Yesterday’s IL-2 developer diary update gave us our first look at the B-25D Mitchell for IL-2: Battle of Bodenplatte. This aircraft is an AI-only addition to the series at this time but it has a possible future as a flyable aircraft as well and I wanted to explore that in a little more detail. Let’s have a look at the B-25’s future for the IL-2 series.
Let’s talk about bombers in IL-2
IL-2: Great Battles has done better on bombers than I had initially hoped but the collection is still quite small and fans of the series, especially those who fly bombers, have asked for more options.
For the German side it’s the Ju88A-4, He111H-6 and He111H-16 that round out the twin engine bomber collection while the Allies have the Pe-2 Series 35, Pe-2 Series 87 (and 110) and the A-20B.
Bomber fans have been looking for more bomber options and none louder than those hoping for a more capable Allied bomber to match the two German medium bombers that, though slower, can carry bigger loadouts.
The unfortunate part with most bombers is that their added complexity mean that they are harder to do and take more time for the IL-2 developer team to put together. As it is, we’ve heard from the developers just how much time was spent making the He111H-6 into an H-16 – what seemingly appears from a user side to be a slam dunk modification.
The bombers we do have are excellently modeled and recently I’ve really appreciated the attention to detail on the Pe-2 and A-20 series in some online battles.
So what about the Mitchell? Let’s have a look.
A versatile medium bomber
The B-25D is coming to Battle of Bodenplatte and while it’s AI-only right now it has a strong chance of being a flyable later.
This version of the B-25 is a smart aircraft to pick. Why you might ask? Why not the B-26 or some other bomber? The answer is primarily because the B-25C/D (both being near identical in configuration) was everywhere and were able to do almost everything.
The USAAF, RAF, RCAF, RAAF, VVS, and a dozen other nations and organizations all flew this variant of the B-25. More than 700 went to the RAF while the Soviet VVS received 866. The aircraft was used to bomb rail junctions, airbases, and in some cases the VVS even used them to bomb Berlin. They were also used to transport and drop supplies to beleaguered forward troop positions.
Commonly, B-25s were also modified with added machine guns for strafing attacks (primarily in New Guinea). The bomb-aimers position was often filled in with a fixed .50cal nose mount with four .50cal machine guns. Additional four .50cal cheek blisters were added giving the modified B-25C/D with a blistering eight .50cal machine guns all pointed forward.
Strafing attacks against Japanese shipping and airbases proved the concept of equipping a medium twin engine bomber with powerful forward armament. These were field modifications at first but later became part of the factory build. The B-25 also perfected the use of releasing small bomblets from the bomb-bay as the aircraft passed low over a target such as an airbase.
Less commonly, modified B-25’s were used in the famous Doolittle raid of 1942 that allowed the U.S. to attack Japan directly for the first time.
The USAAF also used the B-25 in numbers over North Africa taking part in the 1942 Battle of El Alamein and then on through the Sicily campaign and into Italy after that.
In Western Europe, the RAF used the B-25 from early 1943 through to 1945 in tactical bomber operations on the continent. B-25’s were quickly moved from bases in England to support operations on the continent. In addition to the standard RAF squadrons, No. 320 (Dutch) Squadron and No 305 (Polish) both flew the B-25 (though briefly in the later case).
On New Year’s Day 1945, 13 Mitchell’s were lost on the ground during the Luftwaffe’s Bodenplatte attacks.
Regardless of theatre, the B-25 is ideal
Given the versatility, the variety of mission types, and the large number of B-25 still flying in the world today, it seems very possible that the 1CGS team will be able to build a functioning B-25 at the level we’ve come to expect from them.
No matter where the IL-2: Great Battles Series goes next, a B-25 was probably there and that makes the aircraft a strong candidate for early, mid and late war simulator battles across current and future titles. From 1942 to 1945 and from the battlefields of Africa, Italy, Germany, Soviet Union, or the vast expanses of the Pacific, it’s hard to find a more ideal aircraft to put serious development resources into that would offer such a great bang for the buck.
Will it arrive as a separate Collector Plane effort? Or will the team build its development into a specific title? It’s hard to say and it will probably be a factor of how much time and effort would need to be spent to build the aircraft’s cockpit, forward gunner/bomb station, dorsal turret, and ventral turret (if so equipped). Fortunately, some of the heavy lifting on the exterior model and the flight and damage modeling have been done so as part of the development for Bodenplatte.
Rather than an if, I’d like to think of this as a matter of when. That’s what I think but I want to know what do you think? Let me know in the comments!