IL-2 aircraft review: The magnificent Mosquito!

Dubbed the ‘Wooden Wonder’ thanks to its unique construction, the Mosquito proved to be a capable multi-role aircraft during its wartime service. It is nothing short of yet another classic and legendary World War II aircraft and now, it’s here in IL-2: Battle of Normandy! How does this aircraft stack up versus its reputation and what is it best used for? Does it live up to the legend? Let’s have a look!

A bit of history

The Mosquito’s history as the highly successful warplane that it became was not assured. The concept, proposed by, Geoffrey de Havilland was not initially accepted. An unarmed fast bomber was deemed too radical a concept for the pre-war RAF. The DH.98 project, as it was then named, did continue on as there was interest in it becoming a speed reconnaissance aircraft. However, by 1939 and the outbreak of war, the concept gained new attention.

By June 1940, with the Battle of Britain well underway, work stopped as Lord Beaverbrook, Minister of Aircraft Production, ordered industry to focus on five already in production types. By July the work was back on again and by November the first prototype had flown.

The Mosquito was produced with a significant number of different variants. The most produced was the Fighter Bomber Mark VI (or FB.VI) while significant number of bomber and reconnaissance versions were also created. The Mosquito soon took on historical significance as the aircraft became the ideal type to be sent on a variety of high risk missions. Famously, fighter-bombers bombed the Gestapo headquarters in Copenhagen in a precise low level raid and in Operation Jericho where the aircraft were a key part of a prison break at Amiens. The type more genrally conducted both daylight and night raids and Mosquito bomber squadrons attacked industrial targets in Germany and occupied countries.

The Mark XVIII variant was a modification of the FB model with a different armament configuration. Here we see the four .303s retained (or sometimes reduced to just two) while the 20mm cannons are removed in favour of the Molins 57mm. The Molins aircraft gun was a modified QF 6-pounder anti-tank weapon modified with an automatic loader system and fitted into the modified Mosquito. The weapon was originally intended as an anti-tank system, however, the RAF lost interest in it for this role. It was then shifted to the RAF Coastal Command which felt that the weapon might be of some use attacking U-boats. About 30 aircraft Eighteen (Ed note: Thanks Busdriver for the correction!) were modified with this configuration and their kills include a U-boat and a Ju88.

Although an unintentional side benefit, the Mosquito had a lower radar signature than the large heavy bombers that the Allies were sending up and that together with its high altitude and high speed gave it an advantage. By the time the attacking Mosquito force had been detected, night fighters struggled to then scramble in time to make for an effective intercept.

The Fighter Bomber versions also became a potent force flying with the RAF 2nd Tactical Air Force before Normandy as strikers against a wide variety of key targets. RAF Coastal Command meanwhile made use of the aircraft, striking German shipping all across the North Sea.

It looks right inside and out

1CGS has once again poured in a considerable amount of effort to make the Mosquito one of their best looking aircraft. The exterior model looks the part showing off the type’s streamlined constructions and sleek engine nacelles. The landing gear is beautifully detailed for an IL-2 aircraft and the bomb bay incorporates plenty of details too. The Molins gun, which I’ll talk more about below, has a great animation with the recoil of the barrel with every shot. Everywhere I look I see the usual attention to detail… but maybe even just a little bit extra here! It’s really great.

Inside the cockpit we find a cramped space for two with a somewhat complex arrangement of gauges, knobs, dials, and switches. Here again, everything looks the part. There are plenty of details in here. The Mosquito has a complex cockpit and 1CGS really pulled out the stops to make this look good. They didn’t have to but the hatch located on the lower starboard side of the nose starts in the open position and then closes when you get started.

This aircraft also makes use of all of the latest technologies. That includes the tactical code system that gives us the ability to mark the side of our Mosquitos with appropriate (or inappropriate) codes!

I can only find cause to complain about the armament panel glass which looks a little more opaque than I think it should. The navigator is also quite close by and that does sometimes looks a little less than ideal when you lean over and get a little too close. Minor issues aside, it really looks great in there! For a complex aircraft like this, 1CGS really have pulled off another masterpiece.

Flying it

The thing that seems to trip people up the most is takeoff. The Mosquito’s twin Merlin engines spin in the same direction so the torque all goes one way. There is a quirk in the flight model here where the aircraft swings in the opposite direction from the way it should – but so long as you have the right technique it doesn’t matter too much. I expect it will be sorted in a future update.

The tailwheel is not a lockable one and the Mosquito uses a single differential brake lever (just like the Spitfire, Hurricane, Typhoon and other British aircraft) so make sure you have that bound to a control. Tap the brakes and keep the aircraft moving forward until enough speed builds and the rudder can take effect. After that you should be able to lift off without trouble.

Flying the Mosquito is relatively straightforward. With the same engines as a Spitfire, the power managements and limits are very familiar and so making the transition is relatively straightforward. The two Merlins give the Mosquito gobs of power and the airframe is relatively slippery. That translates into an impressive top speed and great acceleration.

With snappy effective ailerons, good elevators, a useful rudder and overall great handling character, there’s very little that the Mosquito does wrong. The roll rate here is very quick leading to some questioning if this is accurate or not. I haven’t been able to find documentation supporting either argument. It certainly is quick!

The Mossie can get a bit floppy if pulled too tightly or with poor control harmonization but otherwise its quite a solid aircraft to fly – especially at speed.

Speaking of speed, the Mosquito does have a reputation for being fast. Some of that reputation is over-hyped, however, it’s not a slow airplane by any stretch of the imagination either and ranks among the fastest in the series.

With the open exhaust modification, 150 octane and the engines producing +25lbs of boost (something it can sustain for 5 minutes), the aircraft can reach 598 km/h (or 371 mph) at sea level. Faster than the FW190A-6 at 563 km/h, faster than the Bf109G-6 Late with MW50 boost at 573km/h, and on par with the Bf109K-4 (599 km/h) and the Tempest Mark V (600 km/h). The standard +18lb boost version does only 548 km/h at sea level so its only in this late war configuration do you get the full effect.

Your speed does, however, bleed off quickly in tight prolonged turns. These are not the Mossie’s forte. Short sharp ones to lose an enemy fighter might be warranted but getting into a turn fight with a single engine fighter? Not recommended.

How does it compare to the DCS version? I feel the two are relatively similar with the IL-2 version feeling a little sharper and a bit less floppy while the DCS version is a little more prone to asymmetric yaw. Both stall somewhat similarly and overall employment feels quite similar. The model in DCS seems to favour some of those small quirks in the flight model that IL-2 doesn’t model or approaches differently so this is a common comparison point between the two sims so that seems consistent. There’s certainly much more alike than is different.

Fighting it

Being a combat aircraft, it is combat where the Mosquito excels in its role. Between all of the types, Mosquitos were used as bombers, fighters, night fighters, reconnaissance, anti-shipping, bomber pathfinder and more. The version we have here is the FB.VI with a focus on fighter-bomber duties and it does an impressive job of it.

The Mosquito’s primary armament comprises four .303 machine guns and four Hispano Mark II 20mm cannons. The standard 20mm ammo supply gives it 150 rounds per gun. A slight overload option is available bringing it up to 175 rounds per gun. Ample supply!

The available 57mm Molins aircraft gun modification (making this a Mark XVIII) is a bit more of a specialized use case. It works well against small craft like torpedo boats which can sustain usually only one or two hits while larger ships seem to sustain multiple hits without any clear indication that they are being damaged. The exception are gun turrets which the 57mm can easily eliminate.

I haven’t had the opportunity to try the weapon against a U-Boat but I would hope that it works against them. It can also kill tanks such as the Pz III with as few as one or two hits if attacked from the proper angle. Frontal armor is a bit more effective and some tanks can take multiple shots before a shot gets through.

More typical armament types include two or four 250lb or 500lb general purpose bombs and an array of rocket types. This includes the Mark I and Mark III rails as well as the Coastal Command double rocket configuration. These are just as effective here as they are on the Typhoon with the RP-3’s packing a significant punch. I find the AP versions to be of limited use while the SAP/HE versions are devastating against vehicles and ships alike.

There is a quirk of the armament selection screen where 2x250lb or 2x500lb bombs are listed twice. The first listing is for the internal bomb bay only while the second listing is for the wing racks.

There are two gunsights available. The Mk.IIL Gunsight gunsight, like the one found in the Typhoon, has an adjustable dial that can be used to move the aim point to accommodate for the substantial drop of the RP-3 rockets.

The Mosquito can be used as a fighter too although its not its primary purpose and I wouldn’t find myself choosing it for a fighter role. In this the Mosquito comes with some big benefits like its extremely powerful array of guns, the great visibility over the nose, and its relatively high top speed. It also rolls well for a larger aircraft so that may serve you well. But it is still a larger aircraft and so prolonged turns will drain it of its speed and low speed handling is not ideal.

If the target were another twin, such as a Bf110 or a Ju88, I think the Mosquito would acquit itself well. Particularly if on the offensive. Defensively the Mosquito does best by “pouring on the coals” and running away.

Final thoughts

Battle of Normandy continues to deliver on the outstanding aircraft examples. The Mosquito is yet another legend brought to life and a classic and quintessential British aircraft of the war. The Mossie fits perfectly into the tactical warfare that the IL-2 series does so well.

With super firepower, great speed, good overall visibility, and excellent handling, the Mosquito makes for a superb attacker that can get in fast and hit hard. Its not a highly agile fighter so it can suffer when intercepted by highly capable late war fighters and its not especially robust so multiple 20mm cannon hits can be crippling. Avoid those situations, however, and you have one impressive attacker.

The Mosquito is yet another example of the great amount of effort 1CGS puts into their aircraft. There are multiple armament configurations, two gunsights, available 150 octane fuel, removable exhaust covers, and all of the little details packed in here. You can’t help but notice the labour of love here. This is also one hell of a fun airplane to fly! Go, fly it now!

Screenshots

9 Comments Add yours

  1. Oyster_KAI says:

    The engine sound in cockpit is different when the exhaust covers are equipped and removed, which is a good detail design.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Snowy says:

    An excellent review of this fantastic addition to the BoX series. I’ve been looking forward to it and it exceeds my expectations.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Blue 5 says:

    I agree with everything that you wrote – it is simply gorgeous and does everything well. The modeling impresses on a virtual pilot just why the actual crews loved it and the why the Luftwaffe were quite wary.

    Is there an ‘only 2 x 3.03’ on the standard model? According to books, this was also quite common as by this point the small calibre were somewhat pointless.

    BTW, anyone looking for a good (if somewhat old-fashioned) read might want to look-up the ‘Yeoman’ series on Amazon Prime Kindle. There is a good one with the titular hero as a Mosquito squadron commander.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Thanks Blue! No two .303 option on the standard armament model – just on the 57mm. I didn’t realize that this was happening with that model too.

      Like

  4. Blue 5 says:

    The mod might have been unofficial but I think that the 2TAF books referenced it. Persuaded my (ex-Pilot) father to get into Il-2 and he loves the Mossie.

    Bought myself a desktop fan so i can fly her this evening, as it is high 20s here even as darkness falls.

    Total OT, but is there a complete printable BoBp map somewhere?

    Like

  5. busdriver says:

    “About 30 aircraft were modified with this configuration…”

    As it turns out, only 18 Mk VI airframes were converted to the Mk XVIII, and of those only 13 were used on Ops.

    Like

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Oh really? My sources were inaccurate on this. Thanks for the correction! I knew you might have something on this aircraft… it being a fav and all!

      Like

      1. busdriver says:

        I’ve also read the “about 30” in a couple of books. The Form 78 Aircraft Movement card notes the Mark as 18 or XVIII if a particular Mk VI was converted. Here are the particular aircraft.

        HJ732 FBXVIII AAEE/DH SOC 31.5.46

        HX902 FBXVIII AAEE/248 Shot down by trawler 4.11.43
        HX903 FBXVIII AAEE/248 Mid-air w/ HR138 nr Cornwall 9.6.44
        HX904 FBXVIII AAEE/248/254 On lndg, u/c fail Chivenor 5.7.45

        MM424 FBXVIII 248/254 SOC 4.11.46
        MM425 FBXVIII 248 Flying accident Banff 16.12.44 DBR

        NT220 FBXVIII RAE test aircraft SS 10.11.50

        NT224 FBXVIII 248 Downed by fighters nr Gossen 7.12.44
        NT225 FBXVIII 248/254 SOC 20.11.45

        PZ251 FBXVIII 248 Shot down by flak Haugesund 21.10.44
        PZ252 FBXVIII 248/254 SOC 25.11.46

        PZ300 FBXVIII 248/254 On lndg u/c fail N Coates 3.5.45 DBR
        PZ301 FBXVIII 248/254 SOC 31.12.46

        PZ346 FBXVIII 248 Shot down by fighters nr Gossen 7.12.44

        PZ467 FBXVIII DH US Navy as 91106 To USA 9.4.45 NX66422
        PZ468 FBXVIII 248/254 SOC 26.11.46
        PZ469 FBXVIII 27 MU/AAEE SS 7.3.47
        PZ470 FBXVIII 27 MU SOC 23.7.46

        You can see HX902, HX903, and HX904 for yourself here (scroll through) http://lancasterbombersinfo.ipage.com/Data/Form-78s/Mosquito/HX802-HX984/0.html

        Liked by 1 person

      2. ShamrockOneFive says:

        Great information! I’m going to make a little correction.

        Thank you as always!

        Like

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