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The Soviet Union's World War II low-level ground attack aircraft, the Ilyushin II-2 Stormovik, could be called a "flying tank."  The aircraft earned its designer Sergei Ilyushin acclaim as a Hero of Soviet Labor.  Stalin himself once said that the Stormovik was "as essential for the Red Army as oxygen and bread."  Little wonder then that some 35,000  Stormovik were produced by the U.S.S.R. during the war, second in total production only to Germany's Messerschmitt Mf-109.

The Stormovik was an all-metal, low-wing monoplane that was powered by a V-12 liquid cooled engine of 1,300 horsepower.  Originally introduced as a single-seater in 1941, the Stormovik quickly established itself as a punishing air-to-ground defensive weapon, but it proved vulnerable to attack from the rear.  So in 1942 a rear gunner's compartment armed with twin .30caliber machine guns was installed.   This added protection was a highly effective deterrent to Nazi fighters, and, as a result, the Stormovik had the lowest attrition  rate of any Russian combat aircraft in the war.

The Ilyushin II-2 Stormovik was considered by many experts in aerial warfare to be the best antitank and ground-attack aircraft of World War II.  And for good reason!  Not only was Stormovik heavily armed, it was also very heavily armored.  In addition to its rear-firing .30-caliber machine guns, the Stormovik was also armed with two wing-mounted  20-millimeter cannons and a pair of 7.6-millimeter machine guns, plus eight 82-millimeter machine rockets, and four 220-pounds bombs slung beneath its wings.  For defense against ground and air fire, the Stormovik crews were protected by both armor plate and bullet-proof glass.   The aircraft also carried armor to protects its engine, fuel tanks, radiator and oil cooler.  In all, the Stormovik had more than three-quarters of a ton of armor plate.

The Ilyushin II-2 Stormovik, however, was not without its drawbacks.  It was slow, with a top speed of only about 270-280 miles per hour.  Its range was limited to 400 miles, and it climbed at a sluggish 490 feet per minute.  Despite these drawbacks, the aircraft was successful in performing its defensive mission, and it became an important factor in Russia's victory over the Germans.

The preceding information was extracted from the pamphlet,
"The Great Airplanes Sterling Silver Miniature Collection", published by The Franklin Mint, 1979.
Permission was granted to ALLSTAR by The Franklin Mint to use the preceding materials.
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Updated: March 12, 2004