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Ilyushin Il-28

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Il-28 in Polish Air Force colours, with a man for scale.
Role Medium bomber
National origin Soviet Union
Manufacturer Ilyushin
Harbin Aircraft Manufacturing Corporation (H-5)
First flight 8 July 1948
Introduction 1950
Retired 1980s (Soviet Union)
Status In limited service with the Korean People's Air Force
Primary users Soviet Air Force
People's Liberation Army Air Force
Czechoslovak Air Force
Polish Air Force
Indonesian Air Force
Number built over 6,635
Developed into Ilyushin Il-30

The Ilyushin Il-28 (Russian: Илью́шин Ил-28; NATO reporting name: Beagle) is a jet bomber of the immediate postwar period that was originally manufactured for the Soviet Air Forces. It was the Soviet Union's first such aircraft to enter large-scale production. It was also licence-built in China as the Harbin H-5. Total production in the USSR was 6,316 aircraft, and over 319 H-5s were built. Only 187 examples of the HJ-5 training variant were manufactured. In the 1990s hundreds remained in service with various air forces over 50 years after the Il-28 first appeared. The only H-5s in service currently are approximately 80 aircraft which operate with the Korean People's Air Force.[1] The Il-28 has the USAF/DoD reporting name "Type 27"[2] and ASCC reporting name "Beagle",[3] while the Il-28U trainer variant has the USAF/DoD reporting name "Type 30"[2] and NATO reporting name Mascot.[4][5]

Design and development


After a number of attempts at a four-engined bomber (the Lyulka TR-1 powered Ilyushin Il-22 and the unbuilt Rolls-Royce Derwent powered Ilyushin Il-24), the Ilyushin Design Bureau began development of a new jet-powered tactical bomber in late 1947.[6] Western Intelligence focused on the four-engine developments while the twin-engine Ilyushin Il-28 was created to meet a requirement for a bomber to carry a 3,000 kilograms (6,600 lb) bombload at 800 kilometres per hour (500 mph).[7][8] The new design took advantage of the sale of a number of Rolls-Royce Nene jet engines by Great Britain to the Soviet Union, which allowed Soviet engineers to quickly produce an unlicensed copy of the Nene, the RD-45, with Ilyushin designing the new bomber around two RD-45s.[7]

The Il-28 was smaller than the previous designs and carried a crew of only three (pilot, navigator and gunner). It was also smaller than the competing design from the Tupolev design bureau, the three-engined (i.e. two Nenes and a Rolls-Royce Derwent) Tupolev Tu-73, which had been started long before the Ilyushin project, and flew before the design of the Il-28 was approved.[7]

An Il-28 in Finnish colors, showing the tail mounted gun turret with a window for the rear gunner. This aircraft was configured as a target tug; the device containing the orange target is the target-deploy mechanism

The Il-28 design was conventional in layout, with high, unswept wings and a swept horizontal tail and fin. The engines were carried in bulky nacelles slung directly under the wings. The nosewheel retracted rearwards, while the mainwheels retracted forwards into the engine nacelles. The crew of three were accommodated in separate, pressurised compartments. The navigator, who also acted as bombardier, was accommodated in the glazed nose compartment and was provided with an OPB-5 bombsight based on the American Norden bombsight of the Second World War, while the pilot sat under a sideways opening bubble canopy with an armoured windscreen. The gunner sat in a separate compartment at the rear of the fuselage, operating a power driven turret armed with two Nudelman-Suranov NS-23 23 mm cannons with 250 rounds each. In service, the turret was sometimes removed as a weight saving measure.[9] While the pilot and navigator sat on ejector seats, the gunner had to parachute out of a hatch in the floor in the event of an emergency. Two more fixed, forward-firing 23 mm cannon with 100 rounds each were mounted under the nose and fired by the pilot, while a bomb bay was located in the fuselage, capable of holding four 100 kg (220 lb) bombs in individual containers, or single large bombs of up to 3,000 kg (6,600 lb) slung from a beam in the bomb bay.[10][11]

Il-28 bomb bay

One unusual design feature of the Il-28 was that the wings and tail were split horizontally through the centre of the wing, while the fuselage was split vertically at the centreline, allowing the separate parts to be built individually and fitted out with systems before being bolted together to complete assembly of the aircraft.[12] This slightly increased the weight of the aircraft structure, but eased manufacture and proved to be more economical.[13][14]

The first prototype, powered by two imported Nenes, made its maiden flight on 8 July 1948, with Vladimir Kokkinaki at the controls. Testing was successful, with the Il-28 demonstrating good handling and reaching a speed of 833 km/h (518 mph). It was followed on 30 December 1948 by the second prototype, with Soviet built RD-45 engines replacing the Nenes.[15] After the completion of state tests in early 1949 the aircraft was ordered into large scale production on 14 May 1949, with the Klimov VK-1, an improved version of the RD-45 to be used in order to improve the aircraft's performance.[16][17] The first pre-production aircraft with VK-1 engines flew on 8 August 1949, and featured reshaped engine nacelles to reduce drag, while the radome for the navigation radar was moved from the rear fuselage to just aft of the nosewheel.

Full production in three factories started in September 1949, with service deliveries starting in early 1950, allowing 25 Il-28s to be displayed at the Moscow May Day parade of 1950 (as ordered by Joseph Stalin when it was ordered into production in 1949).[18][19] The Il-28 soon became the standard tactical bomber in the Soviet forces and was widely exported.[16]

Operational history

Polish Il-28 landing, 1959
Egyptian Il-28 strikes IDF positions in Sinai during the War of Attrition (1967).
A formation of five brand-new EAF Il-28 bombers, seen at low level over Cairo during a parade in September 1956.

The Il-28 was widely exported, serving in the air arms of some 20 nations ranging from the Warsaw Pact to various Middle-Eastern and African air forces. Egypt was an early customer, and targeting Egyptian Il-28s on the ground was a priority for the Royal Air Force during the Suez Crisis and later by the Israeli Air Force during the Six-Day War, and Yom Kippur War.

Egyptian Il-28s also took part in the North Yemen Civil War, starting in 1963. In addition to attacks on the royalist forces, they also bombed the Saudi cities of Jizan, Najran, and Khamis Mushait.[20] Two Egyptian Il-28s may have been shot down near Sanaa by Royal Saudi Air Force Hawker Hunters flown by British pilots, in 1966.[21]

The Soviet Union was in the process of providing the type for local assembly in Cuba when this was halted by the Cuban Missile Crisis, after which Nikita Khrushchev agreed to remove them. The type also saw limited use in Vietnam and with the Afghan forces in Afghanistan. Four ex-Egyptian and two ex-Soviet Il-28s (all with Egyptian crews) were operated by the Nigerian Air Force in the Biafra Wars. Finland also had four examples of this type delivered between 1961 and 1966 for target-towing duties. They remained in service until the 1980s.

The Soviet Union had relegated the Il-28 to second-line duties by the late-1950s. The supersonic Yak-28 was introduced in the early 1960s to take over the Beagle's low-level attack role; some Il-28 variants lingered in Soviet service into the 1980s.[22][23] The last Soviet-built examples were still flying in Egypt into the 1990s.

The People's Republic of China received over 250 Soviet-built Il-28s from 1952,[24] and when the Sino-Soviet split occurred in the late 1950s, it decided to place the Il-28 into production, despite no manufacturing license being obtained.[25] Chinese-built aircraft differed from the original Soviet aircraft in that they have a redesigned wing structure, abandoning the horizontal manufacturing break, saving 110 kilograms (240 lb) at the cost of a more difficult construction. Chinese aircraft also used a different tail turret based on that of the Tupolev Tu-16, and fitted with faster-firing AM-23 cannons.[26]

Chinese-built Il-28s designated H-5 and built by HAMC were still flying in the 1990s with several hundreds in China itself, and a smaller number in North Korea and Romania. The three main Chinese versions are the H-5 bomber, followed by the HJ-5 trainer, and the H-5R (HZ-5) long range (in comparison to the reconnaissance version of the Shenyang J-6) reconnaissance aircraft, and later, the HD-5 ECM/ESM version. The latter two types have been phased out.

The type is known to still be in active service with the North Korean Air Force, although little is known as to whether they are a mix of survivors from the batch of 24 Soviet-manufactured aircraft delivered in the 1960s and some of the newer Chinese-built H-5 variant, or are solely H-5s. Some of these are probably used for spares to maintain a small group of around a dozen serviceable aircraft.[citation needed] They give North Korea a means of bombing targets in South Korea and Western Japan, although they would be vulnerable to modern anti air missiles and interceptors.

Several Ilyushin Il-28s are preserved in museums and as monuments in Russia, Germany, Hungary and in other countries.



Soviet Union variants


Note: Order of variants determined chronologically by production/development dates.

Basic three-seat bomber version, powered by two VK-1 engines.[27]
An Il-28U trainer of the Egyptian Air Force in 1981.
Unarmed training version fitted with new nose housing cockpit for instructor, while the trainee sat in the normal cockpit. First flown 18 March 1950.[28]
Three-seat tactical photo reconnaissance version, with extra fuel in bomb bay and tip-tanks, and with one forward firing cannon removed. Fitted with revised undercarriage to deal with heavier weights. First flew 19 April 1950.[29][30]
ELINT version of Il-28R.[31]
Electronic warfare, electronic jamming version, fitted with wingtip electronic pods housed in the former wing tanks.[9][31]
Torpedo bomber version for the Soviet Naval Aviation able to accommodate two small or one large torpedo (including RAT-52 rocket propelled torpedoes) in a lengthened weapons bay.[32]
Nuclear bomber for the Soviet Air Force with modified bomb-bay and revised avionics. (N - Nositel - carrier, also known as Il-28A - Atomnyy - atomic).[33]
Unarmed civil conversion for Aeroflot, used as jet conversion trainer and to carry high priority cargo (i.e. newspaper matrices to allow simultaneous printing of Pravda and Izvestia in Moscow, Sverdlovsk and Novosibirsk). Also designated Ilyushin Il-20.[34][35]
Proposed swept-wing version with more powerful Klimov VK-5 engines. Unbuilt.[33]
Modified Il-28R with VK-5 engine. One prototype built plus two similarly converted bombers (which carried no special designation) but no production.[33]
Il-28T with VK-5. One converted, no production.[33]
High-speed anti-submarine conversion of Il-28 bomber or Il-28T torpedo bomber. Capable of carrying dropping sonobuoys or acoustic homing torpedoes on direction of other anti-submarine assets.[36]
Ground attack (Shturmovik) conversion of Il-28 with 12 underwing pylons for rocket pods. Small number converted which saw limited service.[36][37]
Atmospheric sampling version.[37]
Target drone conversion of Il-28. Also known as M-28.[36]

Czechoslovak variants

Czechoslovak designation of Soviet built Il-28s.[38]
Czechoslovak designation of Soviet built Il-28Us.[38]

Chinese variants

(Hongzhaji - bomber) - Standard three-seat tactical bomber.[39] The structure of the two halves of the Soviet Union's IL-28 aircraft was changed to a common structure. The engine uses WP-5. The tail turret using H-6s caused some changes in the tail structure.
Speculative designation of for nuclear capable H-5 variant.[40]
(Hongzhaji Dian - bomber/electronic reconnaissance) Chinese ECM jammer version.[41]
(Hongzhaji Jiaolianji - bomber trainer) Chinese trainer version with similar layout to Il-28U.[39][42]
(Hongzhaji Zhenchaji - bomber/reconnaissance) Tactical reconnaissance aircraft. Fitted with underwing drop tanks instead of tip tanks of Il-28R.[39][41]
Export designation of the H-5.[40]
Export version of HZ-5.[41]
Export version of the HJ-5.[41]
H-5 Ying
(Ying - eagle) Avionics testbed for Xian JH-7 programme.[43]
Speculative designation for unflown H-5 testbed for WS-5 aft-fan engines.[43]


Il-28 operators


 North Korea


54 aircraft acquired (including four Il-28U examples) from 1957. Only trainers were retained beyond 1994.[45][46] All grounded during the civil war in the 1990s. Some were displayed during military parades such as the one in 1984.[47]
Aviation Regiment 4020 operated one Il-28 acquired in 1957 attached to 2 Skuadrilja (2nd Squadron). This aircraft was traded for an H-5, the Chinese version of the Soviet Il-28, in 1971 and retired from service in 1992.[48]
Fourteen Il-28s were ordered from the USSR in 1965-1966. At least twelve of them were donated to Egypt following the Six-Day War.[49]
14 Il-28Rs and one Il-28U received in 1955 and retired in 1974.
This is a Russian Ilyushin Il-28 'Beagle' bomber licence built in China as the Harbin (where the factory is) H-5.
A total of 42 were received in 1962, but soon returned to the Soviet Union as a result of the Cuban Missile Crisis.[51]
This is a recce variant, with tip tanks for extra fuel. msn 52404. Vyskov Museum, Czech Republic. 06-10-2012
Ilyushin Il-28R, LZ-32, of the 47th Reconnaissance Air Regiment of the Czechoslovak Air Force, spring 1957
Il-28 and Il-28Us locally designated B-228 and CB-228 which operated from 1954 until 1973. 90 Il-28s, 30 Il-28RTs and an unknown number of Il-28Us were delivered.
 East Germany
Operated 12 Il-28s and one Il-28U aircraft, primarily on target tug and engine testing duties between 1954 and 1982.
Received 70 Czechoslovakian-built Il-28s in 1956, shortly before the Suez Crisis. The IDF rated the Il-28 as a high priority target during the Six-Day War.[52]
Received four aircraft (one IL-28 and three Il-28Rs), coded NH-1..4, in the 1960s. The aircraft were used as target tugs and for maritime reconnaissance and patrolling as well as aerial mapping until 1981. The code letters of the type (NH) originated from Neuvostoliittolainen Hinauskone (Soviet towplane) but since they also matched initials of the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev (spelled Hruštšov in Finnish), their usual nickname was Nikita.[53]
 Hungarian People's Republic
21st Air Squadron based at Kemayoran Air Force Base, Jakarta received 12 Il-28s acquired in 1961. Aircraft were used during Operation Trikora in 1962 (the conquest of Western New Guinea). All of the aircraft were grounded in 1969 and retired in 1970.
Received more than 30 Il-28T torpedo-bombers and six Il-28U trainers in 1961. They were based at Surabaya, in what is now Juanda International Airport. The last one was retired in 1972.[54]
An Iraqi Il-28 bomber abandoned at Al Taqaddum, Iraq.
Received twelve Il-28s, two Il-28Us and two Il-28BM target tugs starting in January 1959. Some additional aircraft may have been acquired from Egypt in the 1960s.[55] All destroyed or grounded after Desert Storm.
Morocco operated two Il-28s.[54]
 North Yemen
Four Il-28s donated by Libya in October 1972.[57]
Operated a number of H-5s under the designation B-56. These aircraft served alongside American-built Martin B-57s. The H-5s were not popular with Pakistani pilots, and they were eventually traded back to China in exchange for more Shenyang F-6s.
Ilyushin Il-28R
About 22 Il-28s, three Il-28Rs and eight Il-28Us, both Soviet- and Chinese-built, operated from 1955. All remaining Il-28s were retired from service by June 2001.
 South Yemen
Received a single Il-28, one Il-28R and two Il-28Us from the USSR around 1972.[59]
Soviet Il-28 bomber monument in Tokmok (Chüy Region, Kyrgyzstan)
 Soviet Union
About 1,500 served with the Soviet Air Forces and the Soviet Navy (Soviet Naval Aviation), with operations beginning in 1950. Front line operations continued through the 1950s, with a few examples remaining into the 1980s. A small number of demilitarized aircraft were provided to Aeroflot.[45]
Syria operated six Il-28s. Two were destroyed during the Six-Day War. The other four were dumped[60] in airbases around Syria.[61] Replaced in 1980s by Su-24

Specifications (Il-28)

Ilyushin Il-28 3-view drawing

Data from Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1982–83[39]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 3
  • Length: 17.65 m (57 ft 11 in)
  • Wingspan: 21.45 m (70 ft 4 in)
  • Height: 6.7 m (22 ft 0 in)
  • Wing area: 60 m2 (650 sq ft)
  • Airfoil: TsAGI SR-5S (12%)[62]
  • Empty weight: 12,890 kg (28,418 lb)
  • Gross weight: 18,400 kg (40,565 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 21,200 kg (46,738 lb)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Klimov VK-1A centrifugal-flow turbojet engines, 26.5 kN (6,000 lbf) thrust each


  • Maximum speed: 902 km/h (560 mph, 487 kn) at 4,500 m (14,800 ft)
  • Cruise speed: 770 km/h (480 mph, 420 kn) at 10,000 m (33,000 ft)
  • Range: 2,180 km (1,350 mi, 1,180 nmi)
  • Service ceiling: 12,300 m (40,400 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 15 m/s (3,000 ft/min)


  • Guns: 4 × Nudelman-Rikhter NR-23 cannons (2 in nose and 2 in tail barbette)
  • Bombs: 3,000 kg (6,600 lb) of bombs in internal bay (1,000 kg (2,200 lb) normal)

See also


Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era

Related lists




  1. ^ "Derailing a Nuclear Program by Force". Stratfor. Archived from the original on 2017-04-23. Retrieved 2017-01-02.
  2. ^ a b Parsch, Andreas and Aleksey V. Martynov. "Designations of Soviet and Russian Military Aircraft and Missiles." Archived 2017-10-11 at the Wayback Machine designation-systems.net, 2008. Retrieved: 22 August 2011.
  3. ^ Parsch, Andreas and Aleksey V. Martynov. "Bomber designations." Archived 2017-10-11 at the Wayback Machine designation-systems.net, 2008. Retrieved: 22 August 2011.
  4. ^ Parsch, Andreas and Aleksey V. Martynov. "Listings: Miscellaneous." Archived 2017-10-11 at the Wayback Machine designation-systems.net, 2008. Retrieved: 22 August 2011.
  5. ^ Gunston 1995, pp. XXX–XXXI.
  6. ^ Sweetman and Gunston 1978, p. 113.
  7. ^ a b c Green and Swanborough 1988, p. 44.
  8. ^ Gunston 1995, p. 417.
  9. ^ a b Winchester 2006, p. 112.
  10. ^ Green and Swanborough 1988, pp. 45–46.
  11. ^ Gordon, Komissarov and Komissarov 2004, pp. 140–144.
  12. ^ Winchester 2006, p. 113.
  13. ^ Green and Swanborough 1988, p. 45.
  14. ^ Gunston 1995, p. 114.
  15. ^ Green and Swanborough 1988, p. 46.
  16. ^ a b Nemecek 1986, p. 173.
  17. ^ Gordon, Komissarov and Komissarov 2004, p. 117.
  18. ^ Green and Swanborough 1988, pp. 47–49.
  19. ^ Gordon, Komissarov and Komissarov 2004, p. 118.
  20. ^ Cooper 2017, pp. 17–18
  21. ^ Cooper 2017, p. 23
  22. ^ The Ilyushin Il-28 "Beagle". Air Vectors.net.
  23. ^ The Yakovlev Yak-25 & Yak-28. Air Vectors.net.
  24. ^ Gordon and Komissarov 1997, p. 20.
  25. ^ Gordon and Komissarov 2008, p. 113.
  26. ^ Gordon and Komissarov 2008, pp. 113–114.
  27. ^ Gordon, Komissarov and Komissarov 2004, pp. 118–119.
  28. ^ Gordon and Komissarov 1997, p. 11.
  29. ^ Green and Swanborough 1988, p. 49.
  30. ^ Gordon and Komissarov 1997, p. 14.
  31. ^ a b Gordon, Komissarov and Komissarov 2004, p. 122.
  32. ^ Gordon and Komissarov 1997, p. 14–16.
  33. ^ a b c d Gordon and Komissarov 1997, p. 17.
  34. ^ Gunston 1995, p. 115.
  35. ^ Stroud 1968, pp. 126–127.
  36. ^ a b c Gordon and Komissarov 1997, p. 18.
  37. ^ a b Gordon, Komissarov and Komissarov 2004, p. 128.
  38. ^ a b Gordon, Komissarov and Komissarov 2004, p. 136.
  39. ^ a b c d Taylor 1982, pp. 36–37.
  40. ^ a b Gordon and Komissarov 2008, p. 115.
  41. ^ a b c d Gordon and Komissarov 2008, p. 117.
  42. ^ Gordon and Komissarov 2008, pp. 115–116
  43. ^ a b Gordon and Komissarov 2008, p. 118.
  44. ^ Studies (IISS), The International Institute for Strategic (15 February 2023). The Military Balance 2023. Taylor & Francis. pp. 262−265. ISBN 978-1-000-91070-4. Retrieved 2 August 2023.
  45. ^ a b Goebel, Greg. "Ilyushin Il-28 'Beagle'." Archived 2006-02-21 at the Wayback Machine Air Vectors. Retrieved: 22 August 2011.
  46. ^ "Afghanistan (AFG), World Air Forces - Historical Listings." Archived 2007-01-15 at the Wayback Machine worldairforces.com. Retrieved: 22 August 2011.
  47. ^ "Afghan Military Show in 1980s Babrak Karmal era - YouTube". www.youtube.com. Retrieved 2020-12-27.
  48. ^ " Albania Air Force: AviatioSkuadronnt 4020 (7594 Regiment)." Archived 2011-06-11 at the Wayback Machine aeroflight.co. Retrieved: 22 August 2011.
  49. ^ Cooper, Tom; Grandolini, Albert (2018). Showdown in Western Sahara, Volume 1: Air Warfare over the Last African Colony, 1945-1975. Warwick, UK: Helion & Company Publishing. pp. 48–49. ISBN 978-1-912390-35-9.
  50. ^ "People's Republic of China People's Liberation Army Air Force". Archived from the original on 2009-02-18. Retrieved 2019-05-16.
  51. ^ Gordon and Komissarov 1997, p. 21.
  52. ^ Gordan, Yefim, and Dmitry Komissarov. "Egypt Pg.8-68." Soviet and Russian Military Aircraft in the Middle East. N.p.: Hikoki, 2013. 164-65. Print.
  53. ^ Laukkanen, Jyrki (2008). Iljushin IL-28 in Finnish Air Force. Apali. pp. 85, 99. ISBN 978-952-5026-79-5.
  54. ^ a b Gordon and Komissarov 1997, p. 23.
  55. ^ Sipos, Milos; Cooper, Tom (2020). Wings of Iraq, Volume 1: The Iraqi Air Force, 1931-1970. Warwick, UK: Helion & Company Publishing. pp. 48, V. ISBN 978-1-913118-74-7.
  56. ^ Cooper et al. 2011, p. 87
  57. ^ Cooper, Tom. Hot Skies Over Yemen, Volume 1. p. 34.
  58. ^ Cooper et al. 2011, p. 96
  59. ^ Cooper, Tom. Hot Skies Over Yemen, Volume 1. p. 35.
  60. ^ Gordan, Yefim, and Dmitry Komissarov. "Syria Pg.164." Soviet and Russian Military Aircraft in the Middle East. N.p.: Hikoki, 2013. 164-65. Print.
  61. ^ Gordon and Komissarov 1997, p. 24.
  62. ^ Lednicer, David. "The Incomplete Guide to Airfoil Usage". m-selig.ae.illinois.edu. Retrieved 16 April 2019.


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