Ilyushin Il-2

From Academic Kids

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Il2_sturmovik.jpg
An Ilyushin Il-2

The Ilyushin Il-2 Shturmovik was one of the most formidable ground attack aircraft of World War II, and was produced by the Soviet Union in huge numbers; a total of 36,163 according to one source. It is believed to be the biggest production run of any aircraft in history.

It was originally designed by Sergey Ilyushin and his team at the Central Design Bureau in 1938, as a two-seat aircraft with an armored shell weighing 1,540 pounds (15% of the aircraft's gross weight) protecting crew, engine, radiators, and the fuel tank. The prototype, named the BSh-2, first flew on December 30, 1939. However, this was rejected in favor of a lighter single-seat design, the TsKB-57, which first flew October 12, 1940.

This version was officially designated Il-2, and started large-scale production in early 1941, with the first deliveries coming in May, just in time for the German invasion. The Il-2 proved itself to be a deadly weapon against German transport and armor, but was itself vulnerable to fighter attack, and so in February 1942 the two-seat design was revived.

The two-seat version was called IL-2M, and differed by having a rear gunner's position under a lengthened canopy. These modified versions started appearing in September 1942, and eventually existing single-seaters were modified also. Later changes included an upgrade from 20-mm to 23-mm cannons, aerodynamic improvements, use of wooden outer wing panels instead of metal, and increased fuel capacity.

In 1943 the IL-2 Type 3 or Il-2m3 came out with redesigned wings that were swept back 15 degrees on the outer ends. Performance and handling were much improved, and this became the most common version of the Il-2.

The aircraft played an important role on the Eastern Front (WWII), and in the opinion of the Soviet Union was the most decisive aircraft in the history of modern land warfare. Flying day and night, they could defeat the thick armour of the Panther and Tiger I tanks, and often shot down Messerschmitt Bf 109s.

After the war the Il-2 could be found in service with several Eastern European countries for some years.

An improved version, the Il-10, was used in the Korean War.

Simulators

External links

Original IL-2 Field Manual (in Russian) (http://people.ee.ethz.ch/~chapman/il2guide/downloads/technical/il2pilotnotes.pdf)

The Ilyushin Il-2 Sthurmovik (http://break-left.org/air/il-2.html)

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