Sitting unchallenged at rank 5 of the Soviet ground attacker line lies the IL-28, a jet bomber/attacker dreaded by both pilots and tankers alike. Why dreaded? Perhaps it has something to do with the spaceship-like design and glimmering of the aluminum skin in the sun that makes this thing look like it came straight out of a sci-fi movie. However, more believable answers can be found in the numerous after-action reports made by our pilots and tankers after each encounter with this machine. Most of them speak of the IL-28 being fast, aggressive, good at striking hard in offense and capable of protecting itself, and in some cases others, in defense too. So how does this all come to be? Let’s go back in time a bit and see if history can give us any answers to our questions!
The IL-28 was designed and produced by the Soviet Ilyushin company, intended as a replacement for the aging Tu-2 in the fast bomber role. Only months after the initial plans were laid down, the first IL-28 took flight in July 1948, truly showing the capabilities of the Ilyushin design team. Despite such a short development time, the IL-28 didn’t suffer from any notable design flaws, in fact it proved to be a very reliable aircraft and one that was very easy to manufacture. Initially, she was powered by a pair of licence-produced British jet engines, though they were quickly replaced by more powerful Soviet counterparts. Equipped with the latter, the IL-28 was able to surpass speeds of over 800 km/h (~500 mph), whilst possessing optimal handling characteristics on speeds around 600 km/h (~373 mph). The bomb loads of the IL-28, whilst not being spectacular, aren’t disappointing either. The internal bomb bay could host a wide variety of bomb calibers, from 100 kg to 3,000 kg bombs, with a maximum capacity of 3 tonnes. Offensive and defensive armaments of the IL-28 were also far from lackluster. Two fixed NR-23 23mm cannons made up the offensive, nose-mounted armament, put under the direct control of the pilot. The rear turret situated on the very end of the tail section featured the same armament setup, though the guns were mounted in a highly agile, well-armored turret that was able to cover the rear of the aircraft extremely well against attackers, being able to shoot almost directly up-and downwards. Production of the new state-of-the-art Soviet jet bomber started as early as 1949, with the first units being commissioned into service in 1950. The IL-28 saw its peak in production and use during the early and mid Cold War era, with the primary users being the Soviet, Polish, Chinese and Czechoslovak air forces. A total of over 6,500 IL-28s were produced.
With the brief history behind us, let’s have a look at how the IL-28 performs in War Thunder, how to use it most effectively across the game modes and how to take it on if you happen to meet it in battle.
Unlike the Su-6, its predecessor in the research tree, the IL-28 relies more on swift and precise attacks contrary to the prolonged skirmishes with ground targets in which the Su-6 excels. This stays true to both air missions and combined battles. Thanks to its speed, the IL-28 is able to quickly reach even the most distant of targets and releasing its payload before making contact with the enemy, unless the enemy team composes of nothing but 9.0 jets that is. In that case, you will still likely manage to get your bombs off, but as soon as you do, you need to prepare to defend yourself. As with any bomber, the choice is yours whether you’ll manually operate the gunner position or let the AI do it for you. Given the quick acceleration and good overall handling of the aircraft, you may find it better leaving the task of covering your six to the AI, whilst you focus on piloting the machine back to base. As mentioned before, the rear turret of the IL-28 has great handling and will, depending on the skill of your AI gunners, suppress incoming foes from up to around 800m away. The NR-23 cannons have an infamous reputation within the game due to the sheer volume of fire they put out and subsequent damage they cause. The high rate of fire ensures that a well-aimed burst will mostly be all that it takes to render your pursuer combat ineffective. With that said, pilots of the IL-28 should bare in mind that their survival depends on two things - maintaining speed and successfully keeping the enemy at bay with that rear turret.
Players that just unlocked the IL-28 are advised to start with bomb upgrades first as that will make taking out bombing points and other ground targets significantly easier, in turn allowing for an increased income in battles. After unlocking offensive belts, players may start focusing down on performance upgrades (compressor, engines, wings repair) to ensure optimal performance in battle. By this stage, your crew should already be fairly well trained, but make sure to have invested in the pilot’s spotting and G-tolerance skills, as well as targeting and endurance skills for your gunners. Also make sure that your IL-28 is maintained by professional mechanics in order to avoid some penalties to performance.
|408th Bomber Regiment of the 63rd Air Division of the 57th Air Army, USSR||7th Bomb Reconnaissance Regiment, Poland||Czechoslovakia license-built IL-28 (B-228)|
However, what if you face this alien-looking aircraft in a battle? What to do in order to effectively combat it and what’s best to avoid in order to stay in one piece? Generally, there’s only one rule of thumb to take into consideration when going after an IL-28 and it’s an obvious one - avoid approaching the aircraft directly from the rear, even at angles. Though this rule might seem like a no-brainer, time and time again many a pilot ends up losing bits of his aircraft in the stream of “laser fire” from the rear turret’s 23mm cannons. Instead, try approaching the IL-28 from directly above or from the sides. Depending on your aircraft’s weaponry and your confidence level, you can take on the IL-28 in a head on engagement as well, though be weary of this approach as it always has a 50/50 chance of going either way.
PROS AND CONS OF THE VEHICLE:
Summarized, the IL-28 can be described as a very effective and potent jet bomber in the rank five battles of War Thunder. Those who underestimate it, will quickly succumb to the inevitable mistakes they’ll make, whilst those who play to the IL-28’s disadvantages may not fear the outcome of any battle where faced against it.
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