“IL airplane, why are you hunchbacked? It is because I have carried the whole war on my back.” This joke popular during the World War II contains absolute truth: IL-2 nicknamed Hunchback was really a workhorse of the war that played one of the main parts in it. Among YAK, PE, TU and SU machines, IL, the model designed by Sergey Ilyushin, really enjoys a pride of place. It is a left-flanking model in the long chain of Ilyushin’s aircrafts.
The village was remote, the family was poor, so the parents could not get the youngest of eleven children educated. However, the village teacher felt sorry for the talented boy and started teaching algebra, geometry and physics to him. When he was 15, Sergey had to leave the village and earn his living working as menial laborer and digger. One of his casual jobs lay in making ground surface smooth at Kolomyazhsky airdrome in Saint Petersburg. It was where Sergey Ilyushin saw the flights of first Russian pilots. After that, he was carried away by air flights. Being a student – he studied at the Institute of Red Air Force Engineers (the present Zhukovsky Air Force Academy) – Ilyushin designed his first glider. 12 years later, in 1935, he would be at the head of his own design office. The wonder-machine under the name of IL-2 was designed by Ilyushin in 1939, right before the start of Great Patriotic War. The list of models that followed later includes reliable piston-engine IL-14, turbo-prop IL -18, and second-generation machine IL-62, which would set the speed records and serve as Aircraft No.1 for carrying the leaders of the USSR. IL-76 and all other machines were designed and built without Ilyushin, yet the memory of him was preserved in model names.