Shturmovik Il-2M3 305401 rolled off the production line in 1943 in Kuybyshev, known today as Samara. On October 10, 1944, while flown by Junior Lieutenant K. P. Prohorov and his gunner, S. M. Semyonov, of the 828th Attack Aviation Regiment of the 260th Composite Air Division, it was hit
by antiaircraft fire on the Karelian front (the northernmost battles
between the Soviets and Nazi Germany). Semyonov bailed out at low
altitude and was killed, while Prohorov crashed on a frozen lake. He
survived the crash but later died from his wounds.
Aircraft 305401 sank into the lake with the spring thaw and
was forgotten. Discovered in 1991, it was raised in relatively good
condition due to the cold, fresh water. It still had rockets and bombs
under the wings.
In 2005, the Flying Heritage & Combat Armor Museum (FHCAM) in
Everett, Washington, contracted Retro Avia Tech, Ltd., in Novosibirsk,
Russia, to return an Il-2 to the skies. Boris Osentinsky used 305401
as the foundation of the rare “Shturmovik”—one of only two flyable
in the world. About 60 percent of the original parts in FHCAM’s Il-2
came from 305401.
Much of the cockpit (the
instruments, control stick,
and cockpit floor) came
from aircraft 7593, which
crashed into a swamp
near Pyzhov on January 12,
1944. Reported missing on
February 12, 1944, aircraft
4283 was discovered in
a freshwater lake and
contributed its center
section and main landing
The final donor went
missing on February 1,
1944. When discovered in
the 1950s, the gunner’s
body was recovered. The
wreck was undisturbed until
the aircraft was actually
a two-seat Il-2. Later, the
pilot was recovered, along
with parts of the armored
fuselage and engine cowl.
The Flying Heritage & Combat Armor Museum Brings a Ilyushin Il-2 Back from the Dead
By Lt. Col. Robert “Cricket” Renner, USAF (Retired); photos by Heath Moffatt
Small detail: The protrudence on the spinner that looks exactly like
the crank nut on a Model A Ford is where a “Huck Starter” engages.
A motor-driven shaft from an auxiliary motor hooks up and starts it.
Crude but effective—the Russian Way.