1/72 Eduard IL-2 Shturmovik 

by Josip Žagar



Essential history:

"If you never heard about this Soviet legend then you're definitely in the wrong hobby!"

Although this warplane was the most numerous airplane ever built, it is largely overshadowed by more glamorous Allied and German warplanes. The Ilyushin-2; "bronirovaniyi shturmovik" or "armored assaulter" (a direct and correct translation from Russian language - shturm for assault not storm or similar crap like Stormovik!) was built in cca. 35000 examples and was the only example of this type of warplane anywhere in the world at that time (apart from the weird and wonderfull German Hs-129 which was a different story). The IL-2 was designed specifically to represent an aerial tank!  It was meant to fly low over the battlefield and was thus heavilly armed and protected. It's engine and cockpit were fully enclosed in steel armour of various thickness which was not added externally but was incorporated directly in the airframe.  It was invulnerable to machine gun fire but not to 20+mm cannon fire, though it could survive numerous hits that would down any other single engined airplane.  It's legacy continues even today through ex-Soviet SU-25 Frogfoot and US A-10 Warthog. 

The IL-2 flew rather sluggishly and wasn't very fast - it's top speed was about 450km/h or less - but it was well armored and could carry great loads of internal/external bombs and underwing rockets in addition to twin 23mm cannon and machine guns in the wings.  IL-2 was very crude and primitive in comparision to Western airplanes of the same period.  It's wings and rear fuselage were often made from wood.  It never carried a proper gunsight - it's pilot's had to aim through a simple crosshair that was painted on the windshield and also had to judge the angle of attack via painted markings on the nose!  The rear gunners (which were often women) had no proper armored protection nor seats - they had to rest on plain straps of canvas! 

The Il-2 was active from the very start of operation Barbarossa until the fall of Berlin.  It suffered horrible casualties as a result of inexperienced pilots and German aerial supremacy.  Early IL-2 models were singleseaters which had no protection from rear fighter attacks and since they often flew unescorted, they were easy prey for German fighters.  Rear gunners which operated single 12,7mm machine guns were added only in 1943 and from then on Il-2s really came into their own (when they were flown by experienced crews with developed attack tactics and with proper fighter escort).  Usualy they flew extremely low and would aproach their targets allmost unnoticed.  A squadron of Il-2s would hit them hard then climb and form a "circle of death"  from which they attacked the Germans until they exhausted their loads of ordnance and cannon ammunition - this could last up to 20 minutes! 

The IL-2 was one of 3 main Soviet weapons which helped Soviet Union to win the "Great patriotic war".  Together with legendary T-34 tanks and Katiusha rocket launchers they swamped German armies with their fighting qualities and sheer numbers. 

Sadly enough, out of 35000 built there are less then 10 examples in existence in the whole world.  It is pretty safe to say that none of them will ever be restored to flying condition.

Click on images below to see larger images




The kit:

Oddly enough the IL-2 is rather badly represented in plastic - it looks like it's nemesis, the Me-109 won the WW2 afterall!  In 1:48 there are single and two seat models from Accurate Miniatures which are now repackaged by Eduard.  They are supposed to be great, but I wouldn't know for sure.  In 1:72 there are several options from Eastern European manufacturers, but none of them is an easy build and this Eduard's kit is no exception.

Although the Czech manufacturer of aftermarket details and plastic model kits, Eduard is a top quality brand it's early model kits were far from perfect.  This kit is a prime example of that transitional period.  It represents the final late war 2 seater IL-2 with metal wings.  Although it is moulded with engraved panel lines and has superb quality decals it suffers from crude design, mediocre detail and vague instructions.  It offers a choice of opened or closed canopies and markings for 2 airplanes.  De Luxe versions of this kit also include PE parts.

How come that all those Nazi airplane kits thrive while the real winner is sadly neglected?


The build:

Although I became really spoiled with quality and am also known to mercilessly trash substandard kits (like that poor Su-2) this odd kit was actually finished with great gusto and it's faults were either corrected or simply overlooked.

It is a very simple kit and I decided to build it in the same manner.  Since the cockpit detail is almost non-existent and wrong I decided to hide it under a closed canopy. I might have even painted the cockpit black and excluded ridiculous seat and instrument panel altogether - the results would be the same - invisible.  Clear parts are pretty well made and the windshield even comes with an aiming cross!  I had to use sand paper and putty to make the canopy sit over cockpit properly. This said, it looks enough like the real thing.

When the wing was assembled, I ended with an absurdly thick trailing edge - it was about 2mm thick!  I had to brutally sand it off and risk loosing the surface detail, but to my surprise I managed to thin it out without much loss. The wing was then glued to the fuselage, but the two held together more with putty than with glue.  I really have to question the sanity of kit designer's mind.

The propeller, spinner and fuselage don't really match, so I barely managed to force them together through glue and sand paper.  The undercarriage is rather soft and mediocre in detail.  It also suffers from vague assembly instruction.  The less said the better.  Cannon and machine gun barrels were scratch built.  Rockets had extra miniature fins glued together and were then painted and glued to the rails.  Again the instructions aren't clear about their position!  Bombs were borrowed from ICM SB-2 kit and some detail on control surfaces were scratchbuilt from stretched sprue.  I also drilled out Cannon and Machine guns openings.

The kit was airbrushed with Model Master and Revell enamels.  UHU tac was used for the demarcation lines on the camo.  The canopy was hand painted with a fine brush. Aerial antennae was made from stretched sprue.

Decals are THE BEST I ever worked with.  I consider them to be the best part of this kit. I chose to make a red nosed Shturmovik which was flown by a pilot that would later become a Soviet cosmonaut.  This aeroplane flew over Czechoslovakia in the last weeks of WW2 in Europe.  Sadly I managed to screw the position of the fuselage star.  It should sit in the central position between the two fuselage stripes, but If I'd kept quiet would you noticed it?   ;-)

Weathering was done with dry pastels, metalizer paint and soft pencil. 


All bad things aside it is one of my favourite builds.  The sheer desire to have a Shturmovik in my display case helped me overcome all difficulties.  With it's fancy markings and correct shape it is a lovely little representation of the famous "Flying tank". 


P.S. Please excuse my bad grammar since I am a bit rusty and the hour is really getting late...


Click on images below to see larger images



Photos and text © by Josip Žagar