I recently did an Community Q&A with the administrators of the Knights of the Air (KOTA) server for the IL-2: Great Battles Series and though it was long past time to hop into a multiplayer match. And what a match it was – this was the biggest IL-2 air battle I’ve ever been in.
Several squadrons decided to descend on the Knights of the Air server this Saturday afternoon (in North America anyways) as part of a coordinated team-up event. The squadrons involved included HRAF, TBAS, JaVA, DBS, JG_4, and ATAG. These squadrons plus several regular players and many of us newbies joined in on the mass air battles.
When I joined the server the Blue team had already collected quite a few pilots so I joined the Red team which also quickly filled up. What came next was the biggest battle I’ve ever seen in IL-2: Great Battles multiplayer.
Flying over the Kuban map in a scenario set mid 1943, I chose to scout the situation out with a Yak-7B – an aircraft that I feel I have sorely neglected in recent flying. My original plan was to scout to the south towards Krasnodar and look for the impending enemy attackers.
On my flight south I joined up with another pilot, Diggun, flying a Spitfire Vb. Our mission turned to air defense quickly and we located and began orbiting an industrial sector that was a primary target.
After several orbits it became clear that the enemy was attacking two other target areas and we quickly set off towards an artillery position about 50 kilometers to the west. This is where things got interesting.
Flying at almost 4000 meters, we spotted a few tracers at low altitude near the target. Diving in, and in perhaps an ill-considered move, we began an attack on what I later counted was at least 12 FW190s flying in a loose formation towards the target.
These 12 FW190s were below me and to my 2 o’clock so I pulled in on what I thought was the trail fighter looking to surprise them. No such luck!
In an impressive moment of coordinated teamwork, the entire enemy formation turned their nav lights on. I was puzzled at first but I think what they were trying to do was determine if we were hostiles or friendlies. It worked and despite us catching on (and turning on our lights as well) we were now spotted and the fight began.
Looking to my left, I spotted a FW190 flying a parallel course to me. I think we saw each other at the same time as I broke left into him and he broke right trying to bring his guns to bear.
He had the advantage, however, and soon he was rolling in behind me as I furiously tried to use the Yaks turn rate advantage against the FW190s speed and roll rate. Sharp and short breaks helped me avoid the first few attacks…
But soon he had me in his sights…
With my Yak now suffering from a canon shell hit plus several machine gun strikes, I knew I was potentially in trouble. Fortunately neither my pilot nor my engine were damaged at this point…. but I was leaking fuel, the port wing was damaged and the canopy glass was smashed.
Fortunately an attacking La-5FN seemed to throw him off and I soon found a second Spitfire (the other Spitfire had been shot down in the ensuing melee) hot on the tail of a FW190 with another FW190 on his six. Keep in mind too that there are still 12 plus bandits plus 4-5 friendlies all caught up in this air battle.
I was able to maneuver myself on the wingman of the FW190 being chased by the aforementioned Spitfire and I was going to my best to help. Initially closing undetected, my first shots went wide… But it was enough to convince him to break away.
Despite his evasive move, I was now closing the distance and had the FW190 firmly in my sights.
A short burst and the FW190 was crippled. Soon, its wing would snap off and the aircraft would crash in a nearby field. But I had another problem, yet another FW190 was on my six.
I took several hits in the ensuing chase before the FW190 inexplicably broke off and headed away.
To my surprise, my Yak-7B was still functioning albeit with a damaged engine, trailing fuel, and a shattered cockpit. No longer capable of fighting in the battle now raging further to the south, I headed north and for home and a successful landing.
I miraculously survived, scored a kill, and started what I hope is an eventful and interesting time on the Knights of the Air server.
Getting a feel for the server
Though today was special with several squadrons organizing an event, the KOTA server feels like it’s aimed at more team oriented events. Flying together, coordinating efforts across the battle area and being a good team paid off ultimately as we were able to win the day for the Allies.
The team on my side used group tactics flying coordinated strike missions (I saw a large group of 8-10 A-20s return from several of these missions) and setting up patrols at various points helped us keep the enemy at bay.
A few of us used the KOTA Discord to communicate and that made the experience that much better. I’m thankful for having the time to enjoy this event today and if any of this sounds like something you might enjoy, check out KOTA the next time you play IL-2 multiplayer.