What Comes Next? Part one.

IL-2: Battle of Moscow is pretty close to final release. The current patch we have (1.201d) is not quite content complete but all of the major components are quickly falling into place. We have all ten new aircraft, the Moscow map, an updated client, and the campaign system. We’re missing some of the hand-built missions that the devs are working on inserting into the campaign as they did with the Stalingrad Summer/Autumn campaign and the cinematics that accompany each chapter of the Moscow campaign. That’s about it.

So what comes next? The assumption I’m going to make is that 1CGS and 1C have found the new IL-2 series to be a profitable enterprise with a big enough audience and a solid enough revenue stream to be able to continue the series. I’m also going to assume that steady improvements to the core technology will be ongoing and that new theaters and aircraft will be added at roughly the same rate as before. So what might conceivably happen next? Remember… This is all conjecture on my part.

Option One: Stick with the Eastern Front

An FW190 of JG54The IL-2 series supposedly does very well in the Russian market.  If we assume that the biggest market is in that area then the driving force will probably be behind more installments of the Eastern Front. Not to mention that the tititular aircraft of the series, the IL-2, is exclusively an Eastern Front aircraft. In this post I’m going to tackle the East Front and then in future installments look at the West, North Africa and the Pacific.

Battle of Kursk

The Battle of Kursk makes sense of a lot of reasons as its the next major battle in line after Stalingrad. Historians sometimes argue which of the three battles, Moscow, Stalingrad or Kursk, are the definitive turning points for the war in the Eastern front where the momentum from these engagements lead to the ultimate sequence of events at the end of the war. Kursk was the definitive tank battle of the war but it was also one of the largest air battles too.

If we do find ourselves on the Kursk battle front then we have a bunch of aircraft types that we might see assuming a 4 aircraft on each side with 1 premium type for each side.

For Russia:

  • Yak-9 (with possible 9D fuel and 9T 37mm cannon upgrades)
  • La-5F (or FN)
  • IL-2M with series production rear turret
  • IL-4

Premium:

  • P-39N-1

For Germany:

  • Bf109G-6
  • FW190A-5
  • Ju87D-5/G-2
  • Bf110G-2

Premium:

  • Hs129B-2

Closely adhering to the aircraft lined up in this area, I had difficulty choosing the correct types to fight into this scenario for Germany. Notably, there is no bomber option here at all as the primary bombers employed during the battle were the Ju88A-4 and He111H-6 which we already have in the series. So instead I picked the Bf110G-2 which we’ve experienced before in the IL-2 1946 series. Replacing the MG-FF/M guns for MG151/20s would make the Bf110G-2 altogether more effective and its heavy bombloads and 3.7cm cannon give it a good offensive punch. The Bf109G-6 and FW190A-5 are excellent fighters of the time and probably at the peak of their reputations by this point. They also both come with the possibilities of being configured as fighter-bombers in a large variety of options. Pressed for options, I selected the Hs129B-2 as a Premium aircraft and the first non-fighter Premium.

For the Russians we have some of the chief adversaries of the middle war period. The La-5F and early versions of the FN made a contribution here along with the excellent Yak-9 series. The Yak-9 really represents three possible types including the basic Yak-9 model, the Yak-9D with enhanced range, and the Yak-9T which saw the cockpit moved aft and a 37mm cannon installed in the propeller hub. The IL-2M is a no-brainer as probably THE iconic weapon of the campaign. The P-39N-1 is both time period relevant and sure to make a lot of Western pilots happy. Finally, a lot of players have been calling out for a more traditional level bomber for the Russian side and the IL-4 is ideal to be added to the series and relevant to the Kursk battle too.

Battle of the Caucasus

Shortly following the conclusion of the Stalingrad battle, operations on the Caucasus front increased and a significant battle in this Black Sea region saw the use of thousands of lend lease aircraft on the Russian side and a significant use of German resources as well. The chief difference between this aircraft set and the one in the Kursk region would be the ship strikes and torpedo carrying aircraft.

For Russia:

  • Yak-1B
  • P-39D-2
  • IL-2M
  • IL-4 (with torpedoes)

Premium:

  • Spitfire Vb

For Germany:

  • Bf109G-6
  • FW190A-4
  • Ju87D-5
  • Bf110G-2

Premium:

  • IAR81c

This is a similar but slightly different lineup than the one I suggested for Kursk. Here we see the Yak-1B leading the charge for the Russian side along with the iconic IL-2M and the torpedo equipped IL-4 which saw a lot of use in this region. In a tossup between the P-39 and Spitfire Vb I selected the Spitfire as the more rare Premium fighter. Although worn and not terribly well liked, the Spitfire Vb did see service in this region on the frontlines. Having another American fighter and our first British fighter would certainly be appealing!

For Germany its a familiar mix of the Bf109 and FW190 variants along with the Ju87 and Bf110G-2. The developers could also add the lightly modified torpedo carrying variants of the Ju88A-4 or He111H-6 to the mix here. For a Premium type I selected the oft requested IAR81c, a Romanian fighter to represent the Romanian operations in the Black Sea region and something of a cult favorite among the fans.

Battle of Berlin

We know that we’ll probably end up here at some point during the series. The Berlin battle is far too iconic not to represent with its sweeping plains from the borders of Poland through to the outskirts of the city itself. In between was a huge series of artillery and tank battles and the semi-famous Seelowe heights fortifications.

For Russia:

  • Yak-3
  • La-7
  • IL-2 Type 3M
  • Tu-2S

Premium:

  • Yak-9U

For Germany:

  • FW190D-9
  • Bf109K-4
  • FW190F-9
  • Me410B

Premium:

  • Me262A-2? Or Ta152H-1?

I’ll be honest, I love the late war aircraft as much as the early war types. While the early war is slower and the outcomes of fights seem to happen in a more considered way, late war battles are faster and more sharp and violent. All of the aircraft represent the pinnacle of their World War II development and this introduces some fun challenges in flying them.

For Russia I found the choices to be easy. The classic rivalry between the Yak-3 and La-7 squadrons in the Berlin battle pretty much require both of these types to be represented. They also have distinctly different performance envelopes. Once again we see the IL-2 with the “arrow wing” Type 3M late series IL-2. I selected the Tu-2S, largely ignored in simulators to date, which would make a fascinating flyable type and a second Russian level-bomber.

For the German side the decisions were again difficult. Aircraft of this time period range from declining stocks of well worn types and some very select high performance aircraft, some with performance unheard of previously. I picked the FW190D-9 and Bf109K-4 as the two standard fighter types and joined by the late production FW190F-9 fighter-bomber (F type FW190s replaced the Ju87s on the frontlines by the mid-late war period). As a “bomber” I picked the Me410B-1 “light bomber” variant which could easily include some interesting unlocks like the 50mm BK5 cannon.

The last choice on a premium aircraft for the German side was difficult. There are a host of rare types that fought during this time but with limited results. The Me262 is a logical choice as it did see some limited service and I’d pick the Me262A-2 fighter-bomber variant. Even rarer would be something like the Me163 (of no use on the Eastern front) or the Ta152H-1 which saw such limited use that it ventures very closely into a what-if type. I do worry about what including a jet would do to multiplayer but from a single player perspective it makes more sense.

That’s my take on Part One of What Comes Next. What do you think?

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