It’s been a long time if ever that a single aircraft has created this much enthusiasm in the IL-2 community. It seems that the Spitfire Vb has certainly done it and I have some of my first impressions.
History, symbol, significance
The Spitfire is something else beyond just another aircraft being added to the IL-2 series. For Western audiences, the Spitfire is one of the fighter aircraft of the 20th Century. It was flown by pilots and aces from multiple countries including Polish, Canadian, Czech, Australian and by American pilots including in some American USAAF squadrons.
It goes beyond aircraft, beyond warbird, and into the legendary symbol status. It was often being held up as an example of British resistance during the summer of 1940 when most of Europe had fallen to Nazi influence and Britain’s future was not assured. Some or even much of that history still permeates today.
A real performer too
It turns out that the Spitfire Vb is an incredible aircraft to fly in the new IL-2 series.
There are always questions when any aircraft shows up in the series. Will it meet expectations? What limits will be placed on it? How will it translate into this sim engine? The original IL-2 did pretty good justice to the Spitfire V but the new series takes it up a notch and really gets into the details of how and why the Spitfire performs the way it does.
It has an interesting feel on the stick. The 1CGS devs have described this in more detail but I can tell you what it feels like. The elevator is very sensitive requiring only small inputs to get what you need out of it and the Spitfire’s wings and lift profile mean you can dig deep when you need to pull lead on an aircraft.
It still stalls and you can feel it coming before you depart… but until then you can really crank the aircraft through some tight turns. Turn fighting a Spitfire is a bad idea for most opposing aircraft.
Its much more sensitive than other aircraft and once in a turn you don’t need to hold it back very much to stay there.
Speed and climb performance is still being worked over by the community and examined to extreme detail. Its not the fastest fighter in the series but it accelerates well and the available boost options are fairly deep – you can use them for 5 minutes at maximum which is often better than many allowing only 1 minute of extra power. Pressing the boost button will take you to full 16lbs+ of pressure on the engine and the sound and resulting performance increase are a wholly visceral experience.
It hits hard too!
Those cannons! The Hispanos are well known from WWII history as being heavy hitting cannons and they are in the sim as well. Though you only have 60 rounds per gun and a limited amount of fire time, well placed shots tear through fighters and bombers alike. Its not quite as powerful as the VYa 23mm but its close! Its not a surprise given the 20 x 110 cartridge and its high muzzle velocity.
Really its a dream come true to fly the Spitfire at such high levels of detail. A wonderful aircraft that is a great performer and one that should shake up the multiplayer servers a bit offering a good option at medium and high altitudes. The Spitfire Vb is no overpowered beast but it does live up to its reputation as an excellent World War II fighter. Its a difficult aircraft to defeat but its not perfect and the Bf109 and FW190 both have advantages in multiple areas. As always, the best pilot will know how to get the most out of their aircraft and avoid fighting to their weaknesses.
Some folks have even been persuaded to buy IL-2: Battle of Kuban on the strength of just this one addition. Remember that Battle of Kuban is still in early access and its not finished but if you do buy in now you save $10 off the regular price. Not a bad deal!
Some more first impressions
Lots of great YouTube content has gone out since the release so check it out here.