Soviet aeronautical engineer and designer of the numerous Ilyushin planes.
Born in the Vologda province into a large peasant family, Ilyushin began his working life as a labourer in St Petersburg. His interest in aviation was aroused while preparing the site in 1910 for Russia's first international aviation meeting. To pursue this interest he worked for some time as a security guard at the St Petersburg Kommandantiski aerodrome. He also managed, during World War I, to qualify as a pilot. With these qualifications he was admitted to the Air Force Academy after the Revolution; after graduating in 1926 he was employed on the design and development of military aircraft. He eventually became a Red Army general and professor at the Air Force Academy.
Of the many planes designed by Ilyushin, three in particular became widely known beyond the Soviet borders. The first, the IL-2 attack aircraft, known to the Germans as the ‘Schwarze Tod’ (black death), did much with the 36 163 models produced to repel the German invasion. The second, the IL-18, the four-engined Moskva, was one of the first turbo-prop liners, widely used in and sold to the Third World in the 1960s. The third is the IL-62 turbojet passenger aircraft.
Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).