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Ilyushin Il-40 "Brawny"

Ilyushin Il-40 Brawny

The Ilyushin Il-40 (NATO reporting name "Brawny") was a two-seat armored ground-attack aircraft developed by the Soviet Union in the 1950s.

The aircraft was designed in the early 1950s by Sergey Ilyushin, who aimed to create a jet-engined ground-attack aircraft which significantly outperformed slower piston-engined aircraft. The design proposal was accepted by the Soviet government in 1952 and a single prototype was ordered.

The IL-40 was powered by two Mikulin AM-5 axial-flow turbojets housed either side of the fuselage. The wings were swept back at and angle of 35 degrees, and the fuselage was armored to protect the pilot, rear gunner, fuel tanks and some electrical components. The IL-40 was also fitted with ejector seats for both crew, and the cockpit glazing was also bulletproof. In short, it was an aircraft designed to take hits and keep flying.

Ironically it wasn't the enemy's guns which caused issues for the IL-40 It was the aircraft's own nose-mounted autocannons which were the problem. The first time the guns were fired - during a 1953 test flight - the combustion gasses were sucked into the engines causing them to flame out. The test pilot was able to restart the engines and land the aircraft safely. But it was an unwelcome surprise for the aircraft's designers as up until then it was meeting or exceeding all requirements.

A series of major design changes during 1953 and 1954 saw the Ilyushin IL-40 thoroughly redesigned. The end result saw the six nose-mounted guns replaced with four guns mounted just under the nose and ahead of the front landing gear. But the most radical alteration was the elongation of the air intakes which gave the second prototype its distinctive "double-barrel shotgun" look. At the same time the engines were upgraded for a slight improvement in performance.

Ilyushin Il-40 Brawny

The second prototype, named the Il-40P, corrected all the issues with the first prototype, and towards the end of 1955 official evaluation tests by the Soviet military led to an order for 40 production aircraft.

The Ilyushin factory managed to produce five airworthy examples of the aircraft by early 1956 before the entire program was unexpectedly canceled in April.

The cancellation had nothing to do with the aircraft itself or its capabilities. It was merely a casualty of the Soviet military's new doctrine of warfare regarding close air support for the Army. Instead of dedicated ground-attack aircraft, the Soviets planned to use conventional bombers and tactical nuclear weapons.

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Ilyushin Il-40 Brawny
Ilyushin Il-40 Brawny
Ilyushin Il-40 Brawny

Ilyushin Il-40 Brawny
Ilyushin Il-40 Brawny

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