There is much speculation in the IL-2 community as to which aircraft will specifically make an appearance at in the titles Battle of Midway expansion. Although we are probably a good 6-8 months away from a formal announcement, we have learned a little from Jason Williams in the last week that may shed some light on both a potential aircraft being added to the series and to part of an overall strategy element still being evolved.
The call for Japanese aircraft resources
1CGS is putting the call out to gather up as many Japanese aircraft resources as possible. Some key aircraft need to be modeled to relatively high standards to make them work to the levels we’ve come to expect for the IL-2 series. Jason’s recent post has highlighted a few key types:
- A6M model 21 “Zeke”
- B5N2 “Kate”
- D3A1 “Val”
- F1M2 “Pete”
Of the four listed, only one is a surprise to me and that is the Mitsubishi F1M2 “Pete” reconnaissance scout plane.
Getting to know “Pete”
The F1M2 “Pete” (Allied reporting name) is a reconnaissance float-plane used extensively by the Japanese navy with 1,118 built between 1936 and 1944. It was carried on-board all major aircraft carriers, battleships and on-board other naval warships as well.
This was a two seat bi-plane with three machine guns (two forward firing and one in the turret mount) with a maximum range of 670 miles and a top speed of 230 mph. Highly versatile, the Pete was used throughout the war in a variety of roles including gunnery spotting and search and rescue. It was also a key scout used to locating enemy fleets.
What about the US Navy?
The US Navy used a variety of ship based scouting aircraft but the most popular was the Vought OS2U-2 Kingfisher. Used in a similar role as the F1M2 “Pete” the Kingfisher was used for search and rescue, bombardment spotting, and a host of other ancillary duties including scouting.
This is another two-seat aircraft with pilot and gunner/spotter with two .30cal machine guns (one for the spotter) and a top speed of just 164 mph thanks to its 450 horsepower radial engine.
These were launched, often by catapult from battleships, heavy cruisers, and light cruisers and could be then recovered by crane.
The strategy behind the game
Jason Williams has talked about the Air Marshal role being built into IL-2’s multiplayer. Although this feature hasn’t been talked about extensively, there was a lot of talk about the marshal having visibility only thanks to ground or air based scouting resources. The “fog of war” would be very much a key influence here with ground based spotting and possibly even radar being features that could be worked into the role.
A hypothetical Midway multiplayer scenario could be an online carrier duel with two teams including air marshals doing their best to locate and then sink the enemy fleet.
Rather than knowing the positions of the enemy fleet, scout aircraft could play a significant role in both spotting and then maintaining contact with enemy ships while the marshal then directs fighters, torpedo bombers and dive bombers to the target in what would hopefully (but not always be) a combined strike. Similarly the scouting planes on the other side would be doing the same role. Effectively a race to both locate and then direct appropriate strike aircraft and defensive fighters becomes a sort of strategic experience with the intense World War II aerial action we’ve come to expect the resulting outcome.
This all could be really interesting!