IL-2 Attack Aircraft Technical Specifications
- Crew – 2 people
- Engine – AM-638F
- Power – 1750 hp
- Wingspan-14.6 m
- Wing area – 38.5 sq. m
- Empty aircraft weight-4625 kg
- Maximum take-off weight-6160 kg
- Full load weight-1535 kg
- Maximum speed at altitude/near the ground – 414/391 km / h
- Practical ceiling – 5440 m
- Maximum range – 765 km
- Armament: 2 x 7.62 mm SHKAS machine guns; 1 x 12.7 mm UBT machine gun and 2 x 20 mm SHVAK air guns
- Maximum bomb load – 600 kg and 8 NURS M-82.
IL-2 Attack Aircraft Details
In the second half of the 1930s, the command of the Soviet Air Force demanded the creation of an armored attack aircraft designed to attack enemy manpower and equipment on the battlefield and in its near rear. Fighting in Spain and China in 1937-1938 proved the vulnerability of low – flying aircraft to enemy fire from the ground. Work on the creation of an armored attack aircraft was carried out in the Soviet Union by several aviation design bureaus that participated in the competition program, which received the conditional name “Ivanov”. Several prototype aircraft were built, which, however, did not fully meet the requirements of the military. The design bureau, headed by the aircraft designer S. V. Ilyushin (who at the same time also held the position of head of the 1st Main Directorate of the People’s Commissariat of Aviation Industry of the USSR), at that time was loaded with final work related to the organization of serial production of the DB-3 (Il-4) long-range bomber. Ilyushin did not officially participate in the Ivanov program, but, nevertheless, in accordance with his understanding of the role and tactics of assault aviation, he also conducted design studies, which were expressed in the search for optimal combinations of armor mass, bomb stock, machine-gun and cannon power, speed and range. In January 1938, Ilyushin turned to the government with a proposal to build a two-seat armored attack aircraft designed by him. The government supported the initiative of the aircraft designer.
The Ilyushin attack aircraft, originally designated “LT AM-34FRN” (flying tank with the AM-34FRN engine), was a single-engine two-seat monoplane of mixed design with a closed cabin, with the main landing gear columns semi-retractable into fairings. The crew consisted of a pilot and an air gunner. In general, the aircraft turned out to be very successful in terms of scheme and design, its dimensions, shapes, and equipment changed little in the future, only its armament was significantly strengthened.
The main feature of the aircraft was a streamlined armored hull made of high-strength armored steel AB-1, created under the leadership of S. T. Kishkin and N. M. Sklyarov. Armor steel had a good impact strength, which made it possible to produce by stamping armor parts that had a complex surface of double curvature. New armored steel and new technology for manufacturing parts made it possible to create an attack aircraft not with “mounted”, as it was before, but with “working”, i.e. included in the power structure of the aircraft, armor. All the vital parts of the aircraft-the engine, crew, fuel and oil system-were hidden in a streamlined armored hull. In the first version, the water and oil radiators of the cooling and lubrication system were made movable. Then the radiators were made stationary and installed next to each other in the armored hull behind the engine, and the cooling air came through a special channel located on the top of the engine. The armored hull itself was assembled from several stamped sheets of armor with a thickness of 4 to 8 mm. The total weight of the reservation was about 700 kg. The wooden tail section of the fuselage with a keel was attached to the armored hull, the wing and tail were all-metal, duralumin; the rudders were sheathed with canvas.
The aircraft was armed with four 7.62 mm SHKAS machine guns (mounted in the wings); another SHKAS-on a defensive installation and 400-600 kg of bombs. The preliminary design of the BSH-2 attack aircraft (armored attack aircraft-the second, also known as TsKB-55) was presented to the customer in early 1939. And already on July 9, the first prototype BSH-2 aircraft was built. On October 2, 1939, test pilot V. K. Kokkinaki took the plane into the air for the first time. After conducting factory and state tests in March-April 1940, it was decided to install a more powerful AM-38 engine on the aircraft. In addition, the military concluded that the aircraft should be single-seat, so that due to the mass of the shooter to increase the fuel supply. The need for rear protection for an attack aircraft, if not completely rejected, then, in any case, it was not given due importance, it was not assumed that at the beginning of the war there would not be enough fighters to cover them. S. V. Ilyushin was offered to make the aircraft in a single-seat version, which he completed by the end of 1940.
The new single-seat attack aircraft, originally known as the “TSKB-55P (cannon)”, later designated “TSKB-57”, received a more powerful new AM-38 engine with a capacity of 1,625 hp. In this aircraft, to improve longitudinal stability, the wing consoles were bent back by 5°. Instead of the shooter’s cabin, a 12-mm armored guard and gas tank were installed in the armored hull, which required the installation of a new cabin light with rear armored glass. Instead of four SHKAS machine guns, the TSKB-57 was equipped with two SHVAK 20-mm air guns and two SHKAS machine guns. It also carried 400-600 kg of aerial bombs and 8 NURS RS-82s. The fuel capacity increased to 535 kg. All this combined, allowed to increase the speed of the new Ilyushin attack aircraft model near the ground to 423 km / h (while its two-seat version showed only 362 km/h), and the maximum flight range increased to 850 km.
The first flight of the TSKB-57 aircraft took place on December 29, 1940, and its state tests were conducted from February 28 to March 20, 1941. The new attack aircraft adopted by the Red Army Air Force under the designation “Il-2” was immediately put into mass production at three plants of the People’s Commissariat of Aviation Industry (plant No. 1 named after I. V. Stalin in Moscow, No. 18 named after K. E. Voroshilov in Voronezh and No. 381 in Leningrad). Moreover, work on this aircraft continued and some changes were made to its design. So, initially the cabin light was closed by a flat opaque fairing, in the series – replaced by a transparent one. The first serial single-seat Il-2 was manufactured in March 1941, and in May-June they began to enter the combat units of the Red Army Air Force attack aircraft.
IL-2 attack aircraft quickly proved their high efficiency in the initial period of the Great Patriotic War. They were successfully used in battles on the distant approaches to Moscow in August-November 1941 and proved to be an effective anti-tank weapon when attacking enemy tank and motorized columns. However, at the same time, due to the lack of Soviet escort fighters in 1941-the first half of 1942, the losses of Il – 2 attack aircraft from German fighter aircraft were very high. Since the experience of combat use of the IL-2 revealed the need to take measures to protect the rear hemisphere, in February 1942 it was decided to return to the two-seat version of the Il-2 in accordance with the original Ilyushin concept.
The gunner’s cabin was equipped outside the armored hull behind the armored guard of the rear fuel tank. With his back to the bulkhead, the gunner was sitting on a suspended tarpaulin strap, protected from fire from the tail of the aircraft by a 6 mm thick armored guard. The cutout in the upper part of the fuselage under the gunner’s cabin was edged with a rigid ring stamped from duralumin sheet. The weight of the armored hull during refinement and changes reached 990 kg. Armor – homogeneous (homogeneous) thickness of 4, 5, 6, 8 and 12 mm. The wooden tail section of the fuselage was docked with the armored hull with duralumin tape on 5-mm rivets. It remained this way almost until the end of the war, when they began to make it out of duralumin, like the wing consoles. In the front sight glass, a “mosaic” transparent armor was mounted – 63 mm thick armored glass glued together from pieces about 10×15 cm in size and giving only limited cracks when hit by bullets. The SHVAK 20-mm guns were replaced by the more powerful VYA 23-mm air guns. Two prototypes of the Ilyushin Il-2 two-seat attack aircraft passed flight tests in March, and in July 1942, the two-seat Il-2 M type 2, armed with two VYA-23 guns, two 7.62 mm SHKAS machine guns, eight NURS M-82 or four M-132, one 12.7 mm UBT machine gun at strelka and 400-600 kg of aerial bombs, passed state tests. By the decree of the State Defense Committee of October 5, 1942, the People’s Commissariat of Aviation Industry of the USSR was given the task to introduce into mass production a two-seat Il-2 M type 2 attack aircraft with an UBT machine gun to protect the rear hemisphere at factories No. 1 (evacuated in October 1941 from Moscow to Kuibyshev); No. 18 (also evacuated in the fall of 1941 to Kuibyshev) and No. 30 (in Moscow).
From the third quarter of 1942, these aircraft began to enter the army in ever-increasing numbers, and from February 1, 1943, all aircraft factories completely switched to the production of two-seat attack aircraft. Soon on the modified Il-2 type 3 machine, they began to mount the AM-38F boost engine with a take-off power of 1,750 hp. In addition, the Il-2 underwent a number of aerodynamic and structural improvements. So, the wing consoles were redesigned, and the angle of their sweep along the leading edge was brought to 15°, which improved the alignment of the fuselage.; a “counterbalance” was introduced to the elevators to increase longitudinal stability. As a result, the two-seat version had a maximum speed of up to 414 km / h, although the take-off weight of such a serial model increased and reached 6160 kg. In January-February 1943, the two-seat Il-2 passed flight and combat military tests on the Stalingrad Front as part of the 8th Air Army. The presence of a radio operator allowed in some cases to operate attack aircraft without fighter cover. However, this was not easy, and the losses among the shooters were very high (about one dead pilot accounted for seven dead shooters), since their head and chest were not protected.
Along with the design refinement, the Il-2’s firepower was continuously increased during mass production. By the summer of 1943, a modification of the IL-2 type 3 appeared, armed with two underwing 37-mm NS-37 air guns (with ammunition for 50 rounds per gun). NS-37 guns could hit any German tanks up to “Tigers”. They were very useful in the Battle of Kursk. Particularly effective weapons of the IL-2 in the fight against German tanks were cassettes containing 192 PTAB-2,5-1,5 cumulative anti-tank bombs. One such bomb, weighing 1.5 kg, burned through tank armor up to 70 mm thick. When the contents of such a cartridge were dropped on a column of tanks from a height of 75 -100 m, all armored vehicles that fell into a strip 15 m wide and 70 m long were disabled. Il-2 attack aircraft armed with 37-mm cannons and cartridges with PTAB-2,5 cumulative aerial bombs were successfully used on the Kursk Bulge against Wehrmacht tanks. Attack pilots also actively fought against the enemy’s railway trains and automobile convoys. The main purpose of the Il-2, which usually operated within a radius of 250 – 300 km from their airfields for land and sea targets, was to directly support ground forces in the tactical and partially operational depth of enemy defense, fight tank and motorized enemy groups directly on the battlefield and in its close rear, at crossings, in preparing attacks, etc.
Since the summer of 1943, it was mastered in production and was produced in small series of correction aircraft.shik artillery firing IL-2KR, which outwardly differed from the usual IL-2 only rack radio antenna, transferred to the visor of the pilot’s lantern. A more powerful, longer-range radio was installed in the cockpit behind the pilot’s armor plate, on a reduced fuselage gas tank. In addition, photographic equipment was installed in the rear fuselage. In addition, Il-2 attack aircraft were successfully used in the Air Force of the Navy to destroy enemy ships and other watercraft.
Naval aviation used the Il-2, including as a specialized modification of the Il-2T torpedo bomber, for anti-ship operations, for reconnaissance and smoke screens. A training version of the aircraft was also produced under the designations Il-2U with a second control in the rear cabin, and with reduced armament (two SHKAS, two NURS M-82 and 200 kg of bombs). In the last year of the war, Il-2 attack aircraft were also in service with Polish and Czechoslovak aviation units that fought as part of the Red Army against German troops.
The Il-2 armored attack aircraft became one of the main Soviet combat aircraft of the Great Patriotic War, and its mass use was one of the significant factors in the success of the Red Army in defeating the enemy in decisive battles, especially in the second half of the war. The IL-2 proved to be an extremely resilient vehicle. So, one Ilyushin attack aircraft is known, which, having made more than 150 combat sorties, received a total of more than 600 damage to the wing, tail, fuselage,and tail. It was a real soldier plane-unpretentious, stable, strong: in the single-seat version of the Il-2, 25 sorties accounted for one combat loss, in the two – seat version-already 36. At the front, its name was “flying tank”.
Twice Heroes of the Soviet Union G. F. Sivkov, G. T. Beregovoy, M. Z. Bondarenko, A. I. Efimov, Hero of the Soviet Union V. B. Emelianenko and others fought on Il-2 aircraft. IL-2 became a full-fledged “king” of the fields, a worthy partner of the “queen” – the Soviet infantry. This was also facilitated by its mass production (about 40 attack aircraft were sent to the front every day). IL-2 attack aircraft accounted for about 30% of the total number of all Soviet combat aircraft manufactured during the Great Patriotic War. The total number of Il-2 aircraft of all modifications produced was 36,163 copies, and the production of Il-10 attack aircraft by the end of 1945 amounted to 2,328 combat vehicles and 228 training UIl-10s (Il-10U). Production of the IL-10 and its Il-10M modifications continued until 1954, and the total number of vehicles produced was 4,966 units.
On the open area of weapons and military equipment of the Central Museum of the Great Patriotic War, a mock-up of the Il-2 Type 3 attack aircraft (tail number 151), which was part of the 66th Assault Aviation Regiment of the Kiev Special Military District (Kurovice airfield) in 1941, is on display. The mock-up of the aircraft was built by Tushinsky Machine-Building Plant together with VDA LLP in 1995.