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The Ilyushin Il-2 Shturmovik, like the T-34 tank, was one of the pivotal weapons in the Soviet arsenal during World War II that blunted the advances of the Wehrmacht and subsequently pushed them all the way back to Berlin. The prototype was designed as a two-place all-metal attack aircraft, but it would enter production as a single seat aircraft with wooden wings and tail section. While the aircraft was able to press attacks into enemy columns, its lack of maneuverability and rear gunner made it easy prey for the Luftwaffe air defenders.

Engineering changes to the aircraft had to wait in those early days of the Great Patriotic War as engineering and productions facilities were moved east outside of the reach of German bombers and ground forces. When changes did start to trickle into the production line, the rear gunner position was restored to the aircraft, but accommodations for the gunner were minimalistic and combat losses of gunners were significantly higher than those of pilots or aircraft. Nevertheless, the two-seat aircraft also saw more armor plate, all-metal structures, and a more powerful engine.

One problem not foreseen by these changes in the aircraft was the center of gravity. Adding the rear gunner, gun, ammo, and even the minimal armor plating caused the Il-2 to become tail-heavy and loss of control would sometimes result during combat maneuvering. At the low altitudes that the Shturmovik operated, there was no time for the pilot to recover. Ilyushin applied a simple fix to shift the center of gravity aft without a major redesign of the aircraft – they swept the outboard wing panels.

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