A Soviet 'Flying Tank' That Crashed in 1944 Is Now Being Restored in Arizona

Half a world away from where it crashed during World War Two, a rare Ilyushin Il-2 Sturmovik is getting a second lease on life.

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Ilyushin Il-2 Sturmovik ground assault aircraft was the Soviet Union's aerial muscle during World War II. The planes were produced en masse to counter the German army on the Western front. Although more than 30,000 aircraft were made from 1941 to1945, not many survive today. However, one Sturmovik was just rediscovered in the most unlikely of places—Tucson, Arizona.

PIMA Air & Space Museum

According to the BBC, this particular aircraft crash-landed in a lake while breaking the siege on Leningrad. It was discovered nearly 40 years later, purchased by a U.S. collector, and only recently donated to the Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson.

Soviet Sturmovik production line during World War Two.
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Sturmovik deserves a place among other iconic aerial fighters—like the Spitfire and Flying Fortress—that helped defeat the Nazi regime. Much like the modern-day A-10 Warthog, the Sturmovik used steel instead of aluminum to protect its underside because of its dangerous, low-flying missions (sometimes only 70 feet from the ground) that put the pilot at risk. In fact, according to BBC, being a rear gunner in a Sturmovik was an almost certain death sentence, so the Soviet Union filled these unpopular jobs with people from its gulags.

The Pima Air & Space Museum is in the process of restoring the aircraft with an original engine, replica machine gun, and a brand new tail and wings. Although the cabin of the aircraft spent considerable time underwater, its remained remarkably preserved. The museum says it hopes to have the aircraft ready for the summer.

Source: BBC

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