We’ve heard some very compelling rumours for weeks and now we have the official announcement and confirmation that 1CGS is going to be bringing the Hurricane Mark II, Yak-9 and Yak-9T to IL-2: Great Battles Series as Collector Planes. Let’s have a look at the announcement, the aircraft, and everything that we’ve learned from this announcement.
Official and announced
Though we had heard unofficially over the last few weeks about these aircraft, this announcement now cements 1CGS’ plans that they are pressing ahead with development on these aircraft.
Though I and many of us had assumed that new Collector Planes might be Bodenplatte focused, this strategy also has some logic to it. For that I turn to part of Jason Williams, IL-2’s Lead Producer, to shed some light on their reasoning behind this effort.
These particular planes were chosen so we can offer an even more diverse and well-rounded plane-set that benefits primarily our Eastern Front products, which we still care deeply about and as of now, the majority of our customers own the most of.Jason Williams on the IL-2 forums
While Bodenplatte is undoubtedly a hit and the recent introduction of three more Allied aircraft have really helped bump up the excitement, it’s important to note that 1CGS has a large fan base in Russia and in countries nearby that are also looking for new Eastern Front content to supplement what already exists.
Doing the Yak-9 and the Yak-9T makes sense as it was a workhorse fighter in 1943. Doing the Hurricane also makes sense as it was one of the few fighters that the Western Allies were able to supply in numbers to the Soviet Union in the early part of the war and was again a bit of a workhorse in some key battles including Moscow. The Hurricane is also a fan favourite having repeatedly risen in community poll after poll to the top spot. Clearly there’s interest in this British fighter.
Aircraft details: Hurricane Mark II
The Hurricane Mark II was a follow up to the Battle of Britain veteran Mark I. The Mark II had more engine power thanks to the Merlin XX engine, however, it was also heavier and so performance gains thanks to the engine were at least partially offset by the weight.
Contained in the announcement today was the comment that they were seeking to model most of the modifications on this fighter. I do hope that they are able to because the Soviet Union received all major models of the aircraft and field modifications also adds to the variety of the aircraft.
Hurricane Mark II’s came in several official varieties differing mostly in armament:
- Mark IIA – eight Browning .303 machine guns
- Mark IIB – twelve Browning .303 machine guns
- Mark IIC – four Hispano 20mm cannon
- Mark IID – two .303 and two 40mm Vickers S cannons in gun pods
In addition to these, Soviet field maintainers often put together a variety of combinations of armament including:
- Two ShVAK 20mm cannons, two Berezin UB 12.7mm machine guns and four Browning .303 machine guns
- Two ShVAK 20mm cannons, two Berezin UB 12.7mm machine guns
Apparently there were other combinations but these I have been able to confirm from multiple sources.
Almost 3,000 of the fighter were supplied to the Soviets between 1941 and 1944 with the bulk of the front line use happening in 1941 and 1942 when Soviet aviation industries were being moved out of range of German bombers. The Hurricane was one of those fighters that was just good enough and arriving at the right time to make a difference.
Aircraft details: Yak-9 and Yak-9T
While the Yak-1 series was eventually developed into the Yak-3, the Yak-7 series with its more robust airframe was developed into the Yak-9. The Yak-9 was lightened with the reduction of one of the UBS machine guns (making its firepower and performance at similar levels to the Yak-1B) and it was improved with a bubble canopy giving pilots excellent visibility.
The Yak-9 and Yak-1B on the outset were quite similar but it was the potential for the airframe that allowed for some unique changes to be made later on. The biggest of those changes came with the Yak-9T which introduced a major boost to firepower – a NS-37 cannon which had a reasonably high fire rate and was highly capable of destroying enemy fighters in as few as a single hit.
The Yak-9 is going to be very popular with Russian aircraft fans.
Where do these aircraft fit in?
Though we often see huge wish lists of aircraft, some of them are out of theatre and thus make little sense outside of your average dogfighting arena. 1CGS is careful to pick aircraft that have potential popularity as well as aircraft that fit the historical arena of titles that they have currently released.
So, where do these fit it and which titles will best support them? BlackSix from the 1CGS team has that answer:
Hurricane II will be used in the BoM and BoS career and Yak-9 in the BoK career only.BlackSix on the IL-2 forums
Now you may be saying to yourself that you read a book on the Yak-9 and it says that the Yak-9 was at Stalingrad. I’ve read more than one history book that repeated that information and apparently that same information is repeated in Russian history books as well. It’s apparently not true. Again, I turn to BlackSix for the historical deep dive that was required to suss this information out:
We discussed this question on the Russian forum, looks like it’s a mistake, we can’t find any docs about Yak-9 around Stalingrad. Maybe there were 1-2 planes in 1943 but there are no docs…BlackSix on the IL-2 forum
Fans of the Yak-9 will be getting both main variants of the Yak-9. We could even see some of the rarer versions such as the Yak-9D with added fuel tanks and range, the Yak-9DD with even more range, the Yak-9K with a 45mm cannon and the really weird Yak-9B with an internal bomb bay.
When are they going to be available?
As per the announcement today, these new Collector Planes will be released in the first quarter of 2020. 1CGS will be working on them between now and their release while the rest of the development team is currently putting the finishing touches on Battle of Bodenplatte, Flying Circus Vol 1 and Tank Crew.
One detail left unclear in the announcement was if the Yak-9 will be sold together with the Yak-9T or if they would be separate. Jason Williams weighed in on that:
Undecided, but due to the difference in the airframes the game will see them as two separate planes. Not decided yet how I will sell them.Jason Williams on the IL-2 forum
So, for the moment we don’t know if they will be packaged together or sold separately but we should know in a few weeks as the team has said that pre-orders will be opening soon.
Do these types inform anything about what comes next?
The simple answer is no – these new Collector Planes fit into preexisting titles and add plenty of flavour to the aircraft set that they belong to. That doesn’t mean that they couldn’t play a role somewhere down the line.
The announcement points out that the Hurricane was involved in North Africa and Mediterranean battles as well as extensively used on the Eastern Front. A few have mused that the series could go to do a Mediterranean battle next focusing on Sicily or Italy as a scenario and while the Hurricane II isn’t a perfect match it could still feature somewhere. It’s role in Western Allied operations included the fighting in 1943 in Tunisia helping to bust tanks and operating in Burma until the end of the war.
It also doesn’t necessarily portent a Battle of Britain scenario as the Mark II came after – though it would be easy to make a Mark I from the Mark II. In both Battle of Britain and North Africa scenarios, it’s unlikely that 1CGS will go here as they are also responsible for Cliffs of Dover and Team Fusion is busy working hard on their North Africa release (subject of a future article).
Finally, while I know some were holding out hope for a Mosquito, Spitfire XIV, Ta152H or Ar234 (among many suggested for Bodenplatte collector planes) shouldn’t loose too much hope. We don’t yet know what comes next for the series and it’s possible that whatever is announced next will play into and bolster the Bodenplatte aircraft set. A Normandy or Italy scenario could easily include the Mosquito as just one example.
We’ll learn more sooner than later as development winds down on Bodenplatte and the future beckons. Stay tuned folks! Lots more to learn!