The calamitous battle at Okinawa, called the largest combined land/air/sea battle in history, was primarily fought between Japanese and American forces but it was supported by the British Pacific fleet. What are the chances that we might see the BPF in 2019/20 when IL-2: Battle of Okinawa launches? Lets think about it for a moment.
What is the British Pacific Fleet?
Formed in late 1944, the British Pacific Fleet represented a fairly significant force of 6 fleet carriers, 4 light carriers, 10 escort carriers, 4 battleships, and innumerable escorting destroyers, corvettes, sloops, submarines and… well, you get the idea.
Far from being an insignificant presence, the BPF brought significant resources and firepower to the Pacific conflict and its operations against the oil refinery at Palembang, during Okinawa and in last days of the conflict operating against Japan itself were major parts of the conflict.
Aircraft types operated by the fleet included:
What are the chances?
Though I fear that the chances are low, the September Q&A session did see people ask about the British Pacific Fleet and Jason responded with at least some hopeful tones. Fully modelling the whole of the fleet is probably out of the question but a more minimal approach would at least offer up the possibility of inclusion.
The Fleet Air Arm Corsairs, Hellcats and Avengers were almost identical to their U.S. Navy counterparts. The Corsair with its slightly clipped wings (to fit the smaller elevators on the Illustrious-class) represents the largest cosmetic change that I’m aware of.
Adding a Firefly, Seafire or Barracuda seems less likely but not entirely out of the question. A Seafire Mark III, adapted from the Spitfire Vb model currently in progress, would be of less difficulty than modeling a new aircraft.
The largest challenge would probably be adding another fleet carrier (and possibly a destroyer class) to what is probably going to be a tight timeline. The Illustrious is smaller than the Essex, Yorktown and Saratoga classes but still detailed and requiring significant modeling.
What adding the BPF does is bring in a British/European presence officially into the Pacific side of the series. It potentially re-opens the door to a European audience that may have been less enamored with the move to the Pacific – a move possibly more favoured by a North American audience. These are sweeping generalizations but they do carry elements of truth.
The BPF included pilots from much of the Commonwealth (including Canadian Corsair pilot Robert Hampton Gray who was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross in action with the fleet during the Okinawa battle) so the potential audience interest just increases.
I’ve always been fascinated by these smaller stories in aviation history so this may all just be me. What do you think? Is adding the British Pacific fleet to the future IL-2: Battle of Okinawa a waste of time or an interesting inclusion? Or… is it just far too early to be talking about something in 2020?