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IL2 1946 review

IL2 and its series of sequels is the most comprehensive World War II flight simulator currently available. The latest incarnation, IL2 1946, was released in 2006 as the last installment in the series, and allows the player to fly in hundreds of beautifully modelled aircraft from all of the conflict's better and lesser known nations, and on battlefields ranging from Europe to the Middle East and the Pacific.
For a good general review of IL2 please refer to: original IL2 review

The one battlefield it doesn't model is the Battle of Britain!

But the IL2 Community has found a way around that. Some of the most satisfying Battle of Britain flying that can be currently had, is through scripted BOB campaigns created by the IL2 Community. These campaigns are always in the top 20 list of IL2 downloads, showing the strong interest in the Battle of Britain conflict among IL2 flyers.

Tribute to Battle of Britain IL2 Video by ATree11
Scripted IL2 campaigns have the advantage that the action is . . . scripted. (D'oh). This means that the user has created a series of individually linked missions, with limited random elements, linked together to form a campaign.
The disadvantages of using IL2 as a platform for building Battle of Britain missions and campaigns are small but notable:
There is no map of Southern England in IL2. Most mission builders therefore use other coastlines that roughly resemble the SW or SE of England, with the immersion destroying disadvantage that the maps are sprinkled with foreign (usually Russian) names.
There is no Spitfire Mk 1 in IL2, nor any Do17. Spit Mk Vbs (with cannon) are therefore used, giving the player an unhistorical advantage. For this reason, many missions and campaigns are built around the Hurricane Mk I or II. A wide range other major and minor aircraft such as the Blenheim, Defiant, and Gladiator can be used and there are even appropriate Italian aircraft types available.
There are several campaigns out there, I have chosen to highlight what I regard to be the best.
Hurricane Season by Cobra427so
To quote the author's own text: The Battle of Britain - Hurricane Season campaign missions are pulled from actual daily events and reports from July 10th through August 31st. While the missions follow a fictional character (you), some of the names and people are real. The locations, aircraft and Squadrons, (British and German) are as accurate as possible. The campaign is more about survival than sheer number of kills, though that too can be a challenge and entertaining. The mission goals for most missions are simple, get home alive with your aircraft intact. Quite often, landing at home is the only way to successfully complete the mission. BUT, there are 4 functional home bases to use. In an emergency, any one will get you "Home". (Tangmere, Warmwell, Ford and Exeter).

The map is sizeable with LOTS of objects and some of the flights are large so you may experience minor slowdowns at times. Simply tuning the graphics down a bit will make a huge difference. Since you're over water alot turning "Perfect Water" off, will help immensley. I found if I changed my graphic settings in-game from "Perfect" to "Excellent", I had major improvements in framerates.
Likes: 20 solidly constructed well-flowing missions with a good variety of fighter v fighter, scramble, bomber intercept and patrols. Good free form mission structures where the objective is to stay alive while bringing down as many opponents as possible. Immersion building mission briefings with good plotting. Nicely built airfields.
Dislikes: IL2 AI is robust and believable, but predictable. Expert players will find these offline IL2 campaigns lack re-playability. Limitations of IL2 also limit the amount of aircraft/objects the mission builder can put into the mission without crippling frame rates so the player doesn't get that 'horizon full of aircraft' feeling.
Overall: The best RAF campaign available for IL2.
Download here:
 SpitNFire by Cobra427so

"SpitNFire" is by the same author. SpitNFire takes up where "Hurricane Season" left off, with the player transferred to a Spit. To quote the maker:
Congratulations, your transfer orders have been approved, you will be reporting to Biggin Hill with the rank of Squadron Leader.

Biggin Hill is a Sector Field, the largest and busiest in the area. There are a total of eight active fields in your operational area. Six of those are fully staffed fields, two are day-fields. There are two additional air strips available for emergency use at factories in Seven Oaks and Maidstone.

Against the the rushing tide of the mighty Luftwaffe, the RAF is our only hope of survival... we must not fail... but your survival is key, we cannot fight without pilots. Bring your kite home!
Likes: The IL2 Spit Vb is a beautiful machine to fly and the missions are varied and interesting. Some heart pounding scrambles are the highlights.
Dislikes: Blowing Heinkels apart with a two second burst of cannon in a Battle of Britain scenario, when cannon armed Spits weren't available. Purists will feel like they are cheating. No one is forcing you to use cannon though - you could try to make do with its 4x.303 Brownings!
Download here:
Luftwaffe Pilot: Battle of Britain by FlatSpinMan
This campaign follows the expoits of German Ace Willi Jedermann, flying a BF109E4 for JG2 "Richtofen".

Jedermann was a veteran of the Condor Legion that served in the Spanish Civil War, and the author has done a lot of research to recreate missions typical of those Jedermann flew during the Battle of Britain.
Likes: Highlights the almost impossible mission facing the Luftwaffe escorts. If you stay with the bombers, you cannot prevent the RAF attacking until after they strike. If you break from the bombers, you can exact a greater toll on the RAF, but the bomber force suffers heavy losses. Flying with realistic fuel, also highlights how careful the Me109 pilot had to be to avoid swimming home!
Dislikes: Rather short campaign, and the Spitfire skin used is not the best available. Some flights home seem tedious if your kite is in good health, but on the other hand are exhausting if you are nursing an overheating engine or control damage!
Download here:
Battle Over Britain by Extreme One and Poymando
The original BOB scripted campaign for IL2, and still one of the best. To quote a review by Shock&Awe: This is just a great campaign especially for a person who is just ramping up on IL2. When you enter the campaign you are just a fresh recruit for the Brits when the Hawker Hurricane was introduced prior to BoB. There are a couple of introductory training missions that really bring you in to the story. I really feel a kind of ownership of my campaign that I have not felt before! Its hard to describe but, with the way this campaign is set up, its as if you are really invested in how your pilot does.

The first mission is a training mission to shoot down a towed glider: not as easy as it sounds!
A bonus of this mission is the voice package that accompanies it. Crafted by THX-1138 it uses voice actors from all over the Commonwealth to give an authentic range of accents, and authentic RAF period slang.
Likes: Beautifully crafted, accessible missions. Full package with new RAF speech files, campaign and single player missions, even period music!
Dislikes: Be sure to back up your existing skins and speech files as they will be overwritten.
Download here:
1940 Campaign Series by Compans
A series of three very well executed campaigns built by Compans, covering three periods of the conflict from the perspective of 32 Squadron, Hurricanes:
  • The Battle of France: May 1940, the retreat from Europe
  • Kanalkampf: June-July 1940, Convoy Phase
  • Adlerangriff: July-September 1940, Critical Phase and Blitz
Each is around 20 missions, so this series offers the unique ability to follow a single squadron from France to Britain, and from May to September 1940. Can you survive all three campaigns?

 The Hurricane skins are particularly well executed. See more screenshots here.
Likes: Some missions with a large number of aircraft. If your PC can handle them, IL2 can deliver reasonably large plane formations and these campaigns show that. Beautifully designed airfields and a custom voice package done by the author himself. There are nearly 50 hours of absorbing, immersive play in these three campaigns.

Dislikes:  Older (2 years or more) PCs may chug due to large number of objects in some missions, particularly in Kanalkampf/Adlerangriff. Again the speech pack will overwrite what you already have installed, so back up your files.

Download all three of Compans BOF/BOB campaigns here: