One of the great bombers of the war, the Ilyushin Il-4 has not unnaturally been overshadowed in Western thinking by the great British and American aircraft, yet well over 5,000 Il-4s were produced between 1937 and 1944, the vast majority in the last three years. The original prototype of this low-wing twin-engine bomber, designated the TsKB-26, flew in 1935, was developed through the TsKB-30, and entered production in 1937 as the DB-3B (DB being a Soviet contraction denoting longrange bomber). Early examples were powered by 765-hp (571-kW) M-85 engines, but these were replaced by 960hp (716-kW) M-86s in 1938. Although a tough and relatively simple design, the aircraft suffered from a poor defensive armament of single nose, dorsal and ventral 7,62-mm (0.3-in) guns, and lost heavily to such aircraft as the Bristol Bulldog, Gloster Gladiator and Fokker D.XXI during the Winter War against Finland in 1939-40. In 1939 a modified version with lengthened nose and more armour (the DB-3F) appeared, and in 1940, in conformity with changed Russian practice, the designation became Il-4 (denoting the designer, Sergei Ilyushin).
Soon after the German attack on the USSR opened in 1941 it was decided to withdraw Il-4 production to newly opening plants in Siberia, at the same time replacing a large proportion of the metal structure by less strategically critical wood. Il-4s also entered service with Soviet Naval Aviation, and it was a naval-manned force of these bombers that first raided Berlin from the east on 8 August 1941. Thereafter the Il-4 paid frequent visits to the German capital and other targets in Eastern Europe. In 1944 production ended, although the Il-4 served until the end of the war and afterwards. Apart from increasing the calibre of its guns and giving it a torpedo-carrying ability, the 11-4 remained virtually unchanged between 1941 and 1944.
Specification Ilyushin Il-4
Type: four-crew bomber/torpedobomber
Powerplant: two 1,100-hp (821-kW) M88B radial piston engines
Performance: maximum speed 410 km/h (255 mph) at 4725m (15,500ft); initial climb rate 270m (886 ft) per minute; service ceiling 10000 m (32,810 ft); range with bombload 2600 km (1,616 miles)
Weights: empty 6000kg (13,228 lb); maximum take-off 10000 kg (22,046 lb)
Dimensions: span 21,44 m (70 ft 4'/4 in); length 14.60 m (48 ft 6Va in); height 4.10 m (13 ft 5V2 in); wing area 66,7 m2 (718.0 sq ft)
Armament: single 12.7-mm (0.5-in) ÜBT machine-guns in nose, dorsal turret and ventral positions, plus a maximum bombload of 1000 kg (2,205 lb) or three 500 kg (1,102 lb) torpedoes