Time another Tank Journal (a slight deviation from the usual Flight Journal) to tell another story about IL-2: Great Battles and Tank Crew – Clash at Prokhorovka. This time I’m on the ground together with Tank Crew enthusiast and YouTube/Twitch streamer Wolfpack345 on the Finnish Virtual Pilots – Dynamic War server and another tank offensive to try and push back the opposing team. Let’s get to the story from there!
This is Tank Crew multiplayer
Starting out in a group of three and very quickly picking up a fourth we set out in the western section of the Kuban map on the Finnish Virtual Pilots server. This server, combining both air and ground warfare, has once again offered me the most compelling combined arms experience I’ve had in the IL-2 series and possibly in any sim to date.
The overall scenario recently on the server has seen the Red team push back against the Blue team. Blue team is now facing a similar defeat that the Axis forces faced at the end of 1943 with their forces increasingly confined to the Taman peninsula in the Kuban/Caucasus region.
While we were on our mission to hunt enemy tanks and attack the enemy’s forward troop concentration, the server was filled with 70 plus players of which most of them were in the skies flying various types of aircraft. About a dozen of those were engaged in tank warfare which meant about even odds on both sides and plenty of tank activity.
We started out with two Panzer IV’s and a single Panzer III in our group although through the battle we ended up picking up another Panzer IV and we encountered a few other German tanks along the route.
Although most of the time you can simply drive from A to B in a tank in Tank Crew, we elected to get off the road and use the tree rows as cover. Tank Crew’s gameplay here is very compelling as you work together as a team moving from one row of trees to the next keeping an eye out for enemy tanks and aircraft.
It wasn’t too long into our battle before one of our stops to check on the situation revealed an enemy tank ahead. Positioning and teamwork are critical and so in this first engagement we had a clear line of sight to the enemy who hadn’t spotted us yet. We took the opportunity to position ourselves for the attack.
With the enemy tank in sight, we set the range on our sights to slightly different values and opened fire.
The T-34 never spotted us and, after several shots at range, burst into flames and smoke. One enemy tank destroyed.
We, however, were out in the open during this so it was time to move forward on to the next row of trees and cover. In this next set of screenshots you can see how effectively a little tree canopy and the shadows it cast help to conceal our tanks from enemy spotting – particularly from aircraft.
It wasn’t long before we spotted another enemy tank. I was unable to spot it initially, however, the other two had a solid bead and so we positioned for the next attack. Sights set, the other members of the team opened fire and, following the tracers in their shells, I was able to spot the enemy tank as well and pour on the fire.
One of the last shots penetrated the enemy tanks armor and it exploded. Second enemy tank confirmed destroyed!
Onwards again towards the enemy position and our objective. Unfortunately, one of our attempts to sneak from one row of trees to the next saw us spotted by an IL-2 and suddenly we were under attack. Rockets narrowly missed Wolfpack345’s tank while a bomb skipped across the ground just over mine before exploding behind me. Phew! That was close.
The IL-2 then turned around and strafed us again before being chased off by a friendly fighter.
The air war over us was nearly constant with new aircraft joining a swirling dogfight every couple of minutes and attack planes from both sides charging in to attack and destroy the objective. While driving along one of the tree lines there were sudden shell impacts causing most of us to temporary close our hatches and hide within the protective cover of the Panzer IV’s armor before realizing that stray bullets had landed near us while a dogfight happened overhead. Off in the distance, an aircraft crashed in spectacular fashion causing a fireball and smoke to be clearly visible from our location.
Undamaged and undaunted, we pressed on yet again!
Once again, an enemy tank appeared in the distance and we had the drop on them. Multiple rounds from our Panzer’s lanced out and caught the tank which did manage to return fire but which didn’t have the time before we were able to break through its armor and cause an explosion. Three enemy tanks down!
As we approached our target, we were again reminded that the air war above us was close at hand as an I-16 screamed over our tanks with a Bf109 right behind.
Unfortunately, our success and luck that had held during the rest of our mission was at an end. The enemy artillery that we had hoped to attack ourselves spotted us first and opened fire successfully. Wolfpack, and two of our other tanks were destroyed. I made a mad dash for the next tree line and hoped for cover… but it was too late. And a shell destroyed my tank almost instantly. Our offensive had been blunted.
A very engaging experience
Tank Crew is growing on me by leaps and bounds. I wasn’t sure what to make of it and I’m still formulating my thoughts into a full review but the more I play and the more I engage in these kinds of multiplayer missions, the more I appreciate the experience.
Incorporating Tank Crew with the rest of IL-2 also enhances the experience and that feeling of there being a bigger war going on is constantly there in a scenario like this one. AAA fire dots the sky, aircraft zoom overhead, a leisurely drive across a field is suddenly tense as aircraft scream overhead, and the threat of being spotted by an enemy tank is constantly there.
Tanks have poor situational awareness, especially once you pull your commander inside and close up the hatches. So you are constantly making the decision on if you want better visibility versus the very real possibility that a stray bullet or concerted and surprise attack could spell certain doom – exacerbated by open hatches.
Once an enemy tank is spotted, the tension ratchets up quickly as you close up the tank, put away the binoculars and prepare to attack. Hopefully before the enemy does the same.
Done as a team, the experience is gratifying, often exciting, and frequently tense. It’s great!
You can watch a similar mission (not the one described) above on Wolfpack345’s YouTube channel as well!