The Bf109K-4 is, at least in flight sim circles, one of those ultimate argument aircraft representing the peak and pinnacle of a particular aircraft design and also a zenith for World War II piston driven propeller fighters. It’s also one of the ultimate dogfight server aircraft. There are few aircraft that might be able to best this late model Bf109 and that is part of what makes “yet another Bf109” an interesting prospect for inclusion in the IL-2 series. These are my first impressions of IL-2: Battle of Bodenplatte’s Bf109K-4.
The ultimate answer to the Bf109 series
It wasn’t too long after I had purchased the old IL-2: Forgotten Battles that I was screaming over the skies of Berlin and the Seelowe Heights in a Bf109K-4. I didn’t know as much about Bf109s at the time as I do now but I knew that I wanted to give it a try. It ended up being one of the longest dynamic careers that I ever flew in IL-2: Forgotten Battles.
The Bf109K-4 may be just one more Bf109 added to the IL-2 series but I see this as the cherry on top. It’s a completion of a line-up of aircraft and a legacy of a type from 1941 through to 1945.
Just in the IL-2: Great Battles Series we have the meat and potatoes Bf109F-4, G-2 and G-6 versions that did the bulk of the fighting across multiple theatres of WWII. We also have those earlier versions like the Bf109E-7 which connect us to the early dogfights of WWII and the F-2 which ushered in critical design changes that would portent the shape of Bf109s to come. On the other end we have the G-14 and the K-4 rounding out most of the last of the 109 series.
Faster and more powerful but not everything
When I do a complete review I will get into the details of speed, climb rates, and performance but one thing is clear from flying this aircraft in just a few quick battles – it’s faster and more powerful than any Bf109 before it. It’s a beast of a fighter reaching the peak of what is possible given its design.
What the Bf109K-4 lacks is the crisp handling of the earlier models. The Bf109F-2 and F-4 fly so sharply and so effortlessly offering a mix of capabilities that are unmatched in late 1941 and through to late 1942. From there on, the Bf109 gets heavier and feels a bit more sluggish in everything that it does and the K-4 is no exception to this. Maneuvers require a bit more planning and you need to spend time flying this aircraft to really get its quirks of handling – quirks just not present in earlier versions.
It’s been a while since I unintentionally stalled a Bf109 in a turn and caused it to flick out of the turn but I’ve done that a few times in the K-4 at times when I just was not expecting it. I’ll correct that behavior with experience but it is an example of how “different” this 109 is.
Beautiful outside, typically Bf109 inside
On the inside you live in a Bf109 cockpit that has everything where you expect it. Fans of the series will instantly know where everything is and notice few differences from the earlier models. That’s a helpful advantage to be sure.
The side and rear views are also better than in earlier versions by default with the rear armored glass and far less obstructed view out the back making it far more difficult to lose an enemy aircraft behind you.
The outside of the K-4 is interesting too. A chunkier radiator and nose section is offset by smoother more streamlined lines on the top side of the aircraft compared to the G-6 and G-14. The same goes for the wings where new bulges on the wings help accommodate the larger wheels but blend more smoothly into the overall shape of the wing.
It’s a design that has seen years of compromise from the simple and smooth lines of the F-2 up to this latest version. It strikes a powerful silhouette of its own and these subtle differences add up to something of a unique look for the series when viewed up close.
Summed up: Wow!
My feeling flying the 109K-4 is generally encompassed in one word: Wow. The power and performance delivered by the aircraft is impressive. It feels a bit like a rocket ship of a WWII fighter gathering speed and climbing to altitude quickly.
The standard MG131 machine guns and MK108 30mm cannon are nothing new being available on two earlier versions. What is different is the capability of hauling an SC500 bomb to target. Something that it will probably do with some frequency in Battle of Bodenplatte.
It’s not overly tricky despite all of the added power so flying it for the most part is like any other Bf109. That is, until the weight catches up and you flop through a maneuver that should have been much more graceful if it were done in another 109 variant. Once compensated for, however, you can pull off some seriously impressive moves.
This is the most powerful and deadly of the Bf109 series and a real joy to see come to life in the IL-2: Great Battles Series. Like I said at the start, this version of the 109, helps put the entire line of Bf109 fighters in context letting you fly a 1940-41 era Bf109E-7 through to the 1944-45 era Bf109K-4 is an extremely fun way to examine the challenges and realities of WWII fighter design through a single type. Beginning to end.