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Il-2 1942

Ilushin IL-2 'Avenger' 1942
  • Attack aircraft
  • First flight: 1942
  • Ilyushin

Despite the strong armed opposition, the IL-2 showed high combat effectiveness. The need for aircraft of this type was enormous. The telegram of I.V. Stalin to the directors of aircraft factories, which, in particular, said: "Il-2 aircraft are needed by our Red Army ... like air, like bread."

However, the combat use of the Il-2 also revealed its major drawback, which led to large losses - vulnerability to fire from enemy fighters attacking the attack aircraft from the rear unprotected hemisphere. The need for a second crew member to protect the attack aircraft from behind became apparent.

In the autumn of 1941, Stalin received a letter from Captain E.P. Koval, navigator of the 234th ShAP, in which he wrote “... The main drawback of the aircraft is that it is completely defenseless from behind from fighters. In most cases, an enemy fighter approaches 10-15 meters from behind and from the side and hits the aircraft with cannons and machine guns, trying to hit the engine or the pilot. ... Conclusion: it is necessary to plant an arrow with a machine gun behind the pilot (where the technician sits during flights). To do this, you need to move the pilot's armor protection to the very back of the armored hull so that the shooter is behind reliable armor.

His reaction to this letter was very quick and very decisive. In February 1942, he summoned Ilyushin to the Kremlin, and, according to his memoirs, said: “Immediately give me a two-seat plane. Do what you want, but we will not allow the assembly line to be stopped.” (Let me question Ilyushin’s words, since it “immediately” dragged on until autumn, and Stalin had a very good memory). Since it was impossible to change the main performance characteristics of the machine on the one hand, and on the other hand, the alteration should not have led to a restructuring of the production process at the factories, the designer could not send the IL-2 variant based on the design solutions used on the IL-2 to the assembly lines M-82. However, the first work in this direction unfolded on the basis of design solutions of this particular prototype.


Ilushin IL-2 1942

Already in February, Ilyushin and his group built a prototype of a two-seat "attack aircraft", in which - in accordance with the wishes of Captain Koval - the rear gunner's place was placed immediately behind the fuel tank. The tip of the single-seat cockpit was removed and a fully enclosed gunner's cockpit, well protected by 6 mm thick armor, was installed in its place. For defense, the shooter had one 12.7 mm machine gun with 200 rounds of ammunition, which was later reduced by 50 pieces. He could fire at the following angles: up - 35 °, to the right - 35 °, to the left - 25 °. The aircraft was not equipped with radio equipment. The entire cabin, together with weapons and ammunition, had a mass of 270 kg. what changed the alignment of the aircraft and its flight characteristics, this was revealed in the process of factory tests, conducted in early March. The plane tore off the tail late at takeoff and lowered it too quickly during landing. In addition, the maximum speed decreased significantly and control became difficult. In order to "correct" these shortcomings, the rear landing gear was strengthened, and the rear wheel was enlarged, the main landing gear was modified, and a decision was made to install a new, more powerful engine model. Due to the lack of such a propulsion system, as well as for many other reasons, this project was quickly rejected. To avoid the same problems, the next prototype built in April had the fuel tank removed and replaced with two other armored tanks in the internal bomb bays. In its place, a new fully armored reconfigured gunner's cabin was arranged, somewhat similar to the one installed on the IL-2 M-82. However, in this case, the shooter had a ShKAS 7.62 mm machine gun, although it is very likely that this armament was later replaced ... with a 7.62 mm DT light machine gun for shelling ground targets and fighters attacking from the side. This second prototype, despite some of its shortcomings, was immediately liked by the crews. The pilots - thanks to the aerobatic properties that are practically no different from the single-seat Il, and the gunners - because of the spacious armored cockpit. However, the management did not like the machine because of the almost half the bomb load, as a result of which it was not launched into mass production. Such a decision seems to be a significant mistake of the “top”, because. in fact, the IL-2 could continue to carry its 400-600 kg of bombs, only in the bomb bays there would be no more than 200 kg of them. The remaining 200-400 kg could be hung under the center section, on external locks, approximately as it was later done on the IL-10 (200 kg inside and 200 kg outside). The leadership's arguments are that significant technical innovations would be required is unfounded, since changing the fuel system did not present any problem, and installing the cab did not require major changes. Thus, it is not clear why the decision was actually made to abandon mass production, but perhaps the fact is that it was during this period that a propaganda campaign was carried out urging pilots to take the maximum bomb load, and on the new version of the aircraft there was a problem with placing bombs in the bomb bays.

After this development was rejected, the designers built another prototype, this time equipped with an MV-3 ​​turret with a UBT machine gun and significantly increased firing angles. It might seem that this prototype was the best of the whole trio, if not for the fact that the turret was not armored, and besides, it was too big and heavy for Il, which made it impossible for it to be used effectively in combat. The characteristics of this aircraft were very close to those of the first prototype (the installation was mounted behind the fuel tank), but with the difference that the speed loss was even greater, because. the turret had more aerodynamic drag.

So, after five months of work, Ilyushin's group remained in the same place, and the factories continued to produce a single version. At this time, in August 1942, the idea of ​​​​a simple conversion of a single-seat IL into a two-seat one appeared, which was very intensively promoted by two officers of the 6th Air Army: Lieutenant Colonel I.V. Delnov - commander of the 243 ShAD and chief engineer of this army V.I. Koblikov. The modernization they proposed consisted in cutting a hole in the place of the former “entrance” to the trunk and installing a shoulder strap with a ShKAS 7.62 mm machine gun, which was serviced by a shooter, in it. Both main authors of this decision were guided primarily by the desire to give the aircraft at least some opportunity to repel the attack of fighters from behind, and not to ensure the protection of the gunner and the interaction of the crew. That is why the second member of the crew had neither a flashlight, nor armor protection from behind, nor communication with the pilot. However, the need for a rear gunner was so great that some of the officers of the 6th VA made great efforts to promote this project, already implemented in the 11th Army and some other units on that sector of the front. (Two-seat aircraft converted in this way (in workshops) appeared much earlier. The first mention of the conversion of the trunk into a place for a gunner at airfields near Moscow dates back to the beginning of 1942. It was probably these works that served as a source of inspiration for the pilots of 243 ShAD from 6VA). As a result, on September 7-8, one of the modified ILs was presented to competent officers from the Air Force headquarters at the central airfield. Frunze in Moscow. The aircraft was inspected by a number of specialists led by the Deputy Chief of the Red Army Air Force for Engineering L.K. Rekin, the Deputy People's Commissar of the Aviation Industry for Pilot Construction A.S. Yakovlev (the creator of the Yak fighters) and the aircraft designer Ilyushin. In a letter to the commander of the 6th VA, General Fyodor Polynin, the head of the experimental construction department of the Red Army Air Force wrote: “We highly appreciated the initiative of the 243rd ShAD in the field of arranging a gunner’s station and consider it possible to equip Il-2 aircraft in the army with such installation. Design Bureau comrade. Ilyushin, the task was set - to take into account the experience of your division and develop a more advanced rear cabin ". In the fields, it should be noted that in the summer of 1942 in the same division, at the initiative of the same pilots, they tried to install rifle turrets from the SB-2 on Ilah. It is also plausible that these developments served as the basis for Ilyushin's subsequent work.

The Ilyushin Design Bureau very quickly developed another modification, and in the same month a prototype of a two-seater IL built at the plant was flown. This aircraft differed from its predecessor very little. Simply behind the tip of the fuel tank No. 3, a primitive gunner's cockpit was arranged, which had a partially glazed unarmored lantern connected to the pilot's lantern. Unlike the rear fuel tank, the gunner's cockpit was not protected in any way at all. However, to ensure that he was at least in a good mood, an armor plate 6 mm thick was installed in the fuselage behind his cockpit, protecting only his ... legs. During mass production, somewhere in the middle of 1943, the booking system for the front of the cab was changed. In place of the rear armor plate on the inclined armor in its upper part, a vertical plate was installed completely separating the arrow from the tank. As before, the arrow cabin itself remained unprotected. A 12.7 mm UBT machine gun with an ammunition load of 200 rounds was intended to protect the tail of the “Black Death”, but due to the fact that a significant additional weight (the ammunition weighed about 100 kg and the machine gun itself was 21.5 kg) significantly worsened the aerobatic properties, the supply of cartridges significantly reduced - up to 150 pieces (thus saving about 25 kg).

Taking into account the rate of fire of this weapon - 1050 rounds per minute - such a supply of cartridges was only enough for ... 8.5 from a volley! This allowed only 2-3 bursts to be fired at attacking enemy fighters.

In addition to reworking the cockpit area, various other upgrades were also made regarding a single-seat machine: for example, the fuel system was changed (However, it is very likely that this change was introduced later) due to which each aircraft was refueled not in 25 minutes, as before, but only in 8 minutes.

In order to ensure the modification of the aircraft, the technical documentation for the equipment of the new gunner's station was sent to the repair units of all air armies, where from October they began work on modernization, guided by the factory documentation or using similar solutions. Serial production of the first two-seat "flying tanks" was launched in October 1942. These aircraft did not receive any additional designation (the permanently used names Il-2m or, which is the same as Il-2M), but differed only in the next series number. Already in mid-November 1942, before the counteroffensive at Stalingrad, in 267 ShAD from 17 VA there were 66 attack aircraft converted in this way, 288 ShAD from 16 VA had a slightly smaller number of them, and a few more of them were in various regiments of 8 VA.

Attack Aircraft
Il-2 Il-2 Il-10
Crew 2 2 2
Year of issue 1942 1943 1944
Dimensions
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
Powerplant
Engine АМ-38 АМ-38F АМ-42
Power, hp 1600 1720 2000
Weight, kg:
Loaded 5670 6180 6300
Max takeoff weight 5870 6380 6500
Performance
Max speed, km/h at sea level 391 403 507
at altitude 416 414 551
m 2350 1000 2800
Service range with bombs, km 740 685 800
Armament
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, 1942

Drawing Il-2, 1942

Bibliography

  • "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/