Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  

IL-2+CUP - Flying Tigers

Recommended Posts

To war in the China-Burma-India theatre with the American Volunteer Group!

2015.05.12 20-35-26.jpg


There can be few more famous flying units in the Second World War than the group of volunteer fighter pilots recruited in 1941 by retired US Army Captain Claire L. Chennault to help China turn the tables in the beleagured country's air war against the Japanese. Flying Curtiss P-40B Tomahawks diverted from planned deliveries to the RAF, the three squadrons of the American Volunteer Group (AVG) soon found themselves pitched alongside RAF and Dutch comrades into a desperate, losing battle against the post-Pearl Harbour Japanese flood tide, notably in Burma. The AVG and RAF initially mounted a spirited air defence of the capital Rangoon. But as enemy ground forces swept towards them, capturing airfields closer and closer to the city, their task became increasingly hopeless and in the end, abortive.


Nicknamed 'Flying Tigers' from the insignia devised from them by Disney, the unit was of course famous for a different marking - the gaudy 'Sharkmouth' on the noses of their P-40s, inspired it is said by a similar marking seen on a photo of a 112 Squadron RAF Tomahawk, itself supposedly inspired in turn by the 'Haifisch' marking carried by Bf 110 heavy fighters of ZG 76.


Fame came early to the Flying Tigers, not least thanks to the 1942 film starring John Wayne, no less, that many of us will remember from later screenings on TV. The characterisations appear but crude stereotypes today, but at the time, the desperate and destructive war in the Far East was at its height.



Thanks to Chennault's experience in theatre, the Flying Tigers were early pioneers of the sort of 'hit and run', 'boom and zoom' tactics that soon became widely adopted, for combating the more nimble but less powerful Japanese fighters. The AVG fought shoulder to shoulder with British and Commonwealth comrades in Burma and after the latter's fall, to defend China's vital lifeline of supplies flown over the 'hump' from India. But those battles and others against Japanese offensives in China, were fought mainly by the AVG's USAAF successors, who inherited the nickname and the fighting reputation of the original group, which was disbanded in July 1942.


The campaign

There have been several AVG campaigns for IL-2 over the years but the one I'm flying here is SAS_Monty's, which was designed for the modified 4.12 version of the sim, which is what I'm mostly flying at the moment, since the arrival of the Combined User Patch (CUP) mod. You can find the download link, a campaign video and some more info, here. Another attraction for me is that the campaign features the defence of Burma, which I had read about in the detailed and generally excellent first volume of Grub Street's aptly-named South-East Asia air war history, 'Bloody Shambles'. Fans of Kipling will relish the opportunity to fight (altogether now) 'On the road to Mandalay/Where the flying fishes play/And the sun comes up like thunder/Out'a China, cross the bay'. It ain't half hot, mum!


But enough of references to now politically-incorrect writer-poets and BBC TV comedies about the vital role of Concert Parties in the war in the Far East.


If you are expecting to be pitched straight into desperate dogfights against Nates, Oscars and Sallys - to use the Allied reporting names for the Imperial Japanese Army's Ki-27 and Ki-43 fighters and Ki-21 bombers - well, steady there, (flying) tiger. Battleship Row at Pearl still lies undisturbed and the war in the Pacific, unstarted. Your first job - after watching the neat black & white opening video 'track' which accompanies a narrative intro to the AVG -  is a ferry flight in a C-47, from Rangoon up to the AVG's real-life training base further north, at Toungoo.


2015.05.11 21-11-16.jpg


This starts well enough, with time to admire the plentiful scenery at busy Mingaladon airfield, just north of capital Rangoon.


2015.05.11 21-13-47.jpg


Like the P-40s you'll be flying later, the two C-47s on this flight - we should probably call them DC-3s, in keeping with the secrecy necessarily surrounding this surrogate US intervention - may be ex-USAAF; but for now, they're the property of the Government of nationalist Chiang Kai Shek's Republic of China. And marked accordingly. The USA isn't in this war, officially...not just yet, anyway.


2015.05.11 21-13-35.jpg


I'm not a big fan of civvy flight sims but I must admit I got a certain amount of fun out of flying my Dakota, as the C-47 is generally better known in the UK. It took a lot of key tapping - no fancy HOTAS setups here - but in the end I was able to trim her nicely to climb 'hands off', although what I expect was a bit of a crosswind, or maybe a bit of aileron trim she needed, made occasional corrections necessary to keep wings level.


2015.05.11 21-23-21.jpg


2015.05.11 21-25-04.jpg


The flight up north in a heavily-laden transport was actually like one of those civilian flying challenges in FSX. The tricky bit was...well, not my pet hate, formation flying, since you don't especialy have to fly in close company with the other aircraft on this trip, though he will tell you off on the radio if you become too independent. It's first, (slowly) climbing through the clouds - a good idea, to avoid colliding with the Pegu Yomas which rise across your fligth path.


2015.05.11 21-28-48.jpg


2015.05.11 21-37-11.jpg


You get radio becaon fixes displayed every so often but if like me, you generally 'cheat' by leaving switched on the minimap path and your aircraft's icon, such things aren't really needed.


Having got above the darkening clouds, all was well, for a while. I tried to listen in to radio stations duing the flight, as the mission brief recommends, but though I tuned into both BBC World Service and Radio Honolulu, reception seemed basically non-exstent. So much for listening to Vera Lynn's latest number, to while away the dull bit of the flight.


The next fun comes when it's time to descend through the cloudbase. At first all looked well, with the tree-covered foothills falling away beneath usand paddy fields appearing ahead. There's a great new Burma map included with CUP and I'm assuming this is it.


2015.05.11 21-46-26.jpg


The cloud ceiling was quite low and when I got to that level, the weather was suddenly awful, with visibility to match and lightning flashing, in and below the clouds, as the rain lashed down all the while.



2015.05.11 21-48-17.jpg


Then, in the deteriorating weather, there's the challenge of finding my destination. Finally, I actually had to land there, which was going to be tricky enough in the pouring rain, not least because the layout of Toungoo airfield was unknown to me and was going to be invisible in the murk, until i was pretty well on top of it.


2015.05.11 21-51-25.jpg


in the circumstances, I decided to let the autopilot handle the last leg and I'm glad that I did, because two interesting things happened, that I might otherwise have missed. First, during a spell of slightly clearer weather, we suddenly did a supply drop, which I hadnt been expecting.


2015.05.12 19-31-30.jpg


Next, I had a great view of Toungoo itself, the town not the airfield. At first, I thought this was Fort Dufferin, famous for a 14th Army battle to evict the Japanese in 1945. But that's in a different part of Burma. It was quite a sight, nevertheless, worth seeing, if not worth going to see, as the famous diarist Dr Johnston once said of the Giant's Causeway (sorry, to anyone from the Burmese or Northern Ireland tourist boards, who might happen to be reading this).


2015.05.12 19-32-10.jpg


Happily, the AI co-pilot to whom I had turned over our aeroplane seemed to know the area well enough, for despite the murk he made a faultless, if somewhat unorthodox, partial, circuit, followed by a fine landing which I would have struggled to match, at the best of times.


2015.05.12 19-39-49.jpg


His ground handling was pretty good, too, and we were soon stopped next to the other C-47/DC-3/Dakota.


2015.05.12 19-41-10.jpg


Now, perhaps, we could get down to business! But, as in real life, Claire Chennault had other plans for his newly-arrived tiger cubs.


...to be continued!

  • Like 5

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

From monoplane to biplane??


2015.05.13 18-22-29.jpg


The Old Man had decided that the cubs - and this means YOU, the player - needed a spot of training, before getting to do it for real in an expensive modern fighter. Hard to fault Captain Chennault there, really. The next mission's video intro and briefing tell us that this is how it panned out for the real Flying Tigers too. Some, we are told, had somewhat padded their CVs...as one does. As in, they really had experience of flying bombers...but not fighters. You can tell them as often as you like, that you have been flying combat flight sims for years. It won't make a plugged nickel of a difference. Get with the programme. Shape up, or ship out.


The really bad news is that they mean it, when they say that they not going to let you loose with a P-40. Not yet, anyway. Your first training mission is in a biplane - a Curtiss P-6 Hawk. She looks like a WW1 type with a beefy great radial engine slapped onto the front. And that's how she flies - and sounds. Plus, never mind your hearing, she's not a bit worried about your FPS, either, generating copious amounts of persistent light grey smoke on startup. I was quite glad when, having avoided some RAF Buffaloes that seemed to have been sent up to get in my way, I was turning into my approach, as close as I really wanted to be to my number one.


2015.05.13 18-12-32.jpg


Basically you have to fly a circuit to get oriented, and do some formation flying (yuk) on your leader. Flying simulated WW1 biplanes and WW2 monoplane fighters didn't really prepare me for the Hawk. Major drift on takeoff. A tendency to throw a wobbly fit if she doesn't like what you're doing - like going too slow, or going too fast. And noisy. Very noisy.


2015.05.13 18-22-34.jpg


As if flying this beast of an aeroplane isn't enough, on the second mission, you have to strafe some ground targets. Preferably, without flying into them, or into the ground. Tempted though you might be to write off the Hawk, in the hope of not having to fly her again. Oh and by the way, don't shoot the Directing Staff, who are watching your performance, from rather closer to the targets than might be considered wise in the circumstances. Just to rub salt in the wounds of all this indignity, you are accompanied by another bloke in a real aeroplane, a P-40. At least you don't have to lug - sorry, fly - your own relic too far to get there. And when you do get there, after a wobbly fit or two, you will be able to find the targets easily enough, from the smoke markers thoughtfully provided.


2015.05.13 18-25-50.jpg


The dummy aircraft don't burn, but the trucks do. My two small bombs fell short - in my impatience to get this over with, I didn't bother to attack along the line of the vehicles at first, as I should have done. The trucks fireballed nicely, at any rate, when I did get around to having a crack at them.


2015.05.13 18-27-15.jpg


The briefing promised me a P-40 on the next mission, so that's where I wanted to be, sooner the better. I did make the effort, though, to complete the circuit and remember the landmarks I used to line up on Toungoo airfield. Which is a good idea, because the field seems to have been disguised as a sort of cabbage patch or something of that ilk, with a pair of 'T' markings the only real hint as to where and and in which direction to land. Nice, wide (or at least, visible) concrete runways are now but a pleasant memory, fading fast. Already, I have the impression that this is not going to be my usual Il-2 campaign.


...to be continued!

  • Like 3

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

At last - a modern plane and live targets!


There's one final training mission at Toungoo, which is some air-to-air gunnery practice. And finally I'm flying the machine I came all this way to get my mitts on - a P-40. The briefing tells me that I'm attacking some targets towed by tugs. These turn out to consist of a pair of (Soviet) gliders, hauled by C-47s. Sensibly, you are advised to practice the slashing, 'boom and zoom' passes advocated by the real Chennault, to make the best of your plane's superior firepower and diving speed.


2015.05.17 16-51-49.jpg


The tows are rather short and it's quite a challenge to try to hit the targets, without putting the tugs in harm's way, too. Which is my excuse for not destroying either target. Either that ,or lacking a  fuel load, gliders are actually quite resistant to gunfire!


2015.05.17 16-47-13.jpg


At least I didn't shoot down any Dakotas! Both were still airborne, when I decided to call it quits and head back to base.


2015.05.17 16-54-15.jpg


The next mission is when the fun really begins. We are posted to the 1st Pursuit Squadron and sent north from Burma to Kunming, China. The action we signed up to see can't be far off now! And it isn't - no sooner have we arrived, than the air raid alarms are sounding and we off we go, to intercept a Japanese raid coming in from the west, at medium altitude.


2015.05.17 17-03-43.jpg


The P-40 skins that come with the campaign are first class, but I'm one of those who believes the AVG's P-40s should be in Curtiss's approximation of dark green and dark earth upper surface colours, for delivery to the original intended customers, the RAF.  So I changed to a suitable skin from Mission4Today, for the correct squadron ie 1st Pursuit, with its white rear fuselage hoop.


2015.05.17 17-34-35.jpg


Kunming airfield is really well laid out, complete with various little vignettes of airfield activity, like the AA gun crew and the work party with a bulldozer, that were next to me when the mission started. 


2015.05.17 17-05-22.jpg


This was a scramble, though, so there wasn't much time for sight-seeing. The runway was a narrow dirt strip, so we were back to taking off in a line. The is also a significant 'hump' in the runway, which makes for interesting takeoffs and (even more so) landings. I was just behind the leader in the 'conga line' and made it off without incident, with no need to avail of the services of the fire truck that waited to the right just in case, as we roared away.


2015.05.17 17-10-13.jpg


2015.05.17 17-11-05.jpg


I cleaned her up and turned left, continuing to climb at just under full throttle, looking for my leader and with the others gradually closing up behind me. Whatever we had got ourselves into, in volunteering for the AVG,  we wouldn't have long to wait, to find out!


2015.05.17 17-12-39.jpg


...to be continued!

  • Like 2

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

First combat, first blood!


2015.05.17 17-14-23.jpg


Climbing up after my flight leader and following his course corrections, I took the opportunity to have a quick look at my cockpit, which is well laid out with an easy to read compass repeater. These early P-40s still had nose-mounted machine guns and you can see their breeches and red-painted cocking handles in the pic below. Even without dynamic shadows, it's a really nice rendition of the P-40's 'office', although the frame for the reflector gunsight is not present, in the external view.


2015.05.17 17-14-47.jpg


Closing in with my number 1, I slipped over to his right and kicked in the autopilot. Not very realistic, to be sure, but it rids me of the hated chore of formation-flying. The autopilot doesn't seem to mind at all; in fact he appears to quite like it. And he does a much better job of it than I could.


2015.05.17 17-18-52.jpg


A short distance behind us, the AI was doing an equally good job keeping formation, with the other three ships in our intercepting force.


2015.05.17 17-19-16.jpg


Heading steadly west in our two compact groups, it wasn't long before I spotted two more flights, slightly left and low ahead, on what looked like a reciprocal course. This could only mean one thing: the opposition had arrived and the party was about to begin!


2015.05.17 17-20-04.jpg


My leader had spotted them too, and he gave a bandit call, turning left as he did so. At this point, on the assumption that the intruders would be the unescorted bombers we had been briefed to expect, I turned left too, but decided that I would make my own attack.


Sure enough, the enemy consisted of flights of twin-engined bombers, three flights that I could see, with four aircraft apiece. I thought for a second about taking a high-deflection shot at the leading group as I turned into them, but quickly decided not to waste my ammo in such a speculative fashion.


2015.05.17 17-20-30.jpg


Instead, I swung out to the left and came at them at full throttle, from behind and slightly below, going for the right-hand bomber in the four-ship formation. I snaked from side to side as I bored in fast, determined not to give the enemy gunners too easy a shot.


2015.05.17 17-20-53.jpg


I got off a few short bursts then broke right and low, away from the enemy flight, leaving my target training smoke from his starboard engine. If there was any return fire, it didn't hit me. This would do nicely, to begin with!


2015.05.17 17-21-38.jpg


I came around in a wide turn to the right, keeping my speed up. By the time I had completed a 360 degree turn, the flight I had first attacked was some way off, but a second group of four enemy bombers now lay in my path. I cleared my tail and repeated my attack, again going for the right-hand bomber. This time, the results were more than merely satisfactory.


2015.05.17 17-23-10.jpg


2015.05.17 17-23-31.jpg


So far, so good!


To be continued!

  • Like 2

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Back for more!


To digress briefly, you may have noticed that the Japanese bombers we are attacking look suspiciously like repainted Soviet Tupolevs, which is in fact what they are. There is a Ki-21 'Sally' bomber in modded IL-2 these days, but though updated for Il-2 version 4.12, our targets on this mission still date from an earlier time. The ersatz Sallys are nicely turned out, though, even if they don't look much like the real ones, seen in the second pic below.


2015.05.17 17-21-57.jpg


31.01.2015 12-19-44.jpg


Manwhile, back at the action...I had just sent one Japanese bomber down in flames, having left another one with an engine smoking. I'd been conserving my ammunition and reckoned I had enough for at least one more good pass. I was right. By the time I had completed another 360 degree right-hand turn, the skies were rather more empty. Ahead, I could see the remains of the enemy force under attack from my squadron mates, whose radio chatter filed the air. The party was still in full swing, so I hurried to rejoin it.


One of the enemy bombers had spun down on fire before I got there so I charged at the right-hand plane in a pair ahead, which was all that I could now see of the second flight that I'd attacked. As before I closed in at full throttle, swerving as I came in.


2015.05.17 17-24-03.jpg


As the range wound down I let her have it...and was quite surprised when the enemy bomber suddenly nosed up, prompting me to pull up too, to avoid a collision. Almost immediately,  the crew started bailing out!


2015.05.17 17-24-28.jpg


I came around again and by the time I was back in position, there seemed precious little left of the enemy formation. This looked like a real Red Letter day for the AVG! I picked out a bomber flying on his own and closed in fast. Even as I did so, another enemy spun down over to the right, minus part of a wing.


2015.05.17 17-28-43.jpg


I soon gained ground and had a rattle at my intended victim. But my ammo ran out before I could do much more than pepper his tail feathers.


2015.05.17 17-29-41.jpg


He lost a bit of height and I watched him, hoping he would go down. No such luck. In fact he continued on nearly up to our airfield - which was likely his target - before turning for home, shrugging off some AA fire. If he bombed, I didn't see what, if anything, he hit.


2015.05.17 17-30-28.jpg


2015.05.17 17-31-37.jpg


At this point I heard my flight leader calling it quits. I flew off in search of them for a while but they were heading west, for some reason, away from base. So I decided to go home on my own. En route, I dropped down to do a bit of aerial sight-seeing, admiring the architecture of the walled town from which our Kunming base presumably took its name.


2015.05.17 17-35-58.jpg


It wasn't long before I was joining the circuit over the airfield. Getting back home early has its advantages; there was no hesitation from the tower, in clearing me to land.


2015.05.17 17-36-30.jpg


2015.05.17 17-38-17.jpg


That darn hump in the runway threw me back into the air for a more bouncy landing than usual but I managed to catch her and get down without breaking anything important. Beyond the end of the runway, something was burning, but the base appeared undamaged and everybody seemed to be going about their business as if nothing in particular had happened.


2015.05.17 17-39-52.jpg


2015.05.17 17-40-33.jpg


The results screen confirmed my three kills, so my first AVG campaign had got off to a good start. Maybe all that training had been a worthwhile investment, after all!


So far, so good. The aircraft, the scenery and the missions in this campaign are all of the very highest standard, so I have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone else, whether you are a flying tiger or a mere snake in the grass!

2015.05.17 17-35-50.jpg

  • Like 2

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yesterday I finished this campaign. I enjoyed it very much!  :biggrin:

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Great AAR and great campaign, thanks. To get in the mood I just finished reading "Bloody Shambles" by forefathers of modern military aviation history C. Shores B. Cull and Y. Izawa I also finished reading W. Bartsch "Every Day a NIghtmare - American Pursuit Pilots in the Defense of Java, 1941-1942". Incidentally I havn t found any offline or dynamic campaign on M4T or SAS ragarding USAAF Far Eastern Air Force defense of Dutch East Indies. Shame really because I like to play as a underdog with unachievable objectives just to survive. If anyone created something regarding that campaign I would be gratefull for info.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi 33LIMA,

following your suggestion I installed the Flying Tiger Campaign on my CUP-modded version of IL-2, but it doesn't work: no text in the briefing screen and when the mission start, no cockpit or plane appears on the runway.

Did you encounter problems like this?



Edited by citizen67

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi 33LIMA,

following your suggestion I installed the Flying Tiger Campaign on my CUP-modded version of IL-2, but it doesn't work: no text in the briefing screen and when the mission start, no cockpit or plane appears on the runway.

Did you encounter problems like this?




I had a similar problem, but in the Spitfire Scramble campaign. the fix that worked for me is here:




Don't recall having to do that for Flying Tigers but maybe one of the other solutions in that thread will help.


Despite the Flying Tigers readme saying 'unload [=disable?] Pals Mission Pro (using JSGME)' when I look at the JSGME window, I see that I have it enabled, in the form #CUP_MissionProCombo-V4122. That and true color HD skins are the only JSGME mods I have enabled.


Good luck!

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

PS I just experienced the 'blank briefings' problem with another TFM campaign I have just installed - JG53 Ace of Spades. And deleting '_ru' from the filenames of all the .properties files solved it.

These files are in the folder Il-2 Sturmovik 1946/Missions/Campaign/[country]/[campaign name]. The campaign which will probably feature in the next mission report, seems to be playing ok so far, despite my leaving the Mission Pro Combo that came with CUP, enabled.


2015.06.13 11-48-30.jpg


...though I should have installed this additional skin, before flying the first, training mission in an He 51, rather than use the default Spanish Civil War skin...


2015.06.13 12-08-12.jpg


Edit: well, bang goes that idea...'bang' times six, in fact. The third mission of 'Ace of Spades' failed to load due to a missing He 111P, obviously because that Heinkel variant is included in the TFM mod the campaign's designed for, but isn't in CUP. I have no experience of the IL-2 Full Mission Builder but I opened the mission with the FMB and after a bit if fiddling around, replaced the P version with the H2 verion. The FMB also reported a missing Somua tank and two missing vehicles. I fixed the Somua easily as the tank was there in CUP, just under a slightly different file name. I also replaced the missing Fiat and fire trucks with suitable look-alikes.


The good news was, the mission now loaded...it's twelve days in to the 1940 Blitzkreig in the West and we draw a long patrol, out to the tip of the German advance.


2015.06.13 22-17-07.jpg


The bad news is that all but one of my AI flight-mates - six in all - suddenly nosed down suddenly after take-off, and just went straight down, into the scenery. They all piled into virtually the same spot, in fact.


2015.06.13 22-17-45.jpg


Maybe it's the 4.12 AI doing something odd in a mission designed for a non-TD version of IL-2. Anyway, it looks like I'll have to wait till the author updates the campaign. Pity, not least as the 109s and the landscapes have never looked better.


2015.06.13 22-20-12.jpg

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites


the "blank briefing" problem seems to be solved; I deleted "_ru" frome the mission filenames and now the text appears where it should be.

But the "arming" button doesn't work and when the mission starts, still nothing appears... only the horizon line and the rain...

It seems like something is missing.


I think I will wait for a CUP version of the campaign... ;-)


Thank you anyway, LIMA33



Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

  • Similar Content

    • By KJakker
      I think I installed the Daidalos Team patch back in 2012 but it has been years since I touched it IL-2 1946. I would appreciate some advice as to patching, updates, and mods.
    • By 33LIMA
      Flying World War 1 from the start, with some new campaigns for Il-2's CUP mod!

      The recent Combined User Patch (CUP) for Il-2 1946 now has four modules: Dawn of Flight for World War 1, Golden Age for the inter-war period, Wings at War for WW2, and the Jet Age for the post-war era. For the first of these, SAS's Monty, of The Full Monty fame - the Il-2 mod, not the movie! - has just released a set of scripted-mission campaigns. And naturally, being long interested in the air war of that period, this was one that I wasted no time in trying out.
      So far, the first part of an eventual 32 'mission set campaigns' is available, and you can find the details over at the SAS forum, here. Most unusually for a WW1 sim, what this first part gives us is the ability to fly from the very start of the First World War, in August 1914. The first mission set - 'Demarcation' - kicks off in the Vosges, where the demarcation line ran between the French and German empires or that period.
      Up to now, the earliest WW1 flight sim missions have flown have been from the era of the Fokker Scourge in the summer of 1915. So while I knew not to expect too much in the way of air combat at a time when most aircraft were unarmed and those that were, generally relied on carbines or pistols carried aloft by their crew, I was keen to try out something new, with the option of jumping ahead any time I wanted; in particular, the 1916 Verdun campaign tickled my fancy, with the opportunity it seemed to fly as the famous Jean Navarre, whose Nieuport Bébé, painted red before von Richthofen copied him, was the terror of the Boches and the hero of the Poilus.
      The 'Demarcation' campaign is the first mission-set in the series and sees the player flying a Nieuport N4 monoplane. This famous French company is of course more famous for their V-strutted fighters starting with the Nieuport 10 and 11. But pre-war, Nieuport was noted for its racing or sports planes including a line of neat monoplanes, from which comes the aircraft I’ll be flying on this campaign. There’s some more info about the type on Wikipedia, here; evidently the type was quite widely used, albeit in small numbers, notably by the Russian Air Service. For this campaign I’m with the French air service, which was probably the biggest and best of the combatant air forces at the start of the war and in the thick of it from start to last.

      In the early months of WW1, aircraft were purely for visual reconnaissance and were not routinely armed. Rare exceptions included the Farman of Louis Strange, 5 Squadron Royal Flying Corps, who contrived to fit a Lewis Gun, only to be ordered to remove it after the extra weight resulted in the aircraft failing to get high enough to intercept a snooping German warplane. Thereafter, pistols and carbines remained the only (generally ineffectual) option for aircrew who fancied having a crack at their opposite numbers in the air. The first air-to-air ‘kill’ came in October 1914, when Sergeant Joseph Frantz and Corporal Louis Quénault brought down a German Aviatik; Quénault reportedly had to finish the job with a rifle after his Hotckhiss MG packed it in.

      As I was soon to discover, my single-seater Nieuport is armed from the get-go, with what looks like a Danish Masden mag-fed LMG. The real catch is that it’s mounted to fire upwards to clear the propeller arc, this being before the introduction of deflectors or interrupter gear. Lanoe Hawker had some success in 1915 in a Bristol Scout with a Lewis gun mounted to fire left and ahead so this arrangement isn’t entirely untypical of the sort of lash-ups early aviators made from early in the war, to get a decent crack at the enemy in a single-seater, with no observer to man a flexibly-mounted gun.

      Here’s the mission brief. It's just as well I've got the MG, because apparently, the enemy fliers have been activer over our territory. While my patrol zone is marked as a recce objective (eye graphic on a yellow triangle) our aims are offensive in nature. It's a defensive patrol, for two of us, though by the sound of it, my companion’s dodgy motor means that I might be alone. We don’t have far to go, in the horizontal sense anyway. But this is the Vosges and elevation will be a different matter, as I will soon find out. Typically for these new missions, you can forget about one of IL-2's most useful navigational map aids - there's no minimap path. This is 1914 after all, just over ten years from Kittyhawk and Orville and Wilbur's first successful flights in a heavier-than-air flying machine.

      Intrigued to find out how my first venture into virtual 1914 military aviation will work out, I wasted no time launching the mission, having made sure that in the difficulty settings, I had turned off flutter and wind effects (which the WW1 flight models can’t cope with – IIRC they result in planes having regular attacks of ‘the wobbles’).

      And this is what I saw. Truly, our airfield is a veritable diorama, packed with people, vehicles and other aircraft. While the people aren’t animated, it’s still an impressive spectacle, packed with interest.

      My number two tried a couple of times to get his engine running but each time it spluttered to a stop; possibly just as well as the bloke in front of him seemed disinclined to get out of his way. My motor showed no such reluctance and after a quick look around I decided to take off straight ahead, without worrying about runways. This worked out just fine, my lightweight aircraft lifting off at a speed which didn’t seem much faster than some of the trucks motoring around the airfield.

      Sitting roughly at mid-chord above a broad wing, it was obvious I wasn’t going to see much from the cockpit. The Voisins and Farmans parked around the airfield would have made much better reconnaissance machines, and indeed they served on after Nieuport monoplanes had disappeared from the front lines. Flying from the external view, I got a much better view of both my aircraft and its surroundings.


      And fine surroundings they were. Our airfield turned out to be on a little plateau set into the side of an impressive mountain, which comprised a series of peaks with lower ‘saddles’ in between. I resisted the temptation to play that song from that musical, but the hills, if not alive with the sound of music, certainly looked worth the trip.

      After a bit of sight-seeing, orienting myself with the help of the map, I realised that my reconnaissance objective had been rather inconveniently sited at the top of the highest peak. As my rate of climb seemed to be rather close to the  ‘imperceptible’ end of the scale, this presented me with a bit of a problem. Throttle fully open, I settled into the best climb I could manage on a course parallel to the long side of the ridge or peaks. Compared to the WW2 planes I’m used to flying in Il-2, it felt like I was in a powered glider, and a nose-heavy one at that. Heck, this ‘racing’ plane felt slow, compared to the WW1 planes I’d flown in other sims. Slow...but not too sedate, with a tendency to dive away or begin a roll to either side, if I didn’t concentrate on keeping things level. With little dihedral, a small unbalanced rudder and wing warping for lateral control, this seemed to make sense. Quite an interesting experience in itself, the flight was shaping up to be.


      Realising that I was not going to gain enough height on one leg, I could not resist the temptation of turning right and crossing the ridgeline over one of the saddles. Even getting high enough to do this, took a certain amount of time and effort and I just scraped across. Having gone over the mountain to see what I could see, like the bear in the song the result was not unexpected – the other side of the mountain.


      I now flew a long leg away from the objective to gain sufficient height. That done, I turned around - gently, so as not to lose any of my precious height - and made my way back, aiming for the top of the correct peak.

      Finally I was right over the summit. I should have over-flown my objective to one side or the other, but I was quite keen for my track on the map to intersect the centre of the target marker, lest such precision was needed for mission success or to trigger some necessary mission event.

      In fact it worked – I got the ‘mission completed’ text so that was it. And I didn’t get shot at, or even see a single enemy aircraft. They were there, though, but I only realised that later, when I noticed an enemy aircraft icon on a screenshot which I had taken with the mini-map view briefly turned on!!! To be honest, I'd sort of forgotten the briefing, having been so taken up with the actual flying side of the challenge. And I had become rather fixated on overflying that big marker, as if I were genuinely on a recce flight. Anyway, the top of that mountain was about as bare as a mountain-top can be. Giving up on earlier ideas about putting in a flypast at the castle I’d seen on a lower peak nearby, I decided that honour had been satisfied; it was time to go home. A nice hot brandy in the Mess would help me recover from the rigours of flying amongst the mountains in my little powered glider. Down we went. The early aviators were in the habit of turning off their motors during a descent but I just cut the throttle to idle and experimented a bit with diving angle and airspeed. The unfamiliar flight model I found quite convincing; I have no idea at all how a real Nieuport 4 handled but this one felt just about perfect, for such an aircraft.

      It wasn't long before I was turning onto my final approach...although to the wrong airfield I believe, a deceptively-similar one on a similar mountainside plateau. I must have had my mind firmly set on that brandy!

      For a sortie on which I'd missed my opportunity to have my first air fight, I'd actually found the experience surprisingly absorbing. I think I'll try at least one more campaign mission in the Nieuport 4, before moving on to something more warlike. There's just something about the mission which seemed to capture so well the experience of stooging around in an aircraft that is little more than a docile but ungainly powered glider..albeit one with a sting.
      ...to be continued!
    • By 33LIMA
      Flying a vanilla campaign in the classic WW2 sim's latest mod!

      You can say what you like about the newest addition to the Il-2 line, Battle of Stalingrad (BoS) - and many of us do just that! But one thing it has done for me, is stimulate my interest in its predecessor's original, Eastern Front campaigns. No mean achievement, that, for until relatively recently, I'd regarded Il-2 as mainly offering planes I didn't especially want to fly, in places I didn't especially want to fly them, to adapt another simmer's comment.
      At the moment, I have two installs of Il-2 1946 - one for Dark Blue World (DBW), the other for the new Community User Patch (CUP). Due to different files, units and other factors, it seems likely to take a while, before many campaigns that work in DBW or other versions of Il-2, also work in CUP, though some already do and the list is growing steadily.
      Both to check out the compatibility of some stock Il-2 campaigns with CUP and to indulge my new-found interest in the Eastern Front variety, over the last month or two I've been running, on and off, a standard Soviet fighter campaign, flying one of the aircraft available in BoS - the rather sleek but not especially high-performing LaGG-3. Like other aircraft before and after, this seems to have been a basically decent design which needed a more powerful engine to turn it into a competitive fighter - which it got, when its inline engine was replaced by a radial, creating the Lavochkin La-5.
      From this campaign's timeframe, though, the La-5 is about a year away. It's July 1941, just weeks into Operation Barbarossa, and I'm flying a LaGG-3, defending our dearly-beloved Union of Soviet Socialistic Republics against the fascist hordes of Nazi Germany. And an interesting challenge it's been, keeping my virtual neck intact, up against superior numbers of superior planes and - historically, anyway - superior aircrew.

      So far, courtesy it seems of some Soviet Socialistic miracle, I have not only survived, but knocked down some enemy aircraft. I'm on my fifth mission, no less...but wondering how much longer my good fortune can possibly continue.
      Here's the latest briefing. As you can see, it's a fairly straightforward escort job, with a hint that we might want to shoot up some stuff on the ground at some point, too. Maybe it's a difficulty setting I applied when I created the campaign, but the usual Il-2 red and blue front lines aren't shown on the map. But I'll be able to gauge the whereabouts of the enemy from the front-line target the bombers we're to escort will hit. Happily, the target's not too far off, so I can fly the mission in real time with no need to use 'warp'...which as just as well, as Il-2's never had that, relying on autopilot and time acceleration.

      The briefing doesn't tell me how many are in our flight, or the type and strength of the bombers. Nor do we get their or our altitudes. I put this down to a level of uncertainty, even confusion, in an air force with its back against the wall...or perhaps, against a Commisar with a small-calibre pistol and a willingness to employ it, in stiffening our resolve, should that become necessary.
      At the flight line, I find that there are in fact three of us on this hop. Having chosen a high enough rank to avoid the (to me) hateful chore of formation-flying - and to enjoy the extra challenge of flight leadership - I'm at the head of the queue. This being a stock mission, there's none of the newer formation takeoffs. Happily, the default Il-2 conga line is a short one, today.

      The current LaGG-3 I find is a nicely-rendered bird. More rounded contours in some places, inside and out, would be nice but I'm not complaining. Her authentic, subtly-weathered camouflage and national markings are convincingly-applied. There's no sign of the original opaque Il-2 markings, which looked like the over-thick waterslide transfers you used to get on plastic kits, guaranteed to blot out all but the crudest surface detail. And the cockpit, though clearly well behind the latest self-shadowed, finely-curved marvels, is still quite serviceable.


      One new feature the LaGG does enjoy are more rounded wheels, and very welcome they are, too. Soon, I was aloft and retracting the gear. After the crazily finnicky ground handling of BoS, takeoffs in '46 are...well, whether more realistic or not, more what I'm used to.

      Another, older improvement to Il-2 that the modders have wrought is the engine sounds. I absolutely loathed the dreadful external engine drone of the original sim. That's a distant memory now, so I can admire my bird in the external view without feeling that I need to turn down the sound.

      In fact, so much was I enjoying the external aspect of my LaGG sweeping over the Steppes, that I decided to let the autopilot fly, for a bit. There was now sign of the bombers and I thought, rightly as it turned out, that my alter ego would have a better idea than I, were they were and at what height we should be.
      My number three lagged (sic!) for a bit but my number two wasn't long in catching up. We perhaps tend to take for granted these days such Il-2 wonders as different planes having different individual numbers but even now, not all sims have this and it's still a fine thing to behold.

      Three of us had left our airfield. How many would return, and would I be amongst them? The answers would not be long in coming.
      ...to be continued!

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use, Privacy Policy, and We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue..