Ilyushin Il-2 two-seater with straight wings

(unofficial designation: Il-2M, Il-2 model 1943)

Updated on February 11, 2013
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By the beginning of September 1942, two projects for two-seater versions of Il-2 were developed : one armed with a ShKAS 7.62 mm light machine gun, another one armed with an UBT 12.7 mmm heavy machine gun. Both them required minimal changes to the structure of single-seater UIl-2s already in production. They featured a gunner's cockpit placed behind of the tank, outside the armoured shell. The gunner sat on a belt seat, protected only from the rear by a 6-mm thick armor plate. The machine gun was installed on a semi-turret and feeded by a belt inside a flexible metal guide. The UBT could be pointed up of 35°, 35° to starboard and 25° to port; the ShKAS had a slightly wider angle of fire. The canopy was extended rearwards, and the gunner's section was hinged on the starboard for access, while the final tunnel-shaped part was fixed.

The increase in weight obliged to reduce from 4 to 2 the rocket rails under each wing, and the flaps were provided with a lock allowing to set then at 17° for takeoff to reduce the run

Here is the prototype with UBT machine gun, built in Factory n.30, c/n.887, presented to state tests in October 1942. It is very close to the following production planes, and features:

  • new long canopy (let's call it 'tunnel type');
  • short radio aerial mast ( a taller mast was introduced in late 1943)
  • UBT defensive machine gun, as the following production Il-2M;
  • wooden rear fuselage, as nearly all the variants of Il-2;
  • straight wing (made by wood, as usual for planes built in Zavod 30) with VYa-23 mm guns, exactly as the single-seaters of 1942;
  • filter at the carburettor intake on the right wingroot (they have already started to be installed on late singleseaters in late 1942)
  • AM-38 engine
  • it has still the small tail wheel of singleseater and a leather or tissue boot, while the production Il-2M received an enlarged tailwheel ;
  • the black/green camouflage looks to have the typical pattern of single-seater planes built in Zavod 30, unclear if in the variant with the black 'balls' on the sides or, more brobably, without them; the demarcation line of the light blue undersurfaces on the rear fuselage and wing leading edge is unusually high.


This image shows the 'loser' prototype with ShKAS machine gun, that was not chosen for the production.

However, the work on it was not wasted, because his semi-turret with ShKAS mg was produced in about 750 sets for the conversion of already built single-seater Il-2 into twoseaters.

See this page for more images on converted IL-2s.

Apart for the weapon and for the more usual border between light blue and green on the fuselage sides, this plane looks identical to the previous one with UBT machine gun; if compared to production planes, it lacks also of the couple of wing rails under each wing console.

(From Ilyushin Il-2 by Oleg Rastrenin)

Here is a detail of the UB installation from a photo of a downed plane. The ammo feed guide and the waste shells bag are missing.

The two seater Il-2 with the UBT machine gun replaced the single-seater into production at Zavod 1, 18 and 30 in October.

The new version hadn't an official name, being the variations distinguished only for the number of production batches, but it's often referred as Il-2M in postwar literature.

Having been into production from November 1942 to December 1943, it could also be called 'Il-2 model 1943'.

The Mikulin AM-38 engine was soon replaced by the more powerful AM-38F on the production line, but this modification hadn't any visual evidence on the plane.


In the photo, a production Il-2M 'white 7' with the standard UBT machine gun downed in German-held territory in 1943, probably in spring.

The camo is that of Factory n.30, with the plain red star overposed to the classic fuselage 'ball'; it has the typical wooden wing consoles of planes built in Z.30 and Z.1.

The plane was built with the 'tunnel'- type rear canopy, but both the foldable part, both the rear part were removed to increase the view of the gunner and the field of fire.


(from Squadron-Signal Ilyushin Il-2 in action)

Below: a drawing of n.7 made for the book on Il-2 of Jason Moore.

Interesting image of a damaged Il-2M with wooden wing outer consoles.

Note the wearing on the port wingroot, that was made of light alloy; the crew accessed the canopy from this side.

The camouflage of the wings, with longitudinal bands, seems the typical one of factory n.30.

Another Il-2M white (or silver )29; the camouflage, although showing evident repaintings to cover repairs or to improve the camouflage with different shades, is unmistakably the classic one of Z.30 with side 'balls'. Repainting with lighter colors have been often observed on Il-2s with black-green camouflage, suggesting the use of light brown AMT-1 even before it was included in the official templates of August 1943. As an alternative, it could be assumed as a lighter shade of green.

The canopy is of tunnel type and the radio mast is short, suggesting that the plane was built in late 1942 or the first half of 1943.

Below: a drawing of n.29 made for the book on Il-2 of Jason Moore.

Image of planes of 667 ShAP, Kalinin front, in early 1943. The unit utilized both single-seaters and two-seaters.

The red inscription means Yaroslavskij Komsomolet (the youngs communist organizations of Yaroslav, that donated funds for these planes)

Under the dark covers, the noses are probably painted white. Note that the white washable paint MK-7 covers even the prop blades.

It's hard to tell the factory without seeing the distintive pattern of the camouflage; I guess that these planes were built in Zavod 30 (and then with wooden wings) because the red star in low-aft position was seen on some photos of other planes built in this factory.

(From Squadron-Signal, Ilyushin Il-2 in action)






This plane seems to show the characteristic livery of planes built in Zavod 1 (see below) on its rudder. The plane is probably photographed in mid 1943, and has wooden wings as all those built in Zavod 1 at this time.

The number 18 is overposed to a light band of unknown color, certainly an unit marking. Besides a small red (?) cap with white outline looks visible on the rudder.

The trim fences of the rudder and elevators are painted white.

The plane is certainly an Il-2M because the rear UBT is clearly visible, but the German soldiers cover the canopy; it seems that the rear section was removed to allow a greater field of fire.


This image shows a park full of new Il-2s out of Zavod n.1 in Kuybyshev; the photo was taken in mid 1943, as one can understand from the new style of the rear canopy, that replaced the fixed rear part of the tunnel with a short 'roof' solidal to the hinged part; this new configuration allowed a greater field of lateral fire, and was introduced in summer 1943. Before this period, Z.1 produced Il-2M with 'tunnel' canopy just as Z.30 and 18.

Z.1 produced planes with wooden wing consoles, just as Z.30; wooden wings differed from metal wings (produced in Z.18) because of the rounded shape of the landing light.

The standardization of the new scheme is obvious, even if it doesn't follow closely the NKAP template. Note the very soft demarcation lines.

It was occasionally observed the 'reversed' version of this pattern, that is green and black exchanged in position.

Below: a drawing of these planes made for the book on Il-2 of Jason Moore.

Although the wing is unrecognizable from this perspective, the short mast identifies this plane as a straight-winged Il-2M.

The style of painting is well different from the ones seen on other Shturmoviks.

The lack of stars on the fuselage is highly unusual too.



A metal arrow wing Il-2M after a forced landing in the Orel area, 1943.

Apart for few details, the plane shows very well a typical plane built by Zavod 18 in late 1942 or the first half of 1943.

The wing has metallic wing consoles; Z.18 was the only factory that produced Shturmoviks with all-metal wings for all the wartime. Metallic wings of Il-2M differed from those of the late single-seaters because they hadn't no longer the external balance horns near the wingtips, that made so easy to distinguish metallic wings on singleseaters; besides, all the Il-2M had only two rocket rails under each wing, instead of four as the singleseaters. The landing light window on the wing is angular, instead than rounded as on wooden-wing planes built by Z.1 and 30.

The red stars with thin white outlines are a typical factory mark of Z.18, and haven't to be confused with the white-red outlined stars introduced for all Soviet planes in August 1943. The green-black camouflage is characterized by a black rounded blotch on each side of the tail, one black band amid the rear fuselage, and two strongly oblique black bands on each wing, and a black nose; the pattern has some resemblance to that of the singleseaters previously built in the same factory, but was more simplified and uniform.

Below: a drawing of n.7 made for the book on Il-2 of Jason Moore.

White 15 was flown by Major Bamshin and belly landed on June 1943 on the Finnish front.

It shows some resemblance in tail-spotted camo to white 7. The strongly oblique camo bands on the wings recall the early style of Zavod 18.

Some lighter repaintings, possibly made with AMT-1 light brown, seem visible on the tail and wing.

The tips of both the horizontal and vertical surfaces of the tail seem repainted with an unidentified color, possibly as identification mark. The spinner is missing, what seems a white band on it is only part of the hub.

The silver or white outlined stars are typical of Factory n.18 since of the war's outbreak.

This plane is of the 15th Gv.ShAP; the slogan on the fuselage (common to other planes of the unit) is 'SHCHELKOVSKIY SHTURMOVIK', that means 'Shturmovik of Shchelkov'.

Despite the shadows and highlights, this image shows well the camouflage of this Il-2M built in Zavod 18, with the characteristic black 'ball' on the tail around the red star (that looks unusually without the white outline typical of this factory).

The barrel protruding from the wings look smaller han those of the usual VYa-23 guns; they could be of ShVAK 20 mm guns, utilized in case of shortage of supply of the standard weapons.

Right: a detail of the slogan on the plane of the unit's commander, HSU Lt.Col. Svitenko.

The bort number 15 looks unusually painted instead of the star on the fuselage.


This forced-landed Il-2M of 46 ShAP VVS SF flown by Sobolev is clearly a plane with metal wings built in Zavod 18 in late 1942 or early 1943, but shows many pecularities:

  • the remains of white winter paint;
  • the unusual stars (narrow on the tail, with unusual black outline on the fuselage)
  • the beautiful n.20, probably red with silver outline;

the slightly unusual rear part of the canopy, in fact the rear section seens shorter than the usual, and it's unclear if it is fixed as usual or solidal with the hinged part; this characteristic was ignored on the drawing below.

Below: a drawing of n.20 made for the book on Il-2 of Jason Moore.

The directive n°2389/0133 of July 3, 1943, gave new instructions to paint the Soviet warplanes:

  • the upper and side surfaces of all fighter aircraft were to have two colors: greyish blue and dark grey in the same scheme;
  • upper and side surfaces of all types of aircraft but fighters had to be camouflaged in green, light brown and dark grey (black for Il-4 and Pe-8);
  • the red stars remained in the same six positions of before, but were addictioned with a thick white outline and, more externally, with a further thin red outline.
  • the directive applied to new planes and those in repair shops; it wasn't required that operative units repainted all their planes.

  Nitro lacquers for mixed construction planes Oil enamels for all-metal planes
light brown AMT-1 A-21m
dark green AMT-4 A-24m
black not needed A-28m (for Il-4 and Pe-8 only)
light blue AMT-7 A-28m
blue-grey AMT-11 not needed for non-fighter planes
dark grey AMT-12 A-32m

The directive assumed that the non-fighter planes had to be delivered with the new camouflage starting from August 1, 1943; in the days before, black had to be replaced with dark grey.

In case of absence of dark grey, this would have been replaced by a mix of light blue and black.

The directive contained 15 camouflage schemes for many types, of which 14 were for non-fighter planes.

Two templates were dedicated to Il-2s; they were to be both to be implemented in the same factories and units to avoid an excessive repetitivity of the pattern.

Some Il-2s entitled to heroes were built by Zavod 1 at the beginning of August 1943, just during the transition between the old style of camouflage and markings and the later one.

This plane, entitled Za kapitana Gastello, features the new green-grey-brown camouflage, while the red stars have only a tiny white outline (however, new for planes of Z.1).

This plane was probably delivered by Z.1 few days after, and it has the definitive red star with thick white and thin red outline. The plane is entitled Za Zoyu Kosmodemyanskuyu.



This third image of the plane entitled Za Lizu Chajkinu, of the same batch of previous ones, allows to see the state of evolution of Il-2M at the beginning of August 1943:

  • roof-type rear section of the canopy, fully hinged to starboard;
  • short mast (350 mm, instead of the 800 mm mast introduced few months later)
  • old type rocket rails;
  • three white aiming lines on the nose
  • new camouflage and markings.

Note also the rounded landing light typical of wooden wings of Il-2M.

On this photo the dark grey AMT-12 looks lighter than the green AMT-7; in other photos it's the opposite, while these colors are usually undistinguishable on bw photos.

Below: just for comparison, an image of the new flushed rocket rails for RS-82 and 132 rockets introduced few monts later and likely contemporary to the longer radio mast (from a photo of Il-2M3).

A good help to understand some distinguishing characteristics of planes built in Zavod 1 after the August 1943 can be obtained by observing photos of Il-2KR, that were all built in that factory (apart for an early batch built in Z.30 before August 1943).

The characteristics seem:

  • the long tail wheel fairing,whose rear cut was inclined towards the tail;
  • medium to large stars, of variable size;
  • sharp and rounded camouflage on the tail and wings, possibly made by mask (including a puzzle-like contour on the right wing of many planes), while the camo of the fuselage is blurried;
  • wooden wings with rounded landing light windows.

The Il-2M3 preserved in Prague-Kbely, although being a later model and repainted, was built in Z.1 and shows some of these characteristics, as the long tail wheel fairing.

Plane n.14 has some variations introduced on the production lines probably in September or October 1943:

  • long radio mast (800 mm instead of 350);
  • flushed rocket rails (not visible in the photo);
  • pitot probe closer to the wing tip.

So, late Il-2M becomes very difficult to be distinguished from the arrow-winged Il-2M of 1944, having identical fuselages and painting and differing only for the wing platform, scarcely visible in many images.

This photo allows a comparison between plane n.14, that has a straight wing, and n.50, that can be easily recognized as an arrow-winged Il-2M3 from this perspective.

Another screenshot from the same movie. The 'puzzle-like' camouflage of the right wing can be found of many photos of Il-2s, including some Il-2KR that were built in Zavod 1. So, this has to be the interpretation given by Zavod 1 to the template n.1 of August 1943. The camo of the wings and fuselage has sharp rounded lines, perhaps made by a mask. The fuselage painting looks much less accurate. The sharp anf descending forward dark grey band on the stabilizer looks characteristic of the camouflage n.1 made by Z.1.

Being built by Z.1, this plane of 1943 has to feature wooden wing consoles and rounded landing light window.

A nice characteristic of 14 and the other planes of this flight is the red (?) small cap on their tails.


Four screenshots of the takeoff of an Il-2M entitled to Suvorov, the great Russian strategist of the 19th century. The plane is clearly a straight-winger with short radio mast and the post-August camouflage and markings, and probably with early type rocket rails.

On the background, we see a later model with the higher radio mast (800 mm instead of 350).

The shape of the fairing of the tail wheel is noteworty; after the summer 1943, it seem to become characteristic of the planes built in one factory, most probably Zavod 1 (the plane preserved in the museum of Prague-Kbely has this characteristic and was built in that factory). In 1943-44, this means that Suvorov has wooden wing consoles.

The medium to large size of the red stars seems common both to the planes built in Z.1 and in Z.18.

Note the light brown repainting at the base of the stabilizer.

Below: a drawing of Suvorov made for the book on Il-2 of Jason Moore.

The colors of the cap on the tail and of the spinner are a guess.


The planes shown in this screenshot could be of 2nd Polish ShAD (the Polish personnel unit within Red Army).

The first plane, white 2, is a straight-winged one with short radio mast; the camouflage and markings are of the type introduced in August 1943; the plane could have been built in August or September 1943. The shape of the hood of the tail wheel suggests that this plane was built in Zavod n.1 and had wooden wings.

The second plane, white 7, seems to have a long radio mast, smaller stars and a different tail wheel hood; it seems to be built from another factory probably Z 30, so it probably has wooden wings too.

Below: a drawing of n.2 made for the book on Il-2 of Jason Moore. The use of blue for the spinner and the number is hypothetical, they looks too dark to be white as the outline of the star on the tail.

This Il-2M has obviously a straight metal wing, so it is certainly of Zavod 18. It has medium size stars (the one on the tail is rather irregular, probably duwe to the replacing of the rudder.

The camouflage is blurried and irregular, it seems not to follow well any of the standard templates of 1943, but it certainly includes light brown, green and dark grey.

Other reasons of interest are:

the white band on fuselage and the white wingtips;

the white number 26 reported on the upper surface of right wing too;

the red tail cap, thinly outlined in white;

the white or aluminium tip of the dust filter at the wingroot.


Another straight-wing Il-2M with the new style markings and the short mast. The tail stars are wide, so we can suppose it's built by Z.30 or Z.18; unfortunately and has the characteristcs of their production: wooden wings and 'long' tail wheel fairing, and the lack of the frame of the landing light window don't allow to understand its shape.

The dark grey band on the tail is not sharp and descending as typical of Z.1, so we can conclude that this plane was of Z.18 with metallic wings.


The key do deduct the visual characteristics of the planes built by Zavod 30 is the observation of Il-2-37, all built in the second half of 1943 by the same factory.

They feature:

  • medium to small sized stars;
  • blurried, simplified camouflage (as the planes of Z.18);
  • wooden wings with rounded landing light window (as planes of Z.1);
  • short and narrow tail wheel fairing, sometimes with a flexible boot.


Exceptional image of the underside of an Il-2M.

The rounded landng light window suggests that it has wooden wing consoles. Some stripes reinforce the fabric layer over the wood skinning.

From the shadows, it seem that the rocket rails are of the later 'flushed' type. Note the narrow tail wheel fairing, that is not the type of Z.1; so this plane has to be of Z.30.

Note the dark traces of the exhaust fumes on the tail surfaces; traaces of smoke are behind the waste shells expulsion slots and the rocket rails. On late type Il-2s, the small windows of the hinges on the ailerons were covered by thin plates.


Il-2M of the 6 GvShAP in August 1944. Planes n.28, 20 and 15 are recognizable.

In the photo above, the plane 28 is identified as a straight-wing one instead of a swept-wing one by tracing a perspective line between the visible wingtips and comparing the rear edges of the visible wing.

The size of the stars is small, seems typical of Z.30; so these planes of 1943 have wooden wing consoles with rounded landing light window and thin tail wheel fairing, possibly with leather boot (at least, on plane n.20).

White 28 shows the same camouflage according to the first template of August 1943; the blurried and V-shaped contour allow to distinguish this interpretation of the template 1 of August 1943 by that of Zavod 1, that was sharp and descending forward.

Plane n.28 is characterized by the kremlin stars both on the fuselage and on the tail (probably the underwing stars were ordinary).

Plane n.20 looks painted according to the second template of August 1943.

As in many other photos, the light brown of bands on the aft fuselage looks darker than that on the rear fuselage; this could be due to the heat and smokes of engine and/or a somewhat different shade of the A-21 brown oil paint when compared with the light brown AMT-1 utilized on the wooden rear fuselage.

(Image below from 4+ Publications- Ilyushin Il-2M3 Shturmovik)

Below: a drawing of n.28 made for the book on Il-2 of Jason Moore.

Even if it's an Il2M3 with arrow metal wing, this photo allows to see well the style of camouflage of wings thought to be of Zavod 30. The bands have the same position of the official templates of NKAP, but their outlines are more straight and longitudinal; besides they're soft, differently than the sharp and curved lines of Zavod 1. In this photo, green seem to appear darker than the dark grey.

Another line of late type Il-2M with 'small' stars, presumably built by Z.30 with wooden wing consoles.

The image shows that the first and third planes wear the 1st pattern of August 1943, while the second and fourth plane wear the second variant of the camouflage.

Plane n. double 17 has a leather/tissue boot on its tail wheel, supporting the idea that it was built by Z.30.

This plane n.35 can be identified as a straight-wing one by its shadow on the ground and the lack of discontinuity in the rear profile of the wing behind the landing gear nacelle. The landing light window is rounded, so it has wooden wings. The grey band on the rudder is blurried, this suggests a plane of z.30 with small-sized stars. The tail wheel seems to have a flexible boot, supporting this attribution.

A point of interest of 35 is that it seems to have a red flag painted across the exhaust stacks.

Plane n° 55, on the background, looks painted in good accord to the second template of 1943.

(Image from 4+ Publications- Ilyushin Il-2M3 Shturmovik)


An Il-2m white 6 probably photographed in winter 1943/44; the white winter camo with MK-7 washable paint was still utilized in that period.

The white dots made with temporary MK-7 finish put in evidence the contours of a wide and scarcely visible white-bordered star on the fuselage. The size of the stars and the style of the tail wheel fairing suggests a plane built in August-September 1943 with the new camouflage, but it could also be an older plane with black-green camouflage and updated red stars.

Note the removal of the back canopy section.

(From Squadron-Signal, Ilyushin Il-2 in action)