Recently I had a conversation in one of the IL-2 community groups about the Bf109G-6 Collector Plane. This aircraft is sold separately of other titles in the IL-2 series and yet, when you look online in a server like Combat Box, you’ll see a sometimes surprising number of them. Why is the Bf109G-6 as popular as it is and how does it stack up against some of the fastest and highest performing fighters in the IL-2: Great Battles Series? Let’s try and answer that question.
Surprising popular, but why?
The Bf109G-6 is an interesting aircraft in the collection of available Bf109’s in the IL-2 series. The G-6 model represented a number of firsts in the Bf109 line as well as a key development point where the Bf109 started to be designed more as a bomber interceptor and less as a pure fighter. This is no better represented than in its armament options including the standard MG131 13mm heavy machine guns (and the bulges on the nose to accommodate) or the available MK108 30mm cannon. Lets not forget the MG151/20 gunpods also available on earlier models.
With bigger guns, bigger landing gear, more weight and drag and with the same available engine power to the earlier Bf109G-4, it’s clear that the Bf109’s numerous modifications make it able to dish out more firepower but with a diminishing level of performance. Flying the Bf109G-6 back to back with a lighter and more spirited Bf109F-4 and it’s clear that this later model has lost some of its sharp handling. On the other hand… it’s still a Bf109 and one of the best fighters of WWII even if its slightly held back compared to earlier models.
Hopping into a match on Combat Box with theoretically superior (more on that in a bit) Bf109G-14 or Bf109K-4, why would players then choose to fly the earlier model? Well the answer may be obvious for some and not for others. It turns out, the Bf109G-6 is a ideal mix between relatively easy to fly and a relatively inexpensive way to get into Battle of Bodenplatte when the full price put the more recently released title just out of reach for some. While the Fw190D-9 is also available as a Collector Plane and would fit into the Bodenplatte mix perfectly, it’s been far less likely to go on sale so far and the quirks of the Fw190 mean that the Bf109 is still often the preferred mount for many a virtual pilot.
Before I move on, I want to be clear that I fully recognize that this is an expensive hobby and that buying new sim titles at full price can often be a challenge. No judgement here. Part of the reason why I advertise the sales as much as I do is because I want to make sure people are aware of opportunities to get into the hobby at lower price points that may work for them when the full price just doesn’t.
Flying the G-6 on Combat Box multiplayer
I picked Combat Box because of it’s specialty in late war western front oriented multiplayer scenarios. In other servers and other scenarios the tables are slightly different as the G-6 is, despite some performance loss over other versions of 109, still one of the top dogs. But in this late 1944/1945 set, there are few attributes that the Bf109G-6 can confidently call itself superior in – very few. We’ll get to that later but let’s talk about the experience first because I like telling stories more than I like numbers
I convinced my regular flight group who tend to favour flying Allied to join me to fly for the Axis instead. They elected to choose the Battle of Bodenplatte included Bf109G-14. By all rights this is just an improved Bf109G-6 and its understandable that when presented with the option, they chose the better fighter. However, throughout our flying there was never one time where I felt like their capabilities were seriously outmatched by what my G-6 was capable of doing.
After takeoff, we headed towards the frontlines. A group of Bf110’s had called for fighter support attacking an AAA installation and so we headed that way with two groups of three and two. I was in the second group of two.
Arriving near the target were spotted a pair of P-38’s attacking targets low. The first group went into a dive bouncing the first P-38 but then having to deal with a second P-38 on their tail. This is where the second flight rolled over and into the fight.
Knowing the Bf109’s traditionally heavy elevator, I throttled back to almost idle on the downhill as speed built and the controls became more sluggish. With one P-38 in trouble and the second chasing our first flight, we went in causing the first P-38 to break off.
I threw my Bf109G-6 into an overhead yo-yo trying to kill speed and roll back down onto the six of the P-38. Success! I was on the P-38’s six and after my first shots went wide, I was able to correct and put a couple of MK108 30mm shots into the tail of the P-38 – it crumpled into the ground.
No time to celebrate. The second P-38 had circled around and was now on my six, however, a barrel roll and tight break turn was enough to throw him off and my wingmates were all over the second P-38.
Trouble was not over as more Allied fighters were in the area. My flight lead was shot down and another Bf109 from our other flight was shot down by a Mustang with the Mustang accidentally shooting a bailing pilot. It was time to take some revenge.
By this point, I had formed up with another Bf109 from our flight who was damaged though leading the chase. A series of tight turns at low altitude to try and throw our aim and the first 109 broke off slightly while the Mustang’s evasive maneuver presented me a shot.
I took it…. and missed.
The Mustang went into a tight turn at high speed trying to throw me off, however, the Bf109G-6 is quite good at dumping speed and converting it to angle. This is a bit of a gambit in air combat but it worked and I was able to pull lead on the Mustang.
My MK108 shells missed but the MG131’s connected and the Mustang lost control and hit the ground.
We then extricated ourselves from the battle (having lost two and with a third dealing with some battle damage) finally arriving home for a safe landing.
Not all flights went as well and I want to tell that side of the story too. After successfully shooting down a pair of Mustangs in a subsequent flight, I was bounced from behind by a Tempest Mark V which had no issue with raking my Bf109 from nose to tail with 20mm cannon rounds. A fire started and my Bf109 crashed to the ground with my pilot bailing out just in time.
By the numbers
When looking at the performance numbers I stumbled on some surprising comparisons with other versions of the Bf109. While I assumed the G-6 to be poorer than other variants such as the F-4 or K-4 (true) I also assumed it to be worse than the G-14 which was not always the case to my surprise. Let’s compare these two.
Maximum true airspeed
- Maximum true air speed at sea level, engine mode – Emergency: 529 km/h
- Maximum true air speed at sea level, engine mode – Combat: 505 km/h
- Maximum true air speed at 2000 m, engine mode – Combat: 547 km/h
- Maximum true air speed at 7000 m, engine mode – Combat: 632 km/h
- Maximum true air speed at sea level, engine mode – Emergency: 576 km/h
- Maximum true air speed at 5500 m,, engine mode – Emergency: 668 km/h
- Maximum true air speed at sea level, engine mode – Combat: 505 km/h
- Maximum true air speed at 2000 m, engine mode – Combat: 545 km/h
- Maximum true air speed at 7000 m, engine mode – Combat: 619 km/h
The MW50 injection system on the G-14 allows for some extra horsepower and that gives it some substantial speed improvements while under maximum boost. When the boost is gone, however, the G-14 is very much the same as the G-6 and is actually a bit slower as listed at 7,000 meters.
When compared to others, the Bf109G-6 is slower at sea level than the Spitfire IXe both at 100 octane and 150 octane by 13km/h and 42km/h respectively. With the Mustang at 100 octane it too pulls away with 63km/h and with 150 octane it rises to 78km/h advantage for the Mustang. The Tempest Mark V pulls cleanly away with 71km/h at +9lbs and 94km/h at +11lbs. At altitude the differences are similar.
- Climb rate at sea level: 20.1 m/s
- Climb rate at 3000 m: 18.8 m/s
- Climb rate at 6000 m: 15.2 m/s
- Climb rate at sea level: 19.2 m/s
- Climb rate at 3000 m: 17.5 m/s
- Climb rate at 6000 m: 13.1 m/s
Interestingly, the Bf109G-6 maintains a competitive rate of climb besting the Bf109G-14 and essentially matching the Spitfire IX and Tempest Mark V with few differences between each. The P-51D is at a disadvantage in this contest. We do have to look a little deeper into the numbers, however, as the Bf109G-6 can only maintain maximum performance for 1-minute while the G-14 can do so for 10-minutes (or until the MW50 runs out).
Maximum performance turn
- Maximum performance turn at sea level: 21.5 s, at 270 km/h IAS.
- Maximum performance turn at 3000 m: 28.0 s, at 270 km/h IAS.
- Maximum performance turn at sea level: 23.0 s, at 270 km/h IAS.
- Maximum performance turn at 3000 m: 31.5 s, at 270 km/h IAS.
Compared to other fighters, the Bf109G-6 is competitive with the Mustang and the Tempest while falling behind the Spitfire. Of course, maximum performance turns can vary quite a bit depending on the situation and so the Bf109’s low speed stability thanks to its excellent leading edge slats gives it an advantage against the Tempest and Mustang while the Spitfire’s elliptical wing and lower wingloading provides that fighter with turn superiority.
Flying the Bf109G-6 and final thoughts
Purely by the numbers, the Bf109G-6 is not as competitive a fighter as say the Spitfire IX, P-51D or Tempest Mark V and while in these late war scenarios it will come across these popular fighters, there’s more than just numbers to consider. That’s why I told my story first as it helps prove to me that the Bf109G-6 has enough capability, firepower, and performance to still function effectively in these late war slug fests.
While it can’t out run its opponents, it can more or less match them in other capacities and that combined with good climb rate and one of the highest dive speed around makes the Bf109 at least capable of doing hit and run attacks and avoid being caught flying low and slow. In our combat scenarios that we experienced online, the Bf109G-6 never felt superior but it also didn’t feel inferior either. Proper positioning, teamwork, tactics, and piloting can still allow the Bf106G-6 to be an effective hunter and no matter how fast a Mustang or Tempest is, if bounced or flown at a disadvantage, a G-6 can certainly score kills and win the day.
I’ve found that the Bf109G-6 still has the climb rate, firepower, and overall ease of handling (except on the ground) to make it an effective fighter in these late war situations and its why this Collector Plane makes a lot of sense for someone who may not yet be able to jump into Bodenplatte’s late war aircraft but who still wants to have some fun in multiplayer. If this fighter is your ticket into IL-2 multiplayer on Combat Box or in other late war scenarios, don’t shy away… it does the job!