Aviation of World War II

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Il-2 1941

Ilushin IL-2 1941
  • Attack aircraft
  • First flight: 1941
  • Ilyushin

During the Great Patriotic War, the Il-2 armored attack aircraft was a unique combat vehicle that had no analogues in any of the countries that fought at that time. During World War II, more aircraft of this type were produced than any other (36,163 aircraft). Being the main strike force of Soviet aviation, the Il-2 attack aircraft played an outstanding role in the war and had a noticeable impact on the course of hostilities on the Soviet-German front.

The idea of ​​creating an aircraft designed to attack ground targets, i.e. attack aircraft, was born before the First World War. The practice of the First World War, as well as subsequent local conflicts, showed that low-flying fighters or reconnaissance aircraft, which they tried to use as attack aircraft, suffered heavy losses from rifle and machine-gun fire from ground forces. Therefore, it quickly became clear that the attack aircraft must have effective armor and at the same time have powerful offensive weapons. Attempts to build such an aircraft have been made repeatedly and in different countries. However, there was no success in this matter. Meanwhile, the role of aviation in the fight against ground forces was steadily increasing and the need for an attack aircraft was felt more and more acutely.

For the first time, S.V. Ilyushin. His project was based on the latest achievements of Soviet science and technology. A powerful aircraft engine, stamped heterogeneous armor (which made it possible to manufacture armored parts of a complex surface, and streamlined armored hulls with “working” rather than “mounted” armor), bulletproof glass (necessary to protect the crew), rapid-firing aircraft guns and rockets became the main components of success future IL-2.

In 1939, the first prototype Il-2, the TsKB-55 or BSh-2 aircraft (an armored attack aircraft of the second), was tested. The first flight on it was made by pilot V.K. Kokkinaki October 2, 1939. The aircraft was a two-seat cantilever monoplane with a semi-retractable landing gear and an AM-35 liquid-cooled engine with a power of 1350 hp. All vital aircraft units (motor, cooling systems, tanks), as well as the crew, were in a streamlined armored hull.

In general, the BSh-2 successfully passed the tests, but it still required a number of necessary improvements. In the process of improving the attack aircraft, a lower-altitude, but more powerful AM-38 engine was put on it. created in KB A.A. Mikulin specifically for this aircraft. The layout of the cooling systems and the cabin has changed. The crew now consisted only of a pilot (a fuel tank was placed in place of the gunner). Reinforced armor and weapons. In the autumn of 1940, the improved aircraft passed factory tests. However, they were in no hurry with the start of its serial production. The calculation was already on more advanced aircraft for this purpose, which at that time began to be developed in a number of design bureaus. Then S.V. Ilyushin wrote a letter to I.V. Stalin, after which emergency measures were taken to organize the BSh-2 series.

The first mass-produced armored attack aircraft, which received the Il-2 brand, began to appear in 1941, and the first combat units armed with this aircraft were formed just before the war.

The appearance of the IL-2 on the fronts was a complete surprise for the enemy. Despite the fact that the tactics of using armored attack aircraft had not yet been worked out, they began to inflict serious losses on the enemy and had a demoralizing effect on the Nazis, who soon called the Il-2 "black death". With great success, the IL-2 units acted against the armored and motorized units of the enemy.

Attack Aircraft
Il-2 Il-2 Il-10
Crew 2 2 2
Year of issue 1942 1943 1944
Wing span, m 14.6 14.6 13.4
Length, m 11.6 11.6 11.12
Wing area, m² 38.5 38.5 30.0
Engine АМ-38 АМ-38F АМ-42
Power, hp 1,600 1,720 2,000
Weight, kg:
Loaded weight 5,670 6,180 6,300
Gross weight 5870 6380 6500
Max speed, km/h over ground 391 403 507
at altitude 416 414 551
m 2,350 1,000 2,800
Service range with normal bomb load, km 740 685 800
Bomb load, kg normal 400 400 400
maximum 600 600 600
Armament Machine guns 2 3 3
Cannon 2 2 2
Rockets 8 4 4
Grenades - - 10

Photo Description
Drawing Il-2 1941

Drawing Il-2 1941

The TsKB-57 AM-38 (BSh-2 No 1), 1940

The TsKB-57 AM-38 (BSh-2 No 1) during manufacturer's fight tests. October 1940

The Il-2 AM-38 (BSh-2 No 2), 1941

The Il-2 AM-38 (BSh-2 No 2) armored attack aircraft during State acceptance trials in March 1941

The Il-2 with one pilot

The Il-2 with one pilot


  • "The history of designs of planes in USSR 1938-1950" /Vadim Shavrov/
  • "Planes of Stalin falcons" /Konstantin Kosminkov and Dmitriy Grinyuk/
  • "Planes of Ilyushin`s design bureau" /Genrih Novojilov/
  • "The Soviet planes" /Alexander Yakovlev/
IL-2 1941