Battle of Normandy has incorporated in a lesser-known variant of the famous Ju88 bomber into its aircraft mix. This heavy fighter variant comes with a different role, different armament options, and a unique niche to fill out in the IL-2 series’ collection of World War II aircraft. This is my review of the Ju88C-6.
A bit of history
Junkers Ju88 proved to be one of the more versatile aircraft of World War II. It’s best known as a twin-engine bomber that saw service during the Battle of Britain, on the Eastern Front, and lasting very nearly up to the end of the war.
Although the primary model, the A-series, is best known as a bomber, there was also a fighter-bomber C variant that was introduced and was used in smaller numbers. Several versions were created but it was the C-6 that became the definitive version. There two distinct versions that emerged with a standard day attack version and night-fighter version that was equipped with an air intercept radar. IL-2 Battle of Normandy is modelling the former and not the latter.
Most versions of the C-6 featured a solid nose and a mix of three MG 17 7.92mm light machine guns and three MG-FF/M 20mm cannons. The cannons were later upgrade to MG151/20 cannons boosting the firepower. Bombs hung externally or in the internal bomb-bay were retained from the A-4.
This version of the C-6 was used in a variety of roles including low level fighter-bomber that primarily hunted trains and attacked supply depots behind the lines on the eastern front. It was also used in the west flying from bases in Normandy and being used to hunt Allied anti-submarine aircraft or as a fighter escort for the FW200 patrol aircraft. According to Wikipedia, they managed to score 109 confirmed air-to-air victories doing this. Although they also suffered 117 losses.
These Ju88s were then thrown against the Normandy invasion suffering terrible losses before they were withdrawn in August of 1944.
Flying the Ju88C-6
You’ll adapt to the Ju88C-6 almost instantly if you’re a fan of flying the Ju88A-4 and you already know that type’s quirks, . They fly essentially the same with the same big aircraft feel.
Elevators remain effective throughout the flight regime except at very high speeds. Ailerons are relatively linear in effect but the type doesn’t roll quickly. Rudder is also effective provided there is sufficient air across the tail.
Conducting stalls and spins is not generally recommended with the type. A stall usually starts with a dropped wing so recovery is possible before it becomes uncontrollable. A little nose down attitude and regaining of speed is all that’s needed to become composed again.
Once in the air, the Ju88 feels heavy but responsive and when unencumbered by heavy bombs cleans up fairly well and flies with a great degree of confidence.
Landing is a careful procedure with the need to maintain on speed approach angles or find yourself floating down the runway in an overshoot or stalling rapidly and crashing on one wing. Its still more forgiving than types like the Pe-2 which you really have to fly on a razor edge but nonetheless the Ju88 is a bit of a challenge here. Rewarding as it may be!
Visuals and sounds
Reviewing aircraft for IL-2 can be a bit boring mostly because my message is always the same. 1CGS’ artists consistent art style and integration into the sim results in good looking aircraft with now standard 4K textures on the exterior and 4K textures on the interior.
The cockpit is very similar to the Ju88A-4 but there are some notable differences such as not having a forward firing flexible-mount machine gun. The glass nose has also been replaced by a solid one. The guns in the nose are clearly visible from the cockpit position as well which is interesting to see. Texture quality is good inside and out and everything feels like its just where it should be.
When flying with the MG-FF/M 20mm cannons you can, like with many IL-2 aircraft, see the ammo drum being changed when you reload the cannons after the first set have run out. I always love those little details!
The exterior has the usual array of features. Bomb bay doors open and close, radiator flaps too. There’s tactical code support like most recent aircraft releases and an array of liveries covering a range of scenarios. There are white winter distemper painted options for winter, a Mediterranean scheme, a night fighter scheme, and so on. The Ju88C-6 also has a couple of false canopy variants where the ground crews painted a Ju88A-4 window pattern on the aircraft to potentially fool attackers into thinking they were going head to head with the less well armed Ju88A-4. Not sure how effective that was in real life but its great to see!
The sounds here are as good as everything else in the rest of the series. Some people think the engine sounds could be more authentic sounding, however, they are consistent and accurate to the power levels and so the sound does a great job of communicating what’s happening with the plane. Same engines as the Ju88A-4 so you’ve heard these sounds before.
Armament and modifications
Recent additions to the IL-2 series have sported a number of modifications. The Ju88C-6 certainly has its own fair share of modifications as well as some default loadouts.
By default the aircraft comes with three MG 17 7.92mm light machine guns and three MG-FF/M 20mm cannons mentioned earlier in the description. Thats enough firepower to make it a decent attack bomber. After that, you have several options.
On the interior bomb bay you can fit ten SC50 general purpose high explosive bombs. These can be used in combination with underwing bombs fitted on a rack between the engine nacelles and fuselage. With that combination you can fit two SC250, two SC500 or two SC1000 for extra big explosions.
The MG-FF/M 20mm cannons are typical of the 1942 and 1943 configuration while in 1943 and 1944 the Ju88C-6 was increasingly fitted with the much improved MG151/20 20mm cannon. The MG151 is better in essentially ever way with a higher muzzle velocity and a belt feed rather than drum magazines so you won’t have to stop and reload the guns halfway through your supply as you have to with the MG-FF/M.
The aircraft can also be fitted with additional armor at the front of the cockpit and with exhaust flame suppressors. The suppressors have no effect in the daytime but it does hide the blue exhaust from the engines at night.
Finally, a single MG131 gun firing a 13mm heavy machine gun round replaces the two MG81J 7.92×57mm in the default configuration. In my estimation, the MG131 is the better option offering a rapid fire heavy machine gun that can do significant damage to whatever it hits over the faster firing but less potent MG 81.
I can’t help but compare the Ju88C-6 and the A-20B. They aren’t exactly the same, of course, but my use with them is similar. Both are often better off doing low level attacks using as much speed, surprise, and firepower as possible.
Like the A-20, the Ju88C-6 is at its best when it has protection from fighters or while sneaking around at low altitudes using terrain or weather to mask its approach and departure from a target area. The A-20B, however, is a more responsive airplane and it enjoys a speed advantage so its not entirely the same.
On an attack run, the array of guns on the nose offer a potent strafing ability that is effective against vehicles, trains and parked aircraft. The cannons are not powerful enough to work against tanks. Of course, the array of bombs loaded on the aircraft are what comprise the heaviest of striking capabilities destroying buildings, bridges, and tanks.
The Ju88C-6 is very vulnerable to fighters, especially mid and late war types, that pack sufficient firepower to bring the aircraft down quickly. Aircraft with four cannons or a large hub mounted cannon like the P-39 and Yak-9T are the most scary to go up against as just one hit can cause catastrophic damage. On the western front, eight gunned P-47, the concentrated array of guns in the P-38 and or the cannon based firepower of the Typhoon and Spitfire spell doom for any Ju88 that takes more than a glancing blow.
The top rear gunner position with either machine gun configuration has a decent but not overly clear view out the back.
There are a few quirks with it right now. The AI flies it like a bomber rather than an attacker in some scenarios. This happens the most in the AQMB although it seems to acquit itself better in career mode. Making it fly more like an attacker would probably be better in these scenarios.
The Ju88C-6 brings a fair bit of value to the overall IL-2 series as well. It’s part of Battle of Normandy and will appear in that campaign but it also slots itself into the Stalingrad and Kuban campaigns too as the type’s introduction in 1942 and use during both of those campaigns fits it in perfectly. You can easily make use of this aircraft in a bunch of different Career mode scenarios as a result and the long range interdiction scenarios where you enter an area looking to destroy vehicles, trains, and other enemy assets can be quite fun for those who prefer that kind of mission profile.
In short, the Ju88C-6 is a good aircraft and can be quite effective in long range low altitude attacks. At the same time it’s a challenging aircraft to employ without substantial escort or a bit of luck while evading enemy fighters.
The Ju88C-6 is an interesting aircraft variant. Its strong forward firepower and available bomb-load make it a useful attack-bomber but its relatively large size, low agility, and average top speed can make it highly vulnerable to enemy fighter attack. Despite this, I like that this new variant of the Ju88 gives us interesting options for flying a bomber or attack variant of this famous bomber with each having their own unique tactical flexibility.
As usual, 1CGS does a good job of representing the aircraft with ample armament options and loadouts. Although few people were excited about the Ju88C-6 before it came out, I’ve seen more than a few comments around the community expressing surprise that they now quite like having the aircraft. It was no small surprise to me as I’d been hoping to see this variation of the aircraft available since the days of IL-2 1946.
The Ju88C-6 is in a bit of a niche then. A useful attacker in just the right circumstance but vulnerable in other scenarios. I suspect this aircraft will find its fans and its detractors. It’s not a star aircraft by any stretch of the imagination, the Ju88C-6 has nonetheless proven to be a fun inclusion to the series.