Ilyushin II-2M3 Shturmovik

Place in history: The Il-2 operated close to the ground, attacking enemy tanks, trucks, and troops near the front line. The job was dangerous and though the IL-2 was heavily armored, many of the planes were lost in battle. As Germany threatened western Russia, Soviet factories moved east, to ensure new Shturmoviks arrived to take the place of recent casualties. The enemy called the plane "Black Death" or "Betonvogel" (loosely, the Concrete Bird). Soviet pilots lovingly named the plane "Ilyusha." To the Soviet soldiers, the Il-2 was "the Winged Tank" or, perhaps most endearingly of all, "the Flying Infantryman."

This aircraft: The FHCAM's Il-2 was constructed in Kuybyshev in mid-1943 and was assigned to the 828th Attack Aviation Regiment on the lower Karelian Front. On October 10, 1944, the plane was hit by anti-aircraft fire while attacking an airfield and crashed near the Titovka River. The plane was discovered in a nameless lake by searchers scouting the area with a helicopter in 1991. When the recovery crew raised the Il-2 to the surface, they found it still had its complement of rockets and bombs under its wings. The plane was restored using parts from four wrecks discovered in northwestern regions of the former Soviet Union. Il-2 serial number 305401 makes up a large percentage of the aircraft.

Fact: The Il-2 type aircraft is the single most produced military aircraft design in all of aviation history.

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