IL-2: Battle of Moscow

In autumn of 1941, German forces were on the doorstep of the Soviet capital of Moscow. A bitter fought battle against time, the elements and each other resulted in a halt of the German offensive on the capital and eventually a gradual retreat away. In the skies over Moscow of 1941 and early 1942, a mix of late 1930s and early 1940s era aircraft fought for control.

I-16 Type 24

Short and stubby fuselage and wings typified the 1930s design of Russian aircraft designer  Nikolai Polikarpov. Both the I-16 and I-15 designs were extremely successful and considered world beating designs of that inter-war period. By 1941, the I-16 was obsolete, bested by a generation of new fighters on both sides… yet, the I-16 remained popular and available in numbers. Available 20mm cannon modification makes the I-16 a heavy hitter and its agility and diminutive size allow it to punch above its weight.

Strengths

  • Extremely agile with a high roll rate and good turn rate
  • Good all around visibility except immediately over the nose
  • Available firepower modifications

Weaknesses

  • Unforgiving stall
  • Poor overall top speed compared to more modern types

MiG-3

Designed by Mikoyan and Gurevich whose design bureau would go on to create the iconic MiG-15, MiG-25 and MiG-29, the MiG-3 was the beginning of an era. Designed for anticipated operations at high altitudes and fast speeds, the MiG-3 was ill suited to the low altitude tactical warfare that had erupted on the Eastern Front.

The later model represented by IL-2: Battle of Moscow has leading edge slats which make it easier to handle up to the stall and available gunpods (BK 12.7mm) and nose gun modifications (2xUB 12.7mm or 2xShVAK 20mm cannon) give the MiG-3 some flexibility in shooting down enemy bombers and fighters.

Strengths

  • Fast at high altitudes
  • Good firepower options

Weaknesses

  • Poorer performance versus contemporary fighters at low altitude
  • Poor visibility over the nose
  • Not able to sustain much battle damage

IL-2 Model 1941

Over 36,000 IL-2 aircraft were constructed and this Model 1941 version represents an early example. In some ways this early model has added features that weren’t found on later aircraft. On 20mm cannon equipped versions the rear armored glass provides strong protection from enemy fire while also offering a clear view to the back.

While the IL-2 Model 1941 is fairly agile, its still vulnerable to fighter interception and it lacks any provisions for a rear turret. What the IL-2 is best at is taking the fight to enemy ground troops including vehicles, armored cars and light and medium tanks. Armor piercing rockets, high explosive bombs, and optional 23mm VYa cannons make the IL-2 a fearsome weapon when used on the frontlines.

Strengths

  • Sturdy and heavily armored
  • Slightly more agile than later IL-2 variants

Weaknesses

  • Vulnerable to enemy fighter interception
  • No rear gunner

ground troops including vehicles, armored cars and light and medium tanks. Armor piercing rockets, high explosive bombs, and optional 23mm VYa cannons make the IL-2 a fearsome weapon when used on the frontlines.

Pe-2 Series 35

One of the best ground attack weapons of World War II, the Pe-2 was used from early in the war to the very end and saw service in post war European air forces as well. Fast, tough and versatile, the Pe-2 Series 35 is the earliest version available in the sim and has less armor protection as well as weaker defensive armament than the later Series 87 (in IL-2: Battle of Stalingrad) though it has a slight speed edge over its heavier successor.

These twin engined aircraft were often used as a light bomber, dive bomber, night fighter, and in reconnaissance roles.

Highly successful, the Pe-2 nonetheless suffered greatly at the hands of the Luftwaffe’s expert pilots.

Strengths

  • Very fast top speed, even at cruise
  • Capable of carrying a large bombload for its size and speed
  • Robust construction and capable of absorbing medium damage and flying on

Weaknesses

  • Vulnerable to enemy fighter interception
  • Early version has weak defensive guns