Reviewing the Ju52/3m

In the fall of 2016 it was announced that the Ju52/3m would be upgraded from a non-flyable aircraft type in IL-2: Battle of Stalingrad into a fully flyable type. Adding the Ju52 to the series was not just an exercise in adding another plane to the hangar but adding a new type of plane and that is what I wanted to review today.

Performance

Unlike my reviews of the Yak-1B and Bf109G-4, the performance of the Ju52/3m is not as much of an item. With a maximum speed of 260 km/h reached at sea level, the Ju52/3m is not a fast aircraft.

It’s 24 second maximum performance turn at sea level (at 165 km/h IAS) is extremely good for a larger aircraft and it offers one of the few defensive tactics that Ju52/3m pilots can perform against attacking fighters – a maximum performance turn at low altitude and low speed is something that no attacking fighter can follow. Though it is not exactly an easy plane to miss given its size.

The Ju52 does nothing quickly.

ju52-closeup
The Ju52 is like flying a very stately bus with that classic 1930s tri-motor design.

Quirks

The Ju52 is very much a product of the early 1930s and fits somewhere in between some of the more modern late 1930 and early 1940 designs that dominated much of the war and the types of aircraft that we are more familiar with from a simulator like Rise of Flight.

Below 25% throttle, the Ju52 brake button functions as you would expect – controlling the wheel brakes. Above 25% throttle, the brake button shifts power from left to right side depending on the rudder input.

Flaps are a unique experience as well. The enabling flap control (down flaps key assignment) switches flap control on and the horizontal stabilizer now controls the flap system.

Your fuel and oil level indicators are located out on the port and starboard wings showing you the status of the corresponding engines rather than something you might find in the cockpit.

ju52-the-cockpit.jpg
The “office” is wide and provides a decent view forward (just not back)

More resources

If you need more resources on flying the Ju52, I would recommend giving a read to two different threads on the 1CGS IL-2 forum:

Driving the bus

ju52-the-bus2.jpg
A group of paratroopers are crammed into the cargo hold. They are ready for the order to jump!

When it was announced that the Ju52 was going to be a flyable, I was worried. Worried that the aircraft would be added but would be of little use and would not be seen outside of some very specific situations both online and offline. My fears have largely not come to pass.

1CGS stepped up to the plate with the Ju52 by adding two unique mission modes for both IL-2: Battle of Moscow and IL-2: Battle of Stalingrad. Paradrop Mission and Transport Mission let you fly the Ju52 in a few different situations. The missions are just as varied as their combat oriented counterparts.

ju52-mission-types.jpg
Two unique mission types are now available for Ju52 pilots.

I’ve flown paradrop missions to put droops deep behind enemy lines, I’ve flown supply runs where parachute equipped MAB 250 canisters carrying supplies are dropped on a specific target zone and I’ve flown a cargo run where I had to fly to an airfield, land, drop off the supplies and then fly away back to my home base again.

The missions I’ve flown have been varied in their experience  – the overall setup is pretty similar. Fly here, drop the paratroopers/cargo and turn around and fly home. The more unique one is landing at the destination, dropping the cargo load off (with the engines hot!) and then taking off and returning to base.

ju52-cargodoor.jpg
Engines hot with the cargo doors open offloading vital supplies to a forward outpost.

New triggers and options are available to mission makers along with the addition of this aircraft that make dropping paratroopers or delivering cargo a vital and challenging part of a single player or multiplayer experience.

Flying in a warzone

ju52-warzone.jpg
Hit by enemy fighter attacks, this Ju52 is limping home with one good engine, one dead engine and one sputtering and leaking fuel and oil.

In all of that, I’ve been intercepted by fighters going to and from, I’ve evaded, and I’ve been hit badly. I’ve limped home on one full strength engine and a damaged engine. I made it through one mission before being intercepted by a flight of I-16s near home and despite the efforts of my escorts, was strafed on landing.

I was hit by a MiG-3 near approach to a cargo drop off point and had to scramble to get my plane down all the while under fire from MiGs and with a hail of flak batteries opening up against the fighters.

In one mission the sun went down and the airfield fires started up along with a series of white flares indicating position – and that’s when everything went crazy with searchlights, flak batteries and a full on Pe-2 attack with fighter escort. There were Bf109s, flak burst, lights and everything going on… And I had to set down a tremendously slow Ju52 tri-motor in the middle of it.

ju52-underfire.jpg
A particularly intense dusk landing complete with enemy bomber attack, search lights, flak, and a very tense landing.

Conclusion

The Ju52 turned out to be a much more interesting plane than I expected and it has a really interesting history, that tri-motor aesthetic, and there is just something about flying in a warzone with a plane that is, at best, defended by a single machine gun. The aircraft and its paratroop and cargo operations are well modeled and fits well into the IL-2 series both in single and in multiplayer.

It was an unexpectedly more interesting to fly aircraft than I had thought and I really can’t say anything bad about this plane. If you were somehow expecting a fighter… well, it isn’t one. It is massively fun to fly.

Overall report

Pros

  • Flying the Ju52 is a unique and fun experience that goes above and beyond the usual combat types normally available
  • The cargo and paratroop missions and potential for multiplayer is well integrated into the IL-2 series
  • It does tight turns at speeds other aircraft stall at!

Cons

  • A lumbering beast of a plane that is slow to do just about anything

 

 

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