Paid Advertisement
Historynet/feed historynet feedback facebook link World History Group RSS feed World History Group Subscriptions Historynet Home page

Shturmovik Rebuilt Under Radar

By Stephan Wilkinson 
Originally published by Aviation History magazine. Published Online: January 19, 2012 
Print Friendly
0 comments FONT +  FONT -

Aviarestoration's beautifully restored Ilyushin Il-2 flies over Russia, prior to joining Paul Allen's Flying Heritage Collection near Seattle (Flying Heritage Collection).
Aviarestoration's beautifully restored Ilyushin Il-2 flies over Russia, prior to joining Paul Allen's Flying Heritage Collection near Seattle (Flying Heritage Collection).

There is still enough left of the Shturmovik that more than a dozen bullet holes can plainly be seen

Nearly unnoticed in the West, several Russian firms have been doing world-class warbird restorations. The most recent phoenix to launch skyward from such a workshop is the world's only airworthy Ilyushin Il-2—the legendary Soviet World War II "flying tank," the Shturmovik. It's a project that was in process very quietly over the last six years by the builder Avia­restoration, under the direction of craftsman Boris Osetinsky. The fully restored Shturmovik burst upon the U.S. warbird scene last October—yes, it was done for an American buyer—like a 37mm round from one of its cannons.

Aviarestoration made its reputation with several flying MiG-3 and Polikarpov projects, some of which have found their way to both the U.S. and New Zealand. The former Soviet Union is an enormous landmass salted with thousands of untouched warbird wrecks, many of them in near-inaccessible northern forests, swamps and lakes, where bitter-cold fresh water and silty shallows do much to preserve their remains. (A Russian video of one Shturmovik recovery from such a bog clearly shows the still-intact body of the pilot being recovered.) The core of this restoration was recovered from a marsh, and though much of the airplane had to be reconstructed from fresh metal and wood by Aviarestoration, there is still enough left of the original that more than a dozen bullet holes can plainly be seen.

Shturmoviks were not "armored"—they were made of armor. The thick steel plating that rendered them impervious to rifle-caliber fire was not an add-on but was actually the fuselage—a large, load-bearing component that stretched from the prop spinner all the way back to the gunner's compartment. The aft fuselage and empennage were all wood, which was useless by the time the airframe was recovered. The airplane's original AM-38 V-12 engine was also junk, so the restoration is fitted with an Allison V-1710, possibly one originally intended for a contrarotating P-38, to match the Il-2's original "backward" prop rotation.

As with so many legends, the Shturmovik's reputation exceeds reality. Far from being an unstoppable tank-buster, the Il-2 has in fact been called one of the crudest and clumsiest of all WWII airplanes. They were shot down by the thousands. It was an example of the Soviet Union's undeniably effective methodology of developing weapons that were "good enough"—the famous T-34 tank was another example—and then freezing the design and cranking them out nonstop to overwhelm by force of numbers. More Il-2s (over 36,000) were manufactured than any combat aircraft in history.

So who bought this Il-2? In late October word leaked out that it is going to mega-collector Paul Allen and his Flying Heritage Collection, north of Seattle.

Leave a Reply

Human Verification: In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Related Articles

History Net Images Spacer
Paid Advertisement
Paid Advertisement
History Net Daily Activities
History net Spacer
History net Spacer
Historynet Spacer

Which of these wars resulted in the most surprising underdog upset?

View Results | See previous polls

Loading ... Loading ...
History net Spacer
RSS Feed Daily Email Update
History net Spacer
Paid Advertisement

Paid Advertisement
What is HistoryNet? is brought to you by World History Group, the world's largest publisher of history magazines. contains daily features, photo galleries and over 5,000 articles originally published in our various magazines.

If you are interested in a specific history subject, try searching our archives, you are bound to find something to pique your interest.

From Our Magazines
World History Group

World History Group Network:  HistoryNet | Armchair General | Achtung Panzer!
Today in History | Ask Mr. History | Picture of the Day | Daily History Quiz | Contact Us

Copyright © 2015 World History Group. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
Advertise With Us | Subscription Help | Privacy Policy