The Flying Heritage Collection’s newly restored World War II Ilyushin Il-2 Shturmovik is shown in flight. The airplane incorporates parts from four wrecks discovered in northwestern parts of the former Soviet Union.
Photo: Flying Heritage Collection / SL
Paul Allen just added yet another rare World War II-era airplane to his Flying Heritage Collection, at Everett's Paine Field.
The collection started final reassembly Friday of a Soviet Ilyushin Il-2 Shturmovik that it says is the only one of its kind still flying. A team of Russian mechanics is set to bring the airplane to full flying condition over coming months, with a public debut expected this summer.
The Il-2 Shturmovik was a heavily armored ground-attack aircraft. Adding in the up-rated Il-10, more than 42,330 were built, making it the single most produced military aircraft design in aviation history, according to the Flying Heritage Collection.
The Flying Heritage Collection's plane is an Ilyushin Il-2M3 – sometimes called an Il-2 Type 3 or 1944 production Il-2. It has a 23-mm cannon in each wing and 7.62-mm ShKAS machine guns.
The airplane was restored using parts from four wrecks discovered in northwestern parts of the former Soviet Union. The main wreck was Il-2M3 serial number 305401, which was built in Kuybyshev, now called Samara, in the middle of 1943, according to the Flying Heritage Collection, which provided these details on its life.
The airplane was assigned to the 828th Attack Aviation Regiment of the 260th Composite Air Division of the Seventh Air Army, which fought on the lower part of the Karelian Front – the northernmost of the war. On October 10, 1944, pilot K. P. Prohorov and gunner S. M. Semyonov were attacking an enemy airfield about 5 kilometers southeast of Luostari when the plane was hit by anti-aircraft fire and its engine began to smoke.
Semyonov bailed out at low altitude and was killed when he struck the ground. Prohorov, headed southeast, ran out of altitude around the Titovka River and tried to land on a frozen lake. He suffered fatal wounds in the crash. The wreck was abandoned and later sank into the lake during the spring thaw.
Searchers scouting the area by helicopter found the wreck in 1991. When raised, the plane still had rockets affixed under its wings and bombs on their mounts.
Parts from the original airplane account for 60 percent of those in the restored aircraft, including the engine compartment, propeller, central part of the fuselage, and parts of the tail.
Parts of the plane's center section and the main landing gear legs come from the wreck of aircraft serial number 4283, which served with the 658th Ground Attack Regiment of the 11th Mixed Air Corps. It disappeared with Pilot Vladimir Andreevich Kurochkin and gunner Vladimir Sevostianovich Zenkov during a mission on Feb. 12, 1944.
"It is reported that the pair intentionally crashed their damaged plane into a German anti-aircraft battery near the village of Maevo in the Novocokolnicheskiy District," the Flying Heritage Collection said. The wreck was found in Lake Trostinetz.
The restored airplane's instrumentation, control stick, cockpit floor and other cockpit parts came from Il-2 serial number 7593, which crashed in a swampy area named Stivany near the town of Pyzhov on Jan. 12, 1944, after being hit by anti-aircraft fire.
Cowlings and fuselage sections came from a plane that was reported missing from the 724th Air Attack Regiment on Feb. 1, 1944 in the area of Maevo – Alushkovo. The wreck was found in the 1950s.
As for the engine, the Flying Heritage Collection said: "It has been decades since anyone has been able to get an Il-2 engine, the Mikulin AM-38F, to function. So, the FHC aircraft flies with a left-turning Allison V-1710-113 1,475-horsepower engine from a P-38 Lighting fighter."
Finally, here's the collection's narrative about the airplane's livery:
The plane is painted in the colors of twice-awarded Hero of the Soviet Union Air Marshal Alexander Efimov of the 298th Air Division, who flew Il-2s in combat during World War II. Efimov is known not only for destroying 126 enemy tanks, but also for engaging flying German aircraft with his heavy attack plane. When Germany surrendered, he had flown 288 combat missions and destroyed seven enemy planes in air-to-air combat. Today, Efimov is 86 and still lives in Moscow.The restored airplane first flew in Russia in late September of 2011 and then in a parade in Samara on Nov. 7, 2011 – exactly 70 years after Red Army parades in both Moscow and Kuybyshev during World War II. After that it was trucked to St. Petersburg and shipped to Everett.