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Today is a big day. IL-2 Sturmovik team is glad to report that after almost three years of development Battle of Normandy is out of Early Access and is officially released - 5.001 update is out!
«You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you.» Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower.
The official release also means that in addition to Battle of Normandy Premium Edition in our webstore there’s now Standard Edition without two Collector Planes - German jet bomber Arado Ar 234 and British fighter Spitfire Mk.XIV (they can be bought individually). On Steam the new module and its accompanying Collector Planes will appear in the coming weeks - please stay tuned while we work out the details. As usual, Battle of Normandy owners who have linked IL-2 and Steam accounts can access all the new content in the Steam version already.
These years weren’t easy, but they were very interesting. During the development we have created many new technologies and approaches, did a lot of historical research, implemented new solutions. The last aircraft for Battle of Normandy were released in Early Access in August and today we add the last pieces - the map of the Northern France and Southern England, Pilot Career mode, Quick Mission Builder and Advanced Quick Mission Generator support for the new map.
We have told about the Career mode and the new map in our recent Dev Blogs, but must point out again that they set the new record in terms of the work involved. New mission types, new airfield types, new airfields appearing on the map after D-Day - bringing their total amount to 100 airfields with historically accurate layouts! New objects created specially for the module - ships, ground vehicles, buildings, coastal defenses, V-1 buzzbombs and their launch positions, dozens of new aircraft paint schemes, etc.
Battle of Normandy contains 10 player controllable aircraft (8 in the Standard Edition):
- Hawker Typhoon Mk.Ib – British fighter/bomber,
- North American P-51B-5 Mustang – American long range fighter,
- Republic P-47D-22 Thunderbolt – American fighter/bomber,
- Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-6 Late – late version of the German fighter,
- Focke-Wulf Fw 190 A-6 Würger - German fighter,
- De Havilland Mosquito F.B. Mk.VI ser.2 – British twin engine fighter-bomber,
- Messerschmitt Me 410 A-1 Hornisse – German twin engine fighter-bomber,
- Junkers Ju 88 C-6 – German twin engine heavy fighter,
- Supermarine Spitfire Mk.XIV – British fighter (Collector Plane included in the Premium Edition),
- Arado Ar 234 B-2 Blitz – German twin engine jet bomber and recon aircraft (Collector Plane included in the Premium Edition).
Each aircraft includes a slew of historically correct modifications - unlike other games where each modification would be counted as a separate aircraft model, in Great Battles you can freely select and combine them. For instance, Me-410 A-1 mentioned above has modifications that, when selected, make it a whole model lineup:
1. Me-410 A-1/U2,
2. Me-410 A-1/U4,
3. Me-410 B,
4. Me-410 B-2,
5. Me-410 B-2/U1,
6. Me-410 B-2/U2,
7. Me-410 B-2/U4,
8. Me-410 B-2/U4 field mod with four MG 151 guns.
In addition to the all above, update 5.001 contains the results of the big work on the damage model improvements which are of course are applicable to all the modules as usual - as you can see in the long list below, it required many changes in various parts of the sim. The testing and tuning of these changes by beta-testers from the community took a lot of time. We think this is the big step forward for Great Battles series and hope you’ll enjoy it.
There are many other fixes and improvements - for instance, the mission loading time has been reduced dramatically, several times less on some PC configurations! The pilot and tank crew AI got better, etc.:
1. All Battle of Normandy owners have access to Northern France and Southern England map in two variations (before and after the D-Day). As usual, in multiplayer mode the map can be accessed by all Great Battles players.
2. All Battle of Normandy owners have access to the mid-1944 Career mode (3 countries, 5 phases, 17 frontline states, 225 historical squadrons, 103 of them joinable by the player, many new mission types).
3. All Battle of Normandy owners have access to QMB and AQMG game modes on the new map for a quick action, also with many new mission types.
4. Numerous new aircraft paint schemes added, including different invasion stripes for various time periods of 1944.
5. PzKpfw IV Ausf.H. tank added (AI controlled).
6. Flakpanzer IV «Möbelwagen» SPAA added (AI controlled).
7. Gleaves-class destroyer added (AI controlled).
8. The loading speed of all missions on all Great Battles maps has been improved significantly.
Damage Model Improvements
9. Aircraft DM: RHA equivalent of the aircraft skin has been reduced nearly three times to the previous (wrong) values.
10. Aircraft DM: an issue that made aircraft skin damage too severe for larger bombers and some fighters has been fixed.
11. Aircraft DM: like the previously released change for larger caliber ammo, now all projectiles in the game loose integrity and stability after penetrating a significant armor thickness which affects their remaining ability to penetrate armor.
12. Aircraft DM: the relative speed of the target is correctly accounted for projectile penetrations calculations.
13. Aircraft DM: AP bullets and shells make slightly bigger holes in the airframe and aircraft skin.
14. Aircraft DM: powerful HE rounds explosions cause more damage to the airframe, aircraft skin and components.
15. Aircraft DM: small HE bullets cause less damage to aircraft skin.
16. Aircraft DM: it is now possible to damage radiators and fuel tanks when firing 7.62-7.92 rounds from more than 350 m distance.
17. Aircraft DM: bullets are less likely to ricochet from aircraft skin at low angles.
18. Aircraft DM: Bf 109 radiator collision model has been improved (previously its wrong shape could cause most smaller caliber bullets to ricochet when fired directly from behind).
19. Aircraft DM: the loss of the bullets energy hitting Bf 109 F-4 engine has been corrected.
20. Aircraft DM: an issue that caused bullets hitting Spitfire Mk.XIV MGs and guns to not lose energy has been fixed.
21. Aircraft DM: engine fire probability from bullet hits has been somewhat increased for WWI-era piston engines and jet engines.
22. Aircraft DM: engine fire probability from bullet hits has been reduced for WWII-era piston engines.
23. Aircraft DM: fuel tank fire probability from bullet hits has been reduced.
24. Aircraft DM: fuel tank fire and explosion probability from HE ammo hits has been reduced, now it depends on the HE power more.
25. Aircraft DM: it’s now harder to put out the fires by side-slip movement.
26. Aircraft DM: the several years old ‘crew health cheat’ (they required four point-blank 7.62 bullets in the torso or two in the head to be killed) has been removed. Now their ability to sustain damage is much more close to reality.
27. Crew DM: a random error that could cause a death from mild G-loads has been found and fixed, thus improving survivability rate during emergency landings.
28. Ballistics: ricochet tendency has been reduced somewhat.
29. Right wing MGs on P-51B can be correctly damaged.
30. P-51B and D fighters wings (middle-upper parts) can be correctly damaged.
Me 410 Improvements
31. Me 410A-1: weapon panel placards corrected for WB 151 and MG 131 modifications.
32. Me 410A-1: missing rods from bomb doors to the forward window added.
33. Me 410 A-1: speed and timer gauges in the pilot’s cockpit corrected.
34. Me 410 A-1: altitude and speed gauges in the gunner’s cockpit corrected.
35. Me 410 A-1: bomb holders for 250 kg bombs and for SB 1000/410 look corrected.
36. Me 410 A-1: radiator fenders indicators light up when the cockpit light is turned on.
37. Me 410 A-1: the rear landing gear state affects air drag.
38. Me 410 A-1: technochat message warning about the gun overheating restored for the gunner.
39. Me 410 A-1: now the gunner can use the entire horizontal range of the guns for aiming.
40. Me-410 A-1: radiators can be correctly damaged by AP projectiles, resulting in coolant leaks.
41. Me 410A-1 intercept missions added to AQMG game mode.
Tank Crew Improvements
42. M4A2, KV-1s, Pz.IV.G, Pz.V.D, Pz.VI.H1 hatches close when the turret blocks them.
43. The damage of the gun barrels base on Pz.III, Pz.IV and Pz.VI is calculated correctly when it is hit by fragments.
44. In multiplayer a guest gunner (who connected to someone else tank) won’t constantly hear the turret turning mechanism noise.
45. In multiplayer a tank owner won’t hear the gun or MG reloading sound when another player connected to his tank to the gunner or MG gunner station.
46. In multiplayer turning aircraft or tank turrets controlled by another player emit correct turning sounds.
47. AI controlled bombers keep formation a bit better during climb.
48. AI pilots will attempt to return to base in the event of an oil or coolant leak.
49. Me 410 pilots will correctly drop bombs in a deep dive.
50. Mosquito, Ju 88 C6 and Me 410 pilots will correctly drop underwing bombs.
51. Twin and 4x guns in AI controlled vehicles won’t judder during aiming.
52. Dropping an 1650 pounds bomb from Handley Page O/400 bomber won’t display an error.
53. A visual artifact in front of the right engine of Handley Page O/400 bomber has been removed.
54. An issue that caused guns and MGs to ‘float’ above certain breastwork has been fixed.
55. ‘No jamming’ difficulty option works correctly for aircraft turrets.
56. Me 410 is correctly counted in stats.
57. Visual bomb explosion effects has been corrected for cases when a bomb ricochets and goes off above the ground.
58. Proximity and CheckZone triggers in missions won’t erroneously count non-spawned and inactive objects.
59. External camera works correctly after flying beyond the map borders.
60. An issue that could lower the muzzle speed of an overheated MG before causing additional scattering of the fired bullets has been fixed.
61. Both P-47 have their idle engine RPM corrected (it was a bit too high potentially causing moving with brakes applied.
The summer is ending, just like our Battle of Normandy release preparations. Two variations of the Normandy and Southern England map (before and after the invasion) are ready, Career mode is ready, Quick Missions and Advanced Quick Missions are ready - today we're starting the release candidate testing. This time we want to spend more time and resources on the testing and debugging. The beta-testing of the 5.001 update is going for two weeks already and we plan to test the release candidate for two more at least. There's a reason for that - it will include not only the Battle of Normandy, but a number of global improvements as well.
The main global change is the long promised revision of the aircraft Damage Model. This time we have attempted to make more fundamental changes and not just "adjust the airframe durability to meet player expectations", but reverse-engineer the system in search of potential issues in many of its parts. During this process we have found a number of calculation passes which could be improved or tuned. These changes are already in the beta and beta-testers have responded that the damage received by aircraft in various combat situations looks significantly more adequate and realistic. We understand that this is a touchy subject, so the final changes will be explained in detail in the release notes of the 5.001 update.
Speaking of the finishing of the new map and Career mode, we want to say that for each new project we have set more and more ambitious goals for ourselves, even if it wasn't clear in the beginning how it would work out and what the final answer to these challenges would be. Once again, many parameters have surpassed their previous records in the series. For instance, the length of the coastline is 990 km on the French coast and 1060 km on the English coast. 490 major cities and towns, not counting the minor ones, were recreated while keeping in mind their overall historical boundaries and main layout features. 100 airfields are waiting for your flight - and not one of them is 'default' or cloned, they all have historical layouts reconstructed using documents and air photos. Moreover, a new set of the airfield surface types was created:
2. CON (Concrete)
3. WC (Wood Chippings) - concrete covered by wood chippings and tar
4. TAR (Tarmac) - asphalt
5. ETH (Compressed Earth)
6. PBS (Prefabricated Bituminous Surface) - canvas saturated with tar
7. ST (Sommerfeld Track) - steel wire mesh reinforced with steel bars
8. SMT (Square-Mesh Track) - square mesh
9. PSP (Pierced Steel Planking) - stamped steel plates.
As we have mentioned, there are two map variations created - before and after the invasion. Pre-invasion map lacks newly constructed airfields and constructions erected after D-Day on the Normandy shore. Career mode development required detailed information on symbols, tour of duty, bases, armament and assigned tasks for 285 squadrons acting in this project - players can join 102 of them and others are populated by AI pilots. This is another record for the Great Battles series. 9 new mission types were designed for the Normandy Career concentrating on the D-Day events and V-1 intercepts. Pilot's Career in the Battle of Normandy timeframe contains 5 phases and 17 front line states that change along the progression of time. As always, all the scenarios generated in the Career mode are unique even if you fly to the same target again - the generated combat situation will be different, while the weather will correspond to the real weather on that day.
All in all, we're hoping that Battle of Normandy will be the most significant release in the IL-2 Great Battles series and all of you who have supported us all these years will enjoy another virtual, but to a great extent historically accurate reconstruction of a major air battle, that was created with love and respect to our common history.