With over 50 aircraft now available in the IL-2: Great Battles Series spread out across multiple types and some sub variants, the series has gained quite a bit of variety and depth in the types of aircraft that are being represented from the World War II era. Still, there’s a couple of types that are a little less well represented and today I’d like to talk about trying to add some more bombers to the series and how that may happen. This piece is almost entirely speculative so before I go any further, consider everything here rumour, hearsay, and me making things up because I think they are good ideas. Good? Alright, let’s do this!
Taking stock of what we have now
The IL-2: Great Battles Series has not entirely neglected people who prefer to fly bombing raids and in-fact has done much better in a shorter period of time than the original series did. Currently on hand are the He111H-6, He111H-16, Ju88A-4, A-20B, Pe-2 Series 35, and Pe-2 Series 87 (and technically a Series 110 as well).
All of these aircraft are technically bombers and are capable of carrying bombs to target and dropping them from a variety of altitudes using a bombsight. Many of them also have other capabilities such as the A-20B and Pe-2 can operate well at lower altitudes as an attack plane, utilizing their forward guns and/or rockets. The Pe-2 and Ju88 also have dive brakes and can be used as dive bombers.
Those are all well and good but as the aircraft list grows, I know bomber pilots are anxious to see a few more types added to the roster. Why haven’t we see more bombers then? Well… there are some challenges.
The challenges of building a bomber
We’ve been told time and again by the 1CGS team that building a bomber is a challenging exercise. Bomber cockpits are often more complicated places than fighters and one look around the He111 or Ju88 compared to a Bf109 and you’ll quickly see there’s quite a bit more for the modeling team to build.
If that wasn’t enough, there’s also other stations on most of these aircraft that 1CGS has chosen to build as well as the cockpit. Most of these positions are various gunners and while not everyone agrees that having them is a necessity, there is a completeness that goes along with building these bombers and including their gun stations too. It can be fun to be a gunner in those positions too.
Every station requires modeling, texturing, animation, and programming to make work and that consumes time and effort that could be spent elsewhere. It’s that calculation of cost and effort towards the desired end outcome that make things challenging for a small development team like 1CGS which could fill their product out with a few fighters or attack aircraft for the development cost of a single bomber.
The community has also spent plenty of time talking about the challenges of modeling more engines and gunners on heavy bomber aircraft like the B-17, B-24, Lancaster, and other heavies. While I think these are issues, I think they are smaller issues that could be solved through clever programming and it’s really the complexity of modeling that ultimately is the biggest stopping point for why we don’t see more bomber aircraft.
When we do see bombers, it’s typically a type that had already been developed such as the He111H-6 becoming the H-16 – though apparently even that required a major effort.
Fans of the IL-2 series and of flight simming in general have been generally outspoken in their interest to see many different types of WWII warbirds represented and it’s undoubtedly clear that 1C Game Studios has heard the calls for more types of aircraft to be represented. Over the years, the team has done their best to get aircraft into the series including the A-20B, the late model He111H-16, and even a few unique transport or utility types such as the U-2VS and Ju52/3m.
IL-2: Battle of Normandy features more twin engine aircraft than we’ve seen in a while. That includes the Mosquito, Me410, Ju88C-6a, and Ar234. Of these, only the Arado jet bomber, the Ar234, can be considered a bomber in the traditional sense with a level bomb sight. The bomber makes a lot of sense from a development perspective with it’s single pilot being the only position in the bomber and that position being much more fighter like in it’s complexity.
The other aircraft are all attack aircraft which are very popular but I know that there is still a call for some bigger aircraft flying at altitude. So, is there a chance that we might see some? Yes, I think there is.
First, the B-25D was made as an AI aircraft for IL-2: Battle of Bodenplatte. In my interview with Jason Williams back in the early part of 2019, we discussed the possibility of the type becoming a flyable to which the reply was generally speaking that they hoped to be able to in the future. With the exterior, damage model and flight model done, it’s now a matter of making the interior. That is not without it’s complexity (three gunner positions plus the pilot) but I have hopes that it will eventually come. I’ve talked many times about how versatile the B-25 is from Bodenplatte to the eastern front to a hypothetical Pacific scenario.
Similar to the B-25, the B-26 Marauder is on the list for Battle of Normandy as an AI aircraft. The B-26 was, after some teething problems were worked out, considered one of the most successful medium bombers of the war and it would fit the profile desired by a lot of fans of this type of aircraft with both speed, armament, and payload that would give the Allied side a bomber type to match the Axis aircraft available in the sim.
There are of course other options that could also come down the pipeline eventually. For the German side the Do217 and Ju188 are both possibilities, however, remote getting more bombers may be, and there has been considerable discussion in the community about bringing them into the aircraft set. There are also a couple of Russian types including the Tu-2 and IL-4 that have come up in discussions. So too have variations on the A-20 including the gunship G model and the very similar A-20J with bombsight. The Mosquito B.IV would be a major modification on the Mosquito FB.VI for Battle of Normandy but it would have plenty of potential too!
I think any bomber is theoretically on the table even if it’s the mid sized models that make the most sense from a player experience point of view (B-17 and B-24 fans… I hear you, those would be nice to have too).
How might this come to be?
With bomber aircraft consuming resources and needing prolonged development periods there are some serious challenges to getting more, complex, multi-engine bombers into the IL-2 series but I can see 1CGS attempting to still make them a possibility knowing fans are interested in seeing these become flyable.
So, if there is a chance to make them flyable, I think 1CGS will do it. But how? Well that gets more complicated because I think that the team is likely going to be very busy with their new Battle of Normandy project which incorporates plenty of aircraft in the plan including some brand new types that will need to be built from scratch. The Me410 may be the most challenging type with its complex turret system – we’ll see how that goes.
Another possibility is that an external contractor such as Yugra Media (Flying Circus) or Digital Forms (Tank Crew) are brought in to help build and texture the interiors with 1CGS doing the integration. It’s possible as both teams have experience with the engine now and Digital Forms in particular seems to be very good at building detailed spaces such as the interiors of tanks from Tank Crew.
Either way, I think any new bombers for the series will be sold either as a separate pack with a selection of bombers included potentially for the same price as a full title or as individual Collector Planes with a more expensive price than we’ve seen before. I can see a B-25 with all of it’s stations and modifications being sold for $40 USD or more. The real question then becomes if fans of the series are willing to pay that much to fly a bomber and if so, are enough of them willing to do it to make it worthwhile?
At the end of the day, 1CGS and all flight sim titles are businesses and selling their products in enough quantities to justify the time and cost on development is the biggest gamble and the key consideration above all else.
Let’s hope we can see this come to pass one way or another. I’d be lined up to fly a B-25, or a B-26, or just about any bomber this series chooses to bring to the table. Fingers crossed!