Ilyushin IL-4

One of the great bombers of the war which can be termed as a “Forgotten Aircraft”, the Ilyushin IL-4 was overshadowed in Western thinking by the British and American aircraft. In spite of this, well over 5,000 IL-4s were produced between 1937 and 1944. The system was a commendably success. Its design was sound although a poor defensive armament array ultimately led to high and unacceptable losses to the extent that production was completed by 1944. Still, it kept serving till the end of the war.

The original prototype of this low-wing twin-engine bomber, was designated the TsKB-26. It started its flying in 1935, was developed through the TsKB-30. It entered into actual production in 1937 as the DB-3B. DB was a Russian acronym for Long Range Bomber.

Earlier versions were carrying 571kW M-85 engines, but got replaced by 716kW M-86s in 1938. It had a tough and simple design but the aircraft suffered from a poor defensive mechanism of a single nose, dorsal and ventral 7.62mm guns. In 1939 a modified version with lengthened nose and as more armored version (the DB-3F) appeared. In 1940, it was designated as IL-4. Each wing had engines, and the cockpit was located right between them. The nose section offered good visibility that helped its cause. Crew accommodated four personnel. Armaments were mounted in the nose, the dorsal turret position and a ventral gun position. Though where the defensive side of the IL-4 failed, the offensive nature of the system was just unbeatable with up to three 1,102lb torpedoes which could carry a standard limit of 2,205 pounds of drop bombs.

The aircraft in service took part in the attack on Berlin. Few variants existed but all were pretty identical to the original production. Each variant had improved armament capabilities.


Crew: 4 (pilot, navigator, gunner/wireless-operator, rear gunner)
Length: 14.80 m (48 ft 6.75 in)
Wingspan: 21.44 m (70 ft 4.5 in)
Height: 4.10 m (13 ft 5.5 in)
Wing area: 66.7 m² (718 ft²)
Empty weight: 5,800 kg (12,787 lb)
Max takeoff weight: 11,300 kg (24,912 lb)
Engine: 2x Tumansky M-88B radial engines, 820 kW (1,100 hp) each
Maximum speed: 430 km/h (232 kn, 267 mph)
Range: 3,800 km (2,052 nmi, 2,361 mi)
Service ceiling: 9,700 m (31,825 ft)
Armament: 2 x 7.62 mm ShKAS machine guns
1 x 12.7 mm Berezin UB machine gun
Up to 2,500 kg (5,500 lb) of bombs or mines. Alternatively, 1 x 940 kg (2,072 lb) 45-36-AN or 45-36-AV torpedo. Very rarely, 2 x BETAB-750DS 305mm rockets.