Another update, 5.108, is live. It adds a new airplane to Flying Circus Vol.III Early Access - this time it is a British two-seater F.E.2b - and fixes a number of minor issues.
We have covered it in detail in our Dev Blog #352. In short, it was an unusual design compared to the rest of Great War and later aircraft - a pusher two-seater biplane with the gunner positioned in front of the pilot. Later in the war they switched to a night bomber role.
Meanwhile, the preparation of the next update has started already - we're planning to release a lot more new content, including three new aircraft! Please stay tuned, we'll tell you about it in our next Dev Blogs.
5.108 Change List
F.E.2 two-seater airplane is available in Early Access for all owners of "Flying Circus Vol. III"; La-5 and La-5F oil temperature gauge corrected; Li-2: the clock shows flight time; Nieuport 17 GBR (British): superfluous parts won't appear among the debris; Normandy and Rhineland Career mode: Attack Support and Defense Support missions added; Overlord campaign updated and is now available in Spanish thanks to E69_Cananas; Achtung - Spitfire! campaign updated; La-5 and La-5F: default trimmer positions are set for horizontal flight at 3000m altitude in nominal operation mode; La-5, F, FN: the radius of the damaged propeller was changed so the nose of the aircraft won't "hang" in the air in case of a nose-down incident; Fixed issue that make it possible to keep an installed modification in multiplayer when moving from the mission where it was available to a mission where it is not allowed; Albatros D2, Halberstadt D2: fire and fuel tank leakage effects corrected; U-2VS: bomb sight added.
The next update, 5.108, is in the works and today we are starting its beta testing. The next version will include further improvements to the career mode - for example, ground support will be added to the Normandy theater for both offensive and defensive missions. There will be other additions if they are ready in time, but one of the highlights of the next version will be the next Flying Circus Vol.III aircraft - the F.E.2b two-seater.
The F.E.2 was a biplane with a pusher propeller and a sprung landing gear with a front support wheel to minimize the risk of overturning during a bad landing. The entire trailing edge of the upper center section was hinged along the rear spar and could be lowered to act as a flap-type air brake. The forward cockpit was occupied by the observer gunner, with the pilot sitting behind him at a higher level. The engine was almost completely cowled and drove a two-blade pusher propeller.
Interestingly, in February 1915, this type of plane was tested with a brake parachute. This was probably the first time in history that a braking parachute was used on an airplane. A newly designed air brake that had been used on the first F.E.2a was also tested, but the air brake was eventually abandoned.
During testing, the performance of the 100 hp Green engine was found to be unsatisfactory, mainly due to its poor power-to-weight ratio, and the machine was modified to be fitted with a new in-line six-cylinder water-cooled Beardmore engine rated at 120 hp. The center section of the upper wing was made in one piece and the air brake was removed. The aircraft with the new engine made its first flight in March 1915, but the first deliveries to the Royal Flying Corps did not begin until May. The first F.E.2b to go to France was flown to the No. 6 Squadron airfield at Abeele by Captain L.A. Strange on May 20, 1915. By September 25th the squadron had four F.E.2b's in its strength.
Production of the F.E.2b was undertaken by a number of contractors, but it took some time before the machines were available in sufficient numbers; by the end of 1915, a total of thirty-two had been delivered. The first R.F.C. unit to go to France fully equipped with F.Es was No. 20, which arrived on January 23, 1916. No. 25 Squadron followed on 20 February, No. 23 on 16 March, and No. 22 on April 1st.
The F.E.2b was mainly used for the needs of the army: for reconnaissance and for the escort of other aircraft, and it proved to be very worthy in the battles against enemy aircraft. Often grouped with D.H.2 fighters, the F.E.2b fought back against the Fokker monoplanes that dominated the skies at the time. The success of its use in combat was due to the wide sector of fire of the machine guns in the nose of the plane. The plane was also occasionally used to attack ground targets on the front line and in actions on the enemy's rear communications. In the second half of the war, the F.E.2b was widely used as a night bomber; for this purpose, the aircraft were painted black and equipped with night take-off and landing equipment.
The performance of the F.E.2b with the 120 hp Beardmore engine was not outstanding and from time to time attempts were made to improve its flight characteristics. At the end of March 1916, a new version of the Beardmore engine with an increased power of 160 hp appeared, and as it was essentially an improved version of the previous model, it could be fitted without the need for major design changes. Between 1915 and 1918, 1,939 F.E.2b aircraft were produced.
After the release of the previous update and the new La-5F Collector Plane, some players asked us to provide more details about the changes made to the existing Lavochkin family aircraft. Our Lead Engineer "Gavrick" has personally explained the changes.
The La-5 is one of the oldest aircraft in the IL-2 project, it was created during the development of the Battle of Stalingrad 10 years ago and many of the modern approaches and techniques we're using now were just being introduced. The La-5FN was modeled several years later, and while it was built on the basis of the La-5s, certain things were reworked: for example, the effect of engine cowl flaps on aerodynamics was modeled in a different way (but the resulting aerodynamic coefficients remained almost the same). It became obvious that the older La-5 should be reworked to the new technology standards, but we didn't have the time to do it at that time - however, some improvements made to it (the physical models of the constant pressure regulator of the boost manifold and the propeller were made more precise).
And finally, recently the new La-5F was created on the basis of the FN. We finally had time to update everything - the airframe aerodynamics modeling of the old La-5 and the La-5 engine modeling with the modern technique used in the La-5F. So what actually changed for the old La-5 characteristics?
The lift-drag polar diagram remained mostly the same. Engine power and propeller thrust were corrected - but the resulting speed change remained less than 10 km/h. The aircraft became slightly faster at low altitudes and slightly slower at high altitudes, which is historically more correct than the unmodified model. The effectiveness of the stabilizers and controls also changed slightly, so the handling of the aircraft became "sharper", more like the La-5FN.
Therefore, these changes weren't an FM overhaul per se, but rather a list of small corrections and improvements that were necessary to give all three Lavochkin aircraft a common technological base, so that all their differences are caused by design features and not different modeling methods.
That's it for today. Please stay tuned for the 5.108 update - it is planned to be released this month!