I’ve been meaning to take the Ju52 onto a multiplayer server and do a paratrooper raid and finally last night I had the opportunity to take a crack at it in a group of pilots including Requiem from the Air Combat Tutorial Library. This is what happened!
To the frontlines
Finnish Virtual Pilots Dynamic War’s setup has evolved to incorporate a lot of different mission types into its portfolio. Fighter, attack, and bomber sorties are all common place and so are duels between tanks and now AAA trucks on the ground. The server has always had a resource system in place as well where forward airbases are only useful if appropriately supplied. Flying a Ju52 or another designated transport aircraft to those bases helps to keep them stocked with aircraft. But there’s one more mission type that the server supports – the paratrooper raid!
The goal of the raid is to forward deploy troops near the frontlines. A designated red or blue smoke signal marks the zone that needs to be reinforced and both teams have this as an objective. The end result? More tanks available on the frontline so this has a tangible result.
Last night, we set out to do this.
Setting out from a base located in the western section of the Stalingrad map, we took flight as a group of three Ju52’s and a Bf110 on escort duty.
Enroute, we were buzzed by a pair of Bf109’s who appeared to struggle with our identification and perhaps weren’t used to seeing a formation of Ju52’s operating on a multiplayer server. Fortunately no shots were fired although one of our formation had to make an evasive turn to avoid a potential crash.
We pressed on with smoke columns rising ominously ahead marking the fighting on the frontline.
This gives me a moment to appreciate the Ju52 a bit more. It’s not a type I fly as often as others but I have put some more time into it recently and I really like flying this aircraft. It’s different from anything else in the sim with a few unique features and extremely docile handling characteristics. It’s also not armed with anything except for a single MG 17 7.62mm light machine gun in an optional turret on the top.
Ready to drop
As we approached the target we closed up the formation a bit to make sure that we all dropped into the same zone and saturated the objective as much as possible. It’s at this point that we were warned and spotted enemy aircraft ahead. To our 2 o’clock two IL-2’s, apparently fresh off a bombing mission, decided to take a crack at us and bored in on our position.
We pressed on and arrived over the drop zone. On the leads orders, we slowed our speed to around 200 km/h and began dropping troopers. It takes longer to drop paratroopers than bombs so it felt like ages (it was just several seconds) before all of the troops had cleared out.
In true action movie fashion, the last of the troopers had just dropped out of my plane when cannon shells impacted the Ju52 on the left side of the formation. This was Requiem’s Ju52 and his aircraft began to spiral out of formation and then made the turn for home – leaking fuel, oil and with an engine out. Moments later, my Ju52 took direct hits and I turned with the lead Ju52 in the opposite turn.
It was futile as the IL-2’s made a second pass on my Ju52, crippling it and killing my crew. Fully engulfed in flames, it plummeted to the ground. Lead took hits as well and was also lit on fire.
And then there was one
With two down, Requiem’s Ju52, despite being damaged, ended up being the one that managed to make it away from the fight. Several Bf109’s and our Bf110 escort (who heroically drew the enemy’s fire) had intervened against the IL-2’s and other Allied aircraft that were attacking us. That offered an opportunity to escape.
I hopped into Requiem’s gunner seat. From there, I did my best to provide navigation and keep the tail clear as we headed for the nearest temporary airfield.
Soon one appeared and after several hairy moments and one excursion off the runway, the last surviving Ju52 came to a rest.
Although we did lose two aircraft in the process, this was still one of the most interesting and novel sorties that I’ve been on in a while. The paradrop aspect is really fun and it’s incredible to look back and see the stream of white parachutes dropping away.
In the end, we dropped all of the troops within the designated zone and added extra units to our frontlines. It’s nice to have a direct impact on the effort there so that flying a paradrop mission isn’t just something to do but something that as some sort of meaningful impact on the front.
It’s not an easy mission profile to fly. You’re in slow, lumbering aircraft, that make for easy targets even for attack aircraft like the IL-2. Escape is just as difficult as getting in there and with most frontline target zones in hot contention, it’s difficult to even make it to the target.
That said, escort and team coordination (or happy circumstance) can make a big difference here. In light of the announcement of the C-47 and Li-2 coming to IL-2, I hope to see more scenarios taking advantage of these types of missions and more fun to be had flying transports.