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Ilyushin IL-4 Russian Bomber, WWII

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Ilyushin IL-4 bomber and Improvements to the DB-3

Ilyushin Il-4- Soviet bomber, WWII.
Public domain photo of restored Ilyushin Il-4 bomber (DB-3F) in Moscow. Note glazed nose.

The two engine Ilyushin IL-4 bomber was developed from the DB-3, but with major changes. First called the DB-3F the name was changed in March of 1942 to IL-4. The nose of the aircraft was completely redesigned and glazed, and the fuselage lengthened.

The Tumansky M-88 radial engine was used in the IL-4, which was an upgrade from the M-87B used in the DB-3. At one point, however, US manufactured radial engines were considered for use in the IL-4 but this idea was never put into use.1 The crew was increased to four members to include a ventral gunner and the armament was upgraded to include a 12.7 mm Berezin UB machine gun. There was no actual ventral turret, but a mount was installed into ventral hatch so that once in flight, the machine gun could be mounted in the hatch, to increase protection against attacks from the rear.

Ilyushin Modernization and Mass Production of the IL-4

The IL-4 was developed when Ilyushin was involved in a modernization program which implemented assembly line technology. This shift to mass production reduced cost and production time for the aircraft. Comparisons showed a reduction of the number of hours for building a bomber from 30,301 hours on the DB-3M to 14,331 hour on the DB-3F (later named the IL-4).2 However, the DB-3F/IL-4 took longer to maintain compared to Junkers, Ju-88K-1. It took 15 minutes to remove a propeller spinner from the DB-3F, compared to only five seconds on the Ju-88K-1; an engine installation that required three hours on the Junkers took 12 hours on the DB-3F.3

Various IL-4 Versions

In addition to a conventional boming role, various IL-4 versions were also used for torpedo bombing (enemy combat and transport ships), glider tow, (large assault gliders), transport (fuel and supplies), reconnaissance (vertical and oblique photography), and mine-laying (dropping of mines in enemy shipping lanes and sometimes in harbors). A total of 5,256 Il-4's were built between 1942 and 1944.

1Yefim Gordon and others, OKB Ilyushin, A History of the Design Bureau and its Aircraft. Hinkley: Midland Publishing, 2004. p.96.

2Hans-Heiri Stapfer, Ilyushin II-4 in Action, Stapfer, Hans-Heiri. Ilyushin II-4 in Action. Carrollton, Texas: Squadron/Signal Publications, Inc., 2004, p.20.

3Ibid. p.27.

Additional reference
Bill Gunston, The Osprey Encyclopedia of Russian Aircraft. Oxford: Osprey Publishing Limited, 2000.



* Ilyshin Il-4 facts

Category Medium range bomber
Torpedo bomber
Manufacturer Ilyushin OKB - (Russian)
Used in WWII by
Soviet Air Force (VVS)
Produced 1942-1944
Number built 5,256
Engine (2) Tumansky M-88B radial engines
Max. speed 251 mph
Altitude 27,230 feet service ceiling
Range 2,228 miles


Two 7.62 mm ShKAS machine guns. One 12.7 mm Berezin UB machine gun. Up to 5,500 lbs of bombs or mines. Sometimes supplemented by rocket projectiles.
Torpedo bomber:
One 2,072 lb. 45-36-AN or 45-36-AV torpedo.
Crew (4) Pilot, navigator-bombardier, ventral gunner-radio operator, dorsal gunner
* Numbers are approximate