The Il-10M attack aircraft was created after a proposal by the Soviet Air Force Marshal Pavel Zhigarev. The project was swiftly approved by the Council of Ministers and the first experimental Il-10M took flight on 2 July 1951, piloted by Ilyushin’s chief test pilot V. Kokkinaki. However a lot of equipment that the designers had planned to install on the new machine needed numerous improvements, and so production of the Il-10M started only in 1953. There were 146 aircraft built.
The shturmovik was armed with four wing-mounted 23-mm NR-23 cannons, plus one 20-mm B-20-EN cannon installed in the VU-9M rear turret. The normal ammunition load was 600 shells for the NR-23’s and 150 shells for the rear gun.
Aside the cannon armament the aircraft could carry 400 kg of bombs and up to 600 kg in an overloaded configuration. The bombs were loaded into two bomb bays and on external BD-2 mounts fitted under the fuselage in front of the bomb bays. Additionally the Il-10M could be equipped with BD-3 bomb mounts on the wing hardpoints.
Alternatively, the new machine was able to mount four launch tubes on wing pylons that were capable of shooting unguided rockets.
The aircraft was quite heavily armored for its time. The plating varied from 4 to 16 mm near the rear armored wall. The armor protected all of the main parts of the aircraft’s power plant, control elements and crew cabin.
The Il-10M was powered by the AM-42 engine which was capable of producing 1750hp and fitted with a 3.6m diameter, three-bladed AV-5L-24 propeller.
The main differences between the Il-10M and its predecessor Il-10 included: new wings with an improved profile, an elongated fuselage, numerous upgrades in equipment such as the firefighting system, “blind” landing system, increased rudder and aileron area and significantly improved armament.
The pilots who flew these machines noted a significant increase in controllability and stability in flight over the Il-10. Nevertheless the Il-10M didn’t get a chance to see combat. It was not ready for the conflict in Korea, while later conflicts were dominated by jet-powered aviation.
The Il-10M became the last mass-produced piston-powered attack aircraft designed by the Ilyushin design bureau. They were decommissioned in April 1956 and all the crews were reassigned for further training on jet aircraft. And so the era of the legendary Ilyushin Shturmovik ended.
In World of Warplanes the Il-10M is a close relative to the Il-10 from the USSR’s aircraft tree that served in the Chinese Air Force. It differs from the Tier VII Soviet analog in significantly improved armament and increased maneuverability. High firepower enables it to destroy any ground targets quickly. At the same time it has uncharacteristically good flight parameters for an attack aircraft that allow it to maneuver actively in dogfights and combine both defensive and offensive tactics in aerial warfare. A skilled and cold-blooded pilot will enjoy its durability and turn the Il-10M into a true master of the skies.