Last week I reviewed the La-5FN Series 2 which was one of two new Collector aircraft offered at the end of IL-2: Battle of Kuban’s development cycle. These two aircraft are separate purchases from IL-2: Battle of Kuban but they fit into the later dates of that campaign. While the La-5FN is possibly the best Allied fighter currently available, the Bf109G-6 is a rather different beast. Read on and find out why!
Production on the Bf109G-6 started in February of 1943 and would go on to total 12,000 examples built. The G-6 was the Swiss army knife of Bf109 versions being required to do almost everything that any Bf109 would be asked to do – low level fighter-bomber operations and high altitude bomber interception missions were both part of the G-6s mission history.
In order to tackle increasingly well protected American heavy bombers, the Bf109G-6 began to be fitted with a variety of increased firepower options. The biggest change was to the standard machine gun armament increasing the calibre from the standard 7.92 mm MG17 to the 12.7mm MG131. Additionally, a MK108 30mm cannon firing high explosive rounds could be fitted to replace the MG151/20 cannon. These and a host of other modifications throughout the life of the Bf109G-6 made this into a versatile yet somewhat flawed variant of the Bf109.
Although the G-6 hits harder, it pays a penalty in that the famously smooth and graceful lines of the Bf109 begin to develop more bulges and fairings to fit all of the equipment in. It was sometimes called the Beule or “bump.”
The IL-2: Great Battles Series represents a fairly early version of the Bf109G-6 that shares much with the earlier Bf109G-4 and G-2.
Performance numbers come from the IL-2 forums with tables provided by 1CGS for each of their aircraft. These numbers are a summary. For the full details visit the IL-2 forums.
Comparing performance of the Bf109G-6 with its closest rivals and earlier versions will be the objective for the comparisons today.
- Indicated stall speed in flight configuration: 160..177 km/h
- Indicated stall speed in takeoff/landing configuration: 153..169 km/h
- Indicated stall speed in flight configuration: 158..174 km/h
- Indicated stall speed in takeoff/landing configuration: 153..164 km/h
Yak-1B Series 127
- Indicated stall speed in flight configuration: 153..169 km/h
- Indicated stall speed in takeoff/landing configuration: 132..145 km/h
La-5FN Series 2
- Indicated stall speed in flight configuration: 168..185 km/h
- Indicated stall speed in takeoff/landing configuration: 147..159 km/h
The increase in weight affects the Bf109G-6s stall speed slightly increasing the range by 2-3km/h but that is a very minor change although pilots will need to adjust their landing speeds slightly. The G-6 has a far more generous stall speed than the La-5FN with the Yak-1B Series 127 being the winner in this comparison.
- Climb rate at sea level: 20.1 m/s
- Climb rate at 3000 m: 18.8 m/s
- Climb rate at 6000 m: 15.2 m/s
- Climb rate at sea level: 21.0 m/s
- Climb rate at 3000 m: 19.5 m/s
- Climb rate at 6000 m: 16.5 m/s
Yak-1B Series 127
- Climb rate at sea level: 17.0 m/s
- Climb rate at 3000 m: 15.0 m/s
- Climb rate at 6000 m: 9.5 m/s
- Climb rate at sea level: 20 m/s
- Climb rate at 3000 m: 16.7 m/s
- Climb rate at 6000 m: 12.5 m/s
The Bf109G-6 retains most of its climbing capability versus the earlier and lighter Bf109G-2 and is essentially the same as the Bf109G-4 (not listed in the comparison). Versus the Yak-1B the G-6 still retains its superiority while versus the La-5FN it has relative superiority only above 6000 meters and is only marginally ahead at 3000 meters. G-6 pilots will need to adjust their expectations as the margins are much slimmer in climb rate than with earlier Bf109 models.
- Maximum true air speed at sea level, engine mode – Emergency: 529 km/h
- Maximum true air speed at sea level, engine mode – Combat: 505 km/h
- Maximum true air speed at 2000 m, engine mode – Combat: 547 km/h
- Maximum true air speed at 7000 m, engine mode – Combat: 632 km/h
- Maximum true air speed at sea level, engine mode – Combat: 530 km/h
- Maximum true air speed at 2000 m, engine mode – Combat: 577 km/h
- Maximum true air speed at 7000 m, engine mode – Combat: 656 km/h
Yak-1B Series 127
- Maximum true air speed at sea level, engine mode – Nominal, 2550 RPM: 530 km/h
- Maximum true air speed at 2000 m, engine mode – Nominal, 2700 RPM: 567 km/h
- Maximum true air speed at 4500 m, engine mode – Nominal, 2700 RPM: 600 km/h
- Maximum true air speed at sea level, engine mode – Boosted: 552 km/h
- Maximum true air speed at sea level, engine mode – Nominal: 583 km/h
- Maximum true air speed at 2500 m, engine mode – Nominal: 605 km/h
- Maximum true air speed at 6000 m, engine mode – Nominal: 646 km/h
Compared to the earlier Bf109G-2, the Bf109G-6 suffers quite a loss in speed losing 20-30km/h or more at all altitudes. Despite the Bf109G-2s engine limits, it still matches the G-6 at full boost when it comes to a low altitude drag race and keeps the Bf109G-6 slightly under the speed range of the Yak-1B except at higher altitudes. The La-5FN reigns supreme in this contest versus the G-6.
- Maximum performance turn at sea level: 21.5 s, at 270 km/h IAS.
- Maximum performance turn at 3000 m: 28.0 s, at 270 km/h IAS.
- Maximum performance turn at sea level: 22.2 s, at 270 km/h IAS.
- Maximum performance turn at 3000 m: 28.3 s, at 270 km/h IAS.
Yak-1B Series 127
- Maximum performance turn at sea level: 19.0 s, at 270 km/h IAS.
- Maximum performance turn at 3000 m: 24.1 s, at 270 km/h IAS.
- Maximum performance turn at sea level: 21.0 s, at 320 km/h IAS.
- Maximum performance turn at 3000 m: 28.0 s, at 340 km/h IAS.
In turn times, the Bf109G-6 doesn’t suffer much loss and is actually ahead of the Bf109G-2 (I can’t rationalize that one except maybe for engine boost power loading contributing to a better turn) and essentially tied with the La-5FN. The Yak-1B Series 127 shows its prowess in the turn fighting by being better at this than any of the other fighters compared.
The Bf109G-6 in combat
My first though taking the Bf109G-6 into combat was that this aircraft feels like any other Bf109. IL-2’s flight models definitely make you feel even the subtle differences and they are certainly there but on the whole the G-6 is not a dramatic departure in handling versus the other G series 109s which means that you can easily jump from one to another and make only small adjustments.
The G-6 is heavier (100kg or more versus the F-4) as well as draggier with the fixed tail-wheel and bulges for the larger tires and gun breeches. Controls are unchanged from the earlier G-4 and G-2 so the elevator and ailerons get heavy at high speeds.
With a heavier, draggier, and otherwise unchanged engine from the G-4, the G-6 is compromised in performance in some ways. The Bf109 series starts out excellent in this regard so even with a performance penalty, the Bf109G-6 is still remains highly competitive. But these downsides do contribute to a slightly more conservative flying style that needs to be applied when flying this version of the 109.
I’ve talked a lot about the downsides of the Bf109G-6 and I want to transition that into the upsides as well because they are still there. Like all Bf109s, this fighter handles extremely well and I find that after a little practice that it is a highly intuitive aircraft that a good pilot can easily turn into a precision weapon.
Many of the penalties discussed earlier go towards making the Bf109G-6 a harder hitting opponent and it certainly is. The twin MG131 heavy machine guns hit far harder than the light machine guns previously employed and their excellent fire rate lets you dish out damage to an opponent extremely quickly. This is ideal when taking on attack planes and bombers and subjects you to less defensive fire as the necessary time attacking a target is far less.
The MK108 30mm cannon (when available) comes with virtually no penalty at all except for a reduced firing time. It makes up for any loss of firing time by needing next to no time on target. A quick burst will cripple or catastrophically destroy a light bomber or attack plane and a fighter can be dispatched in 1-3 hits depending on how lucky you are. Good aim is required and you need to get close to use it. Employed properly, the MK108 hits incredibly hard!
Even when not equipped, the default armament makes the Bf109G-6 hit more like a sledge hammer and less like the precision sword that it felt like before. Does it make up for all of the performance losses? Not quite but they come close. The G-6 is a unique variant of the Bf109 series that you can still easily take into battle with confidence and plenty of aggression and for that reason I highly recommend adding it to your hangar when funds allow.
- Familiar handling from previous Bf109 versions
- Good climb and handling attributes
- Default weapons hit far harder than previous versions and are highly effective
- Optional MK108 30mm cannon makes this a heavy hitter
- Some performance losses versus earlier Bf109 versions, particularly in top speed
- Feels heavier than earlier versions