The Ilyushin Il-2 Shturmovik was a ground-attack aircraft produced by the Soviet Union in large numbers during the Second World War. The Il-2 was never given an official name and 'shturmovik' is the generic Russian word meaning ground attack aircraft. The word also appears in Western sources as Stormovik and Sturmovik, neither of which give correct pronunciation in English. With 36,183 units of the Il-2 produced during the war, and in combination with its successor, the Ilyushin Il-10, a total of 42,330 were built, making it the single most produced military aircraft design in aviation history, as well as one of the most produced piloted aircraft in history along with the American postwar civilian Cessna 172 and the Soviet Union's own then-contemporary Polikarpov Po-2 Kukuruznik multipurpose biplane.
To Il-2 pilots, the aircraft was simply the diminutive "Ilyusha". To the soldiers on the ground, it was the "Hunchback", the "Flying Tank" or the "Flying Infantryman". Its postwar NATO reporting name was "Bark". The Il-2 aircraft played a crucial role on the Eastern Front. When factories fell behind on deliveries, Joseph Stalin told the factory managers that the Il-2s were "as essential to the Red Army as air and bread."