|Former Interflug IL18 DDR-STH is preserved at the Hermeskeil museum in Germany.|
|The Ilyushin IL18 was the first Soviet turboprop airliner
and was produced to meet an Aeroflot requirement for a medium-range
Similar to its contempories, the Vickers Vanguard and Lockheed Electra, the first prototype flew on July 4, 1957, powered by four Kuznetsov NK-4 engines.
Four other prototypes and an unprecedented 20 pre-production aircraft followed, some powered by Ivchenko AI-20 engines. The AI-20 proved superior and powered the first production model.
A series of route proving flights established the type's reliabilty and testing was completed in Marcb 1958. Production began in 1957 and carried on until 1968. Aeroflot introduced the type, which could accommodate 75 passengers, in April 1959 on the Moscow to Adler and Alma Ata route. The first international service was flown to London in October 1959.
The early services were flown by IL18s and IL18Bs, which had a longer range and room for 84 passengers, but problems with the engines led to a series of crashes and a redesign, into the IL18V, from 1961.
The V model had seating for 111 passengers and was distinguished by smoother nose contours. Next came the long-range IL18I, with extra fuel tanks in the wings and an increased payload enabling 125 passengers to be carried. The I did not go into production but design features were incorporated into the IL18D, which entered service in 1966.
The final civil model was the IL18E, or IL18Ye, which mated the fuselage of the IL18D to the lower capacity wings of the IL18V. The Soviet Navy adopted the type as the IL38 maritime reconnaissance aircraft with the Nato code name May.
Production totalled at least 800 aircraft, the majority for Aeroflot but with smaller numbers operated by former Eastern Bloc nations. Today the type has all but disappeared from passenger service, other than with the Russian Air Force, but lives on in Russia and the United Arab Emirates as a freighter.