IL-14: era of Soviet aviation

01 October 2013
40 years in the air

il-14.jpgThe war was in full play, but the government thought about the peaceful sky. The DC-3 and LI-2 Aircraft were completely old, and a plane with outstanding characteristics was needed. Ilyushin Design Bureau started to design a new aircraft in 1943, and in victorious 1945 a test model flew to the sky, which further got a name IL-12. It was a solid middle-range passenger aircraft.

But in the first months of operation an incident happened at Vnukovo airdrome, which showed Achilles’ heel of two-engine passenger aircraft. One of engines broke out during run of the new aircraft, which was carrying children to Adler. The flight had been stopped immediately. No accident happened due to nose gear, and the nosing –over didn’t happen. The aircraft was short of power for guaranteed take-off with only one engine. The problem needed to be immediately solved. And it was solved.

Engineers of Ilyushin Design Bureau designed an aircraft which repeated configuration of IL-12, but had a little bigger size and weight. Aerodynamics was enhanced due to forward-swept wing, which was rather new for that time. Its thickness ratio was extended, which improved integrity and lift performance and lessened the weight. Take-off and landing wing devices were also upgraded.

Drag reduction also demanded great efforts. The landing gear retracted twice as faster than on IL-12, and propeller blade of inoperative engine feathered. Nose and main landing gear compartments while extended were equipped with closing panel. Fin area was extended for improving transverse stability at low speed.

Ilyushin engineers also paid attention to improving flight and landing safety of the new aircraft in bad weather conditions. Anti-icing system and flight and navigation equipment were also upgraded. Warmth of engine retraction gas was used against icing and for heating the cabin. Due to this solution there was no need in fuel-fired heater and it enhanced fire safety.

And thought the serial engines with inconsiderable increase of take-off power were left on the aircraft, running on ground, height and speed gain were faster.

For the first time in the country, dangerous complex testing with one-engine take-off were carried out by V.K.Kokkinaki, Chief-pilot of Ilyushin Design Bureau. Starting with this aircraft, they began obligatory for the further testings of all multi-engine passenger aircraft, without any exception.

The flights demonstrated safety and easy maintenance of the plane, efficiency of the technical decisions made. With one engine broken out, safe take off with gross weight was provided. The aircraft could make a long horizontal flight with one operating engine and landing gear extended. In 1952 the aircraft with the name IL-14 was put into mass production.

So Aeroflot received an exclusive aircraft, which was for a long time a willing horse for the airlines. IL-14 was flying all over the world, winning love and admiration everywhere. Able to land and take-off from small ground airfield, safe and comfortable in operation, it became a flying intercity bus. Demand in such transportation was so big that the number of carried passengers was constantly rising. First it was 18, then 24, then 38. Czechoslovakian aviation workers overcame others, when they managed to place 40 passengers in the aircraft.

il-14_There were about 40 modifications of IL-14: passenger, transport, ambulance, flying laboratory… the aircraft was being built under license in German Democratic Republic and Czechoslovakia. Operation within Polar aviation should be noted. Simple, able to take off and land at small ice platforms, it was operated in the hardest weather conditions, in thin air and extreme temperatures – 70°C, with heavy icing.

The aircraft was actively applied for ice reconnaissance; it was on the North and South poles. It participated in providing unheard-of history Arctic experiments: voyage of atomic ice-breaker “Arktika” and ski tour through ice to the North Pole. So far fully-featured substitute to this aircraft in high latitudes hasn’t been found.

IL-14 operated in the sky till the beginning of 1990. Long and glorious life! This aircraft had a great influence on technical equipment of airports and service system of aviation fleet. These provided development of national civil aviation, its switch to a new level: with the appearance of IL-14 civil aviation became one of the main types of passenger transport.

It is surprising, but in our country there still are IL-14 appropriate for operation. There are enthusiasts, who are ready to spend all their free time on reconstruction of these gorgeous aircraft. A whole team of fellow-thinkers of “Albatros Aero” aviation-sport club reconstruct two IL-14T, called “Blue dream” at former Tushino airdrome and in Stupino.

If you want to know how the reconstruction work is going on, to get to know the participants, to learn what they are thinking about and find a lot of nice pictures, go