Flying Circus Vol 2’s newest aircraft is the Bréguet 14.B2 and this French designed bomber and reconnaissance aircraft is well worth a look. What’s it like to fly and how does it operate in combat? I have a look!
A bit of history
A bit of history usually helps understand the aircraft itself and that is no different with the Bréguet. Designed by Louis Bréguet, the Bréguet XIV or 14 was the result of several design iterations that began at the start of the war. By 1917, the Bréguet 14 design had been approved and production had commenced with an in service date of May 1917 and onwards.
The Bréguet 14 made extensive use of duralumin, an aluminum alloy, for the aircraft’s structure. There was considerable unease about the new process but production and subsequent testing showed that the structure allowed the aircraft to be both sturdy and light.
At it’s peak, the aircraft equipped 71 escadrilles and replaced the Sopwith Half Strutter owing to both its stronger airframe, faster climb rate, heavier payload capacity and higher speed. The B2 version modeled for Flying Circus Vol 2 is the standard bomber variant although a camera modification makes it into the photo reconnaissance version as well.
In addition to the French, the Bréguet also served with the Americans and Belgians during the war and in post war use was flown by dozens of countries around the world.
Flying the Bréguet
There’s a lot to like about the Bréguet 14.B2 and it starts with the handling. Although its not an agile aircraft, the Bréguet has clear confident handling that requires a steady hand but doesn’t appear to need anything special.
This is a bigger aircraft and so its responsiveness is nothing like the scout fighters that I’m used to flying. Aileron response is average as is the elevator but I also have no complaints about how it flies. There are no bad habits that I observed and the aircraft easily climbs and hits something close to its top speed even when hauling around maximum bombload.
The Bréguet has stabilizer trim, a rarity among WWI era aircraft, and evidently a feature not added to the original version in Rise of Flight. Here it’s useful to ensure appropriate nose angle for easy almost hands off cruising.
When fully loaded, I do recommend having a long takeoff run with a focus on achiving speed first before trying to climb out. Failing to do so will lead you into a nasty situation where you don’t have the speed or the necessary room to gain any speed before something unfortunate like a tree or building comes across your path.
Visuals and other details
Ugra Media have done their usual rehabilitation efforts here with beautifully detailed 4K skins both inside and out. 1CGS have also made sure to include the latest technologies such as the dynamic vehicle damage system and the new tactical codes system.
The type’s cockpit is a bit more complex than some of the other types that we’re used to flying and there’s some great animations visible from the cockpit and gunners seat of the bomb bay opening and closing. Unsurprisingly, the animation is smooth.
Like the SPAD VII, the Bréguet 14.B2 has an animated visual for the type’s machine gun feed that is visible from the lower cockpit. You can see the ammunition deplete as its fed into the machine gun mounted on the side which is very cool as a fun little detail.
The Bréguet 14.B2 is primarily a bomber and it certainly has the weapons load to prove it. It can be loaded with 32 8kg bombs, 16 20kg bombs or 8 40kg bombs in capacities up to 320 kg of total weapons storage. By WWI standards, this is an impressive bomb load! For the moment this is the most potent bomber loadout available in any Flying Circus aircraft (soon to be displaced by the Handley Page and Gotha bombers).
I did not get to use the Bréguet very much in its true strength of attacking large strategic targets as most of my attack runs were against smaller more tactical targets. That said, in one bombing run I was intending to hit a smaller observation post and I managed to hit within just feet of the target. Not enough to destroy it but close enough to consider it a good run. Larger targets like warehouses or airfields would be easier to saturate with a few bombers flying in a run together. The bombsight is similar to the ones we’ve seen on the D.H.4 and Bristol F.2B.
The Bréguet is also agile enough to fly as an attack aircraft doing lower altitude bombing attacks and strafing with the type’s forward firing Vickers 7.69mm machine gun. The optional Lewis gun overwing attachment can boost the forward firepower in situations where that’s needed. Meanwhile, the optional Le-Chretien and Aldis gunsights I found to be useless as I couldn’t move my head out far enough to aim with them. The standard iron sight is also hard to use as its positioned off to the right side while the single machine gun is positioned on the left side of the fuselage. It’s not easy to aim as a result and it is one of the few downsides of this aircraft.
The type should also aim to avoid interception by enemy fighters. It is fast enough to keep away from some types and in one instance my fight with a Fokker D.VII was lengthened considerably by his limited ability to keep pace or close the distance. In one instance I was able to out position the same D.VII and shoot him down although I consider this a rare fluke. Flying together in a formation, a trio of Bréguet.B2s should aim to remain fast and use their twin flexible Lewis machine guns in the turret position for defense.
The Bréguet.B2 is yet another great entry to the Flying Circus aircraft set and an indication that the series is finally beginning to branch out a bit more with its aircraft types. Although the famous scouts are all very exciting, the Bréguet is more bomber than fighter and it together with the Handley-Page 0/400 and Gotha G.V represents some types that will appeal more to bomber and attack pilots.
Modeled well, beautifully detailed, and fun to fly, there’s little bad I could say about this aircraft. It’s fun to fly, well armed, and tough enough to take a few hits and keep on going.