December 30, 1939

The Ilyushin Bsh-2, the prototype of the Il-2 Shturmovik (“armed attacker’), makes its first flight. A durable, highly armed ground attack/tank-buster aircraft that could absorb considerable punishment, the Soviet Union would produce nearly 1,200 copies of the Il-2 a month during most of World War II. Total production will top 36,000 aircraft, making it the most produced aircraft of all time. Soviet dictator Josef Stalin said the Il-2 was “as essential to the Soviet Army as air and bread.”