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-engine (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.
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 nose wheel retracted rearwards, while the main wheels retracted forwards into the engine nacelles. The crew of three were accommodated in separate, pressurized compartments. The navigator, who also acted as bombardier, was accommodated in the glazed nose compartment and was provided with an OPB-5 bomb sight based on the American Norden bomb sight of the Second World War, while the pilot sat under a sideways opening bubble canopy with an armored 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. 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 under the wing, capable of holding four 220 lb bombs in individual containers, or single large bombs of up to 6,600 lb slung from a beam in the bomb bay.
One unusual design feature of the Il-28 was that the wings and tail were split horizontally through the center of the wing, while the fuselage was split vertically at the center line, allowing the separate parts to be built individually and fitted out with systems before being bolted together to complete assembly of the aircraft. This slightly increased the weight of the aircraft structure, but eased manufacture and proved to be more economical.
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 518 mph. It was followed on 30 December 1948 by the second prototype, with Soviet built RD-45 engines replacing the Nenes. 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. 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 nose wheel.
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). The Il-28 soon became the standard tactical bomber in the Soviet forces.
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. 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. Yemeni Il-28s took part in the civil war in that country. 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 withdrew the type in the 1980s, while 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, 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. Chinese built aircraft differed from the original Soviet aircraft in that they have a redesigned wing structure, abandoning the horizontal manufacturing break, saving 240 lb at the cost of 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 cannon.
Chinese-built Il-28s designated H-5 and built by HAMC were also flying in the 1990s with several hundred 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 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 in respectable numbers, 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. They give North Korea a means of strategically 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. Over 6,635 were built.
parts are not as thin as those found in many contemporary kits.
They are clear enough but have a lot of optical distortion. The
main canopy is supplied as either a single piece or with a
separate windscreen and side opening section if you want it
open. Two different open canopies are supplied but only one is
called out. Two nose sections are supplied, one of which is
called out and it has a lot more optical distortion than the non
specified one and for the life of me I don't see any difference
between the two. I find it very frustrating on kits like this
that are not that well known to supply parts without more of an
explanation of what the optional parts are intended for. The
frames are raised which should ease masking tasks, now we just
need Eduard to make a mask set for this kit.
decals are are glossy in finish, in register and appear
sufficiently opaque. They have a bit more excess film than I
like to see and there is no information as to where they were
printed. I have no experience with decals supplied by Bobcat.
Markings are supplied for 6 Soviet aircraft and three Chinese.
All but one of these is natural metal with one of the Chinese
being OD over gray.
instructions are in an A4 portrait style booklet,
20 pages long and stapled at the spine. The front
page has a halftone print of the box art, a brief
history, the usual safety warnings, decal
application instructions and an icon chart. The
history is only in English but the other stuff is
also repeated in Chinese. Page two is a sprue map.
Page three has a paint chart giving references for
Mr. Hobby, Tamiya and Model Master numbers where
applicable. Each color is also called out by name
and each color has a letter assigned which is
referenced throughout the instructions. The
assembly steps begin on the lower half of page 3.
The assembly starts with building up sub
assemblies, which is the way many modelers like to
work anyway. The bomb sight is first, followed by
the ejection seats and wing tanks. This continues
on page 4 with the nose gear and gear well
followed by the two main gear and wells. Page 5
then shows the bomb sight assembly from two
perspectives, the assembled nose gear from two
perspectives and the main gear assembly from a
side view. This is a good check to make certain
the gear angles are correct. Also on page 5 is a
diagram showing holes that need to be drilled out
on the fuselage for the various external munition
racks. Page 6 has the main wheel assemblies and
assemblies of the two different torpedoes
supplied. Page 7 starts with the exterior munition
racks then goes through the complete rear fuselage
/ ball turret assembly. One might want to glue
this rear fuselage extension to the main fuselage
first to minimize seam work but there is a lot
going on inside this section so doing that could
be tricky. Page 8 starts the engine and engine pod
assembly. They are handed so there are duplicate
assemblies for right and left. This continues on
to page 9 and from here on things get a bit
scatter shot, at least from my perspective. It
completes the engine assembly and has you mount
one completed assembly to one upper wing half.
Also on the page is a small step showing assembly
of one of the interior details. Page 10 shows the
completion of the basic wing started on the
previous page then jumps to building cockpit parts
and adding them to the fuselage. Page 11 jumps
back to the engine to wing assembly for the other
wing. Page 12 goes back to working on the cockpit
and interior. Page 13 continues this with an inset
showing assembly of the vertical tail. Page 14
finally brings the fuselage together. Page 15 is
really busy. The wings get installed as does the
tail, rear gun turret and lots of the external
fiddly bits which are probably best left till
after painting and decal application. Page 16 is
equally busy adding all the bits on the underneath
side plus the flaps, ailerons and wing tip tanks.
Page 17 shows installation of the external
munitions. Page 18 has the side profiles of the
nine different aircraft for which markings are
supplied. And lastly page 19 has top and bottom
views for markings. Over all the instructions seem
clear enough but the last few pages are really
busy and you need to study carefully. Not sure why
some of the smaller assemblies were scattered
about with other things.
After Market Goodies
Nothing found at the date of this review but
hoping that Eduard will do masks and PE interior parts.
waited a long time for a kit of this in 1/48 so I bought this
without hesitation. The kit did not disappoint ! Only a build will
tell how well it all fits but it certainly looks good in the box and
has a very good level of detail. It looks like a main stream kit but
I would treat it more as a limited run type and do lots of test
fitting. The difficult part will be choosing the markings and
studying documentation to determine the proper configuration of the
outside details. The Il-28 was to the Communist Block countries what
the Canberra and B-57 variants were to the Western Allies. If you
want one in this scale this one is your only choice at this time.
Links to kit build or reviews
Another in box review can be found here.
Best reference found so far is the
Ilyushin IL-28 by Yefim Gordon and Dmitriy Komissarov, basic
information can be found in
Encyclopedia of Russian Aircraft by Bill Gunston and online.
Back to the Russians are Coming