One of the consistent complaints I hear about IL-2: Battle of Moscow and Battle of Stalingrad from some veteran fans is that the new sims just don’t have enough aircraft. While there certainly is a big difference in total numbers between the two, the gap isn’t quite as large as many people might assume just by looking at the base marketing materials. Why is that? Let’s have a look!
How many does IL-2: 1946 have?
First things first, IL-2: 1946 was a solid ten if not fifteen years worth of work building an expansive flight sim covering three or even four theaters of war with maps and aircraft. The new IL-2 isn’t there yet but it doesn’t have as “few” aircraft as you might think.
IL-2: 1946 has, at my count, 388 aircraft which is an incredible number of variants, options and modifications. But the new IL-2 has a different engine and a different modification system which means that the way aircraft are counted is now a little different.
Comparing two generations of flight sims
IL-2: Battle of Stalingrad and Battle of Moscow each launched with 10 aircraft each. Eight regular aircraft and two Premium/Collector Planes. Let’s now compare those 10 aircraft from each of the products in the same way that IL-2: 1946 counts aircraft. This comparison will not be completely analogous but it should give a rough idea.
How does this work?
The original IL-2: 1946 had limitations for what one aircraft could encompass. Engine modifications, major weapon changes, and the like weren’t possible under the original game engine so the developers built multiple versions of each aircraft with minor modifications to account for the differences. The new game uses a much more flexible counting system.
Let’s use a hypothetical situation where we take a look at the Spitfire Mark V in IL-2 versus what is possible, although certainly not confirmed, for IL-2: Battle of Kuban.
In IL-2: 1946 there are currently 10 separate Spitfire Mark V aircraft listed. These are all the same Mark V airframe just with different modifications. Let’s break those modifications down as they could appear in the new generation of IL-2:
- Engine modifications for 9lb, 12lb and 16lbs of boost and sometimes corresponding Merlin 45, Merlin 45M and Merlin 46 engine types.
- Clipped and standard wing tips.
- B-type and C-type wings.
- Three types of filters: Normal, Volkes, and Aboukir
The Spitfire V could be easily listed as “one” aircraft in the new generation of IL-2 but was listed as 10 types in the original. The Spitfire is an extreme example perhaps but you’ll note that there are other examples.
The La-5 now comes with an engine modification effectively making it two aircraft in one. An early model La-5F as well as a La-5 Series 8. The Ju87D-3 has armament options making it into a tank hunter and essentially similar to the Ju87G-1.
Battle of Moscow vs IL-2: 1946
- I-16 Type 24 comes with standard four ShKAS machine guns as well as 20mm cannon modifications that make it into a Type 28. Similar to 2 variants in IL-2: 1946.
- MiG-3 has a number of armament changes with 2xUB and 2xShVAK options. Similar to 3 variants in IL-2: 1946.
- IL-2 AM-38 Model 1941 comes with 20mm ShVAK and 23mm VYa options which makes it similar to 2 variants in IL-2: 1946. The 20mm armed versions also have a rear glass canopy while the 23mm version represents a later model with a metal back reducing visibility.
- Pe-2 Series 35 is similar to 1 variant in IL-2: 1946.
- P-40E-1 is similar to 1 variant in IL-2: 1946.
- Bf109E-7 and Bf109F-2 are each similar to 1 variant in IL-2: 1946.
- Bf110E-2 similar to 1 variant in IL-2: 1946.
- Ju88A-4 is similar to 1 variant in IL-2: 1946 (though it has many more armament options).
- MC.202 has a number of armament options (including 7.7mm machine guns and a 20mm gunpod that is not available in IL-2: 1946) that roughly lines up with two variants of MC.202.
Our running tally so far is 14. Let’s look at Stalingrad now.
Battle of Stalingrad vs IL-2: 1946
- LaGG-3 Series 29 comes with armament options that includes a 37mm nose gun. This makes it similar to 2 variants of the LaGG-3 in IL-2: 1946.
- Yak-1 Series 69 is similar to 1 variant of the Yak-1 in IL-2 1946.
- IL-2 AM-38 Model 1942 comes with armament options that include a field modified rear gunner station and 37mm anti-tank guns. This makes it roughly similar to a minimum of 3 variants in IL-2: 1946. The number could expand to 4 variants since it also has 20mm options not found on 1942 aircraft in that game.
- Pe-2 Series 87 on its own is similar to 1 variant, however, it also has a powered turret option and internal modifications that make it a Series 110 aircraft meaning this game comes with 2 variants from IL-2: 1946.
- La-5 Series 8 until recently would have counted as one, however, the new series now has engine modifications and the La-5 Series 8 now has a M-82F modification meaning that this is a La-5F early. 2 variants from IL-2: 1946.
- The Bf109F-4 and G-2 are both similar to 1 variant of the same aircraft in IL-2: 1946.
- Ju87D-3 comes with BK3,7 gunpods as a weapon modification (as well as armor plates) meaning that this aircraft is somewhat similar to the Ju87G-1. 2 variants from IL-2 1946.
- He111H-6 comes with a number of modifications that were separated out in IL-2: 1946 including a forward firing 20mm MG-FF in the gondola. We’ll count this as being roughly equivalent to 2 variants from IL-2: 1946.
- FW190A-3 is similar to 1 variant from IL-2: 1946.
The Stalingrad tally is 18 and the total running tally of both products is now 32 aircraft under the old counting system in IL-2: 1946.
Battle of Kuban vs IL-2: 1946
- Yak-7B is equivalent to the late model Yak-7B in IL-2: 1946. That makes for just 1 variant.
- Bf109G-4 is equivalent to 1 variant in IL-2: 1946.
- P-39L-1 may come with field modifications of its guns meaning that this may equal up to 2 variants (or even 3) from IL-2: 1946. We don’t know yet so this is hypothetical.
- IL-2 AM-38 Model 1943 again comes with anti-tank gun-pod option previously rolled into two versions. This counts for 2 aircraft in IL-2: 1946.
- The A-20B counts for 1 variant from IL-2: 1946 (its very similar to the A-20C).
- Spitfire Vb at present appears to be equivalent to 1 variant in IL-2: 1946.
- FW190A-5 comes with engine and armor modifications that make it equivalent to 2 variants from IL-2: 1946.
- Bf110G-2 is equivalent to 1 variant in IL-2: 1946.
- He111H-16 is equivalent to 1 variant in IL-2: 1946.
- Hs129B-2 is equivalent to 1 variant in IL-2: 1946.
The Battle of Kuban vs IL-2: 1946 tally is 15 which is fairly similar to the other two.
We also need to factor in two Collector Planes that fit in here. The Yak-1B and Ju52 each count for 1 under the old system.
Our grand total across the three products is 49 when comparing the old tally versus the new. This hopefully makes the new series much more appealing for holdouts that are thinking that the aircraft count isn’t there yet. We’re on our way to nearly 50 aircraft under the old system while the new game engine really just counts them as being 30.
The new generation of IL-2 has grown dramatically from its inception and has added diversity as its gone along. Though the aircraft count is certainly lower than 388 and the series does not yet feature something like a heavy bomber, it does certainly have a growing array of types.
One can’t discount that two major Luftwaffe bombers, the most important high speed frontal aviation VVS bomber with the Pe-2 and some significant ground attack types are in this series including specialized anti-tank types like the Ju87D-3 with BK3,7 guns used in operation at Stalingrad.
Fighters have always been well represented and they are here too with some major early to mid war versions of the Bf109 and a growing number of Yaks, LaGGs, MiGs, and even some old favourites like the I-16 available. We’re getting a Spitfire and a P-39 in Battle of Kuban which is sure to attract some extra attention too.
So, does the new IL-2 series have 300+ aircraft at its disposal? No, that will take a while to try and match. On the other side of the coin, this new series does have more “aircraft” and diversity than the 8+2 aircraft arrangement initially assumes. Instead of 30 aircraft its actually 49 if we count things the way that IL-2: 1946 did and that’s a pretty solid selection of beautifully modeled aircraft.