Continuing from the previous Dev Diary, this time we'll tell you about the second important addition (well, depending on your personal preference it may be the first important addition actually) coming in our next update - version 4.008. The P-47D-22 "Razorback", the first aircraft of Battle of Normandy, will kick off the Early Access program for this module.
The main difference from the P-47D-28 you have flown in Bodenplatte is the cockpit canopy design with significant canopy framing and dorsal spine behind it. The front part of the canopy includes two angled parts and a windshield center post that would have blocked the view through the gunsight if it was installed in the center, so the gunsight was moved to the right like in the German fighters. The space between the gunsight and the angled windshield parts is occupied by the armored glass protecting the pilot from fragments and small-caliber projectiles coming from the forward hemisphere. On the top of the framing, a rear-view mirror is installed - it was standard-issue, not an optional modification. Contrary to the P-47D-28, the canopy was opened in a classic way, manually, and not by a fancy electric motor.
The "Razorback" had a different propeller than the D-28 and the propeller pitch was controlled by hydraulics, not an electrical drive which had no manual mode. The P-47D-22 can use high-octane fuel, which affects the engine power, and the good news is that P-47D-28 will receive this option in the next update as well. As we have stated many times before, we don't forget about a module after its release date and will always continue to improve it and add new features whenever possible.
While we were working on the Razorback, its successor from Bodenplatte got the same flight model refinements as well: for instance, the effectiveness of the flaps has been reduced somewhat and the aircraft behavior beyond stall angles has been corrected - it won't stall so unpredictably and will indicate the coming stall by buffeting and lowering the nose. The load on the control surfaces have been corrected as well - the ailerons are affected by the ram air a bit earlier, but the load increases at higher speeds more smoothly and the elevator load at high speeds was also reduced somewhat. The Mach number effect on the controls has been additionally adjusted. Overall, this resulted in better compliance with the reference data for roll speed and increased Mach-tuck tendency at high speeds. In general, P-47 now feels more like a heavy machine it was.
It is interesting to note that while Razorback was an earlier model than D-28, it has a bit higher climb rate and significantly (+27 kph) speed at emergency engine mode. To a degree, this difference comes from a different propeller, but mainly it was caused by the dorsal spine. Bubble canopy, while being vastly superior for offering a much better view, creates flow swirling behind them. Dorsal spine fairing increases the lift-drag ratio of a plane.
Bodenplatte fans will be happy to hear that we are going to insert the D-22 into the BOBP Pilot Career once the plane is finished. Some Razorback models were still in operation during this period so you will be able to fly them and against them in the BOBP Career before the Normandy Career is ready. However, you will need to have purchased BON to have access to their cockpits in BOBP. This gives an added benefit to participating in BON Early Access. Would-be Razorback pilots - it's time to enlist!
To complete today's Dev Blog, we would like to showcase another improvement that we did exclusively for our previous projects - new early Luftwaffe pilot winter uniform which will be later used for all fighters and then bombers from Battle of Moscow and Battle of Stalingrad:
Hello and welcome to the second Part of a very interesting Interview with the Developers of the IL-2 Sturmovik Great Battles Series
As time goes on, the release date for the next update is approaching. As we said earlier, one of the central objects of this update will be a German tank destroyer - a self-propelled artillery Sd.Kfz.184 "Ferdinand". As many of you know, this monster was the result of the loss of Ferdinand Porsche in the competition for the creation of a heavy breakthrough tank for the Wehrmacht. That competition was won by the "Pz.Kpfw.VI Tiger" developed by Henschel. Porsche’s loss was caused by the extraordinary, even for the Germans, the complexity of the chassis. However, in the course of this rivalry, Porsche produced a significant amount of the chassis of a new type of heavy tank. This was subsequently used to create the most powerful and protected, at the time of the Battle of Kursk, anti-tank armored fighting vehicle in the world.
On the Porsche chassis, an armored fighting compartment was installed, protected in the frontal projection by a 200mm armored plate, the weight of which was similar to the weight of a large truck. Even the Tiger gun is not able to penetrate this 200mm obstacle when using armor-piercing shells and 152mm armor-piercing shells of the ML-20 howitzer can't do it either. To bring the frontal armoring of the front of the hull in line with the existing 100mm armor plates, an additional piece of 100m armor was installed. The sides and rear of the vehicle were protected by 80mm armor plates, which were an extremely difficult, almost insurmountable obstacle for 76mm Soviet armor-piercing shells. The roof and the bottom of the hull were also armored considerably.
The weak spots include the roof of a large-scale engine compartment, which was located in front of the tower and could be hit by large-caliber high-explosive fragmentation shells when they burst on the front armor plate of the fighting compartment. Also, the tank’s weak point is the relatively thin armor of the cooler exhaust manifold of the electric propulsion motors - a significant part of ammo is 'conveniently' located just above it. It is worth to note the completely unprotected gunsight of the main and only gun, located on the roof of the fighting compartment.
The Ferdinand is armed with an extremely powerful 88mm KwK-43 L / 71 gun, that was created on the basis of the Flak 41 long-barreled anti-aircraft gun, while the shorter Tiger gun (also 88mm) was created on the basis of the shorter Flak 37 anti-aircraft gun. Firing a similar armor-piercing projectile, but with a more powerful charge and a longer barrel length, the KwK-43 L / 71 gun accelerated it to 1000 m/s against 800 m/s in the KwK-36. The Ferdinand had no machine guns at the time of the Battle of Kursk. The disadvantages of its armament include a panoramic sight that is not very useful in anti-tank combat since it doesn't allow entering corrections in the field of view (it had a significant degree of amplification though), and a low horizontal aiming speed.
But the most remarkable feature of the "Ferdinand" is it’s progressive and promising, but very controversial electrical powertrain. This is one of those cases when technical thought was far ahead of technical capabilities. The idea of refusing the mechanical transmission of torque from the power plant to the propulsion system, which is widely used today in heavy equipment, at that time led to very serious problems. The electric drive motors gave an increase in speed, but with a significant loss of torque on the tracks. So the efficiency of the power plant as a whole, even when on a flat surface, was so low the vehicle could not reach speeds more than 20 km/h. Even with a huge fuel reserve of 950 liters, the range was just 150 km on the highway. Also, due to the features of the electric motors, the power plant had a reduced efficiency when driving backward.
To supply the required amount of electric energy, two engines from the Pz.Kpfw.IV tanks were installed in the Ferdinand, each with a corresponding DC generator. Both generators were connected to a single line that supplied current to the electric motors, and each of the motors had its own regulator to control the speed and direction of movement. This made it possible to continue driving even if one engine or generator failed. The high cost of materials required for the production of windings, conductors and switches of the electrical powertrain, the use of two engines, plus its huge mass of 65 tons led to extremely serious technological and operational difficulties even for such a rich and industrialized country as wartime Germany. That is why the competition was won by the more traditional and easier to produce Tiger-I of Henschel design even though the Tiger from Henschel was also not a cheap tank by any means and the labor costs for its production were many times higher than required for a mass-produced T-34. On the other hand, the simplicity and ease of control of the tank, as well as the softness of the ride were a bonus to those who manned it. The ability to turn the vehicle on the spot without using advanced mechanical systems required for a traditional powertrain was a welcome bonus.
Nevertheless, with all the technological and operational difficulties it had, this combat vehicle during the Summer of 1943 was the most dangerous on the battlefield - if it was able to reach it in time to participate in a head-on tank battle. It was important for us to recreate it as close to the real one as possible, just like all the vehicles we already have in Tank Crew, and it was really hard to do. There is only one early Ferdinand remaining in the world - #501, it is located in the armored forces museum in Kubinka near Moscow. Another one, later modification called Elefant with a commander cupola and MG installed, is in the US. The available documentation is very segmentary, short and incomplete. However thanks to the effort of our partners in Digital Forms and application of cross-checking analysis, we have one of the best recreations of this combat vehicle available. From our side, we contributed to the recreation of its maneuverability, armament and systems functioning peculiarities, which required a lot of work as well. On the screenshots, you see exactly that Ferdininand #501 that was captured in the Kursk battle and ended in the Kubinka museum.
The last what we want to tell you about this tank destroyer - its release will complete the lineup of the combat vehicles we planned to recreate together with Digital Forms for the Tank Crew - Clash at Prokhorovka project. This moment will be a very important milestone in the history of our project. It won't mark the end of the work on this project - as usual, we continue to support, improve and deepen all our projects after the official release date. IL-2 Sturmovik and Digital Forms teams hope you'll enjoy the result of our joint effort.