The review of IL-2’s Hurricane Mark II

The IL-2 Sturmovik: Great Battles Series finally has a Hurricane it can call its own. This brand new Collector Plane in the series adds some variety to some previously released scenarios and adds a great deal of versatility and customization for virtual pilots flying the aircraft. Now that we have this aircraft in the series, what is it like, how does it handle, and is it worth buying? Let’s have a look!

Turns on a dime, easy to handle, not fast

A Soviet Hurricane takes on a Ju87D-3 in the skies near Stalingrad.

When the RAF went to war in 1939, it was the Hawker Hurricane that made up the bulk of the modern generation of monoplane fighter and the type that met the Bf109 in direct combat on numerous occasions. Chief among the Hurricane’s attributes were its ease of handling and robust airframe. Those are definitely the attributes of the aircraft in IL-2: Great Battles as well.

The Hurricane Mark II was a follow-on from the original Mark I. It was slightly heavier but made up for that with the more powerful Merlin XX engine which had a redesigned supercharger and 1,240-horsepower. The Hurricane’s reputation as a fighter was earned in the Battle of Britain but it fought all the way through to the end of the war. The Mark II saw service in over a dozen air forces and fought all the way from Britain and above the English Channel to the skies of the Soviet Union, Singapore, and Burma. After it’s use as a fighter declined, it found a second life as a fighter-bomber where it performed reasonably well and helped provide fighter support in some of the most primitive of operating conditions.

The version we have in IL-2: Great Battles helps cement the real aircraft’s reputation. Very quickly after starting to fly this new aircraft you’ll learn that it can turn. Extremely well! Put the Hurricane into a tight turn and it will easily hold itself there until the speed bleeds off completely. Although I’m not sure if the Hurricane is actually the tightest turning monoplane fighter in the series, it is undoubtedly the easiest to make a tight turn in. The Hurricane is rock steady throughout any turn and requires only small amounts of rudder to stay coordinated. While the turn rate is spectacular, roll rate is slightly below average for the era and staying with a faster rolling fighter means ample amounts of rudder.

Takeoff and landings are largely without drama either. There is definitely a pull with the engine torque at full throttle but its easily modulated with the rudder which becomes effective quickly. In some configurations the aircraft does sometimes get a little nose heavy so a little back pressure on the stick is required to ensure that it doesn’t nose over on takeoff run. Taxiing the Hurricane is extremely easy compared to the Spitfire.

At no point will you ever feel like the Hurricane Mark II is fast. In-fact, it’s one of the slowest aircraft you’ll fly in the IL-2 World War II theatre. Testing by the community has revealed that the standard Mark IIC with +12lbs of boost on the engine tops out at 443 km/h at sea level with the less draggy Mark IIA coming in just 10 km/h faster at 453 km/h. By comparison the I-16 can do 448 km/h and the Bf109E-7, Bf110E-2, and MC.202 are all faster by 20 km/h or more. I haven’t yet tested but the +14lb boost will add at least a little to the top speed at sea level but likely not by a dramatic amount.

Ease of management

Head on with a Bf109F-2

While some aircraft require a lot of engine management to get the most out of the aircraft, the Hurricane Mark II doesn’t really need that much. Fuel mixture is automatic so only throttle and RPM/pitch controls are needed to directly control the engine. The combined water/oil cooler control (which moves up and down in increments of 20%), a boost switch and the supercharger switch are essentially that you need to know. Engine settings are also quite manageable with 1-hour on climb power (around 9lbs of boost and 2750 rpm).

I’ve found that in most situations, except very hot conditions where you’re in a steep climb, the radiator can be kept around the 20% to 40% range ensuring cool and smooth engine operation.

If you do go into a steep power dive, I do recommend pulling back on the power to prevent overspeed of both the airframe as well as the engine. I’ve seen a few Hurricane’s kill their engines trying to follow a Bf109 or MC.202 in a dive.

Varying levels of firepower

Low altitude strafing with twelve .303 machine guns

One of the things that I already love about this new Collector Plane is the options that it comes with. The Hurricane Mark II was heavily modified throughout the war with different types of armament to fulfill different roles and this representation by 1CGS has them all!

I’ll group the first two together as they are very similar. The Hurricane Mark IIA and Mark IIB come with eight and twelve Browning .303 machine guns respectively. Although the barrage of bullets that emerge from these versions of the Hurricane look impressive, in practice they are the least effective armament loadout available to the aircraft. Peppering bombers and fighters with these machine guns does cause damage to build up, but the time on target is dramatically higher than with the other variations. Still, for a good portion of the war, the Hurricane was armed like this and for historical reasons you’ll likely fly the type with these guns a fair bit of the time. Aiming at convergence and putting rounds on vulnerable areas like the engine and fuel tanks are your best bet.

The .303’s can do serious and crippling damage but not always

The next modification is the Mark IIC and it comes with four Hispano Mark II 20mm cannons. This is the Hurricane at it’s most optimal as the four cannons offer a dramatic improvement in firepower over the machine gun armed versions. With just 90 rounds per gun each, the ammunition does dry out quickly so short bursts and well aimed shots do matter. Still, that is a decent enough trade-off as the cannons hit hard and are particularly effective against early war aircraft. Against average AI, I was able to shoot down six Bf109s before the guns ran out. In a higher stakes scenario online I was able to shoot down a Bf109, a Bf110 and a MC.202 before I was out of rocks to throw.

Four 20mm Hispano Mark II cannons can almost guarantee destruction of enemy aircraft

The Mark IID is a more specialized variant with the Vickers S 40mm anti-tank guns slung in pods under the wings. These two cannons are backed up by a pair of .303 machine guns. This is intended as a ground attack configuration as the pods reduce maneuverability and speed. In practice, I’ve seen them used to devastating effect on unwary aircraft. Against ground targets, as they were intended, I’ve found them useful against trucks and trains and are capable of killing some tanks up to the Pz.III and Pz.IV, but the heavier ones will likely shrug off most hits. Fire rate of the cannon is good and the ballistic trajectory is flat enough to accommodate aim at close range.

The Vickers S 40mm anti-tank gun is useful against some tanks and most vehicles

Finally, the Soviets modified many Mark II’s with their own guns and 1CGS has chosen the most popular of those configurations to represent in the sim. Armed with a pair of UB 12.7mm heavy machine guns and a pair of ShVAK 20mm cannons, this version of the Hurricane is nearly as effective as the Hispano armed Mark IIC and has roughly the same duration of fire. The Russian guns have a hire fire rate but slightly less hitting power so some may prefer the fire rate to assist with aiming while others will be ok with the sledgehammer approach of the Hispanos.

A Russian Hurricane with ShVAK, UB, RS-82 and FAB-100 weapons.

The Hurricane was used extensively in the ground attack role and British 250lb and 500lb bombs are available as options on most configurations except the 40mm armed Hurricane. Pick the Russian field modified version and you’ll swap the British bombs for a pair of Russian FAB-100’s and the option to sling up to six RS-82 rockets as well.

1CGS didn’t have to do all of these versions but I am very glad that they did. It gives the Hurricane Mark II tremendous character and I appreciate all of the options! Check out this video to see the aircraft and its firepower in action with everything from the .303’s to the 20mm and 40mm showing off their capabilities.

Looks great inside and out

One of the things I first did when I got the new aircraft was marveled at the modeling. 1CGS has upped the ante over the years and the artists responsible for the Mark II have done exemplary work.

The Hurricane has an intricately detailed cockpit and it looks like 1CGS has done it well. Everything feels like it belongs just where it should, nothing stands out as being more or less detailed than it should and even the canopy frame looks pretty decent on close inspection. There are no aircraft with 4K cockpit textures right now but that would be the next step towards improving the look for Great Battles cockpits. Even without, this one still looks good thanks to excellent artistry.

The exterior is at the highest standards that we’ve seen from the series and there’s plenty of great little details all over the aircraft. 1CGS has managed to make their textures work across all of the different armament variations for the type as well which is also an impressive feat. The Hurricane II has plenty of tiny bumps and fairings to cover over different aircraft systems and they are all here so far as I can tell.

Damage detailing is also pretty good here representing the different types of damage depending on the material involved. The Hurricane had one foot in the bi-plane era with its doped fabric skin in some places and aluminum skin in others.

In combat with the Hurricane

I’ve flown the Hurricane for several hours now already. I’ve flown it on the Finnish Virtual Pilots – Dynamic War server and Combat Box server as well as in both single player quick mission and Career mode missions.

Flying the Hurricane in these scenarios has been an interesting experience and, notably, one that may change over time. Although not fast, the Hurricane does seem to be able to climb relatively well which means that if you give yourself a few minutes you can climb to a decent combat altitude and command at least some energy advantage over the enemy. Especially if they are low and attacking ground targets.

Once combat is joined two things tend to happen. First, I’ve seen some pilots effectively disengage from the merge and come back into the fight with higher speed and altitudes than the Hurricane is capable of matching. The Hurricane is slow after all! Second, a lot of pilots have been sucked in to a turn fight with the Hurricane which it will win easily. I’m sure pilots will learn not to do this eventually, however, for now, the Hurricane is enjoying a pretty good time in the sun. With the 20mm cannon armed versions, the Hurricane quickly chews up enemy aircraft and is the heaviest armed fighter of the 1941 and early 1942 time period.

Damaged but not quite done for just yet

The Hurricane is also tough which means that light and heavy machine gun armament is not as effective as it might be against less well constructed fighters. The Hurricane’s reputation for robust construction and resistance to damage is on display here. That said, a few 20mm cannons to the right spot and the Hurricane will suffer like any other fighter. I also find that my pilot has suffered a fair bit from direct hits and shrapnel and suggest that the pilot may be the weakest link in the Hurricane’s otherwise impressive ability to withstand damage.

The biggest problem that a Hurricane pilot confronts is the speed issue. It means that an enemy running away can often do so very effectively. It also means that disengaging from the fight is difficult to pull off. I have broken off combat many times, often due to running out of ammo, but was stymied in my efforts to return to base by just not being able to leave the combat area quickly enough. You can handily evade enemy fighters with its turn rate but most of them will run you down if you try and run and that does limit the type’s tactical flexibility.

The Hurricane is everywhere!

Flying over the snowy landscapes near Moscow

Because the Hurricane was so widely used, you’ll be able to make use of the Hurricane in a variety of scenarios. In the context of IL-2: Great Battles, it slots in best in the Moscow and Stalingrad careers. With nearly 3,000 Hurricane’s sent to the Soviet Union during WWII, it’s appearance in these key battles helps to fill these situations out with even more variety than before. Several historical squadrons have been added for both Battle of Moscow and Stalingrad Career modes so you can jump into those right away.

The last frontline Hurricane squadron in the west was removed from active service in early 1944, however, both Battle of Normandy and innumerable single or multiplayer scenarios will still likely be able to make use of the Hurricane over the map anyways and we’ve also already seen the type show up on the typically late war oriented Combat Box server. Although the Hurricane is hopelessly outmatched as a fighter in these scenarios, the Hurricane was used to good effect as a bomber, so I can see some interested virtual pilots taking these aircraft to the skies in these scenarios much the way we’ve had some fun taking the Po-2 out on daylight raids.

Learn to fly the Hurricane

Ready to take to the skies in the Hurricane? Check out Requiem’s Air Combat Tutorial Library for his introduction to the Hurricane and how to fly and manage the aircraft.

Final thoughts

The Hurricane Mark II is a fun aircraft to fly, has been modeled to an impressive level of visual detail and flight model fidelity, and it is packed full of value with all of the different options and armaments available in the Hurricane. It’s relatively simple to manage, simple to fly, and it has sweet handling that encourages you to fly it eve more. It has few bad habits, if any, and the variety of ways that it can be flown and used in combat make me encouraged that we’ll see the type show up across a wide range of scenarios now that we have it. I asked at the beginning of the review if the type was worth it and I have to say that, once again, 1CGS has offered a compelling and interesting Collector Plane that adds variety to the series and an iconic British WWII fighter of the ages. If you’re remotely interested in the Hurricane or the early war period, the Hurricane Mark II is an excellent purchase.

The Hurricane Mark II will be available from Steam and is currently available on the IL-2 Sturmovik official store for $19.99 USD regular price and is, at time of writing, available for the promotional price of $14.99.

Screenshots

9 Comments Add yours

  1. Blue 5 says:

    You rotter! That 110 was clearly going down but you could not resist another sneaky burst…

    Agree with everything you said. It feels great and though I have not tried MP yet I can anticipate what you concluded about how it fairs. Interesting that you mentioned the slightly good / better than expected sense of climb – I also noticed that and was wondering whether it was just me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      In my defense he was still flying and had just dropped bombs on the target area. So he needed to be dealt with ☺️

      Hurricane is so much fun to fly. Even. If it’s not the best, it’s just a good time.

      Like

      1. Blue 5 says:

        Whatever; I call blood-lust

        Like

      2. ShamrockOneFive says:

        I am quietly competitive 🙂

        Like

  2. bigalrico says:

    I can only confirm your review. The Hurricane flies like a dream and I think I can say that it is by far the best collector plane that 1CGS has ever released. This is not least due to the great variation that this bird brings with it. The Brownings are a lot of fun and I’ve already taken down several 109’s with them, but the Hispanos and the Russian version are also great. The Vickers surprised me very positively. The HE has no problem destroying trucks and other soft targets, while the AP ammunition makes short process with light and medium tanks (whether AI or player doesn’t matter). In addition, the tremendous stability that the Hurricane brings and the good weaponry of the Vickers makes for a deadly combo.
    I think it was a really good decision to bring this bird to live and the waiting for it was worth it!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. CanadaOne says:

    It’s a plane with character, that’s for sure. Nice to have a growing selection of British aircraft.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      It really is! I’m excited to have the Typhoon as one of the next aircraft as we’ll then have the complete Hawker trifecta 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Blue 5 says:

        Beware the wild winds

        Like

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