Over 43,000 Il-2/10s were built between 1941 and 1955, more than any other combat aircraft in history, making this one of the most important Soviet aircraft deployed in World War II (1939-1945). Built originally as a two-seater, the Il-2 had lost the rear gunner's position by the time the aircraft started to reach frontline units. Armed with ground-attack rockets, the aircraft proved deadly against Wehrmacht panzers as pairs of Il-2s roamed the frontline at low level. However, the Shturmoviks (armored attackers) were vulnerable to attack from the rear by enemy fighters, so Ilyushin reverted to the two-seat layout in September 1942. Oleg Rastrenin provides a fascinating account of the complex development history of a plane that was crucial to Russia's defense. From Stalingrad to Kursk to Berlin, this book charts the airplane's vital contribution to the most famous battles of the Eastern front.
Oleg Rastrenin graduated from the Moscow Applied Physics Institute in 1986 and commenced military service. He subsequently graduated from the Zhukovskiy Air Force Academy. He holds the rank of major and the title of doctor of science. Rastrenin has been working on the history of Soviet aviation since 1992, with his major research projects focusing on air tactics and the combat employment of aircraft. He has published more than 20 articles on the history of attack aircraft in Russian and foreign magazines, and is also the author of the books Red Army Attack Aircraft (1941-1945), Red Army Attack Aviation - Tough Experience and The Il-10. The author lives in Russia.