Sturmovik: how good was it really?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by wiking85, Feb 3, 2015.

  1. wiking85

    wiking85 Well-Known Member

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    Pretty much what it says on the tin, was the Sturmovik really all that good or was it just a question of quantity having a quality all its own? I've read mixed things about it being poorly made and highly vulnerable and it was only the fact that Germany was forced to shift its air force to other theaters starting in late 1942 that made it a viable weapon due to lack of German fighters hunting them; that and there were a lot of them and the Soviets didn't care about losses, so they pushed home the attacks regardless of risk.
     
  2. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    Years ago I read "Red Star Against the Swastika" by Vasily B Emelianenko, a Sturmovik pilot. His account of his experiences is not flattering to the machine .... underpowered, a sitting duck when first introduced without the rear gunner, engine cooling problems, bad vibrations, the design never met the original specifications. He writes with eny of the Stuka as well engineered machines.

    Having said all that they provided good pilot protection with the 'tub' that enclosed the engine, radiator and pilot ... rear gunner not so much.
     
  3. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    I dunno about the "highly vulnerable" bit. I've always read that they were difficult to bring down. Either had to kill the pilot outright or hit the cooling system.
     
  4. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    #4 GregP, Feb 3, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2015
    At their peak of development, they were VERY hard to bring down. The armor tub is amazing. It looks like it's an inch thick!

    Of course, the PILOT was armored. The rear gunner wasn't, so the gunners died in droves while the planes kept flying.

    To effectively shoot them down you had to get LOWER than the Sturmovik ... which typically flew at 50 - 150 feet high, and take careful aim at the oil cooler.

    The Germans found it VERY hard to kill them with Bf 109s and Fw 190s.

    Yes, they were slow and underpowered, but they got the bomb there, dropped it, and got home most of the time. If it hadn't been for the armor, it would have been a TERRIBLE plane ... but it DID have the armor and wasn't. The early Klimovs weren't anything to write home about, but with development (the Typhoon and Tempest ALSO had engine development issues, as did several others, and they were worked through, too) the Klimovs were reliable and, more important, operated in conditions that our engines could NOT operate in most of the time.

    From the viewpoint of the gunner, it was TERRIBLE. From the viewpoint of the pilot it was great. From an effectivity standpoint, it was stupendous. All that said, neither the USA nor the UK would have accepted it into service.

    If you ever get a chance, go see Paul Allen's IL-2.

    Here is Steve Hinton flying Paul ALlen's Il-2:


    View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXejUgnxQps

    The engine, if you notice, turns left. Since there are zero running Klimovs in the world and only one running Mikulin ... sometimes, anyway, Paul Allen wanted the IL-2 as original as it could be. He used an overauled IL-2 prop and installed a left-turning Allion from Joe Yancey. It is the ONLY left-turning Allison installed in other than a P-38 anywhere in the world. It fits, it flies, and there is no possibility of getting enough Klimov parts to make a complete, running engine ... so you do what you can. The Allison makes a bit more HP than the Klimov, but it is still underpowered according to Steve. Paul Allen bought the airframe and had it restored as original as possible (everything but the engine and a modern radio and the required US instruments for flight in the USA), including using paint colors from Soviet tanks that were used originally by the Soviet Union for the IL-2! .. and new tires.

    I do believe he used cable from US suppliers, though, for the control cables, and US-made turnbuckles for the connections to the Soviet control horns. Otherwise it is STOCK, though it is not allowed to SMELL stock. Most IL-2's were allowed to get very oily and dirty ... and they did NOT smell good when you got close or in the cockpit.

    I suppose it depends on whether or not you like the smell of oil and grease everywhere. This IL-2 is CLEAN, like everything in his collection.
     
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  5. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    Erich Hartmann's first victory, was over an IL-2 (5 November 42) and went on to down 14 more during his career. Alfred Grislawski downed 16, Walter Krupinski downed 12. Gerhard Thyben scored 28 victories over the IL-2 and Gerhard Barkhorn had 33.

    Helmut Lipfert held the impressive tally of 38 IL-2 aircraft downed however, one of the heavy hitters against the IL-2, was Otto Kittel, who had a tally of 94 IL-2 aircraft downed.

    And this is just a small example of how the IL-2 fared against the Luftwaffe. It was a tough aircraft, but was not invincible.
     
  6. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    No, not invincible.

    But Erich Hartmann had a score of 352 victories ... and only 15 were IL-2's despite being the plane he saw the most. That says a LOT. Ditto for others on the Russian Front, where the IL-2 was the low altitude king of being the most numerous and among the hardest to shoot down.

    Go look at how may LaGG's he shot down .... it was 189. That's a damned far cry from 15.

    Barkhorn got 20 IL-2s but more of 4 other types including LaGG-3, LaGG (probably a -3), Lagg-5 (an La-5 in reality) and the P-39.

    I haven't seen a breakout for Rall and his 275 victories, but I seriously dolubt the IL-2 was at the top or anywhere NEAR the top. But ... he did see them the most ... and they were slow ... and they were probably shot at often.

    Nowotny shot down 24 IL-2s but 38 La-5s that were MUCH more capable aircraft and 74 LaGG-3s that, while sluggish by fighters standards, were head and shoulders better performers than Il-2s were.


    So ... the lowest-performing modern Soviet warplane of the war .... was shot down VERY significantly less than the fighters. They made over 36,000 IL-2s, 6528 LaGG-3s, 9920 La-5s .... so the aces there saw IL-2s about 3.5 times more than La-5s, about 5 times more than LaGG-3s, and WAY more than P-39s ... and the top guys ALL got fewer Il-2s than all the others.

    I'd say it was a tough SOB.
     
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  7. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    Ok, fair enough...how many RAF pilots shot down more Stukas than Bf109s? I simply posted a few out of hundreds of Luftwaffe pilots that downed a good many IL-2s.
     
  8. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    If you can FIND those data ... I'd appreciate knowing where. The I'd research it and answer.

    I can find data for VERY few Luftwaffe pilots as far as the breakdown goes, but I DID find it for the pilots posted above. I'm sure you have it, too.

    Any sources you want to pass along for your question? I have gross numbers by name but not a breakout by victim type. The aerial victory credits I have accumulated over 30+ years give totals, but not the victim type OR by the type the pilot was flying ... jujst aerial victores awarded.

    The USA vetted its victories after WWII, but I NEVER seen a post-war confirmed list for any other country in the world.
    Hence I DO have a VERY good list the Luftwaffe CLAIMS (about 63,324) ... but not a list of confirmed victories by victiom type that includes names.

    The Luftwaffe claims ist, as stated above, is 63,324 aircraft in a file. The most claimed aircraft is the Spitfire at 4,997. The second-most-claimed aircraft is the Il-2 at 4,850.

    They made 20,000 Spitfires and 36,000+ IL-2s or about 1.75 times as many.

    The third aircraft on the claims list is the B-17 with 4,296 claimed, followed by the LaGG-3 at 3,381. Number 5 is the B-24 at 2,192. Number 56 is the Lancaster at 2,038 ... and it goes on from there ... they DID claim 1 P-61 Black Widow.

    As stated, these are CLAIMS files, not confirmed victories.

    I have NOTHING for the British claims or victories broken out by victim type, but would LOVE to get it.
     
  9. Denniss

    Denniss Active Member

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    They couldn't shoot down that many Il-2 as they protected their weak spot very well by flying at treetop level. If they were spotted at higher alt they were in deep trouble if the attacker news their weak spot and was able to hit it there.
    Stukas on a standard bomb mission had to fly higher for dive bombing and were extremely vulnerable there. It wasn't that easy if they flew low over ground or water due to its rapid firing twin rear gun. The MG 15 in earlier version was no real help there due to limited ammo in the drums
     
  10. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    Here's a quote from a monograph done on the Illyushin Il-2 in Aeroplane Monthly by Yefim Gordon back in 2001; "The Luftwaffe Command claimed that the Russians lost no fewer than 6,900 Il-2s in 1943 and 7,300 in the following year. Although these figures are exaggerated by a factor of 2 to 2.2, the real losses were nonetheless substantial. In 1943 one Il-2 was shot down in 26 sorties, and even fewer in certain operations. Approximately half of those were shot down by enemy fighters, the others falling to anti-aircraft fire."

    "Assessing the main reasons for these great losses, Soviet Air Force C-in-C, A. Novikov stated that individual pilot and unit training was not to blame; he saw flawed tactical proceedures in attack aircraft operations as the main cause. On almost all fronts, Il-2 pilots adopted a particular technique to which they rigidly adhered, approaching a target at 3,300 to 4,900 feet without considering its nature, then gliding down and recovering after the attack with a turn to port. The Germans soon noticed this and, anticipating their attackers' manoeuvres, prepared their AA defences before the Il-2s appeared over the battlefield."

    "The Bf 109s and Fw 190s attacked successfully when the Il-2 gunners grew careless, and the strike group's formation was broken. A damaged Il-2 falling behind the group often became the victim of German fighters. Attack aircraft pilots often failed to use effective defensive tactics, and gunners were not always sufficiently well trained in aggressive fire techniques."

    According to the article, much effort was put into reducing these shortcomings and by 1944 the type's losses had fallen dramatically as a result, a figure quoted was, within the 3rd Air Army, airframe losses were 2.8 percent of the number of sorties. Gen von Sauken Commander of the East Prussia Group in the final stages of the war. He wrote: "The effectiveness of Russian aviation activity in the Danzig Region was enormous, and petrified the troops. Neither our air power nor our powerful artillery could oppose their air power."

    It's interesting to note that the Il-2 was also used as a fighter interceptor during the war, although ineffective against German fighters, it did quite well against bombers and transports, particularly against Ju 52/3ms and Fw 200s engaged in resupply and evacuation duties during Stalingrad. The type did well against Ju 87s, whose defensive armament was little match for the Il-2's armour plating. As a result of this apparent success, a pure fighter interceptor version, the Il-2I (for Istrebitel) was built and underwent trials, but since its performance was not much improved over the two-seaters, it was not continued with.

    The Il-2 was widely liked and easy to fly. Pilot A Yefimov: "it was one of the easiest aircraft to master. There were no difficult instrument opperations to distract the pilot from aiming at the target. The aircraft forgave even serious piloting errors."
     
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  11. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    #11 tomo pauk, Feb 4, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2015
    Pluses of the Il-2: well armored to withstand the most common German Flak - 20mm;

    Minuses: low speed and, for the 1st two years, lack of rear gunner - the fighter pilots can lob the cannon fire on it without much problems; small bomb load (600 kg max, 400 kg normal); until the AM-38F arrived they were not carrying second crew member AND max bomb load; installation of 37mm cannons also have had to wait until a more powerful engine was installed;

    It might be the case of one major plus outweights several small minuses. If one want to 'delete' the threat from light AAA from the 'threat list', the Il-2 was probably the way to go. We might recall that Germany was fielding around 10000 (ten thousand) 20 mm Flak barrels by the time they attacked SU, and majority of those were deployed on East.

    Good post.
    A note about engines: Klimovs and Mikulins were not related engines. Under 8000-10000 ft, on same setting the AM-38 will have much more power than M-105 or V-1710; the AM-38F will have more power on emergency setting than VK-105F or V-1710.
    Klimov engines were never installed in the Il-2. An Il-2 with V-1710 will certainly be underpowered.
     
  12. alejandro_

    alejandro_ Member

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    When RAF pilots evaluated the type they claimed that armour was the best they had seen so far. I think the main issue with the type was the combination of untrained crews and bad quality due to factories evacuation. Also, VVS was not able to provide a proper escort.

    By 1944 tactics and armament (PTAB bombs) had been refined and the type was operating very successfully.
     
  13. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    By 1944 the Soviets were also able to provide more/better escort, than prior 1943. It took quite some time (until late 1942/early 1943?) to improve the fit finish.
    The installation of the 37mm cannons was not sattisfactory, the cannons on each wing were not to be persuaded to fire in same split second, and the resulting uneven recoil, thus spoiling the aim. PTAB bombs were better solution to the problem, those will also harm 'soft' vehicles better than solid AP shot.
     
  14. alejandro_

    alejandro_ Member

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    A few weeks ago I was discussing about armament with a Russian guy. He could not understand why Luftwaffe pressed ahead with cannon versions of Ju 87 and Hs 129 instead of using PTAB bombs. They had a similar model for airfield attacks (SD4) but nothing against tanks/vehicles.
     
  15. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    The numbers game, Ju 87/IL-2, is not simple.
    How many Sturmoviks did the Soviets operate and for how long on the Eastern Front? In July 1940 the Luftwaffe had about 280 Ju 87s in France, a few months later they were gone. Many 11 Group pilots never saw one.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  16. pbehn

    pbehn Well-Known Member

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    Didnt the IL2 routinely operate from bases so close to the front that only standing patrols would have any chance of catching them attacking?
     
  17. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    That pretty much goes for a lot CAS and short range interdiction. Not many countries had radar with the front line army troops (at least in the first few years of the war) and even hitting a rail point 50 miles behind the lines gives you only 15 minutes warning for a 200mph bomber. This also assumes that the bombers fly a straight line after crossing the front ;)

    Dog leg takes more time but defending fighters have to cover more space.

    IL-2 was important to the Russians because their fighters were pretty crappy at ground attack. The IL-2 carried twice the number of guns (roughly) as a Russian fighter and twice the normal bomb load. and once the 23mm cannon start showing up in quantity it is no contest. "The total weight and filling of HE rounds were more than twice that of the 20 mm ammunition used by the ShVAK and Berezin B-20 cannons.The armor-piercing round could penetrate 25 mm (1 in) of armor at 400 m (1,300 ft)"
    The Russian 20mm cannon used a light projectile.
    You would need 2-3 Laggs or Yaks for every IL-2, and that is the comparison the Russians had to make, not if it was better than a German airplane.
     
  18. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    I'm not sure that we should use fighters as a measure for value of ground attack aircraft qualities. Use of fighters to do the ground attack should take a back seat to use of bombers for that work.
     
  19. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    But the reference was to 'CAS and short range interdiction' which was carried out largely by fighters for the RAF and USAAF and to a considerable extent, late war, by the Luftwaffe. The Soviets had a purpose built aircraft for the task (doctrine again) but the comparison with fighters tasked as fighter bombers is valid in this context I think.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  20. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    If you have the time, I think Tony Woods claim sheets might have that for you. :)
     
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