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Ilyushin IL-40 (Brawny)

Ground-Attack Aircraft Prototype


The Ilyushin IL-40 Brawny ground attack platform existed in only seven prototypes before the design was dropped from contention.

Detailing the development and operational history of the Ilyushin IL-40 (Brawny) Ground-Attack Aircraft Prototype.  Entry last updated on 5/1/2017. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©
Following World War 2 (1939-1945) the ground attack role was still very much a consideration for world air forces. It was envisioned that the next war in Europe would take place between the Soviet Empire and European powers as well as the United States. With this would come a major ground war involving many tanks and, to counter this threat, dedicated ground attack aircraft were still in need.

The early 1950s saw the first frontline combat use of jet-powered fighters (through the Korean War) and bombers were soon surpassed by jet-powered designs. Additional work on turbojets meant that they were made more efficient, compact, reliable and powerful. Single engine jets were becoming commonplace and proven in such stellar designs as the Soviet Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 and the North American F-86 "Sabre" lines.

Work on a new ground attack platform for the Soviet Air Force began in 1950 by the Ilyushin concern with jet powerplants being the focus. Up to know, the company was well-known for its World War 2-era contribution of the two-seat, prop-driven IL-2 "Sturmovik" which was more or less an armored flying tank of sorts. For the new design, the engine installations became a pair of Mikulin AM-5 turbojets developing 4,740 pounds thrust and set in nacelles alongside a largely tubular metal airframe. The cockpit was set aft of a long nose cone assembly and a conventional, single-finned rudder approach was given to the tail with mid-set horizontal planes featured. The wing mainplanes were swept back 35-degees and given large boundary layer fences for the needed control at high speeds. A tricycle undercarriage, wholly wheeled and completely retractable into the design, added a most modern element. Three dive brakes allowed for improved control when coming into an attack action. The crew was two and they seated in tandem with full cockpit armoring planned due to the low altitude levels the aircraft was expected to attack in. Each crew position was also to feature an ejection seat.

Ilyushin IL-40 (Brawny) (Cont'd)

Ground-Attack Aircraft Prototype

Ilyushin IL-40 (Brawny) (Cont'd)

Ground-Attack Aircraft Prototype

Proposed armament was 6 x 23mm Nudelman-Rikhter NR-23 series cannons fitted to the nose section. An additional NR-23 system would be fitted to a tail barbette to protect the aircraft's more vulnerable "six" from interception. Beyond this fixed, standard armament set the aircraft was also being designed with a bomb-carrying capability in mind, this through in-wing bomb bays and underwing rack support. Underwing bombs could be supplanted by either air-to-surface rockets or fuel tanks (the latter improving operational ranges). Much of this armament suite was based on Ilyushin's experience in delivering its classic IL-2: this cannon-and-machine-gun-armed beast was produced in over 36,000 examples from 1941 to 1945 and supported air-to-surface rockets. Its rear was defensed by a machine gun. The IL -2 proved the ultimate "tank-buster" and ground-attack aircraft for the Soviet Air Force of the Second World War.

During January of 1952, Ilyushin finalized the IL-40 and submitted it for possible consideration. Authorities like what it promised and contracted for a single prototype to be built. The completed prototype recorded its first flight on March 7th, 1953 with success. By the end of the month, the cannon armament was fitted and actively tested but it was here that the IL-40 showcased its critical shortcoming - firing of the six guns affected the engines to the point that the systems flamed out due to ingesting the gun's propellant gasses. Thus four AM-23 series cannons were substituted and new gun mounting hardware installed. Firing ports were moved further forward to better deflect the outgoing gasses and keep these form the jet intakes.

This work delayed the program considerably as the aircraft was not transferred for official Soviet Air Force trials until early 1954. Issues with the guns persisted but the aircraft was a good gunnery platform and high-speed performer at its core. To remedy the gun issue even further, a new prototype design was pushed through which relocated the guns to a position under the nose and the engine intake openings were noticeably lengthened forwards, by way of additional ductwork, beyond the original nose of the aircraft. Tumansky had also delivered an improved form of the AM-5F engine, the RD-9V, by this time which promised to increase general performance of the jet aircraft.

Soviet authorities were sold on this revision and funded the second IL-40 prototype which became the "IL-40P". This aircraft saw its own first flight on February 14th, 1955 and ensuing trials revealed the aircraft to be better than its original offering. The Air Force was compelled to order the attack platform in some forty examples. However, before production could really pick up steam (and after five production-quality examples were already completed), the IL-40 project was cancelled by the Air Force in lieu of changing battlefield doctrine and a growing reliance on nuclear weapons to take over the role of dedicated ground attack aircraft.

A total of seven IL-40 related aircraft were produced during the short-lived program. Several other forms, including a torpedo bomber (IL-40T) and artillery spotter (IL-40K), were also planned but came to naught. The IL-40 emerged as a contender in the latter part of the 1960s once more (as the IL-102) but lost out to what became the T-8 from rival Sukhoi. The IL-102 saw its first flight in 1982 and flew 367 total test flights, receiving good reviews from its test pilots. The T-8 evolved to become the Su-25 "Frogfoot", a dedicated Close-Air Support (CAS) platform that still serves the Soviet Air Force today (2015).

The IL-40 was around long enough to earn the NATO nickname of "Brawny".


YEAR: 1953
MANUFACTURER(S): Ilyushin - Soviet Union
LENGTH: 56.46 ft (17.21 m)
WIDTH: 55.77 ft (17 m)
HEIGHT: 18.90 ft (5.76 m)
EMPTY WEIGHT: 18,739 lb (8,500 kg)
MTOW: 38,801 lb (17,600 kg)
POWER: 2 x Tumansky RD-9V turbojet engines developing 7,170 pounds of thrust each with afterburner.
SPEED: 617 mph (993 kph; 536 kts)
CEILING: 38,058 feet (11,600 m; 7.21 miles)
RANGE: 820 miles (1,320 km; 713 nm)
OPERATORS: Soviet Union (cancelled)

ORIGINAL (Standard):
6 x 23mm Nudelman-Rikhter NR-23 cannons in upper nose section.
1 x 23mm Nudelman-Rikhter NR-23 cannon in remote-controlled tail barbette.

REVISED (Standard):
4 x 23mm AM-23 cannons in lower nose section
1 x 23mm Nudelman-Rikhter NR-23 cannon in remote-controlled tail barbette.

Up to 3,100 lb of internal and external stores to include conventional drop bombs and air-to-surface rockets (in-wing bomb bays as well as underwing hardpoints).
Graphical image of an aircrat automatic cannon
Graphical image of an aircraft air-to-surface missile
Graphical image of aircraft aerial rockets
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition
Variants / Models

• IL-40 - Base Product Designation; initial prototype.
• IL-40P - Revised prototype with extended jet intakes and underfuselage cannon armament; one prototype with five production-quality airframes completed.
• IL-40K - Proposed artillery spotting aircraft
• IL-40T - Proposed torpedo bomber aircraft
• IL-42 - Revised IL-40 for new ground attack requirement.
• IL-102 - Revised IL-42 for ground attack requirement; model of 1982.

Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

Image of collection of graph types

Relative Maximum Speed
Hi: 750mph
Lo: 375mph
This entry's maximum listed speed (617mph).

Graph average of 562.5 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
Graph showcases the Ilyushin IL-40 (Brawny)'s operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production (7)
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.

Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Supported Roles
Ground Attack
Aerial Tanker
A2A=Air-to-Air; UAV=Unmanned; CAS=Close Support; ASW=Anti-Submarine; AEW=Airborne Early Warning; MEDEVAC=Medical Evac; EW=Electronic Warfare; SAR=Search-Rescue
Commitments / Honors
Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for pioneering aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur War
Military lapel ribbon for experimental x-plane aircraft
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.

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