IL-2 In-depth: Tank Crew

The third announcement in the IL-2 series update on Friday was surrounding a new tank sim called Tank Crew. Tank Crew, like the other announced titles, is part of the IL-2: Great Battles Series and that means that this integrates into the rest of the IL-2 series.

Armored warfare

Tank-Crew-01Tank Crew is kind of a unique title for the series. I suspect the hope is to entice players who are interested in ground battles and tank warfare to jump into the IL-2 series without having to commit to buying any airplanes at all. Those interested in that ground-only combat will be able to play Tank Crew and not worry about the flight sim that its built on. I think this is a good potential for opening the series up to new players. Maybe a few will decide they do want to fly at some point too.

The tentative list of vehicles includes:

  • T-34-76 STZ
  • KV-1s
  • M4A2
  • SU-122
  • SU-152
  • ZIS-5 + 72K
  • PzKpfw III Ausf.L
  • PzKpfw IV Ausf.G
  • PzKpfw V Ausf.D
  • PzKpfw VI Ausf.H1
  • Sd. Kfz. 184
  • Sd. Kfz. 10 + Flak38

This is a mix of tanks like the T-34, KV-1, M4 Sherman, and the Panzer III, IV, V and VI plus some self propelled guns like the Sd. Kfz. 184 Elefant and a pair of self-propelled AA batteries. A good mix and one that covers most of the major armored vehicles of the mid-war period.

Great Battles

il2-greatbattlesI’ve already talked about this in my previous two in-depth articles on the announcements this week but I wanted to restate. This title is a standalone option that players can buy and operate purely as a tank/armored vehicle driver. But its part of an integrated whole combined together under the IL-2: Great Battles title.

Everything with this badge will be combined together into one world that offers both flight and now tank driving. That integration opens up some interesting opportunities for multiplayer teamwork.

Combined arms

Drawing on a strength that the IL-2 series already has, tanks can be multi-crewed by different players in multiplayer. You and your buddy can take on the different roles in the tank. So far as I know this is a unique new feature quoted by the developer notes on Tank Crew.

Our tanks will be multi-crew in multiplayer which most other leading tank games are not capable of.

IL-2 already allows this with bombers being crewed by other human gunners. It’s a great feature (when its someone you know anyways) but you can also lock people from joining if it causes a problem or you want to operate by yourself.

Battle of Kursk

Focused on the Battle of Kursk and specifically Prokhorovka the map for this tank battle will be relatively small at only 100km x 100km. Its still a useful size for air battles and absolutely massive compared to most games that are vehicle focused.

The map that this will be built on may feature a few extra details versus a regular IL-2 map. So says IL-2 Lead Producer Jason Williams:

When we say detailed we don’t mean like WT or WOT maps with super destructible everything. We’re talking about adding a more detailed terrain mesh and maybe destructible trees and other small elements that make it a bit more detailed, but not crushing detail.

We’ve also learned some other interesting details in the same comment:

Tanks on other maps will look like it does now which is still good enough for open range tank maneuvers and battles.The complaints we have about tanks on our current maps is that they are simply too big for tanks to have a lot of fun. You can argue about that all day, but if we make a cool map designed for tankers to battle it can only add to the fun. There will also be a few airfields on this map as well.

The last part is where I get really excited and this validates what I thought when I heard about the product in the first place. Airfields on this map ensures that we’ll see some combined arms opportunities and two aircraft immediately spring to mind: The IL-2 and Hs129. Both are dedicated anti-tank weapons and would have a direct impact on players driving in the tanks.

Vehicle players can fight back thanks to controllable mobile AA as well as whatever weapons are available on the other tanks. Of course there may be more strategic objectives that could be destroyed by bombers and all could be defended by friendly fighters trying to stop friendlies on the ground from being attacked. It’s a great way to have a large scale multiplayer battle with a lot of different dimensions.

The Battle of Kuban planeset works amazingly well for the Prokhorovka/Belgorod area so there will be no shortage of historical types for this battle.

And this is where I get excited: Combined Arms. We’ve seen it already and I even wrote about it a while back. This steps it up a notch by making vehicles that are more detailed for the tank drivers and developing a scenario that is well suited to those kinds of engagements.

Suddenly IL-2 as a series may appeal to a whole new kind of player. One that hasn’t had a title to satisfy them in many years.

Because of its close connection to the IL-2 series I will be offering at least some coverage of this title’s development as it goes forward. Tanks were never my focus but I’m excited about the possibilities.

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12 Comments Add yours

  1. PIxel Dust says:

    A perfect example of what this brings to us:

    Liked by 2 people

  2. superetendard3 says:

    Multiplayer is going to be tough for the Soviet side. The Panther, Elefant and Tiger were invulnerable from the front to the 76mm cannon found in the T-34s and KV-1s, and in the case of the Elefant and Tiger even the sides were troublesome depending on the ammo used.

    They will need to rely on the big howitzers in the SU-122 and SU-152 which with their huge explosive rounds could inflict heavy damage to the crews inside enemy tanks.

    A memory from a Soviet tanker which fought with ISU-152s (similar to the SU-152, with the same cannon, but based on the IS heavy tank chassis rather than the KV-1 in the earlier version):

    “When we got into Vienna there was an incident that I described in my book. The Germans counterattacked us with several Panthers. The Panther was a heavy tank. I ordered an JSU to move forward and engage the German tanks. “Well, take a shot!” And oh, did it shoot! I must say that the streets in Vienna were narrow, the buildings tall, and many wanted to watch this engagement between a Panther and an JSU. They remained in the street. The JSU let loose and the impact knocked the Panther backward (from the distance of 400-500 meters). Its turret separated from the hull and landed some meters away. But as a result of the shot broken glass fell from above.Vienna had many leaded-in windows and all of these fell on our heads. To this day I blame myself that I did not foresee this! We had so many injured!”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      That’s a crazy story. Thanks for sharing.

      The challenge of a simulation is of course to do things the way that they were. Imbalances and all. It looks like Russian tank commanders will have to work hard to overcome some of these more powerful tanks fielded on the German side. Should be interesting!

      Like

      1. detcord12b says:

        If they do a proper, realistic simulation, OPFOR can just wait until the German tanks breakdown, circle around behind and kill them.

        Like

  3. PIxel Dust says:

    The fundamental problem with any PvP simulation server is that of free choice, i.e. free will. Given the disparities in equipment quality and crew performance, it is hard to imagine an open simulation scenario where Russian forces can prevail in tank-v-tank combat, given equal number of players on each side

    Yet, in WWII, they won the ground war quite convincingly. So why such a disparity?

    Take a look at some of the historic recreations of contact scenarios in the Middle East; the American or Israeli player will typically be given far fewer tanks to employ than his Arab counterparts, yet history shows that an apparent imbalance is not always a real one. Both “SBPro” and “M1 Tank Platoon II” titles show that high quality equipment, well-handled, can absolutely decimate the “oncoming horde” approach. The Yom Kippur war is a brilliant example of how vastly-out-numbered but-better-crewed tanks can whip large quantities of Arab-crewed armor “targets”.

    I see “Tank Crew” as simply a chance to have some fun with tanks, with little emphasis on reality. that’s the better way to envision this, unless some thoughtful balancing is employed, which might dampen the fun. I’m hoping that it does not devolve into an argument about whose armor was better, etc., until scenarios are constructed to reflect the tactical and strategic aspects of the moment.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      In IL-2 as it is, the aircraft themselves are very accurate but the online battles have their own kind of “meta-game” because teams tend to be even and pilots have difference experiences from their real life counterparts.

      I think the tank battles will be similar. Realistic tanks (minus reliability issues) and historical matchups but virtual players will do things differently than their real life counter parts.

      Like

  4. 57.GIAP_MADOV says:

    That’s an interesting conundrum that is being posed here. Do the developers simply design and build each model and it’s on-paper performance and then allow the user to slug it out mano a mano or do they build into the very fabric of the model the historic reliability and operability so that for example the T-34-76 driver/operator is able to outmatch frequently his opposite number in the bigger, heavier, more unreliable, slower German tanks. Never forgetting, that quatity has a quality all of its own and any sim would have to reflect this too.

    Also by the time of Kursk the Red Army was starting to learn how to use tank forces in a more productive way, just as in the air campaign. I would hope that the way that the AI at least operate would reflect the tactical doctrine in vogue on each side at this time in history.

    If the historical relative merits of the two sides are taken into account in the design concept then for one I will be able to get into this, especially if the VR component is done as well as it is for the cockpits. Distance visibility will be less of an issue I would think, especially at Kursk where the main tank battles were at very short distances en melee.

    The same design question applies equally to the Me262. Do they build a superb airframe with very short life engines and very dubious handling envelopes making the plane a sitting duck on take off and landing or do they simply design in the by the book flight model and the type becomes an uberplane? The reality was that such low numbers of a nascent type meant they were being shot down on both fronts and gained very little traction or influence on the outcome of the war.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Michael Dwyer says:

    I really think that the developers have a history of following the actual data for whatever they are building. So you can expect it will work as designed, but the issues with vehicles being unreliable will not come up, just like weapons do not jam. So I don’t expect the Panthers to have the teething problems they had in the real battle, just like I don’t expect I will get stuck in the mud, but that might be interesting.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. 57.GIAP_MADOV says:

    It certainly has potential, depends really on whether the Devs really have desire to bring a real tank sim into being or will be satisfied with ‘a nice game’ . I am looking forward to see what comes down.

    Like

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      I think they will aim for a real tank sim. That’s the impression I get. But, similar to the aircraft, probably no reliability issues. Each tank will be in perfect working order.

      Still, should be very interesting to see what they do!

      Like

  7. 79vRAF says:

    I think this should be fun. I’m looking forward to trying this out. I’ve only recently tried out a T-34 in VR and it was far superior to DCS Combined Arms. I’d like Combined Arms to support VR, but it really doesn’t. Having a large team with proper air support to capture objectives will be great!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Agreed! I think this will be a really interesting addon and I hope that it draws in a whole new collection of players. It’d be great to grow the player base.

      Like

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