Revisiting skip bombing in IL-2

One of my favourite types of missions in IL-2 is the skip bombing attack on enemy shipping. Flying low, at high speeds, dodging a hail of flak, and skimming just meters above the surface of the water makes for tons of fun when all you risk is your virtual life. Let’s have another look at skip bombing in IL-2 with the release of IL-2: Battle of Kuban.

Effective attack method

Skip bombing is essentially conducted in four phases:

  1. Spot the enemy ship
  2. Position for attack
  3. Fly low, fast, and drop bombs just short of the target
  4. Egress out of area with appropriate evasive maneuvering

Historically the skip bombing method was used by multiple air forces including some very famous runs against Japanese ships by RAAF Beaufighters operating off the coast of New Guinea and New Britain. These low level missions were intensely dangerous as attack aircraft were brought into direct fire range of a wealth of AAA fire from multiple calibers.

They were also effective as it allowed fighter-bombers and fast bombers to put bombs on target by skipping them across the surface of the water into the sides of enemy ships. A few seconds delay would allow the attacking aircraft to avoid being caught in the blast.

Just add firepower

Some of the best skip bombers in IL-2 include the IL-2 itself, the A-20B, P-39L-1, FW190A-5, and Bf110G-2. The Ju88 is also fairly effective but its lack of agility and larger airframe size make it easier to hit.

The rest of them can meet enemy AAA fire with forward firepower of their own and I recommend you do that. As you approach the target lay down suppressing fire across the most dangerous of the enemies flak batteries.

Unlike the old IL-2 titles, taking out enemy flak batteries on your approach is doable. The following image I took out the forward gun post with just a pair of .50cal machine guns mounted on the front of the A-20B. With the IL-2 and other more well armed aircraft you can easily do more damage.

After that, your primary goal is then to put bombs on your target.

Make sure you’re dropping enough bombs to take out the target because you don’t want to do this twice. A pair of 250kg bombs can usually eliminate most medium sized cargo ships but you might need a 500kg bomb or more against more significant targets.

Ensure you have enough speed, say 500kg, and that you drop far enough ahead of the ship so as to allow the bombs to drop off their pylons, fall to the water, skip once, twice or three times across the surface before impacting the side of the ship.

Timing is critical. Drop too soon and they will loose momentum short of the target ship. Drop too late and they may skip over the target ship altogether.

Risky business

This is still inherently risky. A single aircraft attacking a small convoy on its own is likely to get bracketed by AAA fire and potentially shot down so attacking in groups is ideal. Of the missions I flew in the Quick Mission builder, many were successes but many more were also failures or something of a draw.

I was able to get bombs on target in some cases but was promptly shot down or crippled from flak fire in the final few seconds.

This is a lot of fun

This is one of my favourite types of attacks like I said. It can be a lot of fun, it can be really cinematic, and overall just something that can be really exciting to do. It often ends in failure, especially at first, but once you get the hang of this it becomes fairly easy to do though not necessarily easy to pull off every time.

The only thing missing are some really good ship strike missions in the new Career mode. I’m hoping to see that type of mission added in the near future because it does not appear to be present in the current set of missions you can fly in the Career.

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