Ilyushin IL-2 Shturmovik
Though seemingly an ordinary and unexciting machine with superficial close similarity to Britain's Fairey Battle (which proved a disaster), the IL-2 was almost certainly built in larger numbers than any other single type of aircraft. Output averaged 1,200 per month during most of World War II, to give a total of approximately 36,000. When the IL-10 developed version is added the total is reported to amount to 42,330. The Shturmovik's weapons could pierce all German armoured vehicles, even the Tiger tank being vulnerable when attacked from the rear. Swarms of these tough aircraft are judged by the Soviet Union to have played the dominant role in air warfare on the Eastern Front. IL-2 remained in operational service in the Soviet Union and with the Air Forces of Czechoslovakia and Poland into the 1950s. Indeed Stalin commented that the IL-2 was 'as essential to the Soviet Army as air and bread'. Source: Info: Aviastar http://www.aviastar.org/air/russia/il-2.php Profile: Aircraft Of World War 2 Published by Octopus Books Ltd.