I feel like the P-47 gets a little bit of a bad rap amongst sim pilots. It’s not a dogfighter and it doesn’t do well on its own in those low altitude turn fight contests that so many scenarios end up dealing with, however, when flown in a team, a group of P-47’s can be really successful and make an impression. Here’s a story of a flight that I flew recently with a group of virtual pilots in IL-2: Great Battles on the Finnish Virtual Pilots server.
Strike mission south
I joined YouTube and Twitch streamer Wolfpack345 and two other pilots for a couple of sorties on the Finnish Virtual Pilots server the other night. We decided to take up a flight of P-47’s on a strike sortie in the southern sector of the map. Located almost due south from our position, the objective was simple – haul as many bombs as possible to target and drop them.
Our takeoff was smooth and before long we were at 5000-6000 feet and heading out to target. Clear skies made it easier to spot the target and potential enemy fighters but also exposed us to potential interception.
Fortunately, we appeared to get lucky as we approached the target in relative safety.
The formation broke and descended on the industrial site. Multiple buildings had already been hit but others were still intact and we dropped our bombs on these and several truck target.
Several 1000lb and 500lb bomb explosions erupted from the facility as each of our attacks hit their targets. Smoke rose from the target area. It wasn’t quite finished off just yet but we had done our job well.
Multi-role fighter sweep
Although I feel like it doesn’t get enough credit, flown well in a formation, the P-47 becomes a powerful and dangerous fighter. We decided to turn our successful strike into a fighter sweep as we climbed to 10,000 feet and away from the target area and heading back to the north along the frontlines.
Our first catch of the day came quickly. A Bf109 engaged us more or less head on before attempting to turn and run. Wolfpack345 pulled into a firing position and engaged the bandit scoring multiple hits. The Bf109 tumbled out of control and into the ground.
Several more minuets passed. Below, the various camps and artillery positions unfolded before us. A couple of single tracer rounds on the ground appeared to indicate the presence of tanks and an ongoing tank battle. In the air, our formation of four P-47s swept across the area looking for targets of opportunity in the air and on the ground.
Looking left I caught in the corner of my eye just a few moments too late a dark dot climbing up towards us. Tracer fire streaked across the sky as a Bf109 tempted fate and fired into the belly of one of our P-47s.
Although the P-47 briefly tumbled out of control, the pilot was able to regain control and return the fighter to base. This despite being hit multiple times by 20mm cannon fire. Tough plane indeed!
The 109 was joined by another and a few more Allied fighters were now in the mix as multiple Allied and Axis aircraft swarmed into the area. The sneak attack 109 turned and dove after attempting to bring guns on another P-47. This was a mistake as the three of us dove after him with rapidly climbing speed.
The 109 turned, away from one of us only to have another Thunderbolt drop in. The fight went low and as the 109 evaded one of our attacks, I turned hard and positioned for a deflection shot into the 109. A spray of .50cal bullets damaged the 109 but I did not press the attack and instead converted my speed back into altitude.
The 109 turned again and climbed only to be bounced by another P-47 and a Spitfire that made a brief firing pass. Finally, one in our group fired a long burst and the 109 went straight into the ground.
Another 109 saw the action and tried to engage but I ended up being at his long six o’clock firing a short but accurate burst that did some damage almost immediately. I ran out of speed trying to climb with the 109 but another in our flight caught him and filled him full of .50cals. One more 109 down.
A third fighter appeared and dove from a higher altitude to engage us. I evaded him at first but a lucky MK108 spray got me and destroyed my aircraft. Tough as the Thunderbolt is, a couple of 30mm hits is absolutely destructive.
Wolfpack345 and the other two P-47’s returned to base successfully. All in all, a fun combat sortie and one to remember!
Watch it for yourself
Wolfpack345 has done a great video on the whole thing which you can watch here!
Here’s a few screenshots from the sortie!