IL-2's Tactical Air War went western front and it's been fun

IL-2: Great Battles multiplayer server Tactical Air War (TAW) is one of the most intense and also likely the most challenging server in the IL-2 multiplayer universe. Flying there usually favours teamwork, definitely requires a little planning, and this season has been unique as it is the first time the server has gone west to the air war of 1944-1945. I wanted to share some screenshots, some experiences, and talk about what it’s like to fly TAW 1944-1945.

Lightning and Boston

The two aircraft of choice for this season of TAW for the group I fly with has been the P-38J-25 Lightning and the A-20B Boston. These twin engine aircraft have served us well in the strike/attack role as we have tackled enemy airbases, frontline positions, and the occasional rail yard.

My first sortie was with Jon Coughlin (developer of Roger Meatball, check out our Q&A!). We flew P-38’s for the first time on TAW going after an enemy defensive position guarding a city in the southern part of the map.

The flight was a cinematic one with multiple layers of clouds and crystal blue skies above. We came in around 20,000 feet before slowly descending through the cloud layer searching for our target. We knew we were in the right area, however, we were still dropping through clouds trying to find our target. Fortunately, at the last moment we broke through the bottom cloud layers and there it was. Four 2000lb bombs (that’s not a typo, the P-38 can carry huge bombs) obliterated most of the target area and we flew back to base at very high speeds hoping to avoid interception.

Mission success!

In another sortie, I flew as a pair with Wolfpack345 (check out his YouTube channel, he just surpassed 10,000 subscribers!) against an enemy rail yard. We were operating as a close pair but we also together with many other Allied aircraft. Flying up to around 12,000 feet in clear skies, we had very little cover if enemy fighters were patrolling around, however, we got lucky and got to target on time and unscathed.

Targets on the TAW server are defended by top level flak gunners and so you learn to come in fast, hit hard and leave before the flak can find you. So we fired all six of our M8 rockets and then dropped our two 1000lb bombs on the target. The result? Success!

Our rockets did tremendous damage and the bombs finished the job wiping the rail yard off the map although Wolfpack345 did get a little cooked from one of the bombs going off. We have to work on our timing and separation on the attack run. There’s always something to learn!

We’ve also flown the A-20B on several sorties. Some of them have been resounding success but I also want to document when things go wrong because, as I said earlier, TAW is a challenging server.

In one sortie we got a little overconfident and thought we could fight our way into what we knew was likely to be a well defended target area. Three A-20B’s flew low hoping to avoid detection but we were unsuccessful in that goal as enemy fighters spotted us about 10 kilometers from the target. Staying low, the first of our group was picked off by fighters. Still we pressed on towards target. Soon we were over the target but the enemy fighters were on us.

Two of us pressed into the target zone, bombs were dropped but only to minimal effect. The aim on the defending fighters was not to minimal effect, however, and my A-20 soon tumbled into the ground. Lessons learned – avoid enemy hot zones or go in with more fighter cover.

On patrol in the fog and rain

Not a lot of multiplayer servers embrace weather effects, however, TAW does and that means that you can sometimes fly in some positively terrible conditions. One such sortie ended with no real success when we flew Spitfire IX’s on a low level combat air patrol.

I was soon separated from my wingmate and navigated to the target area at low altitude. I ultimately came up empty handed having briefly spotted an enemy aircraft attacking the ground targets but losing it in the mist, fog, and rain.

Despite the poor conditions, the rain makes for a very immersive and moody experience. I wouldn’t want to fly like that constantly but it does make for an interesting challenge and it changes the tactical situation dramatically. With the mission refreshing every 2-hours, TAW uses randomized weather and changing time of day to keep things fresh.

Constantly humbling

Flying on a server like TAW is difficult. With limited planes and limited lives, you want to fight for every sortie and every life and you can’t throw them away like you can on other servers. This raises the tensions and the stakes and it can make for a compelling experience.

Throw in the challenge of weather, both clear skies providing limited or no cover and heavy rains making navigating or spotting anything nearly impossible and you have yourself one of the most immersive environments in IL-2.

TAW is not a server where you go for some more casual fun flying but it is one where you can get lost in the updates as the frontline moves back and forth. The Allies won the first map while the second map ended in a draw with neither side being able to win the day.

The campaign has stopped for now but not before I managed to get a few more cinematic screenshots from the cockpit of our P-38’s on one of my last flights on the current season of TAW.

TAW has been fun and distracting during some difficult times!

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