Best Tank Killer of WW2 continued

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the old Sage
May 20, 2004
Platonic Sphere
not bothered in the least Adler.

I say 9/10ths of the German students have not been given the "correct" form of what WW 2 was about concerning their country. Not the Politically correct history that came into play back in 2000 onward..............

maybe this makes a bit more sense ?

E ~ 8)
Best tank killer of WW2 would probably be the IL-2.

Honourable mention to the following:
JU-87 (Twin 37mm version)
Hurricane IID
I do not think the IL-2 is the best tank killer of WWII, at all.

The USAAF has worked hard to prove all their fighters were absolutely superior to anything the Germans had (they were not). The soviets have worked likewise.

The Shturmovik has been overinflated by the soviet propaganda.
Even the alleged nickname German troops gave to it, "Black Death" was a very dumb name invented by the soviet themselves.

The German troops never referred to it as such.

It of course made an important contribution for the soviet war effort and certainly inflicted damage to the enemy, but to say it was an extremely efficient tank destroyer is quite beyond the domain of reality.

While it could carry powerful armament like 37mm cannons, rockets and bombs, the IL-2M was not a very stable gun platform. It was an armored pig.

The Germans captured big numbers of intact Il-2s (both the single-seat and two seat versions) and after being tested they could not believe such a piece of crap had been put into massive production. Please do not tell it was for the sole purpose of "reassuring" the German soldiers in the front lines (i.e. the Germans praised the capabilities of the La-7.) who of course knew what the conditions at the front were.

The Shturmovik´s heavy weight armor could be very efficient against personal infantry weapons being fired at them, but against weapons up the mid caliber it was as vulnerable as any other plane of its size. The casualty rate of the IL-2s is perhaps the most frightful suffered by any war plane fielded by any of the nations involved.

The nearly 1 ton of armor fitted to the Shturmovik, providing "all around heavy armor protection" has similarities with the doctrine of the boxes of heavy bombers of the USAAF. The boys of the USA were convinced a massed formation of heavy bombers, each packed with up to 12 .50 cal machine guns could more than deal with the German interceptors all by itself. In the skies of western europe just like in the steppes of the Soviet Union, both notions were proved gruesome failures.

Differences however exist. The USA did not have the absolute contempt for the lives of its men the soviet side displayed, and the heavy bombers eventually received fighter escorts while the IL-2s continued to be sent in massed numbers against the enemy. Sergei V. Ilyushin spent a good part of the war with a gun pointed at his head to produce more and more of those planes.

The Shturmovik could be regarded as the aerieal version of soviet infantry. Many times, when the target was large (armored or motorized units or big concentrations of troops) they would literally charge in large numbers at extremely low altitude, being greeted by a barrier of fire involving every firing tube available, many many times receiving fatal damage, having the soviet pilot -at the very last moment- smashing his plane against the enemy positions, causing terrible losses and damage. But that has nothing to do with quality of the plane.

I have soviet propaganda footage of the Shturmoviks (made right after the war), shown diving with all 37mm blazing, and hell, it had a punch!
From the armament approach, it surely carried toys that could destroy any tank. It surely hit and destroyed panzers but not in the fashion many appear to believe.

All sides overclaimed, that is a very well known thing. Still I do think the best aerial tank busters of the war are the Germans.

Most soviet pilots were hastily trained then put in the cockpit of their machines. Pokryshkin and pupils were exceptions. Losses of soviet aircraft in 1945 alone (Jan 1st-May 9th) made +/- 11,000 aircraft (eleven thousand); does that tell anything?

These of course leads to other lines of discussion, like the alleged reorganization and re-birth of an extremely capable and highly skilled VVS masterminded by Aleksandr Novikov and many others.

A research made by Niklas Zetterling revealed the USAAF and RAF, during the previous months to D-day over Normandy, claimed numbers of destroyed panzers which surpassed the entire order of battle of panzer units in the entire Normandy campaign. In fact they destroyed nearly ten times less panzers than those claimed by their pilots.

The USAAF and RAF were far better trained air forces than the VVS ever was.
If we're talking how poor the plane was, let's talk about the Ju-87-G. In reality it could only serve on the Eastern Front because anywhere with enemy planes in the sky it was destroyed.
The Stuka wasn't the greatest tank destroyer of the war, it's in the same catergory as the Hurricane IID. If you want to talk survivability, it'll be the Typhoon because was it'd dropped it's load it was practically a low-level interceptor.
The Il2 and its follow-ons were very effective tankbusters because the Russian tactic of the "Circle of Death" was a stroke of genius. It allowed the planes to attack from the rear and hit 'em where they were weakest, while filling the sky with targets and confusing enemy AAA. They were good anti-tank weapons, but vulnerable to air attack due to low speed. In the real world, it would be my choice to fly a Typhoon. To be effective, you have to make it home to fight again tomorrow!
Plan_D makes a good point. One of the main reasons the Stuka was adopted as a tank-buster was that it could no longer function as a dive-bomber. As it was, it was still required local air-superiority. How does this make it any better than the Il-2? Remember, the Stuka only remained in production because the Germans had nothing better to go with.

All in all, the Il-2 was less vulnerable that the Ju-87G and considerably better armed.
Plan_D and Lightning Guy:

I have not seen anyone on this thread anywhere affirming the Stuka was the best tank killer of the war.

You should be more direct and address the guy you are directing your comments to.

I said the Germans were the best aerial tank busters of the war, overclaiming acknowledged; the Stuka was used for that specific purpose when fitted with the 37mm guns, but so were the Hs129 and the Me110.

If you want to compare the IL-2 with the Stuka the scenario is not very favorable to the Shturmovik.

(i)The Stuka was an extremely stable gun platform, a feature the Shturmovik lacked. The nearly 1 ton of armor made it as clumsy as the USAAF heavies and lacked manouverability as well as climbing capabilities.

(ii) Speed? Virtually the same, and the IL-2 had a retractable undercarriage, while the Stuka´s was fixed causing important drag.

(iii) The sole department where the Shturmovik surpassed the Stuka was the weaponry: the soviet plane could carry powerful 37mm cannons and several arrays of rockets and/or bombs.

(iv) In addition to point (iii), the most impressive thing about the IL-2s was the numbers which saw service.

The IL-2s when caught without fighter support made comfortable preys for German interceptors.

You underestimate the Stuka and opposedly overestimate the IL-2.

In theory perhaps the best tank busting aircraft is that which after attacking the tanks is absolutely capable of defending itself against enemy fighters: neither one of these two planes certainly fit into such category.

Both the Ju87 and the IL-2 were confortable targets for enemy interceptors.

It is absolutely true the Germans never came up with a sound replacement for the glorious Stuka, and it continued to see service until the very end fundamentally in the eastern front charging against soviet armor and in the west on night harrasment missions.

Now, it appears like concepts are mingled.

They say the Stuka was obsolete, say, by the mid point of WWII.

Pardon me?

Had the Luftwaffe had a far stronger presence over Normandy, or say, something near to air superiority, you certainly have swarms of Stukas screaming over the allied beach heads and please go tell the allied soldiers they are being attacked by "obsolete" planes.

So the Stuka receives the obsolete tag because the conditions for operating it had ceased to exist.

During the first years of Barbarossa, when the VVS was getting obliterated, the IL-2 can be considered plainly and flatly obsolete if you apply the logic you do on the Stuka.

So, the IL-2M saw itself raised from obsolence in 1944 when the Luftwaffe decided to sent west many of its fighter unitsto face the heavy bomber threat, giving now the VVS virtual control of the skies in the east?

A similar song can be played on the famous IL-2. It had a performance very similar to the Stuka and caused heavy damage due mainly to its massive numbers and not precisely due the quality of the plane and of the pilots.

From mid 1944 to the end of the war, the swarms of IL-2s operated in a theather were the Luftwaffe had a very modest number of interceptors, and still the formations of Shturmoviks took frightful losses. It helped to get the job done, but it is far from what many of you believe the Shturmovik was.

The Stuka over Britain in 1940, in an environment of no air superiority, a bold RAF, sustained casualties far lesser to those the IL-2s took from mid 1944 and on in eastern skies were the Luftwaffe had a minimum presence.
Okay Udet.

The Hs-129 was a virtual death trap in an air-fight and its French made engines were woefully underpowered. I really wouldn't go there.

The Me-410 wasn't used all that often as a tank-buster (you'd be better arguing for the Fw-190F variants).

You are forgetting another advantage of the Il-2, the UBT gun covering the rear. This was far more effective that the Stuka's rear MG81Z. And the Il-2 was certainly less vulnerable to ground fire.

Me 410? Where? I said Me 110; I should have written Bf 110 "Zerstörer" fitted with 3cm cannon under the belly for tank busting missions.

What could the difference between the IL-2 and the Hs129 be for you to not consider the Shturmovik a death trap as well?

The Hs129 almost had the same weight of armor the IL-2 had.

Why is it so homogeneous everywhere you always read about the underpowered engines of the Hs129? It had almost the same speed of the IL-2.

The rear gun on the IL-2M?
Yes, it of course made an improvement when one knows the first models were single seat plane, so what about it Lightning?

It of course gave the plane a minimum level of self defense capability but did not help that much.

The heavy bomber formations of the USAAF, which were massive, sound planes, each packed with some 12 .50 cal machine guns were many many times obliterated out of the sky by German interceptors when they flew unescorted and some times when having the escorts around as well.

What do you think the fate of a formation of IL-2Ms -a single-engine plane, clumsy, unmaneuverable, fitted with only ONE rear gun- could be when intercepted by German fighters?

Just like the heavy bombers, the rear gunners of IL-2s could manage to shoot down some of the enemy interceptors (Stuka rear gunners did as well); however, far more Shturmoviks would go down.
side note.............look at the NSGr night Ju 87D's and text I posted earlier on on these pages. Not used for dive bombing eh in the West or Med ? sorry guys but it is true, even on the Ost front as well.....till war's end.

E ~
Udet, how much armour did the Hs 129 have for its engines?

Some stats for you. During the Belorussian campaign the 3rd Air Army only 2.6% of the Il-2s flying a mission failed to return.

When the 87G had fired off its 37mm rounds it only had the mg of the rear gunner for protection. It also had to fly with the equivelent of a 250kg bomb hanging from each wing all the time. All it could do was run while the Il-2 had the ability to go offensive.

the lancaster kicks ass you might change your mind about the Typhoon, and the Tempest, if you read a loss list. The number of Sabre failures was very high.

You make good points.

I do not know how much armor the Hs129 had to protect the engines; what I know is the cockpit was a an actual armored box and that the Shturmovik carried about 90 kilograms more of armor.

I assume you understand I am not suggesting the IL-2M was a piece of shit or the like. As i said, it helped the soviet war effort a lot.

My point is simple: it was not, at all, the marvel accurate wonder ground attack plane depicted.

I do not think it was an efficient tank killer at all.

I have guncamera footage of German fighters pounding the IL-2s and you would be shocked to see how uncapable of manouvering it was; furthermore, for a plane of its size (kind of equal in size to any other single engine fighter) it was as clumsy as a four engine bomber.

In some shots the German fighter opens fire at some 150-200 meters and you see large parts of the IL-2 falling apart, then fire and smoke and that was it.

The heavy armor of the IL-2 as it made a plus under specific circumstances of combat it also turned out to be its own enemy. Slow and clumsy.

Regarding the soviet statistics you mention all I can say it is very unlikely such a loss ratio was ever suffered by the VVS in mid 1944. Where did you find it?

Many Russians are known to take big offense whenever they know or hear opinions telling how mediocre their air force performed during the war.

They protect themselves a lot by saying "all you know is the German (or western allies) view of the war but you still have to know our view, which is yet to be fully disclosed". That is like a big asset they have: to at least momentarily benefit from the hermetism of the soviet union in the post-war, cold war era.

That is the communist and post-communist fashion of the Russians to deal with the Great Patriotic War; to claim they have lots and factual information never ever disclosed to westerners that might prove they "won the war all by themselves".

So? Where is it? Why not to immediately end all these "offensive" debates and discussions that put the VVS into doubt by publishing and disclosing all that valuable data they allegedly have?

Perhaps because they have none?
Or perhaps because what they actually have might exaclty rose to the surface to confirm what many know of the airwarfare in the eastern front?

Still, you made good points Krazi.
While someone somewhere has different #'s, or will say "They Overclaimed", here are some stats.....

Top Tank Killers

Jefimov, Alexandr Nikolajevič 126
Stěpanjan, Nelson Georgijevič 80
Kozlovskij, Vasilij Ivanovič 68
Chalzov, Viktor Stěpanovič 60
Gamzin, Vladimír Vasiljevič 53
Kirtok, Nikolaj Naumovič 38
Polujanov, Grigorij Pavlovič 38
Čečelašvili, Otari Grigorjevič 34
Popov, Nikolaj Isaakovič 32
Rossochin, Boris Gavrilovič 28
Nosov, Alexandr Andrejevič 27
Bezbokov, Vladimir Michailovič 26
Blinov, Pavel Fjodorovič 24
Lackov, Nikolaj Sergejevič 24
Stěpanov, Nikolaj Nikotovič 24
Latypov, Kuddus Kanifovič 22
Kabanov, Vladimír Jegorovič 19
Poljakov, Pavel Jakovlevič 18
Sidorin, Vasilij Nikolajevič 18
Danilov, Grigorij Semjonovič 16
Železnjakov, Petr Filippovič 16
Kizjun, Petr Kondratjevič 15
Šamšurin, Vasilij Grigorjevič
Nikolajev, Nikolaj Ivanovič 13
Rjabov, Konstantin Andrejevič 13
Rjabov, Sergej Ivanovič 12
Abazovskij, Konstantin Antonovič 11
Razin, Ivan Petrovič 11
Išankulov, Abducattar 10
Ivanov, Konstantin Vasiljevič 10
Kizima, Andrej Ivanovič 10
Zacharov, Viktor Nikolajevič 10
Žestkov, Aleksandr Ivanovič 10

Top Tank Killers
Name Tanks

Oberst Hans-Ulrich Rudel 519+
Ofw. Anton Hübsch 120+
Hptm. Gerhard Stüdemann 117
Ofw. Alois Wosnitza 104
Lt. Jacob Jenster 100+
Hptm. Hendrik Stahl 100+
Lt. Anton Korol 99
Oblt. Wilhelm Joswig 88
Oblt. Max Diepold 87
Lt. Wilhelm Noller 86
Ofw. Hans Ludwig 85
Ofw. Heinz Edhofer 84
Ofw. Siegfried Fischer 80
Maj. Theodor Nordmann 80
Lt. Kurt Plenzat 80
Hptm. Rudolf-Heinz Ruffer 80~
Hptm. Kurt Lau 80~
Oblt. Hans-Joachim Jäschke 78
Oblt. Helmut Hannemann 77
Hptm. Hubert Pölz 76
Oblt. Wilhelm Bromen 76
Oblt. Rainer Nossek 73+
Oblt. Gustav Schubert 70+
Fw. Otto Ritz 70~
Hptm. Hans-Hermann Steinkamp 70~


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I'm not claiming that the Il-2 was a wonder weapon but I do believe it was the best tank-buster (at least best aircraft designed as a tank buster). And my point about the rear gun was that it did have a higher level of self-defense than any of its German opponents.
how could it when the mode of attack against the Il-2 was to get under it and shoot out it's cooling system. Some of the hot shot pilots of JG 52 came up with some hihg scores against these Soviet a/c
The IL-2's VYa 23mm cannon were more than capable of taking out most German armor on the E. front during the crutial first two years of the war on that front. German tanks had relatively weak top and rear armor. The SH37 mounted on the 1943 IL-2M3 and on the 1944 IL-10 was capable of penetrating 48mm of tank armor at 500 meters, and was reliable to kill German medium tanks even from the side, and heavy tanks from the rear.

The Hs129 was also an excellent tank killer, though it's low performance was a major weakness. It is hard to understand why the German's were not able to take the lessons learned with this plane and make a much superior successor plane?

I still think the most effective plane was the P-47 or P-38 (or any other plane) delivering naplam, which was nearly 100% effective in taking out targeted tanks. I suppose the P-38 was probably the best for this, as it could carry two large napalm bombs.



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