But the first place among the planes of the Second World War is occupied by the Soviet Il-2. He went through the whole war, in all, more than 36,000 storm troopers were manufactured. This made him the most massive combat aircraft of all time. IL-2 became "as important for the Red Army as air and bread," as Stalin put it.
In the Red Army, the aircraft was nicknamed "hunchbacked" (for the characteristic shape of the fuselage). Designers called the aircraft developed by them a "flying tank". German pilots for survivability called it a "concrete plane", a butcher, a meat grinder, a black death.
It is generally believed that from the very beginning of combat use at the front, the Il-2 attack aircraft proved to be a very strong and "hardy" combat aircraft. To many pilots he saved his life, preserving volatility with such damages, which for any other aircraft were, as they say, "incompatible with life." It was not uncommon for cases when aircraft damaged in combat, having made a normal landing at their airfield, literally fell apart or were not subject to repair because of the considerable number of large and small damages. Engineers of assault aviation regiments in reporting documents indicated: "It was difficult to imagine how such aircraft could continue to fly. It was clear one thing, the pilots took all measures to reach out to the airfield, knowing about the large damages of the aircraft. "
Of course, the high survivability of the IL-2 was used to the full only mainly by experienced pilots. There are very few examples of the return of young pilots on broken planes, but still, thanks to the excellent survivability of the Il-2, attack pilots often managed either to make an emergency landing on any more or less suitable area, or to fly to it at their aerodrome.
About 10% of the damaged IL-2 aircraft were sent to repair facilities or were written off because of the impossibility of repair. The remaining 90% were restored by the forces of the technical department and field aircraft repair workshops.
However, many experts noted the shortcomings of the legendary IL-2.
He had a low effectiveness bombardurmovyh strikes, a huge level of combat losses.
Presented as the main advantage of IL-2 booking for 41-45 years. was also insufficient - and these "flying tanks" could not be saved from being destroyed in large numbers by German fighters and antiaircraft gunners. Not at all an ideal "battlefield" made the IL-2 and its half-wooden design - further reducing the combat survivability of this machine.
In addition to the insufficiently perfect material part, the effectiveness of the attacks of Soviet assault aviation was also reduced by numerous defects in its tactics and by the weak flying, rifle and tactical training of ordinary pilots during the first years of the war.
But the single-engine and simple design of the Sturmovik was simpler and cheaper in production than the twin-engine all-metal bombers.
In the first days of the war, it turned out that single-seat attack planes carry unreasonably high losses from enemy fighters. To protect the pilots in the upper part of the fuselage a hole was cut to accommodate the arrow and mount a machine gun. Between themselves a temporary design of the arrow was called the "cabin of death." Later, the position of the machine gunner was included in the design of IL-2, but this post still remained one of the most dangerous professions of that war.
It should be noted here that we have a completely incorrect formulation of the image of the hero-pilot. They, as a rule, is a fighter with his own list of victories. And the pilots-bombers and ground-attack planes undeservedly relegated to the background. However, the tactics of the Soviet Air Force provided for the use of aviation purely in the interests of the land forces. Therefore, the more important the goal, the more it is necessary to bomb it and the more strongly it is protected by the enemy. On the stormtrooper dozens of guns of antiaircraft artillery are guided, and it flies, has no right to change the course already targeted by anti-aircraft gunners, until then flies until it hits the target. The fighter still has the initiative - he can get away from a strong fire, change the direction of attack, attack again, in other words, he somehow can take care of himself. A stormtrooper can not protect himself - he must break through the fire to the goal!
Craft arrow on the "humpback" was considered an incredibly risky business, because the deaths of air fighters was 2 times higher than the ability to shoot down the stormtrooper. Armored sheet thickness of 6 mm protected only from machine-gun fire when attacking enemy fighters from the side of the tail. In addition, the angle of fire from a large-caliber machine gun did not always allow fire on enemy vehicles, and the Germans quickly learned that it was necessary to attack the "black death" from behind and below, where the lines of the arrow could not hit them.