February 15th, 2016 by ShamrockOneFive
1CGS’ IL-2 series has reached 1.107 and as always I like to review the major content additions as they arrive to the series. This patch adds three aircraft to the lineup meaning that we are one away from being content complete for the IL-2: Battle of Moscow lineup.
Time to review some aircraft!
Friedrich Arrives at the Party
The first of the three new types that I’m reviewing is the Bf109F-2. Located in between the Bf109E-7 and Bf109F-4 in performance, the F-2 is visually identical to the F-4 but under the hood is a slightly less powerful DB 601N engine (1159hp in the F-2 vs 1332hp in the DB601E in the F-4).
The F-2 sports the sleek appearance of the F and G series of 109s with the cleaned up aerodynamics and it has the performance to match. With an overall higher top speed, the F-2 is the fighter on the German side to beat. Combined with excellent handling, the F-2 exceeds the MiG-3 overall with better handling than the Russian fighter and at most altitudes it has a higher top speed (except at very high altitude).
Where the Friedrich is less effective is in its armament. The early versions of the F-2 were fitted with the MG151/15 cannon. The 15mm x 96mm cartridge has excellent ballistics against fighter targets but its less effective against bombers. A field modification swapped the smaller gun for a 20mm MG151/20 and that is represented as an unlock. The F-2 has no access to gun pods either.
This all creates an interesting choice. The earlier 109E-7 is lighter and has greater firepower (dual MG-FF/M 20mm cannons) while the F-2 is heavier with excellent handling and a higher top speed that it reaches more slowly.
Overall, the Bf109F-2 is an easy fighter to jump in from any other 109 variant and fly it nearly to its max immediately. Its flight performance matches or exceeds that of any Russian fighter in Battle of Moscow (I-16, MiG-3, P-40E) but it is by no means a wonder weapon.
Solid tactics still help win the day here!
The Early Shturmovik
The early IL-2 model 1941 represents the earliest series of IL-2 to see combat. While that doesn’t sound exciting at first glance, the details are everything.
The downsides to this IL-2 include no rear gunner and no 37mm gun pod options. But it does come with a great selection of upsides – an all metal construction (the later model used much more wood for wing and fuselage sections) means that this model is lighter and tougher and it handles much better than the 1942 model.
By default it comes with twin 20mm ShVAK cannons and a glass rear canopy. You can upgrade to the 23mm VYa cannons but you lose the glass rear canopy (a historical consideration). All manners of rockets and bombs are still available here and this IL-2 model is still excellent at ground attack. Its agile enough in a pinch to be a fighter too.
This model of IL-2 is better in most ways to the later ones. The 1942 model represents the strains of the wartime economy on the production of one of the most numerous aircraft types in the Russian airforce and its interesting to see the evolution of the type.
Check out our detailed comparison:
Faster and Fancier – The Pe-2 Series 35
By now you might be sensing a trend in Russian aircraft. The Pe-2 Series 35 in many ways is superior to that of the later Series 87 (and 110). This earlier series has more glass in the nose thus better visibility out the bottom. This earlier model is lighter and faster with better handling.
There are downsides as well. The earlier series lacks the heavier rear armament with a single ShKAS 7.62mm machine gun located in a retractable glass fairing instead of the heavier UB 12.7mm. Bomb and rocket armament remains familiar to those who regularly fly the later model.
In the current patch there is also a bit of an issue with the top gunner and the retracting faring. The Gunner doesn’t always lower the glass and man the gun quickly enough to respond to lightning fast attacks. Something hopefully the devs are able to address in future updates.
The Pe-2 Series 35 represents a subtly different model of the famous light bomber and dive bomber series from the later Series 87 and 110 that we have in IL-2: Battle of Stalingrad. Again, we see the strain of the wartime economy in the reductions of glass and the battle lessons learned with heavier defensive armament on the later model.
Compare early and late models:
Conclusions and Updates
Some may lament that the three new aircraft added are infact not new but earlier versions of types we already have. That may be true but they are also important types in the earlier Battle of Moscow time period and perhaps most interesting to people who enjoy the details – Each of these represent the gradual evolution of some extremely important and notable aircraft types. These are not just a copy and paste job by the developers. They are recreated in exceptional detail showing subtle yet important differences. Each of them fly in a familiar way, yet they have notable differences and you can tell what you’re flying just by the feel.
With the release of these three types there are some other important changes detailed in the change log.
Closing in on release we have only a little more content yet to be released. We’re eagerly anticipating the release of the Ju88A-4 bomber which will nicely round out the Luftwaffe’s selection. The developers are also finishing work on the Moscow map and we’re expecting both of those major pieces of content to arrive in the next couple of updates. The single player campaign is also due sometime after that.
Look for updates on those two items plus a full scale review of the finished product after release. It’s fun to write and I hope everyone is enjoying our write-ups on IL-2: Battle of Moscow.