Il-2 Shturmovik [NATO Bark]
A total of 36,183 Il-2s were produced, of which the Red Army accepted about 34,000 units. The rest were not used due to defects, lost during flights, or remained at the plants as objects for testing. Such a huge production was made possible by the fact that all aircraft factories were gigantic, constantly expanding plants. For example, at plant No. 1 “Flying Tank” in 1943, it assembled on 18 assembly lines, and in 1945 there were already 38 such lines. The same situation was with Plant No. 18, the number of assembly lines here increased from 9 in 1943 G. to 32 in 1945. The same happened in other enterprises.
Due to such a wide construction of these plants, the cost of manufacturing one IL-2 from year to year became less. In 1941, the price of one Silt was equal to 236.1 thousand rubles, and in 1943 it fell only to 165.6 thousand rubles (that is, it was only 50 thousand rubles more than the price of the Yak fighter). The price of one IL-10 in 1945 fluctuated in the region around 250 thousand rubles. By 2018 the Ruble was worth around US$0.015 dollar was worth, but at that time the exchange rate was $0.1887. At this rate, a single IL-2 would have cost just shy of $50,000 [in 1945 dollars, or maybe $700,000 in 2018 dollars].
Without risking a mistake, it can be argued that the IL-2 was not a good aircraft and everyone understood this perfectly. Nevertheless, it was built in huge quantities, as it was essentially the only effective day strike aircraft of the Red Army. Experience 1941-42. was so severe that even the "cruel" Stalin himself did not dare to use a large number of ADD (Long Range Aviation) aircraft in day operations, which only had bombers capable of delivering powerful blows. Pe-2 dive bombers were not bad, but their high specialization and small bomb load devalued it as an effective strike aircraft. Thus, only the heavily armored IL-2 remained. It is not the pilot's fault that Ilyushyn designed a “slow-moving log” instead of an attack aircraft.
Based on the analysis of combat use for direct support of ground troops of reconnaissance aircraft and fighter planes in Spain and China, S.V. Ilyushin, on his own initiative, which was a characteristic feature of his design work, conducts design studies of the parameters and layout of an armored ground-attack aircraft. In January 1938, S.V. Ilyushin appeals to the government with a proposal to create an armored ground-attack aircraft (a pilot and a gunner of a defensive machine gun) designed by him, a "flying tank", which in its combat effectiveness was superior to light bombers and scouts created under the Ivanov program.
"The task of creating an armored ground-attack aircraft is difficult and involves a lot of technical risk, but I'm enthusiastic and fully confident of success in taking on this business," he wrote. Ilyushin in his letter. This confidence of S.V.Ilyushin was based on the realization of his outstanding design idea. He forced the armor not only to protect, but also to work instead of the usual airframe skeleton, which allowed to significantly reduce the weight of the aircraft. In the contours of the armored hull, which formed the contours of the forward part of the fuselage, a power plant, engine cooling radiators, a crew cabin and petrol tanks were inscribed.
In this form, the experimental aircraft TsKB-55 with AM-35 AA motor. Mikulina made his first flight on October 2, 1939, under the supervision of VK. Kokkinaki. Due to the underestimation by some experts of the flight and combat characteristics of the aircraft, its launch into mass production was delayed. After carrying out a large amount of finishing work connected with the use of a more powerful low-altitude AM038 engine, a military-to-military transition to a single-seat version, the installation of more powerful offensive weapons in 1940, the Il-2 aircraft was finally launched into serial production at the Voronezh Aviation Plant . Workers of the plant worked around the clock with a group of designers, which was headed personally by S.V. Ilyushin and representatives of the engine OKB AA. Mikulina. On March 1, 1941 the first serial IL-2 entered the factory flight test station. By the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, 249 Il-2 attack aircraft were built.
June 27, 1941 aircraft IL-2 took baptism of fire. In the evening of this day, five of the 4th ShAP storm troopers attacked a column of German tanks and motorized infantry in the area of Bobruisk on the border of the Berezina River. The simple technique of piloting, powerful armament, invulnerability from the fire of land-based small arms, and partly from the fire of small-caliber anti-aircraft guns made the Il-2 a formidable means of combating enemy ground forces, especially with its tanks and motorized infantry. In the autumn of 1941, due to the evacuation of serial plants to the east, the production of IL-2 was sharply reduced. In the hardest conditions, aircraft builders set up storm troopers in new places, people worked in unheated rooms, sometimes in the open air. But there was a battle for Moscow, and the front, like never before, needed IL-2 aircraft.
Stalin sent a telegram to Kuibyshev to the directors of the factories MB. Shenkman and A.T. To Tretyakov. “You have let down our country and our Red Army. You have the nerve not to manufacture Il-2s until now. Our Red Army now needs Il-2 aircraft like the air it breathes, like the bread it eats. (This plant) now produces one Il-2 a day….It is a mockery of the Red Army….I ask you not to try the government’s patience, and demand that you manufacture more Il-2s. This is my final warning. Stalin.” Not surprisingly, Il-2 production increased sharply within weeks.
In the summer of 1942, the situation in the Red Army air attack units became so acute that Stalin twice issued special orders in which the pilots were required to take full bombs on the IL-2. The problem was that most of the assault formations were based on field airfields, and this greatly limited the maximum combat load of the Flying Tanks. In addition, the aircraft taking a full bomb load into the sortie, and not only missiles, as was commonly practiced by crews, significantly improved flight performance, and the attack aircraft were already heavy and clumsy.
Il-2 aircraft began to arrive in front-line units in ever-increasing numbers. At the beginning of the Battle of Kursk, every month, 1,000 more Il-2 aircraft arrived at the front. Over the course of the war, a total of between 31,000 and about 36,000 Il-2s were to be produced — more than any other combat aircraft in the War.
The Il-2, however, was not a wonder weapon. One of its major problems was the inaccuracy of its attacks. Although massive numbers of Shturmoviks began to support main offensives of the ground troops, the aircrafts’ effect was often rather psychological, especially against targets that were dug-in or armored. Additionally, the heavy weight of the Il-2’s armor meant that Shturmoviks could not carry heavy bomb loads.
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