Polish Aviation Museum

31-864 Kraków,
al. Jana Pawła II 39
phone: (12) 640 99 60,
(12) 642 40 70
e-mail: info@muzeumlotnictwa.pl

a cultural institution of the Malopolska Region

Małopolska – Kraków Region

Mecenas Muzeum

Kraków Airport

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Skrzydlata Polska

Aeroplane: Ilyushin Il-28R (NATO: Beagle)

Ilyushin Il-28R (NATO: Beagle)
reconnaissance plane

  • Technical data

Span 22.65 m (with additional fuel tanks)
Length 17.65 m
Take-off weight (nominal) 19,500 kg
Maximum speed 876 km/h
Ceiling 12,300 m
Range 3150 km
Powerplant :
2 x VK-1, rated at 2700 kG (2646 kW)


In 1946, in the Soviet Union, the first jet powered fighters appeared. In the summer of 1946, a few design teams commissioned a design for a heavy, multi-engine, turbojet bomber. Several proposals appeared in draft stage - a few didn't go beyond the prototype phase. Initially, designers were not aware of the technical and aerodynamic complexity of such an aircraft.

The designers of the 240 (OKB-240) Experimental and Construction Bureau, led by Sergei Ilyushin also undertook such a task. The work on the IL-22 bomber, powered with four turbojet engines started. It featured several ingenious technical solutions. In June 1947, the aircraft was flown, but in February 1948 tests were suspended due to problems with the TR-1 engines.

Not to waste the designers efforts, Ilyushin undertook a decision of starting a new jet bomber design. The enterprise was a risky business, as it was started without state commission. What was more, Ilyushin got in the way of Andrei Typolev's design team, which worked on the same type of aircraft and already had a "blessing" from the Soviet Board of Ministers.

In that time modern British engines appeared in the Soviet Union. Initially, Ilyushin wanted to base the new construction on the earlier designed Il-22, changing only the engines to the new Rolls-Royce Nenes. The analysis however, showed that the better solution would be to design an entirely new aircraft, using the gained experiences. The Il-28 was reserved for the new construction.

The aeroplane was designed as a high wing, twin engine bomber, with a nose wheel. The crew was limited to three men: pilot, navigator/bombardier and rear gunner/radio operator. There were two pressurised compartments, increasing the crew's comfortable working environment in high altitudes. Under the straight leading edges, two engine nacelles with main undercarriage wheel bays were assembled. Swept vertical and horizontal stabilisers allowed for keeping appropriate steering and stability at high speeds.

A very effective de-icing system, fed by hot air by the turbojet compressors, was designed. It enabled the aircraft to work in different weather conditions. RATO engines were used to shorten take offs. Armament consisted of a 3000kg maximum bomb load, carried in the fuselage inner bomb bay and four 23mm cannons - two fixed in front, on the both sides of fuselage and twin movable cannons at the rear.

In the design, an appropriate technological partition, enabling easier production of fuselage and wings and the internal equipment, was envisaged. Work efficiency was comparable with the production of fighters.

The pace of work on the bomber was very high. In January 1948, Ilyushin approved the design and ordered the making of the technical drawings. In June 1948, the Soviet Board of Ministers made a decision of introducing the IL-28 into the plan of building the Aviation Industry Ministry experimental aircraft. In July of the same year, the Il-28 was flown and received a high note by its test pilot. It was considered as easy and safe in flying, even on one engine. The prototype flew with the original British, Rolls-Royce Nene engines, which in December 1948, were replaced with the RD-45F (a copy of the Nene). Between February and April 1949, air force test flights concluded in issuing a positive report.

Parallel with the Il-28, its competitor, supported by military authorities, the Tupolev Tu-14 was introduced. The choice of aircraft to enter production was very difficult. The final judgement in May 1949 was undertaken by Stalin, choosing the Il-28. Its production started at three manufacturers in Moscov, Voronesh and Omsk. The designers of the Tu-14 were very satisfied as their bomber was produced for naval aviation.

After Stalin's decision, the Board of Ministers ordered increasing the Il-28's speed. In August, 1945 the Il-28 was flown with more powerful Wk-1 engines. Eventually, the aircraft became a standard for mass production. Several changes concerning the construction and placing of equipment was introduced. The most interesting innovation was the reshaping of the engine nacelles to the "area rule". It had a significant effect on decreasing head resistance and further increasing speed and range.

After the control tests, which took place in August and September 1949, the aircraft was introduced into serial production. The first Il-28 bombers reached Soviet air regiments at the beginning of 1950 and gained recognition among the flying personnel for its outstanding flying characteristics. The ground crews valued the aircraft for its access to engines and other equipment. Lack of air brakes and poor radio equipment, was typical.

In October 1949, Ilyushin approved the trainig derivative of the Il-28. He intended to facilitate crews, to master new technology, arousing distrust among Soviet airmen. The new aircraft was based on the Il-28 and was flown in March 1950. After tests at one air regiment, it was introduced into production in a Moscow factory. The introduction of the Il-28U into service had a big influence on speeding up the training of flying on the other Il-28 versions. The pilot's cockpit was placed in the rebuilt front of the fuselage (usually the navigator-bombardier station ). The remaining pupil and the rear radio-gunner cockpits were unchanged. The Il-28 had no armament.

Along with the Il-28, a reconnaissance version was developed. It was flown in April 1950, and was intended for night or day use, tactical and operational reconnaissance. The aircraft's bomb bay was adopted to carry different cameras, photo flash bombs, flares and fuel tanks. Additional fuel tanks were attached at the wing tips. The Il-28R was armed with three 23mm cannons. In the following years the Il-28 was utilised for radio reconnaissance and electronic warfare (passive and active jamming of enemy electronics).

In the summer of 1950, the Il-28 was introduced into naval aviation. They were normal bombers, in which some examples were adopted to carry rocket powered torpedoes.

The progress in nuclear warfare, led to its mass and size decreasing. In the second half of the 1950's a decision of converting some of the Il-28 bombers into nuclear weapon carriers was made. Conversion consisted of introducing an air conditioned bomb bay, aimed at keeping the warhead at a steady temperature. Also introduced was control and decoding equipment. The aircraft had no external differences to conventional bombers.

In 1967, tests of converting the bomber into a ground attack aircraft were carried out. Bombs, unguided rockets, and gun packs could be attached to twelve hard points under the wings. This derivative, named the Il-28Sz, was envisaged to be assembled at overhauling works. After converting a few aircraft, the work stopped.

In 1954, the civil, Il-20 (also named the Il-28P) version came into service. It was intended to carry air mail.

At the beginning of the 1960's the Il-28 was considered useless, in face of the new "rocket policy" promoted by Soviet leadership. As a result of this, the majority of the IL-28's were scrapped. Some were converted into Il - 28M, flying targets, target tugs or test beds.

In 1949–1955, 6316 Il-28's were produced in the Soviet Union. In 1965, under the H-5 designation, licence production started in China. Several changes in construction were then introduced. Conventional and nuclear bombers, as well as school versions, were produced.

The Il-28 aircraft were in service in many countries. They were also engaged in some military conflicts.

In the second half of 1951, Poland decided to buy the Il-28's. The first aircraft arrived in 1952. In total, 80 combat and 16 school Il-28U's (named the SIl-28 in Poland) were delivered. Among the combat aircraft, there were a few of the Il-28R versions. Some bombers and reconnaissance aircraft were converted for radio and electronic warfare. The last Il-28's were withdrawn from the Polish Air Force in 1977.


Dofinansowano ze środków Ministra Kultury i Dziedzictwa Narodowego
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