|Primary Role||Ground Attack Aircraft|
|Maiden Flight||30 December 1939|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseThe Il-2 Shturmovik ground attack aircraft were designed by Sergey Ilyushin at the Central Design Bureau in 1938, featuring a heavy armor shell that surrounded the crews of two, the engines, the radiators, and the fuel tanks. The shells were designed so they could deflect all small arms fire while the aircraft flew low to the groud. The pilot's windscreen, too, were heavily armored. The prototype took flight on 30 Dec 1939 and won the government contract, but a later requirement led to the design of a single-seater version which took flight on 12 Oct 1940. Production of the single-seater version began in 1941. By the time Germany launched the invasion of Russia with Operation Barbarossa, 249 were available for frontline use.
ww2dbaseThe first combat missions for Il-2 aircraft were with the 4th ShAP (ground attack regiment) over the Berezina River in Jun 1941. Inexperience with this new design led to a high casualty rate of 10 aircraft out of a total of 65 by 10 Jul, but as pilots learned of the strengths and weaknesses of Il-2 aircraft, their reputations grew. Soon, the aircraft were seen all cross the Russian front, flying missions against German armor. Although they were defensively capable enough to shoot down German Bf 109 fighters every so often, in general Il-2 aircraft were vulnerable to German interceptors. As a result, in Feb 1942, the two-seater version was brought back where the rear gunner could alleviate some of the pressures that hostile pursuing fighters exerted. Because armor protection for rear gunners was not introduced until the subsequent model Il-10 in 1944, casualty rate of rear gunners was very high.
ww2dbaseThe anti-tank abilities of Il-2 aircraft were notably demonstrated at the Battle of Kursk on 7 Jul 1943, where they destroyed somewhere between 30 to 70 German armor.
ww2dbaseProduction of Il-2 aircraft was slow when the war broke out with Germany because the factories were being relocated from Moscow region to the east of the Ural Mountains. When the factories were re-established, production grew only slowly, and it took harsh demands from Joseph Stalin for the factory managers to pick up their pace. As a result, by the end of the war, over 30,000 Il-2 aircraft were built, making the design among the most widely produced in military aircraft history.
ww2dbaseAfter the war, Il-2 aircraft were in the service of several Soviet Bloc countries, though the advent of jet engine rendered them obsolete very quickly.
Last Major Revision: Mar 2007
Il-2 Shturmovik Timeline
|12 Oct 1940||The TsKB-57 prototype aircraft of the Soviet Ilyshin Il-2 Shturmovik ground attack aircraft design made its maiden flight.|
|19 Nov 1943||Senior Lieutenant Koratevitch and Lieutenant Bykov rammed their Ilyuashin Il-2 attack aircraft into a German ship in the Baltic Sea. For this extreme act of bravery both airmen would be awarded the Gold Star.|
|Machinery||One Mikulin AM-38F liquid-cooled V-12 rated at 1,720hp|
|Armament||2x23mm Vya-23 cannons, 2x7.62mm ShKAS machine guns, 1x12.7mm Berezin UBT machine gun, up to 600kg of bombs or 4x RS-82 or RS-132 rockets|
|Wing Area||38.20 m²|
|Weight, Empty||4,360 kg|
|Weight, Loaded||6,160 kg|
|Speed, Maximum||414 km/h|
|Rate of Climb||10.40 m/s|
|Service Ceiling||5,500 m|
|Range, Normal||720 km|
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Joachim von Ribbentrop, German Foreign Minister, Aug 1939