(Il-2M armed with NS-37 guns in underwing pods)


Updated on June 2, 2015
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this work collects a lot of photos from many sources, not always identified and mentioned.
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Two photos of an Il-2M with 37 mm Nudelman and Suranov NS-37 in underwing pods at the state tests, in June 1943. They were officially called Il2-37.

Each gun was provided of 50 rounds connected by a belt placed inside the wing. The weight of each gun with shells was of 237 kg.

The rocket rails were removed, and the bomb load was limited to 200 kg in overload condition (usually 100 kg) because of the increased weight of the plane.

A total of 1175 Il-2 armed with these weapons were built, nearly all in Factory n.30, and put in service between August and January 1944, but the results weren't fully satisfying because of the lack of precision due to the recoil of unsynchronized guns that causes jaw while firing, so it was preferred to stop the production of this variant to revert the production lines to the VYa-23 guns.

The antitank gun was also put in shadow by the great success of hollow-charge PTAB cluster bombs put in production in 1943.

This plane shows a black-green camouflage in the style of Zavod 30 (even the 'balls' on the sides look distinguishable), and red stars apparently without any outline (note the strange inclination of the one on the fuselage on this plane only).

Probably the most of the production planes wore the 3-shades camouflage (green, dark grey, light brown) adopted in August 1943.


(drawn for the book on Il-2 of Jason Moore)

Il2-37 of initial batches; it looks similar to the plane above, apart for the red tip of the spinner and for the white-red outline of the stars visible under the wings, probably painted after August 1943.

Unfortunately, bort numbers and other markings are not visible in the image.

This photo of Il-2 NS-37 was taken in Moravia in 1945.

The closer plane is an Il-2 armed with NS-37 guns in gun pods; it was of the early production of this variant, before August 1943, as one can deduct by the black-green camo typical of Z.30.

The camo is modified with a lighter color that is probably light brown AMT-1, to match the later camouflage with green-dark grey-light brown introduced in August 1943.

The original plain red stars were modified with a crudely hand painted white outline, probably without the outer thinner red outline characteristic of the post-1943 red stars.

The repaintings seem extended to the wing and tail uppersurfaces; a repainting of intermediate color is visible between the star and the tail.

Note the short mast and the pitot in inner position, and the unusually vertically-ended gunner canopy, whose rear section could have been cutten away, suggesting that in origin it could have been of the early 'tunnel-shaped' type.

Il-2 NS-37s didn't have the 23 mm guns or rockets, nor the aiming lines painted over their nose.

Image kindly supplied by Istvan Vadasz

A reconstruction of white 8.

Click on the profile to see a larger 3 views drawing.

An higher resolution version of this artwork will be published for the book on Il-2 of Jason Moore.

Photos of an Il2-37 belly landed during the winter 1943/44.

The 37 mm barrel, and the absence opf the 23 mm barrel, are visible on the third small image.

The camouflage is hardly recognizable, but coherent with the black-green one typical of Z.30; besides the tunnel type gunner canopy is compatible only with planes built before August 1943. The white and red outlines of the stars were applied in August 1943, when the plane was already delivered to the unit..

The mid fuselage shows a sort of wide black band that interrupts the star, leaving only one tip of it visible; besides it looks to have some step on some parts. Probably this part of the fuselage was damaged and the fabric layer was stripped down by technicians, that covered the yellowish putty with a layer of black paint as a provisional repair; then the plane was utilized in a combat mission and lost before the repair could have been completed.


A reconstruction of this plane.

Click on the profile to see a larger 3 views drawing.



Poor image of a plane whose gun pods are visible under the wings.

The plane bears post-August 1943 marks and camouflage, low radio mast, a white 36 on its fuselage side and two transversal dark (cherry red? Black?) bands in the rear fuselage as an unit mark, probably of 621 ShAP.

The spinner looks more glossy than the fuselage, it could have been painted red.





A reconstruction of white 36.

Click on the profile to see a larger 3 views drawing.

An higher resolution version of this artwork will be published for the book on Il-2 of Jason Moore.

Very interesting Il-2 Yellow (?) 18. The yellow (?) stripe on its fin suggests that it belongs to 810 ShAP, 225 ShAD, or to 614 ShAP.

Note the unusually sharp camouflage, the unusual inclination of the star on the tail, the dark (black? dark red?) oblique stripe atound the fuselage, the red (?) trim tab, the sharp dark repainting in the zone subject to exhaust stains.

The spinner and the prop blades seem painted with the same light brown of the camuflage.

Image from the web. via A.Ruchkovsky.


White 36 of the the 46th ShAP of the Northern Fleet, on the Finnish front. This plane is recognizable as an Il-2-37 because of the shape of the underwing gun pods and of the lack of the 23 mm guns on the wing leading edge, where we can see the ShVAK barrel only. The NS-37 guns were removed.

The plane has the tall radio mast and the pitot in outer position introduced in fall 1943.

The photo shows well its camouflage according to the template n.1 of August 1943. As on the most of bw photos, dark grey and green are undistinguishable. The post-August 1943 stars with white and red outline are clearly recognizable.

Note how sharp is the trace of smoke on the fuselage side, perhaps the effect of a partial cleaning away or repainting of its rear part.

(from Luftwaffen pohjoinen sivusta by Hannu Valtonen)

(drawn for the book on Il-2 of Jason Moore)

Front and lower view of a generical Il2-37

(drawn for the book on Il-2 of Jason Moore)




Plane white 9 of 566th ShAP in spring 1944.

It was damaged by AA fire; the holes visible on both photos allow to be sure that both photos refer to the same plane.

Despite the poor image, one can see the strange star on the fuselage; it seems an usual star darkened by smokes, with the central part painted perhaps with darkened washable white paint, leaving to see only the red braces with an elegant asymmetrical shape.

It is a plane built in late 1943: the long aerial mast and the pitot probe in outer position were introduced arond september/october of that year.

On both photos, the ground (and the plane itself) on the left side appears much lighter than on the right; this is probably due to a defect in the printing of both photos.


The painting of the fuselage seems very worn, perhaps due to remains of white winter paint. A strange light blotch on the stabilizer could be a repair of a damage repainted with yellowish zinc chromate paint ALG-1.

Thanks to V. Timoshenko and A. Ruchkovsky.

A reconstruction of plane 9.

Click on the profile to see a larger 3 views drawing.

An higher resolution version of the artwork will be published on the book on Il-2 of Jason Moore.




Images of a plane shot down in Finland on 22.07.1944, from

According to V.Timoshenko, the plane is from 214th ShAP, so it should have had the bottom of the nose painted white.

The rear fuselage and tail are clearly visible on the photos; the plane is revealed as an Il2-37 for the image of the 37 mm gun hammered into the ground and bended.





A reconstruction of white 23.

Click on the profile to see a larger 3 views drawing.

An higher resolution version of this artwork will be published for the book on Il-2 of Jason Moore.



Plane 32 of 505 ShAP /75 GvShAP in May/June 1944 appears on many photos on the background of n.30, but none of the images we have is of decent quality and allows to see the number. The plane was drawn as n.32 on the books of Rastrenin and on Mir Aviacija, and I hope they had better photos.

Differently than plane n.30, that is clearly of Z.1, n.32 is of Z.30 as all the Il2-37 built, and the camouflage, size and position of stars of my profile conforms to this standard. The spinner of 32 is clearly darker than the one of 30 in all the photos, and was interpreted as red.

Image from newspaper "Krasnaya Zvezda» no. 289 of December 8, 1944.

Thanks to Vitaliy timoshenko for the informations.

A reconstruction of plane 32.

Click on the profile to see a larger 3 views drawing.

An higher resolution version of this artwork will be published for the book on Il-2 of Jason Moore.

White 99 of 999th ShAP is clearly revealed as an Il2-37 for the gun pod visible on the first image.

The tall mast, the white and red outlined stars and the roof-style rear canopy identifies it as a plane built at the end of 1943.

Unfortunately the camo is scarcely recognizable, probably is the second pattern of August 1943.



Il2-37 red 28 in white finish during the winter 1943/44.

The rough white finish, made with washable MK-7 paint, don't extend on the engine cowling, that probably let see the later green/dark grey/light brown camouflage adopted in August 1943.

Although widely utilized in previous winters, the temporary white finish was rare in winter 1943/44, and officially abolished in winter 1944/45.

Note the tall radio mast, introduced in late 1943 shortly before switching the production to the arrow wing.

Note also the leather or tissue 'shoe' on the struts of the tail wheel. They were common on planes only during the winter.






Another image of the same plane allows to see some details of the undersurface, including the slots for waste shells under the gun pods.







A reconstruction of red 28.

Click on the profile to see a larger 3 views drawing.

An higher resolution version of this artwork will be published for the book on Il-2 of Jason Moore.


Above: the hatches for the 37 mm ammo were similar to those of 23 mm VYa-23 guns of the usual Il-2, but larger.

The outer wing panels of the planes produced by Z.30 were always wooden, of the straight type and with rounded landing light window.

Note that the ShKAS on the wings were preserved, and protrude slightly from above the leading edge as on usual Il-2M.

Left: comparison between shells of typical weapons utilized on Il-2s.

Right: a color image shows the real colors of the VYa-23 rounds and links.

For more on Soviet aircraft weapons, see:

Image of an Il-2-37 on maintenance. The way to open the gun pods is noteworthy. Part of the 'doors', when close, overposed to the front of the 'fixed' part.

Below, a detail of the closed pods for comparison. We see the slot for expulsion of links on its right side, while the larger slot for the expulsion of waste shells under it is not clearly visible because of the poor quality of the image.

Below: a NS-37 gun. It was 3400 mm long, 215 mm wide, with height of 415 mm; the weight was 160 kg. The rate of fire was of 240-260 shots/minute. It was built by Z.74 in Izhevsk.

An Il2-37 is exposed at the museum of Sennagres, in Norway.

It was a plane of 214. ShAP, VVS code 9, SNo 305560

On 22.10 1944, it was hit in the engine by German ground fire after an attack on Elvenes bridge. The gunner Sgt. Nikolai Makimenko (KIA) bailed out, but the aircraft was flying to low. The pilot, Senior Lt. Alexandr Tsejetsjulin managed to land on lake Sennagressvatnet and walked away from the aircraft.

The plane was restored in Russia, but the restoration shows many inaccuracies: the fantasy painting, the use of a propeller from another type of plane, the approximate rebuilding of the wooden parts as wings and rear fuselage.

The gun pods, however, appear to be original and are an excellent reference.




An Il-2M3 with NS-45 45 mm guns installed in underwing nacelles at state tests in February 1944. It wasn't put into production because of the loss of precision due to the recoil of the guns.

The camo scheme seems the first one of August 1943, recognizable for the light brown band at mid of the nose. It seems to feature a glossy red spinner.

(From Ilyushin Il-2 by Oleg Rastrenin)






A reconstruction of this plane.

Sorry, no 3 views drawing this time.

An higher resolution version of this artwork will be published for the book on Il-2 of Jason Moore.

Disclaimer: many of the images reported here are not credited, because I have received them by many collaborators and I don't know all the original sources. If anyone has a copyright on these images: please don't feel hurted, email me and I'll provide to credit or remove them.