Dirigible / BalloonsUnknown Artist
Russian Dirigible Airship Poster
In 1909 Russia purchased two airships from France. Russia began an airship building program in 1931 and there was a commercial airship service operating inside the Russian interior by 1937. The Russian Army Air Service (RAAS) was established in 1912. By the outbreak of the First World War the RAAS owned 360 aircraft and 16 airships, making it the largest airforce in the world. However, with limited financial resources, expansion was slow and by 1917 the Russians had fewer that 1,000 aircraft in service.