Military Wiki
Basic version of Il-28 in Polish Air Force colours
Role Medium bomber
National origin Soviet Union
Manufacturer Ilyushin
Avia (B-228 and CB-228)
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
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 NATO 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 at a Hungarian Museum, showing the tail mounted gun turret

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 engine 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 under the wing, 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

Landing of Polish IL-28, 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 Israeli Air Force during the Suez Crisis, 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,[20] 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.[21] 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 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.[22]

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.


Soviet Union variants

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

Basic three-seat bomber version, powered by two VK-1 engines.[23]

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.[24]
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.[25][26]
ELINT version of Il-28R.[27]
Electronic warfare, electronic jamming version, fitted with wingtip electronic pods, that were in the former wing tanks.[9][27]
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.[28]
Nuclear bomber for the Soviet Air Force with modified bomb-bay and revised avionics. (N - Nositel - carrier, also known as Il-28A - Atomnyy - atomic).[29]
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.[30][31]
Proposed swept-wing version with more powerful Klimov VK-5 engines. Unbuilt.[29]
Modified Il-28R with VK-5 engine. One prototype built plus two similarly converted bombers (which carried no special designation) but no production.[29]
Il-28T with VK-5. One converted, no production.[29]
High-speed anti-submarine conversion of Il-28 bomber or Il-28T torpedo bomber. Capable of carrying dropping sonobouys or acoustic homing torpedoes on direction of other anti-submarine assets.[32]
Ground attack (Shturmovik) conversion of Il-28 with 12 underwing pylons for rocket pods. Small number converted which saw limited service.[32][33]
Atmospheric sampling version.[33]
Target drone conversion of Il-28. Also known as M-28.[32]

Czechoslovakia variants

License-built standard Il-28s built by Avia in Czechoslovakia.[34]
License-built Il-28U trainers built by Avia in Czechoslovakia.[34]

Chinese variants

(Hongzhaji - bomber) - Standard three-seat tactical bomber.[35] 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.[36]
(Hongzhaji Dian - bomber/electronic reconnaissance) Chinese ECM jammer version.[37]
(Hongzhaji Jiaolianji - bomber trainer) Chinese trainer version with similar layout to Il-28U.[35][38]
(Hongzhaji Zhenchaji - bomber/reconnaissance) Tactical reconnaissnce aircraft. Fitted with underwing drop tanks instead of tip tanks of Il-28R.[35][37]
Export designation of the H-5.[36]
Export version of HZ-5.[37]
Export version of the HJ-5.[37]
H-5 Ying
(Ying - eagle) Avionics testbed for Xian JH-7 programme.[39]
Speculative designation for unflown H-5 testbed for WS-5 aft-fan engines.[39]


Il-28 operators

 North Korea

Former operators

54 aircraft acquired (including four Il-28U examples) from 1957. Only trainers were retained beyond 1994.[40][41] All grounded during the civil war in the 1990s.
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.[42]
Twelve Il-28s were received from Egypt in 1962, with a further 12 delivered from the Soviet Union in 1965.[20]
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.[43]

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 were built under licence as the 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 Czechoslovakia-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.[44] Some Il-28s still in service for limited use.
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 Hrushtshov in Finnish), their usual nickname was Nikita.[45]
21 Skuadron based at Kemayoran Air Force Base, Jakarta received 12 Il-28s acquired in 1961. Aircraft were used during Operation Trikora in 1962 (the handover of Western New Guinea to Indonesia from the Netherlands). 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.[46]

An Iraqi Il-28 bomber abandoned at Al Taqaddum, Iraq.

Received 10 Il-28s and two Il-28Us in 1958.[46] All destroyed or grounded after Desert Storm.
Morocco operated two Il-28s.[46]
 North Yemen
  • North Yemen Air Force
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

  • Polish Air Force: Received 72 Il-28s, 15 Il-28Rs and 16 Il-28Us. The first aircraft arrived in 1952, last was retired in 1977.
    • 7 Pułk Lotnictwa Bombowo-Rozpoznawczego was based in Powidz.
    • 21 Pułk Rozpoznania Taktycznego operated Il-28R variant and was based in Sochaczew.
    • 33 Pułk Lotnictwa Bombowego was based in Modlin.
  • Polish Navy
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

Soviet Il-28 bomber monument in Tokmok (Chuy Province, 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.[40]
Syria operated six Il-28s. Two were destroyed during the Six-Day War. The other four were dumped[47] in airbases around Syria.[48] Replaced in 1980s by Su-24

Specifications (Il-28)

Iljusin Il-28.svg

Data from Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1982–83[35]

General characteristics

  • Crew: Three (pilot, bombardier, gunner)
  • Length: 17.65 m (57 ft 11 in (excluding cannon))
  • Wingspan: 21.45 m (70 ft 4½ in (excluding tip tanks))
  • Height: 6.70 m (22 ft 11¾ in)
  • Wing area: 60.80 m² (654.5 sq ft)
  • Airfoil: TSAGI SR-5S[13]
  • Aspect ratio: 7.55:1
  • Empty weight: 12,890 kg (28,417 lb)
  • Loaded weight: 18,400 kg (40,565 lb)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 21,200 kg (46,738 lb)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Klimov VK-1A turbojets, 26.5 kN (5,952 lbf) each


  • Maximum speed: 902 km/h (487 knots, 560 mph) at 4,500 m (14,760 ft)
  • Cruise speed: 770 km/h (415 knots, 478 mph)
  • Range: 2,180 km (1,176 nmi, 1,355 mi)at 770 km/h (415 knots, 478 mph) and 10,000 m (32,800 ft)
  • Service ceiling: 12,300 m (40,350 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 900 m/min (2,950 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



  1. "Derailing a Nuclear Program by Force". 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Parsch, Andreas and Aleksey V. Martynov. "Designations of Soviet and Russian Military Aircraft and Missiles.", 2008. Retrieved: 22 August 2011.
  3. Parsch, Andreas and Aleksey V. Martynov. "Bomber designations.", 2008. Retrieved: 22 August 2011.
  4. Parsch, Andreas and Aleksey V. Martynov. "Listings: Miscellaneous.", 2008. Retrieved: 22 August 2011.
  5. Gunston 1995, pp. XXX–XXXI.
  6. Sweetman and Gunston 1978, p. 113.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Green and Swanborough 1988, p. 44.
  8. Gunston 1995, p. 417.
  9. 9.0 9.1 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. 13.0 13.1 Green and Swanborough 1988, p. 45.
  14. Gunston 1995, p. 114.
  15. Green and Swanborough 1988, p. 46.
  16. 16.0 16.1 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. 20.0 20.1 Gordon and Komissarov 1997, p. 20.
  21. Gordon and Komissarov 2008, p. 113.
  22. Gordon and Komissarov 2008, pp. 113–114.
  23. Gordon, Komissarov and Komissarov 2004, pp. 118–119.
  24. Gordon and Komissarov 1997, p. 11.
  25. Green and Swanborough 1988, p. 49.
  26. Gordon and Komissarov 1997, p. 14.
  27. 27.0 27.1 Gordon, Komissarov and Komissarov 2004, p. 122.
  28. Gordon and Komissarov 1997, p. 14–16.
  29. 29.0 29.1 29.2 29.3 Gordon and Komissarov 1997, p. 17.
  30. Gunston 1995, p. 115.
  31. Stroud 1968, pp. 126–127.
  32. 32.0 32.1 32.2 Gordon and Komissarov 1997, p. 18.
  33. 33.0 33.1 Gordon, Komissarov and Komissarov 2004, p. 128.
  34. 34.0 34.1 Gordon, Komissarov and Komissarov 2004, p. 136.
  35. 35.0 35.1 35.2 35.3 Taylor 1982, pp. 36–37.
  36. 36.0 36.1 Gordon and Komissarov 2008, p. 115.
  37. 37.0 37.1 37.2 37.3 Gordon and Komissarov 2008, p. 117.
  38. Gordon and Komissarov 2008, pp. 115–116
  39. 39.0 39.1 Gordon and Komissarov 2008, p. 118.
  40. 40.0 40.1 Goebel, Greg. "Ilyushin Il-28 'Beagle'." Air Vectors. Retrieved: 22 August 2011.
  41. "Afghanistan (AFG), World Air Forces - Historical Listings." Archived 2007-01-15 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved: 22 August 2011.
  42. " Albania Air Force: AviatioSkuadronnt 4020 (7594 Regiment)." Retrieved: 22 August 2011.
  43. Gordon and Komissarov 1997, p. 21.
  44. Gordan, Yefim, and Dmitry Komissarov. "Eygpt Pg.8-68." Soviet and Russian Military Aircraft in the Middle East. N.p.: Hikoki, 2013. 164-65. Print.
  45. Laukkanen, Jyrki (2008). Iljushin IL-28 in Finnish Air Force. Apali. pp. 85, 99. ISBN 978-952-5026-79-5. 
  46. 46.0 46.1 46.2 Gordon and Komissarov 1997, p. 23.
  47. Gordan, Yefim, and Dmitry Komissarov. "Syria Pg.164." Soviet and Russian Military Aircraft in the Middle East. N.p.: Hikoki, 2013. 164-65. Print.
  48. Gordon and Komissarov 1997, p. 24.


  • Bernád, Dénes. "Rumanian 'Beagles': The Ilyushin Il-28 in Rumanian Service". Air Enthusiast, No. 78, November/December 1998, pp. 68–72. ISSN 0143-5450.
  • Gordon, Yefim and Dmitry Komissarov. Chinese Aircraft: China's Aviation Industry since 1951. Manchester, UK: Hikoki Publications, 2008. ISBN 978-1-902109-04-6.
  • Gordon, Yefim and Dmitry Komissarov. "Soviet Canberra: Ilyushin's incredible Il-28". Air Enthusiast, No. 71, September/October 1997, pp. 8–24. ISSN 0143-5450.
  • Gordon, Yefim, Dmitry Komissarov and Sergei Komissarov. OKB Ilyushin: A History of the Design Bureau and Its Aircraft. Hinckley, Leicestershire, UK: Midland Publishing, 2004. ISBN 1-85780-187-3.
  • Green, William and Gordon Swanborough. "Il-28 ... A Quadragenarian Ilyushin". Air Enthusiast, Thirty-six, May–August 1988, pp. 39–51. ISSN 0143-5450.
  • Gunston, Bill. The Osprey Encyclopedia of Russian Aircraft 1975–1995. London: Osprey, 1995. ISBN 1-85532-405-9.
  • Nemecek, Vaclav. The History of Soviet Aircraft from 1918. London: Willow Books, 1986. ISBN 978-0-00218-033-7.
  • Stroud, John. Soviet Transport Aircraft since 1945. London: Putnam, 1968. ISBN 0-370-00126-5.
  • Sweetman, Bill and Bill Gunston. Soviet Air Power: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Warsaw Pact Air Forces Today. London: Salamander Books, 1978. ISBN 0-517-24948-0.
  • Taylor, John W. R. Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1982–83. London: Jane's Yearbooks, 1982. ISBN 0-7106-0748-2.
  • Winchester, Jim, ed. "Ilyushin Il-28 'Beagle'." Military Aircraft of the Cold War (The Aviation Factfile). London: Grange Books plc, 2006. ISBN 1-84013-929-3.

External links

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