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IL-2

The famous IL-2 Sturmovik was a Soviet WWII-era attack aircraft created by the Ilyushin Design Bureau and nicknamed "Hunchback" by Red Army troops due to the distinct fuselage shape. The designers nicknamed their aircraft the "Flying Tank". Luftwaffe pilots, due to the IL-2's incredible ability to withstand battle damage, called it the "Betonflugzeug" or "Concrete Plane". German ground troops, conversely, despised and feared the IL-2, giving it a slew of unpleasant nicknames, such as "Schlachter" (Butcher); "Fleischwolf" (Meatgrinder); "Eiserner Gustav" (Iron Gustav) and "Schwarzer Tod" (the Black Death). Some historians believe that the 'Black Death' was actually a successful invention of the Soviet propaganda machine that caught on with the Germans. 


 
The IL-2 was the most mass-produced military aircraft in history. However, early in the war German air superiority coupled with the absence of rear gunners on early variants and poorly organised Soviet fighter escorts led to high rates of losses for the type. A favourite attack tactic for IL-2 pilots was a low-level attack run, first letting loose with rockets at 600-700 meters, then firing on-board armament from a distance of 400 to 600 meters. Bombs would be dropped in subsequent passes from an altitude of 100-200 meters, using an impact fuse. The recommended tactic for attacking concentrations of soft targets was a strafing run in a shallow dive from 100-200 meters and a subsequent dropping of bombs at low level when exiting the dive.
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