Today is July 4th, Independence Day in the United States, and I figured I would write about a classic American fighter. It’s a great opportunity to check out the recently added Lightning Strikes campaign for IL-2: Battle of Bodenplatte. With everything else going on recently you may have been forgiving for missing the launch of a whole fully featured Scripted Campaign released as a free addition to all Battle of Bodenplatte owners (that also own the P-38J Collector Plane. These are quick recaps and screenshots from the first three missions.
First mission to the flak battery
Lightning Strikes jumps you straight in. Flying with the XXX FG, XXX FS, your first mission is flying wingman to the flight lead on a strike mission to an area near Aachen. The target is a Flak 88 position.
The campaign starts you off on the side of a taxiway, cold and dark. The P-38’s start-up sequence takes some time so you get a chance to appreciate what else is going on around the airfield. There’s trucks driving around and another flight of P-38’s about to set out on a mission as well.
Before too long we were started up, taxiied out and ready to go. Even with two 500lb bombs the P-38 essentially leaps off the runway and starts climbing.
Once up to altitude we were cruising along above the clouds for several minutes before descending back in under the broken cloud layer and in towards the target area.
I have to commend the mission builder here as the target area has some great detailing but a low impact on performance as there isn’t too much going on. It has the appearance of things going on but nothing that would really kill frame rates. So this was an entirely smooth experience.
I dropped a single 500lb on one of the 88mm flak positions before swinging around to bomb the second one. In my third and fourth passes I used the concentrated nose firepower of the P-38’s four .50cal and single 20mm before the flight leader indicated that the target was destroyed and it was time to head for home.
The rest of the flight was uneventful and most of the flight landed back home without much drama.
Attacking artillery and tank positions was the goal of our next mission. Once again we set off in a group of eight P-38’s to attack the target position. After another medium length flight in broken, multi-layered clouds, we arrived at the target area.
Rolling in to attack I loosed just the one bomb on target as P-38’s dropped out of the clouds and did the same. The artillery and machine gun nests were lit up by these attacks as were a nearby column of armored vehicles and light tanks.
Rolling back in and dropping my second bomb on the same target with good effect I then switched to guns and went looking for more. I found it over by the column that the second P-38 group had already attacked with several half tracks and trucks still undamaged. Finally, rolling back into the artillery and gun nest position several of us strafed targets before turning for home.
Another long trek back to base and another successful mission.
The third mission had us setup in a now familiar configuration. Flying a medium range strike mission armed with two 500lb bombs under the wings to attack a rail depot. We were flying under a higher deck of 6/8ths cloud cover. Similar thickness to the last two missions but with a slightly higher base.
After takeoff we turned to the north east and started our climb through to about 7000 feet where we leveled off. The journey to the target took a while but once we arrived the eight P-38’s all peeled off and began attacking the depot.
Flight lead managed to drop both 500lb bombs on a train leaving the depot. They were a direct hit and the effect was immediate with much of the train destroyed immediately on impact.
My contribution was destruction of the locomotive itself which I hit with a skip bombed 500lb bomb at below treetop height and with a 5 second delay. That was a bit of a rush!
The rest of the P-38’s attacked the depot with multiple bomb and strafing runs. I strafed another couple of trains, the last being the most dramatic of the bunch. Closing from a 90 degree angle, I poured 20mm and .50cal rounds from the P-38’s nose guns into the locomotive and pulled out at just the last second. The last few rounds had dramatic effect as the locomotive exploded just as I passed over it. Fortunately, I was lucky and there was no damage.
Then the call came in…bandits approaching! A pair of sleek silhouettes appeared over the depot – Me262’s!
While one of the 262’s managed to stay fast and high above the targets, the other one got sucked in and I was able to use the P-38’s excellent climb rate to position myself above the fight. Using my newfound elevation advantage and the Me262’s preoccupation with the other P-38’s… I went to full throttle and maximum RPM to try and get the Me262 while going downhill.
And it worked! The Me262 was starting to pull away despite my positioning so I let loose with a burst of machine guns. Fortunately, the concentrated nose guns in the P-38 make longer range tracking shots a possibility and a couple of quick bursts hit the 262. Hie engine started to emit black smoke… and then fire. Got him!
The other Me262 was nowhere to be seen and must have left the area. Much too fast for us to catch him.
Finally, it was time to head back home and to base. It was a bit of a trek and took a while to fly the distance home but home we made it and with plenty of success to share with the squadron.
Thoughts on ‘Lightning Strikes’
The biggest issue for me with Lightning Strikes is not the campaign but rather how little press it’s gotten. There was so much going on that when this campaign came out for IL-2: Battle of Bodenplatte I think everyone missed it and was busy checking everything else out. I’m trying to change that here as it looks like it’s an excellent campaign with good scripting and really good target areas to attack.
The flying back and forth between base and target area is a little quiet. There’s few other AI aircraft around most of the time and so this has both advantages in performance and disadvantages in atmosphere. Still, target areas are well detailed as is your home airfield.
If you’re a fan of a classic fighter like the P-38 and love to do attack missions… this is a really worthwhile campaign to check out! But don’t do what I did and forget to download the optional skin package – you’ll see those skins in the third mission but missing in the screenshots from the first and second.
Plenty of screenshots from the first, second and third missions of Lightning Strikes for you to enjoy here.