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Luftwaffe in Afrika - another day, another mission...

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Flying the next mission in FlatSpinMan's 'Afrika jaeger' campaign

 

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It's been an eventful few days since campaign pilot Willi Jedermann arrived in North Africa! No sooner is he back at base after intercepting a Desert Air Force raid, than he's being sent aloft again, this time to catch an unidentified aircraft reported by shipping offshore. Here's the mission briefing, showing most but not all of the nicely-crafted text.


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These briefings are one of the high points of FlatSpinMan's campaigns, often linking one mission with the next as only a scripted mission set can do. My only gripe is that militarily significant detail sometimes takes second place to dramatic effect - in this case, I'm not told I have a wingman! I also have a fresh aircraft, with a new 'skin' - these are I think by CannonUK and are another of the campaign's high points.
 
Launching the mission, I found myself at the front of the queue for take-off, ahead of a second 109 (who turns out to be flying the mission with me) and a couple of Ju 52 tri-motor transports. I checked my controls, held on the brakes and started up. I don't use 'Complex Engine Management' so I don't worry about warm-ups, prop pitch or radiator settings (though now that I'm getting more into Il-2, I might just make a start with 'CEM').

 

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I was in a bit of a hurry so didn't bother with flaps. Some right rudder, gradual opening of the throttle and locking the tailwheel as soon as I started to roll, kept me pretty straight and I was soon climbing away to the east.

 

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Up came the landing gear then at about 1000 meters, I throttled back and waited till the other 109 had caught up...thereby confirming he was actually flying as my wingman. I was glad of the company; you never know what might be waiting out there.

 

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Opening up again, I turned to the north-east and resumed my climb, towards my patrol 'box', just out to sea to the north of my airbase. As you can see, my aircraft is still in basically European camouflage and markings; but as well as the white Mediterranean theatre rear fuselage band, she's had some attempt made at the application of desert camouflage - brown blotches on the nose and rudder and brown 'tiger stripes' on the fuselage sides; also perhaps some brown light overspray, to blend in the two-tone grey uppersurfaces. I'm fairly sure this and the other included 'skins' are based on photos of actual aircraft, many of which show just this sort of appearance, before proper local camouflage schemes were devised and applied to the Luftwaffe's aircraft in Africa.

 

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Looking out over the sea, I tried not to be distracted by the sight of the animated waves breaking on those long, alluring beaches and the crystal-clear water beyond, deepining into a typical, rich Mediterranean blue in the deeper water. Truly, on the highest settings, Il-2 '46's graphics can still be rather beautiful. And the stars of the show, the aircraft themselves, may have rather fewer polygons than the latest sims and no dynamic shadows, but inside and out, they still look great, especially clad in top-notch 'skins' of the sort that come with FlatspinMan's campaigns.

 

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Not far from the coastline I could see a pair of medium-sized ships, possibly the ones who had complained of the attentions of the suspect aircraft which I'd been sent up to investigate and if nececsary, despatch.

 

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A short disatnce behind them, to the east, was another, smaller vessel; evidently a warship, from her more slender beam.

 

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 As we flew out to sea, I suddenly saw a cluster of grey puffs appear in the sky beside and behind us. Somebody down there was shooting at us! Doubting that poor target recognition was involved, I looked down for the culprit. It was the warship, and looking again, I could see that it was a submarine.

 

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She didn't look like a U-Boat or any Italian sub that I'd ever seen. From her stepped conning tower she looked rather like a US Gato class, but could equally have been British. Crash-diving while she could would have been a better tactic for dealing with aircraft, but perhaps she was keen to catch those two ships ahead, which she could not have done submerged and running on her electric motors. Perhaps the British sailors thought to scare us off, not realising that the Luftwaffe was now open for business in this theatre.
 
I circled around while considering my options. I didn't much fancy exchanging rounds with resolute and alert naval gunners. And there was still the business of that mystery aircraft, the main object of our mission and which might appear again at any moment. But some of the very shipping we depended on for our sustenance in Africa was clearly under direct and pretty immediate threat, about to be attacked by this submarine. Nothing else for it. I ordered the other 109 to attack shipping - padlocking the sub and ordering 'Attack my target' would have been more precise - and rolled in to attack.

 

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...to be continued!

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A little exercise in aircraft recognition...

 

I throttled back and dived in from astern, as firing along the length of the sub seemed likely to present a better target. Steeling myself to ignore the muzzle flashes I was diving straight into, I lined up my sights and pressed both triggers. Hits flared out all over the sub's deck and conning tower before I pulled up and left, taking some rounds or fragments myself in the process, which put some holes in my canopy. Clearly, there were some rather unfriendly people down there.

 

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Looking back, I was disappointed, but not entirely surprised, to see the submarine plodding on regardless, not even having the decency to crash dive or show the slightest sign of alarm at my attack. Disappointment turned to anger. This would not do! Those jack tars would need to be taught to show a little more respect for the fighter pilots of the Luftwaffe. I pulled around and came in again, this time from abeam and aiming at the conning tower.

 

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After another pass firing cannon and MGs, I was relieved to see a column of smoke rising from the sub. Better still, the boat seemed to lose way and slow to a halt. Threat averted! That would do, I decided. Any effort to do much more damage to a target whose vitals were protected by a thick pressure hull seemed likely to be a waste of further ammo which I might need for another purpose, at any moment. I recalled my wingman and climbed up to take stock. A small motor lauch sped past our ships in the direction of the sub. This I hoped might be a German R Boat or S Boat, or the Italian equivalent, come to join in the fun. But no action developed. Somebody out for a 'jolly', perhaps?

 

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I raised my eyes to scan the heavens again...and not a moment too soon. A large aircraft appeared level with some clouds, between us and the coast. Presumably this was the suspicious aircraft I'd been sent up to deal with!

 

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He was turning quite tightly and this gave me a good view of his planform. He looked familiar, despite the odd blue colour of his top surfaces. Very like a Ju 52, I decided, consequently resisting the temptation to swing in behind and blast him quickly, before he could bomb our ships. Instead, I got closer, into a position from which I could positively identify him. He was in fact a Ju 52, with floats as it happened, so I left him alone. He had Italian markings, so perhaps he was actually a stand-in for a CANT floatplane. Nice of the mission designer, to put me in the air to tackle a mystery plane, then throw me a little test in aircraft recognition! Thankfully, I had passed!
 

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Turning back out to sea, I suddenly saw a second big aeroplane. This one looked different, more rounded; and greyish rather than blue. I turned in after him and two things became apparent fairly quickly. First, he was a big four-engined flying boat - a Short Sunderland, by the look of it. Second, he was headed in the general direction of those two friendly ships.

 

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I padlocked him and ordered the other 109 to attack. Normally, I would have waited for this attack to develop before combining efforts, concentrating our fire and dividing the enemy's. But it seemed to me that a bombing attack on our shipping was imminent. An instant attack was therefore imperative, even it meant making a pass from astern, into the fire of the rear gunner. Having used up a fair bit of ammo on the sub, I mightn't get much of a second chance. I needed to get him now, on the first pass - and do it quickly. Either knock him down or at least, put him off his stride - and his aim.

 

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The big flying boat grew quickly in my windscreen and I cut loose with all weapons as soon as my sights came on, firing long bursts which I could see going home. My cannon quickly used up what was left of my paltry 60 rounds per gun but I carried on with my nose-mounted MGs.

 

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There was a bang as I was hit in return. I cracked off another longish burst. Then came another bang and oil flew up onto my windscreen, the lower part of which was suddenly blocked by what looked like some bent metal from somewhere just up front. Not good.

 

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I hesitated momentarily...but the time for breaking off to avoid damage was long gone. I fired again and just as I finally broke down and away, flames burst from the Sunderland. Got him!

 

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Actually the 'Sunderland' was a re-painted Kawanishi H8K - quite a decent stand-in for the 'flying porcupine'. And more importantly, she was going down - and with all her bombs still clustered under her inner wings.

 

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It looked like Jedermann had saved the day again! I hoped those jolly jack tars down there appreciated my two-fold efforts to see them safe into port, for they been hard won. My poor Messerschmitt was badly battered, with the engine cowling bent and askew and my prop spinning to a stop. The 'Sunderland' was evidently in worse shape, though, for the crew had started bailing out.

 

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I gently eased my plane around to the south, towards the coast and nosed gently down, even as the big flying boat dissolved behind me into a shower of burning, falling fragments. No doubt about that one now, it was there for all to see, including our sailors down below!

 

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'Return to base', I ordered my wingman. Mission accomplished! Now it remained only to be seen if I could avoid getting my virtual feet wet! My 109 still answered the controls so although I was high enough to bail out, I decided to try for a glide back to those sandy beaches. I knew immediately that I was too far away to make the airfield, so the nearest beach seemed to be about the best I could hope for.

 

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It was not to be. I was still a few meters from dry land when I ran out of height. I could see it coming and levelled out to break the impact and perhaps shave a little more off the distance I'd have to wade (or swim) to terra firma.

 

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Splash! In she went, travelling a bit too fast. The nose dipped under quite quickly and the tail flipped into the air. I bailed out and because Il-2 evidently doesn't have a pilot swimming animation, I was briefly treated to the spectacle of my canopy flying off and my pilot seemingly attempting to run on the water before disappearing! My Messerschmitt's tail briefly marked the spot where I'd come to grief, before slipping beneath the surf.

 

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I opted to 'Apply' the mission outcome rather than reflying it, in the process getting credited with my second kill - a Blenheim on the previous mission and now the 'Sunderland'. 

 

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I'm not sure if this campaign leaves it to the player to decide if he's dead or to play on, but having seen myself exit the ditched aircraft, I took the view that I had made it the short distance to the shore and so I'm playing on. This campaign is too much fun, to give up easily! I just need to make sure my logbook doesn't get any more lopsided; I now have two kills but I also have two less landings than takeoffs!

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This looks really well made. Kudos to anyone who's willing to take the time to make something like this.

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Hi Hinchinbrook!

 

From the 'readme' this campaign is for 4.08m or above: http://www.mission4today.com/index.php?name=Downloads&file=details&id=2471

 

It may not work with the TD 4.11 and above modified version that features some AI and other improvements, as stated by Jeanba on the other 'Afrika' mission report.

 

I'm running this campaign with Dark Blue World 1.71 which it doesn't need but is I think still the ultimate one-stop mod for Single Player Il-2, in terms of more planes and maps etc.

 

http://www.sas1946.com/main/index.php/topic,21514.0.html

 

This is installed on the latest stock/official game, which IIRC is 4.10.1m. If your version needs it, the patches are available here, both official and later: http://www.mission4today.com/index.php?name=Downloads&c=564

 

Having applied DBW right after installing Il-2 '46 and patching the latter to 4.10.1m, I'm note sure whether/to what extent DBW contributes to the visuals you see here, or whether they are obtainable from the stock game. I'm running on 'Perfect' settings with my conf.ini file tweaked as described in various posts.

 

Over on the SAS DBW forum there's been some discussion of a new 'Compressed Full Monty' mod based on the modded 1.12 game, which mod has been delayed pending some enhancements to the scope, and may be the new 'must have' mod for Il-2 single player, when it is eventually released, at least if it is compatible with the best of the older campaigns: http://www.sas1946.com/main/index.php/topic,40015.msg500468.html#new

 

Good hunting!

 

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