Of all of the aircraft coming with IL-2 Sturmovik: Battle of Normandy, the Ju88C-6 is probably the one with the least amount of understanding around it, how it was used, and how it fits into the history of the battle. I’ll admit that my own knowledge was somewhat limited too. Fortunately, lots of information has come from community members and new details have emerged from the development team that should help place this aircraft in context.
The C-6 variant of Junker’s famous bomber
The Ju88C-6 is the heavy fighter modification of the Ju88A-4 bomber which we already have in IL-2 and have had available to us since the end of Battle of Moscow’s development. The Ju88, like many WWII aircraft, proved highly adaptable and useful for a wider variety of roles.
The C series of Ju88 were envisioned as long range heavy fighters (the Zerstörer) and indeed the Ju88C-6 was used in this role quite successfully for much of its career. Over the Bay of Biscay, long range Ju88C-6s often intercepted long range Allied patrol aircraft turning their ample array of forward firing guns on them. On the eastern front, Ju88C-6s would fly long range strikes into enemy held territory and attack trains and ships. They were also used for weather reconnaissance.
In the Normandy operations, it is I. and III./ZG 1 that were moved from their traditional long range patrol duties into attack operations against the invasion beaches and here the concentration of AAA fire and heavy enemy fighter presence spelled the doom for these units as is reported in this digitally preserved copy of the unit’s operations from Ghostbombers.com
In four days of operations against the Normandy beach heads, I. and III./ZG 1 suffered terrible losses. On D-Day itself, for example, two Ju 88s took off at 06.51 hrs. but broke off the operation due to (engine?) damage within half an hour. Seven more were up from 08.20 hrs. They attacked SWORD Beach from 700 metres, dropping their loads of AB 500, SD 50 and AB 23 on the “unloading operations” there, in the face of intense light AA from both ships and land as well as 50 fighters. The defences were such that they could not observe any results although they did claim “one possible victory.”Ghostbombers.com on how ZG 1 came to be removed from the Normandy theatre
Notably, this information also gives us the clearest indication of these aircraft carrying not only smaller bombs within their bomb bay but also 500kg class weapons mounted externally. Something that we’ve seen in this latest batch of screenshots.
Speaking of weapons, we now have confirmation that the Ju88C-6 will be armed with three 7.92 mm MG 17 machine guns as well as three 20mm cannons of two different varieties. VikS from the 1CGS team confirms that detail:
Yes, it will be possible to replace one fuselage mounted MG-FF/M for MG-151/20=FB=VikS
Presumably that means that the armament will be mixed with the gondola 20mm cannons remaining MG-FF/M 20mm cannons while the fuselage cannon becomes a MG151/20. The concentration of six guns in the nose will provide ample firepower against ground and air targets when the opportunity arises.
Another question about the windscreen has also been cleared up. Both an armored windscreen and upper nose plate will be available.
Armoured windscreen and upper nose plate (like one prev posts photos) – will be available as modification=FB=VikS
Questions have also arisen about where this aircraft will be used. It’s Normandy operations before the invasion will likely provide for several weeks if not months of opportunity, however, as we learned above, it was withdrawn rather quickly once the invasion began. But that isn’t the only place that we’ll be able to fly it.
LukeFF, an IL2 tester, and a community member who has increasingly been involved with helping to improve the career mode, weighed in on its use in another single player campaign. The Battle of Kuban!
It’s planned for Kuban at the moment, along with two new units – 7.(Eis)/KG 51 and 9./KG 55.LukeFF
This is excellent as the Ju88C-6 was not only used in the west but also in the east and this addition once again adds a little more variety to that battle. Great! LukeFF also adds a few more details on operations:
Yes, they both operated from the eastern Crimean peninsula in the Spring of 1943. The KG 51 staffel was there until moving north for Operation Citadel at the beginning of July; the KG 55 unit was there until it was reorganized as a cannon-armed He 111 squadron and sent north to Ukraine at beginning of June.LukeFF
Going beyond the career mode and historical usages of the Ju88C-6, I want to provide a little of my own analysis on the type and how it I see it being used. I’ve written a few times that I see the C-6 as being something akin to the Axis version of the A-20B.
In IL-2 multiplayer, the A-20B has proven to be both popular and highly useful. In crowded multiplayer servers, large bomber formations are often easily spotted and engaged by an overwhelming number of interceptors. But, flying low and avoiding highly active areas, A-20 pilots have in particular been very successful at attacking targets. I should know because I’m often one of them!
I see the Ju88C-6 in much the same light. With a bomber level payload, including the ability to bring some rather large bombs (500kg in this case), and a nose full of guns, the Ju88C-6 will have the opportunity to fly a different profile than the A-4 and stay low using ground clutter and terrain to avoid interception.
Though it’s 50km/h speed disadvantage at maximum speed is going to make it slightly easier to intercept, I still see this as an aircraft that has the potential to slip in and attack targets successfully just as the A-20 can. Careful planning, terrain following, and quick and dramatic attack runs, will all help. Fighter cover of course makes the difference too.
A few have asked if its even worth flying in multiplayer and I think the answer will be yes. I can’t wait to find out!