Ilyushin Il-2 Stormovik.
Type: Close support and ground attack aircraft.
‘It is at least as essential to the Red Army as oxygen and bread.’ These were the words that Stalin used in 1941 to describe one of the most effective aircraft to emerge from Russian factories during the war. He was talking about the Ilyushin Il-2, a veritable ‘flying tank’ which turned out to be the best ground-attack type of the war.
More than 36,000 Il-2s came off the production line in several versions. The career of the ‘Stormovik’ (as the Il-2 and its direct successors were known) continued after WW2, with the Il-10 going to Soviet satellite countries (Hungary, Romania, China, North Korea, Albania, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria and East Germany) and serving in the Korean War.
Design of the Stormovik was begun in 1938 by Sergei Ilyushin and his team in answer to a specification calling for a single-engined monoplane for ground attack and tactical bombing. The same request was issued to Pavel Sukhoi, who came up with the undistinguished Su-2.
The first Stormovik appeared in the spring of 1939 under the designation TsKB-55. Flight-test results were not outstanding, however: the engine was not powerful enough, and there was also some longitudinal instability. It was not until the development of the third prototype, which took to the air in October of the following year, that the Il-2 was regarded as acceptable. The Il-2 then went into immediate production.
The most original aspect of the Il-2 design was the fact that the entire forward part of the aircraft (from the engine compartment to the cockpit) was a single-armored shell that also had structural functions. This solution provided maximum protection for the engine, its main accessories and the crew. It was also substantially lighter than traditional armor plating. The steel armor of the Il-2 varied in thickness from an average 4-8 mm to 13 mm on the rear fuselage. There was also duralumin armor 5 mm thick on the upper surfaces, and the cockpit canopy had bullet-proof transparencies and a 65 mm-thick windscreen. The fuselage was conventional in structure, being made originally of wood and later of metal.
The first Stormoviks went into service in the summer of 1941 and proved to be extremely effective against enemy tanks. As better German types entered the field, it became necessary to improve the Il-2’s offensive and defensive armament.
July 1942 saw the appearance of the II-2M3 with a more powerful engine, better armament consisting of two 23 mm cannon plus three machine guns, and a second crew member.
This was the most numerous variant. The Il-2M3 took part in every major operation on the Eastern Front, winning particular distinction in the Battle of Kursk in the summer of 1943, when Stormoviks attacked massive formations of German tanks.
Users: Soviet Union (Russia).
Animated 3D model Ilyushin Il-2M3 Stormovik
Specifications Ilyushin Il-2M3 Stormovik
|Ilyushin Il-2M3 Stormovik||Specification|
|Type||close support and ground attack aircraft|
|Power plant||one 1,750hp SM-38F vee-12 liquid-cooled engine|
|Wing span||47 ft 11 in|
|Length overall||39 ft 4.5 in|
|Height overall||11 ft 1.75 in|
|Wing area||414.4 sq.ft|
|Weight empty||7,165 lb (Il-2), 9,976 lb (late models Il-2M3)|
|Weight loaded||12,947 lb (maximum take-off late models: 14,021 lb)|
|Max wing loading||?|
|Max power loading||?|
|Max level speed (clean)||281 mph|
|Max level speed (loaded)||251 mph|
|Max level speed (with 1,323 lb bomb load)||231 mph|
|at height||2,500 - 4,290 ft|
|initial climb (Il-2)||490 ft/min|
|Service ceiling||28,870 ft|
|Range with maximum bomb load||373 miles|
|Range maximum||475 miles|
|Ilyushin Il-2M3 Stormovik||Specification|
|to front||Two 20-mm VYa (later 23-mm or 37-mm) guns and two 7,62-mm MGs in wings|
|to rear||One manually aimed 12,7-mm-BS MG in rear cockpit|
|external load||bomb load 1,323 lb or 200 x 5.5-lb-PTAB hollow-charge anti-tank bombs or 8 x RS-82 or RS-132 air-ground rockets|
|First flight (BSh-2)||30 December 1939|
|First flight (TsKB-57)||12 October 1940|
|First production (Il-2)||March 1941|
|First production (Il-2M3)||September 1942|
|Final production (Il-2M3)||June 1944|
|First production (Il-10)||early 1944|
|Total production figure (all versions)||over 36,000 Il-2 and Il-2M3 + 6,330 Il-10 (average production per month 1,200)|