Battle of Kuban is slated to arrive in December of 2017 with the earliest aircraft from the early access period arriving sometime before the end of this year. But that doesn’t mean we can’t look ahead to future battles in the series.
In a fairly definitive statement, the team at 1CGS is set to complete Battle of Kuban and begin working on a new product for the IL-2 series that takes us to the Pacific theater. An area we haven’t seen in the new simulator yet.
So with both Midway and Okinawa battles listed as potential options for the series… let’s explore the options.
Battle of Midway
The Battle of Midway was fought from the 4th to the 7th of June, 1942. The battle itself was short and sharp with the potential for the balance of power in the Pacific to tip in either direction. A loss of the American carriers would be a significant setback and conquest of Midway would put the Japanese in striking distance of Hawaii. The loss of Japanese carriers would threaten all of their plans for creating a massive sphere of influence in Asia and the south Pacific.
The aircraft in this battle were all significant players in the outcome. Moreso than possibly any other battle – it was aircraft that delivered the devastating blows to both fleets.
In order to help fill out the ranks of aircraft I’ve selected a time period from the Marshall Island skirmishes, Wake Island, and the Battle of Coral Sea. Its possible that some or all of these battles may be represented as part of a Battle of Midway package.
- F2A-3 Buffalo – Initially winning a competition to become the US Navy’s fighter, the Buffalo had a poor service record with the US Military. At Midway, Marine Corps VMF-221 flew the Buffalo into combat with Japanese forces attacking the island with poor results. Despite this poor record in US Military service, the Buffalo had a successful career as a fighter in the Finnish Air Force.
- F4F-4 Wildcat – A stubby carrier-borne fighter designed with ruggedness in mind. The F4F-4 version had folding wings (something earlier verisons lacked), six .50cal machine guns and was the primary fighter of the US Navy. It couldn’t dogfight with a Zero but it could out-gun its more agile opponent and was much more resistant to battle damage. It’s possible we could see the very similar F4F-3 as well.
- SBD-3 Dauntless – The US Navy’s primary dive bomber for the early years of WWII. The Dauntless remained in active use for most of the war and its excellent handling and powerful bombload helped make its mark in history. The Dauntless squadrons were responsible for damaging and sinking Japanese carriers during the battle.
- TBD-1 Devastator – An excellent aircraft that was obsolete before the Battle of Midway. Devastators were lost en-mass to defending Japanese fighters during the battle – though they did pave the way for the Dauntless dive bombers to score hits. The type was withdrawn after the battle.
- TBF-1 Avenger (Collector) – The Avenger would later become an excellent torpedo bomber for the US Navy, however, at Midway the first 6 to see combat were quickly destroyed alongside their predecessor, the TBD-1 Devastator.
Some have suggested that the PBY Catalina flying boat would make a good aircraft to add to the series. It may be a good option to include as an additional Collector Plane.
- A5M4 “Claude” – A Japanese carrier-borne fighter in use before the A6M Zero. Last used at the Battle of Coral sea in combat, A5Ms were also at the Battle of Midway although not used in combat.
- A6M2-21 Zero – The iconic Zero fighter that established an early reputation as the invincible fighter. The Zero had excellent range, speed, and outstanding agility. Its achilles heel was its lightweight construction made it especially vulnerable to even light battle damage. The Zero saw service from start to end of the Pacific war.
- D3A1 “Val” – An excellent dive bomber for the Japanese Navy. It had good range and handling with a respectable bombload.
- B5N2 “Kate” – The Japanese Navy’s chief torpedo bomber for the first three years of the war. The B5N was an effective torpedo bomber launching many strikes against the US fleet. It was very vulnerable to fighter interception.
- E13A “Jake” (Collector) – A floating scoutplane that was used to spot the American fleets.
Battle of Okinawa
Jumping forward to near the end of the war, the Battle of Okinawa was fought from April 1 to June 22nd of 1945. This battle saw to the end of the major portions of the Japanese fleet with the sinking of the Yamato battleship and was the site of mass efforts to sink the US Navy (and British Pacific Fleet) via kamikaze strikes.
The Battle of Okinawa raged across the islands making up the Okinawa island chain as well as in the skies near the islands. This was in many ways a last stand for the Japanese as both US Navy and British Pacific Fleet ships aimed to secure this launching point for a strike on Japan itself (one that never ultimately was necessary).
- F6F-5 Hellcat – Primary fleet defense fighter of the USN at the time. The F6F-5 is the definitive type during the time period.
- F4U-1D/C Corsair – Heavily used by the USMC both on Okinawa and from carrier decks. The 1D version is standard but the 1C version was also used during the battle. The two are identical except for the 4x20mm cannon armament on the 1C.
- SB2C-3 Helldiver – Primary attack and dive bomber aircraft for the USN. The -3 version solved many of the types problems and was the definitive type at Okinawa and participated in the sinking of the Yamato.
- TBM-3 Avenger – Last major and most produced version of the Avenger. Used at Okinawa as torpedo bomber, level bomber, and attacker with rocket hardpoints and HVAR rockets.
- Seafire Mark III (Collector) – Deployed as part of Taskforce 57, the British Pacific Fleet had four fleet carriers at Okinawa and the Seafire was one of the primary fleet defenders. Based on the Spitfire V, the Seafire was a handful to land on carriers but gave respectable service.
The Royal Navy also used the Corsair, Hellcat, Avenger, Seafire, Barracuda and Firefly during the battle and it wouldn’t take much to make the US Navy versions into RN specific versions as differences tended to be slight.
I’d also consider the Firefly too though Seafire vs Zero is a matchup I always like to see and furthermore, represents one of the final air to air combats of WWII. I’d also love it if the RN specific versions of the Corsair was made available. Its functionally similar to the USN version except with a few inches of wing shaved off to fit the narrower elevators on RN fleet carriers.
- A6M5a/b/c – Several sub versions of the A6M5 were in heavy use during Okinawa and it was still the Navy’s primary fighter.
- D4Y3 “Judy” – Used heavily during the Okinawa campaign as conventional attack and dive bomber aircraft as well as in kamikaze roles.
- Ki-84 “Frank” – A key Army fighter type and an incredible performer. The Frank was on par with the best of the Allied fighters.
- Ki-67 “Peggy” – An important Army bomber type used in torpedo and level bombing as well as some kamikaze attacks during the Okinawa battle. Much more capable than early designs, the Ki-67 would be a good aircraft to try and use to break through Allied fighter defenses.
- N1K2J “George” – Advanced Japanese Navy fighter that saw extensive use during the Okinawa battle. The George had excellent agility and was often flown by the remaining elite.
These are some of my own selections. Let me know in the comments what you might like to see in either of these battles.