The Ilyushin Il-2 was a ground-attack aircraft (Shturmovik) in the Second World War, produced by the Soviet Union in very large numbers. In combination with its successor, the Ilyushin Il-10, a total of 42,330 were built, making it the single most produced military aircraft design in all of aviation history, as well as one of the most produced piloted aircraft in history along with the Cessna 172 and the Polikarpov Po-2. It is regarded as the best ground attack aircraft of World War II. It was a prominent aircraft for tank killing with its accuracy in dive bombing and its 37mm guns being able to penetrate tanks' thin back armour.
The Soviet Union announced the beginning of the ground war phase of World War III when Ilyushin II-2s and 10s roared over Fulda shooting up and bombing whatever they could. Gustav Hozzel recognized the sounds of the engine and told his wife to take shelter in the cellar while he headed to the Rathaus to enlist in the German Emergency Militia.
By early 1942, the Ilyushin Il-2 was being employed in the Soviet Air Force. Many pilots who flew it loved the plane, as it was more than capable of dishing out harsh punishment upon its enemies. When employed in combat, it proved just as devastating against the Germans as the Stuka was to the Russians.