Original conceived as a two-seater, the prototype M-11 was built in 1916 at the Shchetinin factory in Petrograd. The M-11 was a biplane with a 100-hp (75-kW) Gnome Monosoupape rotary engine driving a pusher propeller that was strut-mounted and suspended below the upper wing. The small number of two-seaters built had poor performance and were only used as trainers. Grigorovich developed a single-seat version powered a 110-hp (82-kW) Le Rhône engine and fitted with a forward-firing machine-gun in front of the cockpit. Originally 100 single-seat M-11s had been ordered but this was reduced to 60 when the aircraft was discovered also to possess poor handling when alighting on water. M-11s were operated from snow and ice with twin skis fitted under the forward fuselage and a single ski under the tailplane.
To improve water handling, an improved variant was developed as the M-12, which had a re-designed hull and reduced all-up weight. Although climb-to-height was improved the forward speed was 5 mph (8 km/h) less than the M-11 and consequentially only a few M-12s were built.