IL-2: Battle of Stalingrad

IL-2: Battle of Stalingrad represents the historical period between late summer 1942 and early 1943 as the German army approached and fought the Soviet army for control of Stalingrad and the surrounding region.

IL-2: Battle of Stalingrad comes with a total of 8 standard aircraft and 2 collector planes for the Russian and German sides.

LaGG-3 Series 29

A well rounded but not particularly successful fighter. The LaGG-3 is overweight for its available engine power and consequently suffers against its higher performing opponents. Fairly robust construction and optional heavy armament make the LaGG-3 a capable bomber interceptor – but only at medium or low altitudes.

Strengths

  • Well armed with optional 23mm VYa and 37mm Sh-37 cannons
  • Relatively durable structure that can withstand light battle damage

Weaknesses

  • Stall can be sudden and sometimes violent
  • Aircraft is overweight for available engine power

Yak-1 Series 69

One of the best Russian fighters available during 1942. The Yak-1 was relatively simple aircraft which emphasized low weight and high power thanks to its M-105PF engine. Its twin light machine guns and 20mm hub cannon provided it with enough available firepower to deal with fighters and some bombers. Quick and agile, the Yak-1 is a dangerous foe.

Strengths

  • Fast and agile with a great turn rate
  • Excellent low to medium altitude performance

Weaknesses

  • Poor high altitude performance
  • Somewhat less resistant to battle damage

IL-2 Model 1942

Stalin likened the importance of the IL-2 to the Russian army as being equal to that as bread and water. The IL-2 is an attack plane that is well armored, well armed, and produced by the tens of thousands (over 30,000 to be exact). Its forward nose cone is encased in armor making it extremely resistant to battle damage. Its guns, rockets and bombs are devastating to armored tanks, trucks, cars, and field guns alike.

Strengths

  • Excellent heavy firepower with 20mm and available 23mm and 37mm cannons
  • All aircraft systems are very well protected from battle damage

Weaknesses

  • Agility is somewhat average
  • Standard version has no rear turret for defense, field modified version is heavier and gunner is not well protected

Pe-2 Series 87 (and Series 128)

Originally designed as a high altitude escort fighter, the Pe-2 “Peshka” came into its own as a twin engined dive and level bomber. The type was sleek, fast, and reasonable well defended for a light Soviet bomber.

Strengths

  • Fast and able to carry a reasonable bombload
  • Flexible attack options: Capable of dive bombing or level bombing both

Weaknesses

  • Defensive armament is weak in places and has some blind spots
  • Aircraft handling can be difficult for novice pilots

La-5 Series 8 (Collector Plane)

The early series La-5 fighters were nearly straight conversions of LaGG-3 airframes and modified with an M-82 (ASh-82) radial engine. The engine gave the aircraft increased performance across the board and leading edge slats on the wings enhanced the aircraft’s stall. Further refinements would continue to be made to the fighter over time, however, the early version served in small numbers during the Battle of Stalingrad and after.

Strengths

  • Well armed
  • High roll rate
  • Very fast at low altitude and average at medium altitude

Weaknesses

  • Poor turn fighter, high wingloading saps energy quickly in high-G turns
  • Somewhat restricted rear view
  • Limited view over the nose

Bf109F-4

The F series of Bf109 introduced some significant changes to the model after the earlier ‘Emil.’ The late model ‘Friedrich’ available in IL-2: Battle of Stalingrad has exceptional power and performance making it the top level fighter in the game. The aircraft was equipped with leading edge slats, optional gunpods, a high climb rate, excellent or competitive top speed at all combat altitudes, and good (though not excellent) visibility. The aircraft has few weaknesses and many strengths.

Strengths

  • Outstanding performer at all altitudes
  • Excellent and variable firepower (optional MG151/20 gunpods can be attached beneath the wings)
  • Good agility in most situations

Weaknesses

  • Well built but lightly protected, the DB601 in-line engine is not good at sustaining battle damage
  • At low altitudes it can sometimes be out performed by Russian types

Bf109G-2

Replacing the Bf109F-4, the first of the ‘Gustav’ variants of Bf109 is externally similar to the earlier Bf109 version but with a more powerful DB605 engine that would go on to power the series through a huge number of variations. The G-2 at Stalingrad had some engine issues and was thus de-rated to a lower boost level bringing its overall performance in-line with the Bf109F-4. Standard windscreen armor better protected the pilot from bomber and attack plane gunners.

Strengths

  • Outstanding performer at all altitudes
  • Excellent and variable firepower (optional MG151/20 gunpods can be attached beneath the wings)
  • Good agility in most situations
  • Pilot better protected than most earlier Bf109s from rear gunners

Weaknesses

  • De-rated engine brings performance down to a similar level as the Bf109F-4
  • Slightly heavier than earlier models and a bit more troublesome to handle

Ju87D-3

The Ju87, better known as the ‘Stuka,’ was a weapon that the Luftwaffe used to great effect in the early stages of the war. The D-3 variant in Battle of Stalingrad comes with improved gunner defenses and a huge range of bombload possibilities. The experimental and field tested (at Stalingrad no less) BK3,7 37mm anti-tank guns are also available. The Ju87 is slow and is vulnerable to fighter interception.

Strengths

  • Able to precisely drop huge bomb loads on targets
  • Flexible attack options: BK3,7 cannons can pierce tank armor

Weaknesses

  • Slow top speed and average agility
  • Vulnerable to fighter interception

He111H-6

The infamous Heinkel bomber that was used successfully in a variety of roles was in heavy use over the battlefields of Stalingrad. Its distinctive glass nose and ellipitical wings make it easy to recognize. The H-6 model is an average performer overall with good payload capability and somewhat weak gunner protection. Its stablemate, the Ju88, was faster and able to carry larger loads.

FW190A-3 (Collector Plane)

Designer Kurt Tank’s premier fighter design operated alongside the Bf109 for most of World War II. The early A-3 and very similar A-4 model was the first definitive iteration of the aircraft to see combat on the Eastern front in late 1942. A fighter/interceptor as well as as an effective fighter-bomber, the FW190A-3 was not used over Stalingrad but was involved in the fighting further north.

The FW190 was known as the Butcherbird for its excellent performance and exceptionally heavy firepower (most fighter models carried four 20mm cannons in the wings). The FW190 has a poor turn rate owing to its high wingloading and wing design and instead is best used as a ‘boom and zoom’ attacker slashing and obliterating opponents in a single attack.

Strengths

  • Fast and extremely well armed
  • High roll rate allows for quick direction changes
  • Excellent pilot visibility except directly over the nose

Weaknesses

  • Tricky to fly with a dangerous stall
  • Not a good dogfighter
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