The 1901 Nobel Prize was awarded to Wilhelm Konrad Roentgen for the rays invisible to the eye, which he discovered in 1895 and called X-rays. Roentgen published only three scientific articles on the properties of the rays he discovered. The research was done so thoroughly that over the next 12 years, researchers were unable to add anything new. In one of Roentgen's articles, the first X-ray was also printed, in which the hand of the researcher's wife was captured. X-ray examination was rapidly becoming a part of everyday medical practice. The discovery was especially important for military medicine: the surgeon now had the opportunity to see the position of bullets and shrapnel in the body. The work of finding and extracting them has become purposeful, and the suffering of the wounded has diminished. Already in the early years of the twentieth century, many European firms produced devices for diagnostics using x-rays. The first use of x-rays in military affairs with the help of a mobile X-ray apparatus, apparently, occurred during the East Asian (Chinese) expedition in 1900-1901. The German army was equipped with Siemens-Halske portable devices. They were housed on an "artillery-type" horse-drawn carriage, which contained a dynamo (alternator) and a gasoline engine that powered it. They were housed on an "artillery-type" horse-drawn carriage, which contained a dynamo (alternator) and a gasoline engine that powered it. They were housed on an "artillery-type" horse-drawn carriage, which contained a dynamo (alternator) and a gasoline engine that powered it.
In the outbreak of the First World War, military doctors of many countries began to actively use the invention of Roentgen. And if in the German army mobile X-ray devices remained on horse-drawn vehicles, then in the French army diagnostic equipment was placed on cars.
In the Russian army, at the very beginning of the war, the issue of organizing mobile "flying" X-ray rooms on the initiative of Professor N. A. Velyaminov was discussed in the All-Russian Red Cross Society, which played a colossal role in organizing and recruiting infirmaries, hospitals, ambulance trains and auto detachments.
The technical design of the car-X-ray room was prepared by the engineer Nikolai Alexandrovich Fedoritsky. An electrical engineer, a process engineer, a real state councilor Fedoritsky was one of the most talented Russian engineers. Thanks to his developments, the Russian fleet, revived after the defeat in the Russian-Japanese war, used the latest electrical devices. Even the list of Fedoritsky's developments is impressive: an electric machine telegraph for Novik-class destroyers, artillery fire control devices for battleships of the Evstafy type, a differential clutch in the vertical rudder drive, which serves to quickly switch from electrical control to manual control for Decembrist-class submarines, electric drives of rudders and anchor mechanisms for battle cruisers of the "Izmail" type. The mechanical Fedoritsky differential is still used in the transmission of front-wheel drive vehicles.
In addition, Fedoritsky conducted experiments with rarefied gases for more than 10 years, thanks to which he was able to create an X-ray tube "for the first time in Russia, exclusively from Russian materials and Russian labor." The X-ray tube created by Nikolai Aleksandrovich turned out to be no worse than foreign ones, and on May 1, 1913, in St. Petersburg, on the Fontanka embankment, 165, where his workshop was located, he opened a small factory in two rooms. At the end of 1913 Fedoritsky first presented his pipes at the exhibition of the surgical congress at the Pirogov Museum (now part of the exposition of the Military Medical Museum in St. Petersburg). The workshop received orders, and production began to expand little by little, trying to meet the growing demand.
In July 1914, the First World War broke out, the supply of X-ray tubes, which was carried out mainly from Germany, stopped, and the demand for the tubes due to the flow of wounded increased enormously. Fedoritsky was invited to the Supreme Head of the sanitary and evacuation unit, Prince Alexander Petrovich Oldenburgsky. As a result of the meeting, the plant was allocated a loan for the expansion of production and a military order. Within two weeks the production was hastily expanded and turned into the First Russian Roentgen Tubes Plant. The emblem of the plant was a pentagram (five-pointed star) in a circle, the letters were located around the star: ПРЗРТ.
Fedoritsky could not quickly find suitable premises, and he had to hire and adapt for production 5 private apartments, consisting of 26 rooms and located on three floors. The work of the plant led to conflicts with the residents who remained in the house. I also had to use expensive electricity from the city grid. It was impossible to install your own electric generator in the existing rooms, and a lot of energy was required to make pipes, which greatly increased the cost of production. The main problem was personnel - it was impossible to make a pipe without using the fine craft of a glass blower. Then people studied glass-blowing specialty from an early age, they were rare and well-paid specialists. The work offered by Fedoritsky was innovative and challenging. After much persuasion, he managed to find glassblowers,who, in their free time, experimentally selected the composition of glass that transmits X-rays and is resistant to prolonged local heating, and worked out the technology of soldering electrodes into a glass flask without using enamel.
The development from scratch of the technology for manufacturing electrodes, which required careful grinding and polishing of the surface, applying the thinnest layer of platinum on copper or silver, became a no less problem. A lot of experiments were required to obtain the necessary vacuum in the tubes, created with the help of vacuum pumps of the original design of S. A. Borovik, manufactured at the plant independently. Thus, the entire complex process of manufacturing X-ray tubes from supplied glass and metal blanks took place according to the original technologies of the plant.
The finished pipes were subjected to tests, the results of which were recorded in special books reflecting the history of the creation of each pipe. The tubes were packed in original boxes with two screws on the outside. The anode and cathode of the tube were attached to these screws by conductors, which made it possible to monitor its performance without breaking the package. The factory took over the insurance of the pipes when mailing to customers, guaranteeing replacement of the inoperative pipe if the package was not opened.
Production grew, and by 1915 Fedoritsky's plant had produced over a thousand X-ray tubes that were in operation throughout Russia.
In addition to tubes, the plant produced screens, breakers, capacitors, tripods and other equipment for X-ray rooms. At the request of ND Papaleksi, head of the experimental laboratory of one of the first Russian radio factories (later an academician), the production of radio tubes ("cathode relays" - in the terminology of that time) was mastered at the Fedoritsky plant in 1916.
X-ray cabinets on cars designed by N. A. Fedoritsky were funded by the Russian Red Cross Society, and they were assembled under his leadership at the Baltic Shipbuilding and Mechanical Plant of the Marine Department, where he worked in parallel in the interests of the fleet. To fulfill the order, six French Hotchkiss cars were purchased at the Petrograd firm Krümmel - four cars with 12 hp engines. and two - 16 hp. A light and durable van was installed on the cars, the rear double doors of which had glass windows with lifting shutters. They made it possible to install light-sensitive photographic plates in cassettes and develop in complete darkness.
Equipment for cars was purchased in a hurry in various places, so it was necessary to adapt the existing stationary devices and use various inductors and dynamos. The latter was located on the footboard and was driven by a leather belt, which was simply thrown off the pulleys while the car was moving. A simple and well thought-out device made it possible to bring the car from the stowed position to the working position in 10 minutes. The dynamo voltage was controlled exclusively by the engine speed, for which the throttle lever on the steering wheel was used. Control devices - an ammeter and a voltmeter - were in the driver's field of vision. In addition to supplying power to the X-ray machine, the dynamo could supply current to an operating lamp with four lamps "100 candles each" on a folding wooden stand. You could shoot like on the street,and in the premises of the infirmary.
In addition to the aforementioned cars, two more cars were produced with private donations in Petrograd, somewhat different in design. In particular, the dynamo was driven from the engine by gear wheels.
In Moscow, where a huge number of wounded were housed, the creation of X-ray vehicles went on an independent path. Experiments "on the adaptation of the X-ray room for transportation over long distances (100 versts and more)" began in the laboratory of Professor P. P. Lazarev after his report to the All-Russian Zemstvo Union. An employee of the laboratory N. K. Schodro. To save gasoline and reduce the cost of operation, the car was equipped with an additional light kerosene engine, which was used to drive the dynamo. The X-ray machine was housed in a wooden box with carrying handles, a 48-meter electrical cable connecting the car with the X-ray machine was wound on a special shaft and supplied with a telephone wire,so that the staff can maintain communication between the office car and the station taken out to the infirmary.
Five months of experience allowed us to improve the design. The next X-ray machine made by Muscovites became more portable and lighter, and a car with an X-ray room became lighter. Neither equipped rooms nor current sources were required for work, which made it possible to make radiography quite possible in any zemstvo hospital. The cost of the cabinet with all the fixtures was estimated at 7 thousand rubles, which also included 4.5 thousand rubles. the cost of the chassis. Each shot, excluding equipment depreciation, cost 2 rubles.
The car's crew consisted of three people: a radiologist, an orderly and a mechanical driver. When working in hospitals, 2 more orderlies were relied on to help the crew. P. G. Mezernitsky (1878–1943, Russian physician-physiotherapist, one of the founders of radiation therapy in Russia) provides statistics on the operation of only one mobile X-ray room in Kiev. From April 29 to August 5, 1915, the office served 21 hospitals (infirmary), where 684 x-rays and 160 photographs were made in 50 working days.
In 1921 the plant N. A. Fedoritsky was transferred to the premises of the nationalized plant of the Russian Society of Wireless Telegraphs and Telephones (ROBTiT), where, in 1923, the production of radio tubes began at the new "Electrovacuum Plant".