The Ilyushin II Sturmovik, Or “Flying Tank”.


It can be argued that the Russian T-34 was the best tank of World War II. In a plating-armor to plating-armor gunfight with a Panzer Mark V Panther, or a Mark VI Tiger, the German tank would prevail. However a side shot or an exchange with the T-34-85 and the T-34 often prevailed. The Germans made 1,283 Tiger tanks, and less than 800 King Tigers. However the Soviets made in excess of 39,000 T-34s. So “Quantity has a quality all its own,” as Stalin said.


It could also be argued that the Ilyushin II Sturmovik was the best ground attack aircraft in the Second World War. It was a two seat, single engine prop plane with a low wing and armor. The Il II was called the Flying tank because it had enough armor to withstand hundreds of rounds of small arms fire and up to two or three 20mm shells. In the Battle of Kursk, Sturmoviks stopped hundreds of German tanks. Russian air commanders attacked en masse with Il-2s the same way Germans attacked with massed tanks. The Sturmoviks were late comers, because appeared after the German invasion of the Soviet Union. Their continued appearance in the skies over Russia showed the Nazis that the Russians could manufacture in great numbers even while engaged in a massive multi-front war.


The Sturmovik could deliver twin 20mm rounds from cannons forward, and a 7.62mm rear seat machine gun. Various other configurations gave the IL II four 7.62mm forward guns and a rear seat gunner to fight off fighters. Others included 500 pound bombs and 82 mm rockets. The planes could loiter closer to the ground and the rounds they fired from their cannons easily penetrated armor from the top and rear of German tanks. The dive-bombing was very accurate and relatively new pilots found it easy to hit their targets. Either way this plane could take amazing punishment and return to the air. The Germans called them the Black Death. In all 42,330 Sturmoviks were built making it the most numerously produced World War II aircraft manufactured. Almost 11,000 of them were shot down during the war.







1 thought on “The Ilyushin II Sturmovik, Or “Flying Tank”.”

  1. The “bathtub” armor, with the pilot, and most vulnerable mechanics and electronics inside, was subsequently copied in the A-10 Thunderbolt II\Warthog attack plane

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