Tuesday, 3 July 2012


IL-2 Sturmovik Recovered from a Lake in Murmansk, Russia

Freshly retrieved from 'Crooked Lake' near the town of Severomorsk in the Murmansk region of Russia is the IL-2 Sturmovik wreck pictured below. The wreck was lifted on 21st June 2012 by a team named 'Icarus' from the city of Zaozersk

This particular IL-2 served with 46th Air Assault Regiment of the Northern Fleet and made an emergency landing on the ice covered 'Crooked Lake' on November 25th 1943. It was part of a group of 16 IL-2s that were part of a raid on a German airfield at Luostari. 25 Me-109's rose to intercept them and the resulting engagement cost the Russians 11 planes and the Germans 23.

This was only the third sortie for the pilot, Valentine Skopintsev, and the second for his gunner, Vladimir Humenny. During the battle Skopintsev destroyed two planes on the ground and his gunner knocked out an Me-109 that was tailing them.

Pilot Valentine Skopintsev (right) and his gunner Vladimir Humenny (left)

With the tail shredded by machine-gun fire and the engine stalled, the pilot opted to ditch the aircraft on the ice-covered lake. The crew were both wounded, with Skopintsev having to drag the unconsious Vladimir Humenny from the rear gunner's position. Thankfully they managed to escape to safety in time, as the ice under the plane soon gave way under the 4-ton weight and she sank to the bottom of the lake, where she would remain for nearly 70 years.

Both crew returned to duty and flew together as pilot and gunner until the end of the war. For his service Skopintsev was awarded the Order of the Red Banner three times, in addition to the Order of Nakhimov 2nd Class. He was retired from military service in 1947 and died in 1996. I do not know what became of Humenny but if anyone has any further information please get in touch.

Now that the aircraft has been recovered, it will be taken to Novosibirsk for restoration, with the intent of getting it back into flying condition.

Via blogger51 and kp.ru.

Pictures taken by Alex Bakumenko and Alex Mkrtchyan.


  1. It appears to be in good shape. I'm glad to read that the crew escaped. I wonder if it's an arrow or a straight-winged two-seater - hard to tell from the photographs.

    1. Early Il-2s had straight leading edge, and angled trailing edge, later Il-2s and Il-10s had angled leading and straight tailing edge.

    2. Actually, now that I look at it again, I can see that it must have been a straight-winged two-seater, as the arrows had a different type of access panels to the guns in the wing (two small panels, as opposed to one small and one large panel).

  2. Good shape? What about that aircraft appears to be in good shape???

  3. Stephan Wilkinson13 July 2012 at 21:46

    Well, you have to know your Sturmoviks...what you see is the entire metal part of the aircraft, including the engine. Everything aft of the cockpit was wood, which means it's easily restorable. So Learstang is absolutely right. The entire metal part of the fuselage is there including the engine, and the wings look virtually undamaged. That is a comparatively easily restorable wreck.

  4. Are the plans to do a static restoration of rebuild it to flyable? Did the rear part of the fusalage make it out? It sure does look in good shape given what it has been in for 70 years. There are planes flying that were in lake Michigan for 50 years. Anything with alot of $$$ can fly. search Glacier Girl

  5. Great story. Please keep it as it is. These remains can only be used as patterns for a newbuild. Maybe a few pieces can be kept. Keep it as untouched as possible, thats where its real value lies, as a tribute to the past!

  6. All things considered this appears to be a pretty substantial wreck. Most 70 year old wood gets replaced on todays rebuilds anyway. A Sturmovik is now flying in Paul Allens collection so the data and know-how exists to build the wood components. A time consuming rebuild to fly again but certainly attainable. I hate seeing these aircraft displayed as recovered. Generally they will continue to deteriorate without serious conservation.