National History Museum’s collection expanded with sensational donation

Artis Magnae Artilleriae (Great Art of Artillery), by prominent Belarusian engineer Kazimir Semenovich, donated to National History Museum

By Tatiana Pastukhova

The 1730 tract, printed in Frankfurt am Main (Germany), has been donated by an anonymous benefactor who acquired it from an antiquarian book shop in Vienna, with the assistance of Belarusian residents living there.

The first part of the edition was written by Kazimir Semenovich himself, while the second was prepared by German artillerist and captain Daniel Elrich, from records and notes left by the famous Belarusian engineer. The book is decorated with several engravings, made by the German author from Mr. Semenovich’s drawings.

“This tract sums up the results of engineering investigations. Moreover, the book includes data on Kazimir Semenovich’s own discoveries, as well as on his knowledge and experience of engineering. It is the first of its kind,” notes Yuri Lavrik, a leading research officer from the museum. He explains that, after the book was first released, it acquired great popularity. Later, it was re-published many times — in French, German, English and other languages all over the world.
Mr. Lavrik notes that special conditions have been created at the National History Museum to store the unique edition: 18 degrees Celsius above zero and humidity at 50-55 percent.

The first edition of Great Art of Artillery appeared in Amsterdam in 1650, where Mr. Semenovich substantiated and described in drawings and calculations the idea of a multi-stage rocket. This was the prototype of our contemporary rocket, which launches satellites and space aircraft into orbit today. Mr. Semenovich also invented a delta wing, without which it’s impossible to imagine a contemporary supersonic fighter.

The Belarusian was among the first to develop ‘smart weapons’, with a separate section of the tract describing a universal optic-mechanical target and guidance system for weaponry and rockets. Additionally, Mr. Semenovich invented a volley fire rocket system — as used for the famous ‘Katyusha’ missile launcher in WWII.

Remarkably, Newton, Peter I and Napoleon studied Kazimir Semenovich’s book, while Tsiolkovsky — the founding father of Russian cosmonautics — directly referred to Mr. Semenovich in his works.

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