Considered one of the most important Soviet aircraft of World War 2, the Ilyushin Il 2 Shturmovik was loved by its country and feared by the enemy. Stalin said of the Il-2 that it was “as essential to the Red Army as bread and water” and demanded prompt and efficient production from factory officials. The Germans called it Der Schwartz Tod; The Black Death.
Designed by Sergei Ilyushin in 1939, the Il-2 was an all-metal, low-wing monoplane designed for low altitude tankbusting. One of the features that suited for this duty was a heavily armoured, tub-like underside that held the engine, cockpit and fuel supply. This armour plus its speedy 1,770 horsepower, liquid cooled engine meant that it could fly through withering ground fire and make it home in one piece. The Il-2 made short work of German tanks, especially with its air-to-ground rockets (the first ever for any air force). In the battle for Kursk many of Germany’s newest tiger tanks were destroyed by Il-2s, turning the tide of the battle.
36,000 Shturmoviks were built. The Il-2 left service in 1955.
|Type||Antitank; Light Bomber|
|Power Plant||1 x 1,770-horsepower AM-38F liquid-cooled in-line engine|
|Max speed:||404 km/h (251 mph) at 5395 m (19,685 ft.)|
|Ceiling:||5,395 m (19,685 ft.)|
|Range:||2,540 km (1578 mi.)|
|Weight (empty):||4,350 kg (9,590 lb.)|
|Weight (loaded):||6,360 kg (14,021 lb.)|
|Wingspan:||14.6 m (48 ft.)|
|Length:||10.97 m (36 ft.)|
|Height:||3.38 m (11 ft. 1 in)|
|Armament:||2 x 7.62mm machine guns; 2 x 30mm cannons; 1,321 pounds of bombs or rockets|
|Service:||1941 – 1955|