The Il-2 was designed as a low-level close-support aircraft capable of defeating enemy armour and other ground targets. Hardly a fighter, the Il-2 was exclusively engineered to take an enormous amount of punishment and still keep the pilot, rear gunner and critical mechanical components unharmed. In the end, the Il-2 would become the most important aircraft to the Soviet Union in the defence of the homeland against advancing hordes of panzers. At its height, production of the Il-2 hit a peak of 300 aircraft per month and variants boasted potent 23-mm cannon, 200 anti-tank bomblets and 4 x 132-mm rockets.
The Il-2 became a highly respected and highly feared adversary. Soviet air crews dubbed the Il-2 as the 'Flying Tank' for its incredible ability to withstand a tremendous amount of damage and still release its payload only to return home intact. Not only did its rear gunners shoot down Luftwaffe aces thanks to its 12.7-mm machine gun, the Il-2 was also used as a fighter and German pilots were amazed to see 20-mm cannon shells bouncing off its armour plates. Crews were also known to weld additional armour to their Il-2s. The Shturmovik proved so effective that many Soviet crews were recipients of the Gold Star of Hero of the Soviet Union. Even today, the Il-2 is regarded as the Russian equivalent of the Spitfire.
By the war's end, some 36,000 Il-2s were produced and became the symbol of the Eastern Front.
Il-2 Shturmovik Guards Units of World War 2 (Osprey)
Over 43,000 Il-2/10s were built between 1941 and 1955, more than any other combat aircraft in history, making this one of the most important Soviet aircraft deployed in World War II. Built originally as a two-seater, the Il-2 had lost the rear gunner's position by the time it started to reach frontline units. Armed with ground-attack rockets, the aircraft proved deadly against Wehrmacht panzers as pairs of Il-2s roamed the frontline at low level. However, the Shturmoviks (armoured attackers) were vulnerable to attack from the rear by enemy fighters, so Ilyushin reverted to the two-seat layout in September 1942.
Oleg Rastrenin provides a fascinating account of the complex development history of a plane that was crucial to Russia's defence. From Stalingrad to Kursk to Berlin, this book charts the aeroplane's vital contribution to the most famous battles of the Eastern front.
Contents: Wartime development and combat tactics - Kharkov turning point - Battle of Stalingrad - Battle of Kursk - Byelorussian offensive - Downfall of Germany.
The IL-28 entered service with the USSR Air force in 1950 and has often been dubbed "The Russian Canberra". It served with the airforces of Egypt, China, Czechoslovakia and Poland, in addition to the USSR. This is an in-depth study of this long-serving light bomber.
Ilyushin / Beriyev A-50 : The Soviet Sentry (Flight Craft)
Brought out in the late 1970s as a successor to the obsolete Tu-126 airborne early warning aircraft, the A-50 co-developed by the Il'yushin and Beriyev bureaux is one of the most interesting military variants in the field of Il-76 military transport. Differing outwardly from the latter mainly in having a conventional "saucer" rotodome, the A-50 entered flight testing in 1980; the new Soviet AWACS entered service four years later. The improved A-50M was developed several years after that. The type continues in service with the Russian Air Force today, and the fleet is being upgraded to A-50U standard.
This book describes the A-50's thrilling developmental history, taking in its many variants (including the A-50EI export model for India) and gives an extensive overview of the various scale model kits covering the subject currently available on the market.