I’ve seen it leveled in some quarters that the Me262 has little to do in IL-2: Battle of Bodenplatte as its traditional enemy, the heavy bomber, isn’t currently present in the series. I don’t agree and I’d like to spell out the reasons why introducing this jet in the line-up is both interesting and historically relevant to the scenario that 1CGS has chosen to develop.
The Kampfgeschwader threat
While the USAAF 8th Air Force and RAF’s Bomber Command pounded German cities and industry day and night during the war, it was some months before the launching of D-Day and Operation Overlord that the RAF and USAAF began forming their tactical air forces that would support operations on the continent.
The 9th Air Force and the 2nd Tactical Air Force were the outfits that would carry this fight. These would face the Luftwaffe in one of the lesser known actions of World War II – supporting the armies of the Allies as they raced (and sometimes plodded) across Europe.
Arrayed against them were the Luftwaffe’s various Defense of the Reich units and by the end of 1944 that included Kampfgeschwader 51 of which I./KG 51 had converted to Me262s. Those Me262s would then be used both defending against the bomber stream AND crucially against the Allied airfields as they pushed forward towards Germany.
Me262 attacks on airfields would become a constant nuisance to the tactical air forces and various tactics were tried, aimed at stopping the 262s from using their high speed and bomb-load to do damage to aircraft and infrastructure. These airfield attacks went on from late 1944 until nearly the end of the war. While their ultimate usefulness in damaging the Allied airforces were limited, it was still very much a part of the daily life for pilots on both sides.
For IL-2: Battle of Bodenplatte’s gameplay options, Me262 pilots would primarily find themselves part of the bomber squadrons attacking Allied vehicles and artillery as well as airbases in some, what I would consider, exciting low level attacks evading interceptors and flak while flying at some incredible speeds.
There are still bombers to intercept
Operating from the continent, B-25 Mitchell IIs were operated by the RAF attacking tactical and strategic targets in support of the Allied armies. Rail yards, supply depots, and tactical targets like bunkers and artillery emplacements were all targets of these bombers.
I did some digging but wasn’t able to find out what kind of opposition these Mitchell’s typically encountered but for the purposes of talking about the sim – let’s dispense with that history for a moment and talk about gameplay options.
These bombers will need interception and while the B-25 isn’t the size or challenge of the B-17 or B-24, it is still a substantial bomber operating in large numbers on the Western Front. These formations of bombers will no doubt be fun for Me262 pilots to engage and intercept using high speeds and the four MK108 30mm cannons on the nose.
IL-2 developers are also using the A-20B operates as a stand-in for later models of the A-20 (possessing similar performance) in the single player campaign. That gives two potential Allied bomber raid options to defend against.
Would attacking a stream of B-17s be really cool? Oh yes, it would be, however, that isn’t currently in the cards just yet so until we have that capability (and I think its a when, not an if) there are other options.
A look to the future
The Me262 will no doubt continue to be a contentious aircraft for the series. Being the fastest and, at present, the only jet to arrive in the sim in the nearer term, it will have some enormous advantages over the conventionally piston driven aircraft that it’s up against.
With the right single and multiplayer scenarios the world’s first operational jet fighter will have lots of work to do dealing with bombers and attacking ground targets with plenty of speed.
I also like to look at things within the larger picture. Adding the Me262 has given the IL-2 developers reason to upgrade their flight model system to make sure that it can handle near Mach speeds that the Me262 can approach boosting the accuracy of high speed flight across the board while paving the way for the series to add other jet aircraft. I’ve often mentioned the Ar234 as a potential for future inclusion and Jason Williams, IL-2’s Lead Producer, has stated that they considered the Ar234 as being a part of the aircraft line-up early on. And there are other jets that we may yet see in this engine at a later date… Korea may yet be a future expansion area for the series.