Role: Ground-attack aircraft
Manufacturer: Ilyushin Design Bureau
First flight: 2 October 1939
Primary user: Soviet Air Force
Number built: 36,183
In the Second World War the need for tactics of Air Support of Ground troops/units led directly to Ground Support Aircraft. The reason for this was that in the First World War, any sort of attacks or support were spontaneous acts or decisions that went beyond the mission of the aircraft at hand. The time between wars allowed for the manufacture and modification of tactics and aircraft to both attack enemy ground units, and support the ground units allied.
The use of the Stuka aircraft in the Luftwaffe during the Blitzkrieg attacks in Poland impressed the rest of the world, and particularly of the Soviet Union. The Shturmovik was already on the design board and in production, but the use of such a plane was now able to be seen in action. Josef Stalin called for full production of the IL-2. His push led to the increased numbers of the plane, and when various weaknesses were shown, instead of scrapping the plane, the designers redesigned certain aspects. More bottom armor was added, a rear gunner was added, and as the war went on other improvements went on.
The use of the IL-2 en masse led to breakthroughs at various times on vital fronts against the Germans, and Germany's allies. Stalin called the plane the most important weapon against the Nazis, and perhaps that was true.
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