aerosledge, which
was successfully used on a survey trip in the Fjord Gafner bay on the north-west
coast of Taimyr Peninsula in June .
The construction of aerosledges shows the influence of aviation on the design.
The primary focus of engineers was on the propeller to achieve optimal performance.
Whereas the first aerosledge models had the propeller mounted at the front of the
vehicle, as on aircraft (a pulling screw), calculations performed for land surface use
demonstrated that in fact the pushing screw was a lot more efficient than the pulling
one. An aerosledge with a pulling screw was inconvenient in manual operation but,
more importantly, it was unsafe for both the driver and passenger(s) seated behind
the screw. Failure of the propeller or its mounting when travelling off-road could be
a serious threat to passengers. Other reasons for changing the layout included noise,
the powerful counter-flow of frosty air exceeding the speed of the sledge, and a desire
for better visibility. Thus, the engine and the propeller were moved to the rear of the
sledge, pushing rather than pulling it forward.
Another design element that came from aviation was the fuselage. In aviation, as
the speed and range of flights increased, it became essential to have a cabin and a fuselage
that would protect the contents and passengers against airflow and reduce air drag.
These solutions were also implemented in “wingless aircraft” or aerosledges (fig. ).
For several decades, aerosledges reproduced the basic design that the aviation
industry had developed. The next significant change in the design of aerosledges
82 RES EARC H ARTI CLE Usenyuk-Kravchuk, Klyusov, Hyysalo, Klimenko
 Barr, “Imperial Russia’s Pioneers in Arctic Aviation,” .
 Prokofieva, “Napravleniya otraslevogo razvitiya avtoindustrii SSSR vo vtoroy polovine
-kh – kontse -kh gg.  v. [Areas of development in the automotive industry of the
USSR in the second half of the s - the end of the s.]”; Prokofieva, “Istoriya
organizatsii proizvodstva pervykh otechestvennykh avtomobiley (– gg.)
[History of production organization of the first domestic cars (-)].”
 Due to the industrial/economic limitations and the “secondary” essence of the aerosledge
technology, the understanding of production volumes within the aerosledge sector is
different from that of automotive industry: small series production is measured in dozens
of copies, and serial production is in hundreds. At the same time, nobody ever tried to
count the amount of DIY aerosledges produced by numerous single enthusiasts, user
collectives, hobby clubs, etc. across the entire country. We can only get a rough idea of
that by knowing the amount of printed copies. For example, there was an aggregate
amount of about  copies of Igor Yuvenaliev’s books on various aspects of aerosledge
design (Aerosani [Aerosledges]); Samodel’nyye aerosani s malomoshchnym dvigatelem
[Homemade aerosledges with low-power engines]; Yunym konstruktoram aerosaney [To
young aerosledge designers]). Also, each issue of a popular DIY magazine “Modelist
Konstruktor” reached more than , copies in average. Of course, not every issue
contained aerosledge-related articles, but this topic was one of the most popular in
winter season (- issues per year).
Figure 3. ANT-IV by Andrey Tupolev, 1924, the rst aerosledge made of metal (duralumin).
(3D model by Artemiy Belopashentsev, visualisation by Denis Kukanov, 2018.) Figure 4. Amphibia A-3 by Gleb Makhotkin (Tupolev Design Bureau), 1961.
(3D model by Artemiy Belopashentsev, visualisation by Denis Kukanov, 2018.)
ICON, VOLUME 25, NO 2 (2020) 85
Taming complex technology
Since Nezhdanovsky’s invention, two parameters have consistently characterised the
development of motorised sliding transport in Russia. Firstly, the design was
influenced by locals practicing bricolage: available capacities in the automotive and
aviation industry were applied to create affordable vehicles that allowed for over-snow
mobility in Russian winters’ landscapes. Secondly, the design of aerosledges depended
on the local knowledge – for example the pool of user technical expertise, diagnostic
and repair skills – to ensure wide distribution and long life for produced vehicles.
With the change of the political system in Russia in , aerosledges ceased
to be just an amateur experiment and were placed under the remit of the military.
This meant rapprochement between science and the state, and, in practical terms,
the development of military solutions that were later applied to civilian needs if they
were not needed. Thus military objectives determined the vector of development for
domestic over-snow transport technology over the next half a century. The self-
propelling testbeds and racing machines of the early century paved the way for real
combat and cargo vehicles able to travel confidently and rapidly on snow.
Design for military and civil applications
The interest in aerosledges as functional vehicles for military service stemmed from
the low efficiency of devices for increasing the over-snow ability of automobiles and
motorcycles (fig. a,b) and from the lack of practical results in developing over-snow
machines with tracked running gear (fig. ).
In , a small test batch of transport aerosledges was produced at the Russo-
Baltic Wagon Factory (RBVZ) at the request of the military department. The designer
was young Igor Sikorsky, who was hired for RBVZ’s new aircraft division in St.
Petersburg as a chief engineer. The Russian over-snow invention drew the attention
of engineers, entrepreneurs, and authorities in Germany, Austria, France, and other
countries. Through technological copying and appropriation, the German troops were
equipped with German-made aerosledges as an unconventional solution to different
military challenges before the First World War. Technologically, it is interesting
how the Russian invention, when placed in a different design and production context
84 RES EARC H ARTI CLE Usenyuk-Kravchuk, Klyusov, Hyysalo, Klimenko
 Graham, Science in Russia and the Soviet Union.
 Derunov, Kirindas, and Ksenofontov, Mashinnaya tyaga saney [Machine pull sledges].
 This first development was not continued towards the terrestrial transport and quickly
followed by a series of “real” aeroplanes, such as S-, S-, S-, S- (), S-, S-,
S- (), S- (), Russky Vityaz (The Grand) (), and a series named Il’ya
Muromets starting in  (Hunt, Heelicopter’).
 Beskurnikov,Aerosani [Aerosledge],” ; Saukke, Neizvestnyy Tupolev [Unknown
Tupolev], .
Figure 5. a) A “Russo-Balt” automobile from the garage of Tsar Nicholas II, 1910s. It is
equipped with a rubber or canvas continuous track designed by Adolphe Kégresse. This was
an attachment that could be fitted to a conventional car or truck to turn it into a half-track,
suitable for use over rough or soft ground. (3D model by Artemiy Belopashentsev,
visualisation by Denis Kukanov, 2018.) b) A ski-and-belt drive added to a Harley-Davidson
motorcycle by Nikolai Kupriyanov, 1925. (3D model and visualisation by Nikita Klyusov, 2020.)
Figure 6. A “snow bicycle” – another invention by Sergei Nezhdanovsky, 1916. This type of
running gear – half-track with a front ski – achieved the highest level of efficiency for driving
on loose snow. Its efficiency has remained unattainable for all other types of over-snow
motorised technology to this day. The only significant drawback of the design was that it did
not allow for series production and that the machine did not operate well on hard ground,
e.g. on ice or heavily compacted snow. (3D model by Artemiy Belopashentsev, visualisation
by Denis Kukanov, 2018.)
liaison and transport vehicle. The OSGA- was a clear illustration of enthusiastic
development. Technical drawings were made and approved only for some units, and
most parts were manufactured according to verbal instructions. Other units were
assembled on-site during the production process.
Another example was the NKL- armoured aerosledge (fig. ), which replaced
the OSGA-. The NKL- was one of the first combat aerosledges designed directly
during the war and for the war. It was developed at Moscow Hydroglider Plant by
the team of N. Andreev and M. Veselovsky in . It was used from  on the
Eastern Front of the Second World War (in the Battle of Moscow, and in patrolling
and defending the “lifeline” to Leningrad across Lake Ladoga, etc.).
Postwar developments: Sever-2 and Ka-30
After the Second World War, there was a trend for conversion and repurposing of
military vehicles (in part in order to get rid of combat models that were useless in
peacetime). To improve the provision of the country with motor transport, the
ICON, VOLUME 25, NO 2 (2020) 87
away from its original place of usage, received a new impetus for further technological
development. The products of the German automotive industry presented an outside
view on the means and methods of winter travel. This view, in turn, helped the Russian
military command to take a new look at Russia’s roadless conditions as a strategic
advantage. Another well-known engineer, Alexey Kuzin, designed an over-snow
machine for the Russian Army based on German aerosledges captured during the
winter of –. A series of twenty-four machines were produced at the workshop
of All-Russian Zemstvo Union (RZU) from what was available at hand: old aeroplane
engines and propellers, with mostly wooden frame and body.
In the winter from –, the hardships of the civil war – namely shortage
of food and fuel and the threat of railway line blockages – made the need for cross-
country (primarily over-snow) transport vehicles particularly acute. In , a special
commission, “The Collegium for Construction of Aerosledge” (Russian abbreviation
KOMPAS) – Russia’s first organisation to deal with over-snow vehicle design and
construction – was established to develop and produce the Russian military
aerosledges urgently. Its staff included leading engineers and researchers of the time.
Although KOMPAS did not exists long (–), its team made virtue of necessity
and relied on bricolage for further aerosledge development in the conditions of post-
revolutionary devastation and lack of production capacity. Notably, the KOMPAS
team utilised written-off aircraft engines and parts from the older time-tested
aerosledges by RZU to ensure low cost, maximum simplicity and, thus, repairability
in the field. The design emphases on these things meant that aerosledges often used:
an upcycled aircraft or automobile engine from mass-produced models;
interchangeable wooden skis; a light plywood body (in case of NKL- protected
with a  mm thick plate of armour at the front); and (evidence of the military
application) a possibility to mount a machine gun.
One of the typical examples of early aerosledges used both for military and
civil tasks was the OSGA- (also known as NKL-) designed by N. Andreev in
- (fig. ). Initially developed for winter postal service in remote regions,
the OSGA- was later used during the Winter War against Finland, -,
and at the on the Eastern Front of the Second World War, – as a patrol,
86 RES EARC H ARTI CLE Usenyuk-Kravchuk, Klyusov, Hyysalo, Klimenko
 Saukke, Neizvestnyy Tupolev [Unknown Tupolev].
 V. Pandjaridi, “Gotov’ sani letom [Prepare your sleigh in summer]. Interview with
Anatoly Aristov. NeSekretno (Perm),  November . Available at: http://nesekretno.
ru/fotovideo//gotov-sani-letom.
 OSGA is the Russian abbreviation for the Department of Construction of
Hydrogliders and Aerosledges at the Research and Development Institute for Civil
Aviation. Despite its official name, it was a common example of a collective of
enthusiastic makers with no proper facilities “working in a shed with a leaky roof
(Kirindas, Transport dlya rossiyskikh prostorov [Transport for Russian expanses]).  Kirindas, Transport dlya rossiyskikh prostorov [Transport for Russian expanses].
Figure 7. The OSGA-6 aerosledge. (3D model by Artemiy Belopashentsev,
visualisation by Nikita Klyusov, 2020.)
Figure 8. NKL-26. (3D model by Artemiy Belopashentsev, visualisation
by Denis Kukanov, 2018.)
postal carrier in remote, roadless areas). Also, later, the unfortunate combination of
parts – the “automobile DNA” (components from GAZ automobiles) incorporated
into an essentially aviation-related product – did not end up optimising the design or
reducing cost. The ambitious goal of developing a completely new model in the
aerosledge class of vehicles – that of fully “aviation origin,” with a more versatile and
capacious body and increased carrying capacity – required a revised understanding of
this type of motorised technology. As it came clear that aviation engineering expertise
was not enough to develop such a vehicle, the team of Kamov bureau called on a well-
known aerosledge enthusiast and engineer, Igor Yuvenaliev. By that time, Yuvenaliev
was the author of the U.S.S.R.’s only textbook on aerosledge design; a regular writer
for the “Modelist-Konstruktor” magazine; and organiser and chair of over-snow vehicle
exhibitions and competitions held under the auspices of the magazine.
Visually, the Ka- aerosledge represented the strategy of developing the
Russian Far North through urbanisation: northern areas were supposed to have
access to anything available on the mainland and in central Russian cities.In
particular, regular passenger and cargo vehicles were expected to emulate the
appearance of a typical city bus. In terms of design, the “northern aero-bus” was a
close relative of helicopters and aeroplanes, but, at the same time, automobile features
dominated its form. Indeed, although the body of Ka-30 was a directly borrowed
from a popular -seat minivan, the RAF-D “Latvija,” it was made by a
completely different technique – from the riveted duralumin sheets of aircraft and
helicopter bodies rather than fully welded. The Ka-30 aerosledge also reveals an
important (and unsuccessful) design phenomenon: imitation of a product of one
industry (mass-produced motor vehicles) using technologies and materials from
another industry (aviation).
ICON, VOLUME 25, NO 2 (2020) 89
leadership of the automotive industry held a course on how to modernise old, war-
tested models alongside. The post-war economic emphasis on cost reduction
encouraged the broadest possible use of off-the-shelf parts and components. For the
aerosledge sector, the most obvious solution was to use a combination of aircraft and
automobile parts, since both of these industries were priorities for the country.
A prominent example of bricolage construction in the post-war era was the
“flying automobile” Sever- (fig. ), developed at the helicopter design bureau of
Nikolai Kamov, in . The machine was assembled of mass-produced components
from both aviation and automotive industries: the body, front suspension, steering
gear and seats were of the Pobeda car (the original model GAZ-M “Pobeda” was
discontinued in , but the parts were still available); the shock absorber strut
came from the KA-15 helicopter; the engine cooling grill was from the Yak-
aircraft; etc. Only the skis, hood, engine mount, and fuel tanks were custom-built
components.
However, frequent accidents (some very serious) in the northern wilderness
during four years of operation (-) revealed numerous design flaws: for
example, the suspension inherited from the “Pobeda” car was not intended for the
aircraft engine and specific loads, and the cabin was too small for a crew wearing
warm winter clothes. Due to the overall inability of adapting the hybrid structure to
harsh operating conditions, in , with the launch of the next model (the Ka-
aerosledge), all one-hundred released copies were taken out of service.
The design concept of the Ka- aerosledge (fig. ) had already appeared in ,
during the work on the Sever- model, when designers revealed several deficiencies of
the Sever-, such as insufficient carrying and seating capacity (critical features for a
88 RES EARC H ARTI CLE Usenyuk-Kravchuk, Klyusov, Hyysalo, Klimenko
 Prokofieva, “Napravleniya otraslevogo razvitiya avtoindustrii SSSR vo vtoroy polovine
-kh – kontse -kh gg.  v. [Areas of development in the automotive industry of
the USSR in the second half of the s - the end of the s],” .
 Kirindas, “Sever” Dlya Severa [“Sever” for the North].
 Kirindas, “Sever” Dlya Severa [“Sever” for the North].
 I. Yevstratov, “Severnyy aeroavtobus” [The Northern Airbus], Modelist-Konstruktor,
, .
 Kalemeneva, “Arctic Modernism: New Urbanisation Models for the Soviet Far North
in the s.”
Figure 9. Sever-2. (3D model by Artemiy Belopashentsev, visualisation by
Denis Kukanov, 2018.)
Figure 10. Ka-30. (3D model by Artemiy Belopashentsev, visualisation by
Denis Kukanov, 2018.)
User infrastructuring and embedded knowledge
Centuries-long experience of using sliding vehicles (traditional sledges) grounded
in the practical information about the environment of use has constituted a
significant part of user domain knowledge about these vehicles. With the advent of
motorised technology in the early twentieth century, the need for relevant technical
experience became clear.
Because the industry of the young Soviet state could not meet the need for mass-
produced, affordable over-snow vehicles, the state strategy became: (a) to enhance
general technical and transport literacy among the young and working population
(for the historiography of the topic with particular focus on the education in Siberia
and the Far East see); and (b) to provide amateur makers with exemplary models
for self-manufacturing.
In early years of aerosledge development, the leading role in implementing this
strategy belonged to two organisations: the Voluntary Society for the Promotion of
Automotive Development and Improvement of Motorways of the U.S.S.R. (also
known as Avtodor, -); and the Union of Societies of Assistance to Defense
and Aviation-Chemical Construction of the U.S.S.R. (OSOAVIAKhIM), later the
Volunteer Society for Cooperation with the Army, Aviation, and Navy (DOSAAF).
A paramilitary sports organisation dealing with weapons, automobiles, and aviation
(OSOAVIAKhIM was established in  and changed to DOSAAF from 
through ). These organisations – granted with an all-union status – had
branches in almost all capitals of Soviet republics. In Avtodor, among its several
thematic divisions, the following two are especially relevant for mass-development
of technical and transport literacy: (a) the division for basic and advanced training
of personnel in road transport, road and tractor facilities; and (b) the agitation and
publishing division that issued the only Soviet automobile periodical for a broad
readership “Za Rulem (“Behind the Steering Wheel”), as well as books and manuals.
The first one enhanced the mass acquisition of driving skills along with practical
engagement with tools and machines by providing for rich manual experience. The
second one ensured the broadest possible spread of ready-made technical solutions
through their popularizing descriptions and detailed assembly guidelines. In a similar
vein, OSOAVIAKhIM provided military-oriented training on operating with
military technology and equipment, supported several professional research and
development programs for the aviation industry (and aerosledge over-snow mobility
as a “side branch”), and published books, brochures and popular periodicals on
educational, military, technical and sports issues. Since , the “Za Rulem”
ICON, VOLUME 25, NO 2 (2020) 91
As in previous aerosledge developments, combination was the primary design
principle of the Ka-30, although with more custom-made elements and local
variations. The central idea was to use mass-produced components in units
experiencing the most significant stress and, accordingly, requiring regular
maintenance and repair. Thus the engine was an aerosledge-fitted version of a
standard aircraft engine, the AI- (also known as M-). The steering column,
worm gear, drop arm and steering rods of the aerosledge were borrowed from a ZIL-
 truck, i.e. one of the most numerous cargo trucks in the U.S.S.R. Components
of the truck were known for being highly durable and reliable, and, due to large
production volumes, were cheap and easy to repair or replace.
Formally the design of the Ka-30 was recognised as successful: compared to the
Sever- model, it was able to develop greater speeds and was more stable on the road
and more reliable. It was able to carry bulkier and heavier cargo, performing better
than its closest relative, the Ka-18 helicopter equipped with the same engine, which
was able to carry slightly more than  kg. In contrast, the aerosledge was able to
carry about  kg. In practical terms, this meant that the functions of the vehicle
could be expanded beyond that of a mail van. As a result, several versions of the
aerosledge were developed, including passenger, medical, ambulance, “wrecker” types.
Also, there were two unique versions – one with catamaran floats and another one
with a hydrofoil system – for transportation on rivers in summertime.
The Ka- served diligently until the early s when the last was written off
due to its age; a replacement never came. The development of new models of
aerosledges ceased in the s because that kind of transport was seen as outdated
– and should give way to universal amphibian snowmobiles. One of the apparent
design reasons was, probably, the biggest problem of all classic aerosledges: the
inability to deal with open water. Even using the ski floats they were outfiftted with,
aerosledges could overcome only little water obstacles with great care.
The general difficulty for both aerosledge manufacturers and users was
maintenance and service. For the Ka-, although it was relatively easy to source
spare parts, the overall dimensions of the vehicle did not make maintenance easy
under harsh working conditions. With growing size, aerosledges became less
accessible for users to maintain them. This example shows us that the service life of
complex technology depends on what users can manually comprehend and manage.
Therefore, it is essential that manufacturers take into account the local user
knowledge they rely on – and work to complement it.
90 RES EARC H ARTI CLE Usenyuk-Kravchuk, Klyusov, Hyysalo, Klimenko
 I.N. Yuvenaliev, “A olen’ - ne luchshe” [And the reindeer is no better], Tekhnika
Molodezhi, .
 S. Kutovoi, “Na lyzhakh s propellerom [On skis with propeller],” Vokrug sveta, 
January . Available at http://www.vokrugsveta.ru/telegraph/technics//.
 Baldin, “Professional’no-tekhnicheskoye obrazovaniye v Rossii” [Vocational education
and training in Russia].
In the post-war period, the pool of simple, light models for low-cost DIY
manufacturing (fig. ) increased thanks to the work of the younger generation:
school hobby classed provided for the development of new models, stations of young
technicians gain experience with aerosledges, and the broad dissemination of ideas
took place through the all-union magazines Tekhnika Molodezhi (“Technology for
the Youth”) and Modelist-Konstruktor. As Igor Yuvenaliev noted in his seminal book
Homemade aerosledges with low-power engines, “building of aerosledges is a peculiar
kind of design training.” This training fitted perfectly into the system of bringing
up a young generation of future engineers and, in general, of technically literate
Soviet people.
The earlier mentioned post-war model of Sever- also included the deliberate
development of local user expertise through driving and maintenance training.
While this training could not resolve the numerous design issues of the model, it
helped to keep it going against all odds, making the risk to users manageable.
In general, numerous on-site improvements and experiments conducted
continuously in various local workshops and service stations provided for the long
service life of postal aerosledges (NKL-, NKL-, Sever-, Ka-) despite their
structural flaws. However, bringing those improvements to series production, mostly
turned out to be technologically impracticable, and none of the factories in the
U.S.S.R. managed to implement them. As a clear example of non-serial
improvement, there was an experimental version of Teflon-lined fibreglass skis for
Ka- aerosledges, made and tested by the team of engineers who developed the
original model but never successfully put into production:
The original version had all-metal welded skis, which did not boast good
performance: they would get frozen to the snow, slide poorly on a damp
snow crust at zero air temperature, and travel with difficulty on so-called
“abrasive” snow at temperatures around –C. With the experimental
ICON, VOLUME 25, NO 2 (2020) 93
magazine has moved under the control of DOSAAF’s publishing division. These
arrangements fostered a mass community of handymen who could independently
use, assemble, and fix a “self-movable wagon” having at their disposal only simple
tools and a pile of machinery parts.
A plentiful source of design inspiration and yet another step towards the
spreading of over-snow motorised technology were all-union competitions of
grassroots, low-power aerosledges made by DIY collectives without proper
manufacturing facilities and resources. The first competition was organised in 
by Avtodor. The conditions for participation especially encouraged handwork using
(ply)wood as the primary material. After such competitions, the drawings and
technical description of prize-winning aerosledges were prepared, printed, and
distributed to the regions in the form of manufacturing and assembly guidelines.
In further years, in addition to distribution through drawings and assembly manuals,
the winning machines were subject to special performance tests and then, if
successfully passed, recommended to be taken into series production.
In , for example, the winning aerosledge OSGA- by S.V. Korostylev (fig.
) was recommended for series manufacturing to be used as a postal vehicle in rural
areas as well as for winter transport service of the accelerated industrial project of
constructing a giant copper plant in Kazakhstan. The aerosledge was made of
plywood and low-grade steel pipes with minimum of machinery tools and
operations; its simple, even primitive design could be manufactured by user
collectives at collective farm workshops and even by individual enthusiasts.
92 RES EARC H ARTI CLE Usenyuk-Kravchuk, Klyusov, Hyysalo, Klimenko
Figure 11. OSGA-4. (3D model by Artemiy Belopashentsev, visualisation by
Nikita Klyusov, 2020.)
 Ukshe, Novyye malomoshchnyye aerosani [New low-power aerosledges]; Yuvenaliev,
Aerosani [Aerosledges]; Yuvenaliev, Samodel’nyye aerosani s malomoshchnym dvigatelem
[Homemade aerosledges with low-power engines].
 Derunov, Kirindas, and Ksenofontov, Mashinnaya tyaga saney [Machine pull sledges].
 Yuvenaliev, Samodel’nyye aerosani s malomoshchnym dvigatelem [Homemade aerosledges
with low-power engines], –.
 Igor Yuvenaliev noted in his seminal book Homemade aerosledges with low-power
engines, “building aerosledges is a peculiar kind of design training” (Yuvenaliev, )
 Kirindas, “Sever” Dlya Severa [“Sever” for the North].
Figure 12. Examples of light single-seater aerosledges developed for building by low-
qualified user collectives. (Source: Yuvenaliev, 1951. 3D models by Artemiy Belopashentsev,
visualisation by Nikita Klyusov, 2020.)
groups in social networks. Today, with a variety of DIY options and user needs in
all-terrain vehicles, aerosledge groups in DIY user forums are not as numerous as,
for example, those for all-terrain vehicles on low-pressure tires. Anyway, this kind
of over-snow motorised vehicles is still alive and pospering (Fig. ).
ICON, VOLUME 25, NO 2 (2020) 95
fibreglass skis, the aerosledge turned to be able to take off at any moment
at any ambient temperature sliding effortlessly over snow, whether damp
or abrasive. The speed increased by – and payload doubled from
 to , kg, and the ski service life rose from , to , km.
To conclude, the conscious development of on-site user expertise and infrastructuring
stemmed from the very conditions of using aerosledges: the motorised sliding
transport was in the most demand in remote locales, where, in addition to snowy
terrains, little ordinary servicing and maintenance were available. Failure to continue
the journey could place the crews in life-threatening situations in the middle of a vast
cold expanse. Thus, the users of motorised sliders held full responsibility, not only as
drivers and navigators, but equally as on-site mechanics and repairers. Widely
distributed driving and repair skills were supported by the extensive use of the mass-
produced parts from other industrial vehicles and widely available tools to work them.
Aerosledges today: The long life of simple structures
With the introduction of all-season amphibious vehicles and successful experiments
with light tracked vehicles (today’s snowmobiles), the era of aerosledge dominance
in the snowy expanses ended. The official development and production of aerosledges
was discontinued in the s. However, changes in state production policy have
had little impact on the situation in remote sites.
Soon after the appearance of affordable light aerosledges in the late s
early s, the possibilities of this kind of transport were recognised by people
engaged in various nature-based occupations. The most uncomplicated variations of
aerosledges (ones that could be made with a minimum of materials, tools and skills),
have firmly established themselves as a niche in daily mobility.
The coming of internal combustion engines of small volume and dimensions in
the late s- early s, took DIY transport vehicles in non-urbanised sites to a new
level. With the availability of intneral combustion engines from motorbikes, scooters,
chainsaws, “Zaporozhets” cars, etc., local craftsmen expanded the range of vehicles
produced to include light, all-weather, all-terrain machines for personal needs. In some
cases, aerosledges became the “raw material” for further changes in design – by adding
or changing to low-pressure wheels, tracks or even perpetual screws (Fig. ).
However, simple light structures widely introduced through the books and
publications in DIY periodicals are still produced almost unchanged in some places.
According to the general trend in the DIY movement, the central communication
platform for aerosledge makers and users is now user-run forums and thematic
94 RES EARC H ARTI CLE Usenyuk-Kravchuk, Klyusov, Hyysalo, Klimenko
Figure 13. Homemade ATVs with hybrid running gear: screw and wheels.
(Source: Modelist-Konstruktor, 4, 1979.)
 I. N. Yuvenaliev, “Transport dlya dvukh stikhiy” [Transport for two elements],
Modelist-Konstruktor, .
 Hyysalo and Usenyuk, “The User Dominated Technology Era.”
Figure 14. Variety of designs of homemade aerosledges for winter fishing.
(Source: a public group “Self-made aerosledges” in a social network
“VKontakte” http://vkontakte.ru/club4449615.)
 Hyysalo, Juntunen, and Freeman, “Internet Forums and the Rise of the Inventive
Energy User”; Hyysalo, Juntunen, and Martiskainen, “Energy Internet Forums as
Acceleration Phase Transition Intermediaries.”
 Hyysalo and Usenyuk, “The User Dominated Technology Era.”
In general, some historians of technology find the reasons for the numerous
failures of technological inventions in Russia in the practical realities of Tsarist
Russian and Soviet engineers. These included technical difficulties, a lack of
economic and material resources, as well as chaotic state administrations.These
reasons, sharply tempered engineers’ beautiful intentions and utopian visions and,
on a larger scale, revealed the state’s inability to benefit from smart technical
solutions.
The second lesson is that technology does not have to be flawless to be relevant
for a particular use. Both design and use of aerosledges carry a robust aspect of
bricolage, making do with what is available, albeit at different moments in
technology’s life span. Although in the reality of post-revolutionary and post-war
devastation and lack of production capacities, engineers and amateurs were limited
by the availability of resources, they were not restricted in using a specific range of
components and production methods. Even the mostly predefined, car-like shape of
Sever- follows the pattern of design freedom: it was a feasible yet creative
combination of mass-produced, standardised automotive and aviation components
rendered workable by adding custom-made elements.
The freedom of combining tools and components is based on specific
engineering expertise and skills involved in keeping vehicles going. This statement
is consistent with Zinaida Vasilyeva’s observations on DIY-practices in a later period
of Soviet and post-Soviet Russia that “the bricoleur’s thinking coexists … with the
engineer’s one.” To develop and sustain a whole new class of vehicles, design
knowledge must not be “locked in the heads and hands of a limited number of
experts, but must rather freely circulate between various domains and locales: from
engineering bureaus to remote users’ garages, households, and hobby spaces. As is
clear from the contemporary practice of making and using aerosledges, users in
remote areas shape their own understanding of over-snow motorised technology:
they use it to complement and facilitate their everyday life in an entirely different
way from military and service applications.
Beyond design and manufacturing issues of specific models, what are the
implications for a broader community of makers and users in the winter roadlessness?
The lesson of failure draws our attention to possibly the best testing and
development strategy: to treat any new piece of technology as unfinished, open to
continuous alterations and improvements. Thus, to test a new design means putting
it in the aggressive environment that it will operate in – in this case, in cold, snow-
ICON, VOLUME 25, NO 2 (2020) 97
With the future of transport intertwined with wider environmental and societal
trends, there is yet another example of the relevance of the principle of propeller-
powered sliding for particular tasks. The Winston Wong Bio-Inspired Ice Vehicle
(BIV) (fig. ) developed for the Moon Regan Transantarctic expedition, i.e. there-
and-back vehicle crossing of the Antarctic continent in , is a light, bio-fuelled,
route-finder designed and engineered by Kieron Bradley – a chassis designer for the
Lotus Formula One team. Later alterations were undertaken by the Expedition team
and engineers at Imperial College, London.
Thus, during their century-long history aerosledges have gone from single-piece,
production of testbeds and racers, to series of compact warriors and large and
powerful cargo carriers, and eventually, to one-off vehicles tailored for specific
purposes.
Conclusion
What can we learn from the history of these bizarre vehicles most of those have
never been mass-produced, and only a few have survived to nowadays save the
DIY constructions?
The first lesson is that any new design, when first introduced, fails. In the
case of aerosledges, they did not exist long enough to work their way to flawless
performance. The innovative design, although opening never-before-seen
opportunities of travelling through snow terrains, was always incomplete and
experimental and therefore full of risks for both makers and users.
96 RES EARC H ARTI CLE Usenyuk-Kravchuk, Klyusov, Hyysalo, Klimenko
 Read more at Moon Regan Transantarctic Expedition, “The Vehicles,” accessed 
October , http://www.transantarcticexpedition.com/index.php/civ.”; “Concept Ice
Vehicle,” Wikipedia,  March , https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concept_Ice_Vehicle.
 Josephson, “Projects of the Century in Soviet History.”
 Graham, Lonely Ideas.
 Vasilieva, “Do-It Yourself Practices and Technical Knowledge in Late Soviet and Post-
Soviet Russia,” .
Figure 15. Winston Wong Bio-Inspired Ice Vehicle. (Source:
http://www.transantarcticexpedition.com/civ/hi-resolution-images/.)
These forgotten vehicles are still relevant because their history sheds new light
on today’s discourses of remoteness and plans for industrial development (and
corresponding transport accessibility) of the Russian Far North and Siberia. Based
on the history of aerosledges, it seems that the mere introduction of centrally
developed transportation technology and infrastructure will not solve most of the
“wicked problems of periphery or remote regions. In these regions, a fair share of
natural resources are coupled with harsh climatic conditions, low population density
and low level of industrialisation, including a limited transportation network, and
high construction costs. There is a clear need for a viable alternative to heavy-
duty tracked and wheeled machines as well as to rigid “centralised design methods
and techniques.
This article deliberately excluded the entire sector of over-snow vehicles on skis
and track – known today as snowmobiles or snow scooters. Although these feature
similar development dynamics, this article’s focus on early pioneering works allows
for the discussion not just of sport/recreational use, but a broader range of
applications and solutions for operations on the snow and ice. The focus on one
geographical setting promotes notions of “locally appropriate technology”.
While the limitations of these foci mean that the described phenomenon of
motorised sliding transport can not necessarily be widely generalised, they open up
at least two strands for further exploration. First, it is to dive deeper into specific
forms of using over-snow vehicles within space-time of particular localities,
employing ethnographic and co-design methods. Second, it is to expand the
thematic area of study by looking for similar design strategies in other contexts
around the globe. With today’s growing demand for designing “fluid,” adaptive
technologies increasingly engaged with the environment they operate within,
these two strands can potentially provide fresh insights into the contextual
relevance of design activity and user innovation, as well as into the management
and policy implications of developing technologies for extreme and uncertain
environments.
The history of aerosledges – a Russian-invented class of over-snow motorised
transport vehicles – was importantly conditioned by two things: bricolage and user
infrastructuring. In presenting these vectors through examples of workable sliding
vehicles designed by professional engineers and amateurs, this article has
contributed to the understanding of the construction of technology for (and
in) extreme
ICON, VOLUME 25, NO 2 (2020) 99
covered, and roadless conditions – and in the hands of skilful and inventive users
on-site. This understanding certainly requires further investigations into historical
materials and contemporary ethnographic observations of everyday practices of
making, using, and repairing motorised over-snow vehicles in the Russian northern
periphery. The current understanding perfectly fits into a complex – specifically
Russian/Soviet – phenomenon of a “repair society.” According to the sociologists
that documented it, the DIY way of thinking and living is deeply rooted in the
following historical and economic grounds: (a) the persistence of a traditional peasant
culture that promoted the preservation and longstanding use of things along with
the transfer of skills for making and repairing; (b) the experiences of wars, revolutions,
and poverty that taught many people to be frugal and thrifty by using or reusing
what is available at hand; (c) the Soviet planning economy with its shortages and
low quality of (non-military) goods that necessitated acquiring the skills need to
make and repair things; and (d) the state policy of regulating consumption as well
as encouraging a particular attitude of the long-term ownership of things that
promoted a repair-oriented mindset. The history of aerosledge development and
use suggests an additional circumstance to add to this list, namely: geography. Users
had to constantly cope with the severe environment: roadless and sparsely populated
areas; the large distances between settlements; cold climate; persistent snow cover
on most of the country’s territory for several months per year, etc. This fosters people’s
creativity as technology users and makers.
Through aerosledges, we see the bricolage way of building as a design strategy
that solidly rests on user infrastructuring and embedded knowledge. For moving
from point “A” to point “B” in a severe environment, it is not enough to have just a
vehicle. By developing new models of aerosledges, professional engineers were aware
of creating not only a new type of vehicle capable of travelling on snow but of
creating a transport system that could embrace immense territories. As demonstrated
above, the lack of “hardware,” i.e. road and transport infrastructure, could be offset
by the creation of “software,” i.e. user expertise that includes driving and maintenance
training. The training as a part of the Soviet secondary (or vocational) education
system resulted in general users’ ability to use tools and machines. Thus, we can state
that motorised over-snow sliding transport would not have prospered in Russia
without widely distributed and embedded user expertise. In this, aerosledges paved
the way for snowmobiles and other kinds of light all-terrain transport.
98 RES EARC H ARTI CLE Usenyuk-Kravchuk, Klyusov, Hyysalo, Klimenko
 Gerasimova and Chuikina, “The Repair Society.”
 Gerasimova and Chuikina, “The Repair Society,” .
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ICON, VOLUME 25, NO 2 (2020) 101
environments like snowy, adverse terrains. These vectors were also informed by each
other: designers were aware of the benefits in their use of mass-produced parts and
settled for designs that were typically sturdy but in need of monitoring and
maintenance. Users, in turn, were equally aware that the machines they used would
have deficits but also use standard parts that could be fixed using the ordinary skills
provided by the Russian/Soviet technical culture.
Acknowledgements
The authors gratefully acknowledge financial support from the Russian Science Foundation
(grant No. --). Additionally, the authors thank the editor Hermione Giffard and
anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments and suggestions.
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102 RES EARC H ARTI CLE Usenyuk-Kravchuk, Klyusov, Hyysalo, Klimenko
Research Article
EVE AT THE STEERING WHEEL:
Female Representations in Greek Motoring
Magazines from the 1950s to the 1980s
Alexia Sofia Papazafeiropoulou
Abstract: The massive production and consumption of automobiles have made Car Culture
a universal culture. At the same time, the growing number of female drivers has connected
automobility with what appears to be women’s emancipation in the public discourse.
However, this article argues that Car Culture has masculine connotations, even in a period
when the automobiles’ use by women drivers was taken for granted. In doing so, it examines
the representations of women in Greek motoring magazines from the 1950s to the 1970s.
The analysis of these magazines contributes to the understanding of how gender roles were
reconstructed in relation to the automobiles’ use within the context of postwar consumption
culture.
Introduction
Contemporary Amazons. Women drivers’ hands on the steering wheel.
That is a new phenomenon … More and more women drive either for
entertainment, or for professional reasons. Women also participate in car
races … since women have started driving, a new ‘aura’ has come to the
mundane automobile’s world … The summer has arrived, along with the
season of vacations. Many tender little hands are about to take the
steering wheel, not only for short trips within the city, but also for longer
journeys that women drivers might have dreamt of for months … Still,
there is a harsh accusation hovering around, according to which “men
drive better than women.” We are going to examine whether this is
accurate or not below. At the moment we are going to remind to the
ladies elementary driving rules, so as to help them have a safe journey,
overthrow such accusations, and also avoid their gentlemen escorts’
nagging.
«Σύγχρονες Αμαζόνες» [Contemporary Amazons], Το Νέο Αυτοκίνητο, - ():
–.
ICON: Journal of the International Committee for the History of Technology , No  (): -
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