Happy New Year! First flight!

Happy New Year everyone! All indications are that 2017 will be a great year for the PC flight sim community with lots of activity for DCS, IL-2, War Thunder, and Falcon. I started the new year with a pretty fun mission in IL-2 and I thought I’d share that story.

First flight of 2017

For my first flight of 2017, I decided to take out the Yak-1 Series 69 (one of my all time favourites) on an escort mission on the Stalingrad front. This late summer, late day mission involved escorting a trio of Pe-2 bombers to attack an enemy supply dump near the frontlines.

autumn-mission-01
Engines on, warmed up and waiting for the all clear from control.

After takeoff we joined with the Pe-2s which were trying to fly a tight ‘Vic’ formation, however, the leader was way out ahead and the two wingmen were trailing a fair bit further behind. Not a great formation for mutual defense from enemy fighter attacks.

autumn-mission-02
Two of three Pe-2s that my wingman and I were assigned to escort.

Our first contact with the enemy was a group of Bf109E-7s on jabo duty with a pair of MC.202s on escort. I elected to avoid contact as they were flying 2000 meters below us and breaking to engage them would have left the Pe-2s defenseless.

My wingman and I continued to cover the Pe-2s as they approached the target. No flak and no enemy fighters rose to attack us so the mission continued smoothly with a successful bomb run.

autumn-mission-03
Another successful release – Bombs away!

The mission was looking to be pretty uneventful at this point and we set a course for the exit waypoint and a return to home base.

As the Pe-2s approached their base, a group of four Bf109s appeared. Initially they ignored us and proceeded away at high speed. I tried to pursue but I couldn’t catch them. Then… everything changed.

The Bf109s broke into pairs and dove low. Our Pe-2s now on approach to their home airbase (complete with nav lights) were suddenly in jeopardy and I dove low after the 109s to try and catch them.

autumn-mission-04
Trying to catch the 109 rapidly closing on the Pe-2s in the landing circuit.

One Pe-2 was lightly damaged by an attacking 109 while the other Bf109s disappeared. I caught the single attacking 109 and gave him a solid burst from my guns. To my surprise his wing ripped off almost immediately and he plummeted into the ground.

With the skies clear and one damaged and two perfectly healthy Pe-2s now making their landings… my wingman and I headed home.

By this point the sun was getting pretty low on the horizon and the airfield crews had lit fires all along the runway. As we approached, control also began firing white flares to give us a better view of the position of the field.

autumn-mission-05
Back at my airfield – The spotlights are on, the flares are being fired and the airfield fires are lit for our approach.

I lined up one of the best landings I’ve made in the last 12 months and put my Yak-1 perfectly down on the field in a three point landing. Mission accomplished and one of what I hope are many more exciting missions that I fly in the IL-2 series. As it happens, this one was more immersive than most and the airfield fires and flares at the end of the mission were a really nice touch.

autumn-mission-06
Touchdown moments before sunset and the rapidly approaching darkness.

The IL-2 series, like most simulators, tries to be more than just a combat simulator but something that gives more depth and interest. Details like fires being lit (historical), flares, messages from air traffic control, and unexpected moments along the way make for an immersive and exciting experience. This is the kind of thing that PC flight sim enthusiasts love to have as much of as possible.

Once again folks… Happy New Year! Let’s make 2017 a great year for the flight sim community.

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