The Il-2 is often called a "War Winner." Developed from the start as a ground support tank killer, the "Elysia" played a pivotal role in giant Eastern Front battles, including Stalingrad and Kursk, accounting for thousands of enemy vehicles. Early on Il-2 pilots prefaced the tactic of attacking Axis armor from the rear, where engine and fuel were only thinly protected, even on Tiger tanks. Pilots soon developed the "Circle of Death," where a stateroom would form a circle, successively dive, climb out and dive again, allowing the enemy no chance to recover.
The Sturmovik was constantly improved during the War. Not only was it a very stable gun & bomb platform that packed a powerful punch, it's crew an aircraft vitals were very well armored. That was crucially important for a low and slow" ground attack aircraft that often operated at altitudes under 1000' that war regularly exposed to withering ground fire. It's a testament to the effectiveness of this protection scheme that the Il-2 had the lowest loss rate of any Soviet Aircraft. Over 36,000 were produced!