IL-2 Spitfire XIVe review

A recent update gave us access to the bubble canopy version of the Spitfire XIVe for IL-2 Sturmovik: Great Battles. In this review have a close look at the new Collector Plane and compare it to the Spitfire XIV that we already have. Is it worth having? What features set it apart? Let’s break it down!

Bubble canopy Spitfires in history

Midway through WWII, fighter designers were working hard to improve their aircraft in all aspects and that included pilot vision.

Aircraft like the Typhoon, P-51D and later models of the P-47D sported a teardrop or bubble canopy made possible by advances in acrylic canopy production. The Spitfire, through a series of continual improvements, was not immune to the trend and so late models of the Spitfire IX, XVI and XIV were redesigned with a new cut down fuselage and a bubble canopy. Fun fact, the prototype for this effort was a Mark VIII airframe but the Mark VIII never itself saw the modification in production.

The redesign did cause problems for most aircraft undergoing the change. Problems ranged from small increases in drag to altering the handling characteristics. The advantages of extra visibility far outweighed the downsides which were, for the most part, small. However, even during the war, some detractors of the change complained that it ruined the look of the airplane.

While the Typhoon saw the bubble canopy become standard in 1943 and the Tempest entered RAF service with the bubble canopy as standard, the Spitfire’s implementation of the design took longer and thus only in the last few months of the war did these bubble versions appear.

What’s the same, what’s different

The Spitfire XIV is among an elite group of the highest performing piston engine aircraft ever produced and in IL-2 Great Battles Series terms finds itself in among other top performers. The Tempest Mark V, P-51D, Bf109K-4 and Fw190D-9 all compete in the rarefied air, metaphorically, for best late war, piston engine, performer.

The biggest difference between the two Spitfire XIV variants? Rear visibility.

With the bubble, it is notably better in the Spitfire XIVe (the bubble canopy variant) than Spitfire models with the standard canopy style that had been used for most of the war. That said, Spitfire rear visibility was already good and so the practical differences between them is quite a bit less than what you experience with the P-47D-22 to D-27 or P-51B to P-51D.

The XIVe also, as the name implies, features the E-type armament configuration exclusively which means 20mm Hispano cannons in the outboard position and .50cal machine guns in the inboard position. Familiar to most IL-2 Spitfire pilots as its the only configuration on the Spitfire IXe and an optional configuration on the earlier Spitfire XIV.

Perhaps the most interesting feature to me, and also maybe the most underrated, is that the Spitfire XIVe has an auto propeller control system. There are two modes: Linked and Max RPM. That means in most situations you can put the propeller control in the automatic or linked position and then not worry about it. Consequently the only input you need to then think about is the throttle. It’s a small thing but a boon to the pilot in complex combat scenarios.

There’s also the, mostly cosmetic, addition of a reconnaissance camera. Although many Spitfire XIV models with the cut down fuselage were flown in the fighter role, others were delivered and used as FR.XIV models operating in the dual fighter-reconnaissance role.

Flying opportunities

Multiplayer servers in some instances have added the Spitfire XIVe into their aircraft sets. Western Front oriented Combat Box has, for example, added it alongside the conventional Spitfire XIV. That may change and its range of dates may correspond more closely to March 1945 scenarios depending on the level of authenticity they decide to go with on this type.

In single player, where I know a great many of you fly, you do have some limited options. The Rhineland campaign with the Crossing the Rhine scenario selected is your only option in Career mode. Three squadrons, No. 130 (Punjab) RAF, No. 402 ‘City of Winnipeg’ RCAF and No. 41 RAF all have the XIVe on the roster.

The units fly in mixed formations of both the earlier and later model of the XIV so you will need to be squadron commander, choosing your own airplane, if you intend to spend the majority of your time in the new version. Even so, you’ll still need to fly the first part of the campaign in the older model before the bubble canopy version arrives somewhat later on in March 1945.

Of course the Spitfire XIVe is fully flyable in the quick mission builder and in the advanced quick mission builder.


The Spitfire XIVe has its own list of modifications, many of which are unique to this type.

Like with the Spitfire XIV, it has the option of 150 octane fuel which gives a 20 km/h boost to the type’s top speed at lower altitudes. Automatic supercharger gear shifting is disabled in this configuration and manually changing it to stage 2 at 11,000 feet is required.

The type can be fitted with two 250lb GP bombs on the wings and/or a 500lb GP bomb on the centerline.

The type can be fitted with standard or clipped wings.

A recon camera can be fitted when using the clipped wings.

Rounded exhaust pipes are also an option. These appear to offer a visual change to the aircraft and no performance benefit results.

You can have a rear view mirror.

With the XIVe, the standard gunsight is the Mark II GGS gyro gunsight with lead computing ability. Some late model types did have the standard Mark II reflector and that is an option.

You also have the usual range of 10 skins that cover a variety of unique combinations for the type. That includes a pair of SEAC skins for the Far East (fun to have) as well as some more typical late war RAF schemes – some which had begun to embrace a few unique schemes that were more completely embraced after the war was over.

Flying it and performance

There are a few performance differences between the two aircraft. Most attributes like climb rate remain unchanged, however, maximum speed does differ slightly. Using the technical information provided to us via the developers let’s compare.

Spitfire XIVe

  • Maximum true air speed at sea level, 2750 RPM, boost +18: 566 km/h
  • Maximum true air speed at 4000 m, 2750 RPM, boost +18: 661 km/h
  • Maximum true air speed at 8100 m, 2750 RPM, boost +18: 712 km/h

Spitfire XIV

  • Maximum true air speed at sea level, 2750 RPM, boost +18: 574 km/h
  • Maximum true air speed at 4000 m, 2750 RPM, boost +18: 671 km/h
  • Maximum true air speed at 8100 m, 2750 RPM, boost +18: 720 km/h

Your eyes are not deceiving you, the older Spitfire XIV from 1944 has a slight but important speed advantage over the newer bubble canopy version. As with most bubble canopy aircraft, the introduction of the cut down fuselage results in a slight loss in top speed performance.

There’s also very slight differences in stall speed in both in-flight and takeoff/landing configurations but these differ by just 1km/h.

My overall impressions of flying the XIV and XIVe back to back are that the two offer very little differences in handling. While I can tell most aircraft apart in the sim, even those with more subtle variations like the Yak-9 vs Yak-9T, I don’t think I’d pass a blind test on these two types.

It flies very much like the standard fuselage XIV and that means slightly more emphasis on speed and climb versus earlier versions of the Spitfire. This is an aircraft that is still capable of tight turns but one that tends to burn through energy more quickly in performing them – it doesn’t feel as light on its feet as the Mark V or as well balanced as the Mark IX.

A little bit less turn and burn and a bit more boom and zoom is the order of the day with both Spitfire XIV models.

Read my full review of the Spitfire XIV that I wrote back in 2021 for more comments on the Spitfire XIV’s handling.

Value and conclusion

I suspect, in reading this review, most skeptics of this version of the Spitfire XIV will point to the loss of performance and the limited flying opportunities to suggest that this aircraft is possibly not worth it. They wouldn’t be wrong either. The Spitfire XIVe version of the Spitfire does have a more limited range of opportunity for it to be flown and that makes it inherently less valuable than the other version of the Spitfire XIV. A Scripted Campaign accompanying it might have boosted its value a bit (not in any way diminishing His Majesty’s Griffons campaign for the standard XIV).

That all said, as both a fan of the Spitfire in-general and of the history surrounding the type, I am still glad that I’ve been able to secure some stick time behind this late war type. The last time I flew the Spitfire XIV, in a flight sim, in this configuration, was in Dynamix’s Aces Over Europe and I feel like I’ve been chasing the opportunity to do that again ever since. It has arrived now and it somehow, to me, feels fulfilling.

On the whole, the aircraft itself remains well modelled with visual detailing both inside and out that match what we see with other aircraft in the sim. Sounds, damage effects, and in-cockpit details are on par with everything that came before. So on a purely individual basis this is a good airplane and one that fits into the collection nicely.

If you’re trying to decide if this is a Collector Plane that you want in your IL-2 Great Battles Hangar I think you need to go about it in the following way.

Do you have the standard Spitfire XIV Collector Plane from Battle of Normandy? If the answer is no and you want a Spitfire XIV, that’s probably the first one you should own.

Do you then want the complete set and the ability to fly a rarer Spitfire model? That’s when I think you should decide to buy the Spitfire XIVe. A true Collectors Plane for the person who wants to fill their collection.



19 Comments Add yours

  1. Bumfluff says:

    I’d like to buy it but to be honest I’m wary of investing any more into this sim.

    Communication from the developers has returned to the bad old days and they seem determined to alienate the customers they have.

    Pass for now.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Certainly no-one can blame you. Things have definitely changed and that has caused many to reevaluate purchasing decisions.

      With these reviews I tend to focus in on the specific piece of content – as I have done here. But there’s no denying that other issues are sometimes overshadowing otherwise good work.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Bumfluff says:

    It’s a pity. I can’t get my head around why you would go out of your way to alienate a very niche customer base that has been so hard fought to win.

    Bizarre stuff. Needs some investigative journalism matey.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      I don’t think it’s quite as surprising as some are finding it.

      The change in leadership has had a noticeable change in communication both in style and in volume. Throw in philosophical and cultural differences and you have yourself a sandwich.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. CanadaOne says:

      Your ability to be fair and balanced and good natured never fails to impress me. 🙂

      It definitely lends the site a lot of credibility.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Blue 5 says:

    Apropos of the above comments – with which I completely agree – thanks to Shamrock for providing an assessment. As a nipper I also had Aces Over Europe and then Jane’s WWII Fighters (those were the days etc.) so a XIV is a trip down The Lane Of The Memory.

    Am torn whether to buy. Personally, I think the high-back looks better and the VIII the best overall mark, but for old time’s sake I am tempted…

    For me, you can see the impact of war on the design. In 1939 she looks like a beautiful but blushing debutant. The 1945 XIVE clipped-wing is a stone-cold killer with nary an ounce of pity. Reap the whirlwind, Luftwaffe.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Raptorattacker says:

    Nice and honest there Shamrock. I completely concur with the assessment. Imparted with all the relevant facts to back it up as well!
    Nice one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Thanks! As I always I try and present the information as clearly as I possibly can.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. CanadaOne says:

    Such a great sim with so much potential, but this shows an ongoing lack of creativity. All the energy going into repackaging existing content should go towards more fun and imaginative things.

    They really need to escape this somewhat imprisoned mindset they are in.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Blue 5 says:

      As Shamrock observed , this seems a cultural issue. Current events in Europe are a sad illusion, and hence I am disinclined to spend money.

      Maybe the new management might see sense, but I am not optimistic.

      The day that they realise the benefits of transparency is the day that I purchase content. Not until then.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. CAP says:

      Jason dipped and now =FB=LOFT is back running the show.

      RIP IL-2…


  6. Urgent Siesta says:

    Decision? What Decision?
    Over the course of my life I’ve spent a ton of money on books and models and trips that get me close-ish to these beautiful birds.
    Now for a few shekels I can virtually sit in one and fly it?
    Easy decision. Every time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Easy for some. More difficult for others.

      I couldn’t resist a Spitfire 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Urgent Siesta says:

        I can barely resist ground-looping one 😉

        But I keep going back for more 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Simfan says:

    I personally have a strange view on this IL-2 GB decline.
    I am gratefull to be able to buy something to complete my collection.
    IL2 GB will never cover every aspect of the European WWI and WWII aviation era, but it still comes
    as close as -most probably- *any* sim/game ever will.
    I hope IL-2 GB will go on, even if it is not as prosperous as we would all like.
    I will *still* buy anything 1CGS brings to this table.
    The current geopolitical situation is major concern of course … if some guy (the one we will not mention here) ever gets everyone -many devs included- in his country drafted to fight… against all of us …

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Great points Simfan. I do think it’s important to acknowledge what already exists and enjoy that. Sometimes the relentless drive for new things overshadows great experiences that we already have.

      Lots of fun to be had here with this sim. By the same token, concern for the future to be sure.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Simfan says:

        Shamrock, before I learned about il-2 GB I was into mainly into dcs world.
        Thanks to your epic stories and your in-deph experience with GB and the historical era you describe I tried il-2 sturmovik and fell in love, especially because of the true ‘historic’ feel of this sim, something I still can not find and enjoy in the same way with DCS. (Nevertheless I am looking forward to the upcoming Normandy map 2, hoping it may bring some more ‘life’ into the DCS World War II environment. Thank you also for the great blog articles you wrote about it)

        Liked by 1 person

  8. David Stewart says:

    Thank for the review, I bought it straight away, and very surprised that it did not perform as well (IE Faster than its predecessor) I thought I was doing something wrong. Am unable to change levers through engine options, it shows accepted, but makes no difference in the cockpit. That confused me. So now learning how to fight and keep an eye on the one minute max power limit. I do like this model, it’s just got more I have to look out for. Must try full engine controls sometime, but then you lose the ability to see yourself flying.


    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      The bubble canopy imparts extra drag on all of the types that used it. With the Spitfire, the compromises of years of evolution really began to show with the XIV. Especially with the bubble canopy.

      The small loss of performance was not as much of an issue in March and April of 1945 as the Luftwaffe was becoming hard to find.

      You can use custom settings to turn on full engine controls without losing exterior views.

      Liked by 1 person

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