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Night fighters over the Kuban - Bf-110 G2 campaign


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2018-12-28-19-22-10.jpg

 

I am proud to present the first night fighter campaign for Il-2 Sturmovik Great Battles. In 10 missions you can fly the Bf-110G2 as pilot of 10.(NJ)/ZG1 during April to June 1943.

 

Download link:
http://www.axis-and-allies-paintworks.com/download.php?view.1018

 

10.(NJ)/ZG 1 was formed in October 1942. Not much is know about the first months of its existence, but from February 1943 onward it was based at Bagerovo on the Kerch peninsula as a night fighter squadron tasked with the defense of the Kerch Strait area. Most of the supplies for the German forces fighting in the Kuban bridgehead had to be transported across the narrow strait between the Crimea and the Taman peninsula, so the area became a primary target for Soviet night bombers. The pilots of 10.(NJ)/ZG 1 also carried out missions over or near the front to counter frequent night harassment attacks, often flown by obsolete biplanes. None of the units Bf-110s was equipped with radar, so interceptions had to be done in close cooperation with searchlights batteries. Despite the lack of onboard radar and the small number of available aircraft, the unit scored dozens of night victories. In August 1943 10.(NJ)/ZG 1 became the 5th Staffel of NJG 200, one of the two dedicated eastern front night fighter Geschwader the Luftwaffe formed during the war.

 

A few remarks:

- Do not hide the entire GUI (H key) when flying a mission. Doing so will disable the messages you receive during flight.
- Except for the player aircraft all plane and ground object markers are disabled by default, irrespective of the selected realism settings.
- You can fire flares when you are near your home airfield. This is the signal for ground crews to light the runway fires.

- Firing a flare when you are in the combat zone will order flak to cease fire for 5 minutes.
- If you think the nights are too dark or bright in the game, you might have to change the games gamma settings, this makes a huge difference.

 

Installation:

Extract the folder "data" from the "Night_Fighters_Kuban.zip" file into the IL-2 Sturmovik Battle of Stalingrad main directory. This will put the missions into the "IL-2 Sturmovik Battle of Stalingrad\data\Campaigns\Night fighters over the Kuban" folder and the skins into the correct sub-folders in the "IL-2 Sturmovik Battle of Stalingrad\data\graphics\skins\" directory.

Edited by Juri_JS
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It's the first night fighter campaign for BoX, so I am curious to get some feedback. Is it fun to fly or are night missions too difficult or boring? Is there anything that could be improved?

 

One thing I will do in the future is to replace most of the A-20s and Pe-20s in the campaign with the B-25 from BoBP. Together with the Li-2 and the DB-3/Il-4 the Mitchell was one of the most common night bombers used by Soviet long range aviation regiments in the second half of the war.

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Thanks for a spectacular campaign!  Great idea to turn off the object markers.  Doing so raised the degree of difficulty a couple of notches.  To answer your question, the campaign is not overly difficult.  Conversely, it is not easy.  It is definitely not for beginners and it will challenge experienced players.  I thought I was ready for this campaign after flying the night missions in Ivan's War.  Not so!  Night flying is a very different experience and will test one's flying skills as well as adaptability.  I will wait as patiently as I can for the aircraft switch.  You knocked this one out of the park!

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Just flew first mission. Downed a Pe-2 and even managed to find my home base. Promptly crashed on landing. Great to see the search light hunt for bombers and going after them when they are lit. I even found one in the dark but lost it again in the clouds. Loved every minute of it.  This is best played in a dark room with no reflections on your screen. 

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Juri...my hero...this is an AWESOME campaign! This is one of my favorite aspects of air combat. I just flew the first sortie. Loved the entire flight. I never fired my guns, but my gunner did. Little did I realize that I still had my landing light on. I only noticed this using the [F2] view 10 minutes later. Who knew that there is no halo of the light visible from the cockpit? I saw the tracers from the other 110 trading shots with an enemy airplane...nothing fatal. 

 

I had to learn some keystrokes that I'd not used before, selecting the white flare and then firing the flare. I fired the first one while in the [F2] view...no big deal. The second I fired while turning on the base leg to final (thought the airfield lighting had been extinguished). Dang that was loud and bright, it startled the sh*t out of me! Thought I had been hit at first. It made me laugh. Had to go around on my first two attempts to land, my instrument crosscheck needs work. Landed long...but safely. Need to remember the runway heading is 225 degrees...but I've already forgotten the field elevation.

 

My only critique, and it's nothing you can fix, it that the twinkling of stars is too strong IMO. I will re-fly the first mission until I can get a kill and land safely on the first attempt.

 

:salute:

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I don't think the lights from the stars in the game are really too strong. Lets not forget we flying over an area with wartime blackout. So the light pollution we have today in many areas of the world is completely missing.

 

Here's a comparison of a night sky without and with light pollution:

Light_pollution_country_versus_city.png

 

EDIT:

Reading your post once again I realized you were only talking about the twinkling of the stars. I think in reality the intensity depends a lot on conditions in the atmosphere. I've no idea if it's realistic in the game or if it changes when different atmosphere options are selected in the mission editor.

Edited by Juri_JS
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Indeed I was talking about the very high frequency of twinkling. I’ve spent many hours admiring the stars and constellations, and counting meteors whilst cruising above 30,000 feet.

Edited by busdriver
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Another wondeful campaign, Juri! I just played the first four missions - although at the moment heavily involved in the "Platzschutzstaffel Pitomnik" campaign 😉 - and I already love it! To search for enemy aircraft at night is very intense and so is the feeling while playing the missions. Absolutely intense! It's so much different from any other daylight campaign. Vielen Dank!

Edited by Moebelwagen
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Nice to read the positive feedback. I had some doubts whether night fighter missions are really interesting enough.

 

Who knows, maybe one day we will also get a radar equipped night fighter for the game, like the Ju-88C/G or the Bf-110G4.

 

Some might remember this video from Team Daidalos of onboard radar in Il-2 1946, that never made it into the game. Maybe something like this will be possible in BoX.

 

Edited by Juri_JS
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I've reflown mission #1 four times...because I was simply having so much fun on this sortie. Except for the first attempt where I never engaged, I always return home with battle damage. Our flak batteries are equal opportunity killers.  The Peshka gunners were pretty hostile too. Whilst closing in on a Peshka coned in searchlights I noticed a white flare off to my left 10 o'clock.  One of my comrades was closing on the bandit as well. On the last sortie I'm pretty sure flak damaged my right engine, that I eventually shutdown, but before getting the prop feathered (my bad). I really had to work during approach and landing :joy:  that was a blast!

 

Sure these screenshots are dark...it's pretty dark at 0030 with no moon. 

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Whilst concentrating on the guy in the foreground, my gunner would shortly engage the bandit coned in the searchlights behind us.

 

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Look closely below my right wing radiator...

 

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Well done Juri! :good:

 

Mission #2...bandits slipping out of the searchlight cones...squinting to find a shadow against a cloud or the tell tale stream of fluid. Oh bugger watch your rate of closure...

 

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Just time for a snapshot before overshooting. Those Havocs don't cruise as fast as the Peshka...or is that my imagination 🤔

 

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A lucky hit and Ivan goes down in flames...

 

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The cool part of this sortie was getting lost on the map. I knew I was east to southeast of base after the victory, but turning to West whilst at 500 meters I was unable to see familiar terrain features (shorelines). Finally a break in the clouds showed the constellation Pleiades. I noticed it was west of the base when I took off. Upon entering the traffic pattern Raven 2 was still on the runway. I fired a second flare whilst on short final but had to go around before he cleared the runway (vanished). He had landed about 15 minutes before me. Another satisfying 50 minute sortie.

Edited by busdriver
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Wow...the Kriegsmarine was not happy with my performance on Mission #3. Spotted the bandits before they started their attack, but was on the wrong side of the target I was protecting. Limped into our temporary airfield with my instruments shots out. My career ended on #4...shot in the face whilst stalking an IL-2. That lucky Ivan. 

 

I'm really enjoying the challenge of navigating at night without the waypoint markers.

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20 hours ago, busdriver said:

On the last sortie I'm pretty sure flak damaged my right engine, that I eventually shutdown, but before getting the prop feathered (my bad). I really had to work during approach and landing :joy:  that was a blast!

In my tests I never got damaged by friendly flak, but I guess it's possible, especially when you are close to an enemy aircraft  tracked by searchlights. What I could try to do in future versions of the campaign is to allow the player to give the command to stop fire to flak units by firing a flare. That's also how it was done in reality, because radio communication between aircraft and flak was not possible or it would take too long. 

Edited by Juri_JS
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Add one more!
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I am now getting used to the BK 3,7cm for the G2/R1. It is surpirsingly useful for this kind of situations. As I sometimes need to get close to the target, a single accurate shot to a bomber while it is being followed by the searchlights with the 3,7 it's great. The gunners at close distance are deadly so using the tracer of this gun at long distance is rewarding and more safe.
 

@busdriver You have to give it a go. Are you using any weapon mods?

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28 minutes ago, busdriver said:

Gallahad so far I've taken the 20mm pack twice. I'll see how I fare with the 37mm. I'm a terrible shot as it is. I'll need to practice in the QM. :drinks:

I found myself needing to be really close to use the 20mm and many times too close for the gunners. I need to pick up the twin 20mm pod but so far, having some distance is working with me, thanks!

Edited by LF_Gallahad
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Nice video... but I can't understand that there is no reaction from the EA when it gets illuminated by the searchlights?

It simply carries on with no evasion techniques to try and shake off the searchlight until it allows itself to be shot down...

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19 minutes ago, Trooper117 said:

Nice video... but I can't understand that there is no reaction from the EA when it gets illuminated by the searchlights?

It simply carries on with no evasion techniques to try and shake off the searchlight until it allows itself to be shot down...

 

The bandits don't react to the searchlights as you note...but they react when you get close. That's been my experience thus far.

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So far...I've been reviewing ACMI files to follow the action.

1st career died on the 4th mission, pilot kill before I got a shot off whilst stalking an IL-2.

2nd career died on the 2nd mission, another absolutely brilliant pilot kill. Attacked a Havoc at high aspect (from 2 o'clock) and as I overshot his flight path 300 meters aft in a hard right turn, and planform above his tail...BAM. I know better than this, should have used the turning room below the bandit, or not tried to stay so close with such a low LOS movement. Even in the dark AI gunners demand respect.

3rd career finished 3rd sortie successfully. This ACMI file was educational. I set up a left hand CAP orbit and immediately flew right past the inbound bandit flight, about 1km abeam, orbited once more and missed their first attack (my nose was pointed away) but spotted the second flight that had orbited. I thought I was bouncing the lead flight (oblivious of my mistake). The fog of war.

 

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Juri, two observations on this mission. First, the vessels we were assigned to protect only opened fire once. My wingman merely followed me around, even when instructed to attack nearest air target, or patrol for air enemies, or return to our mission. You can see him chasing me above. I understand this might be an AI issue, but in the first two missions the other 110 engaged bandits on their own.

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8 hours ago, busdriver said:

Juri, two observations on this mission. First, the vessels we were assigned to protect only opened fire once. My wingman merely followed me around, even when instructed to attack nearest air target, or patrol for air enemies, or return to our mission. You can see him chasing me above. I understand this might be an AI issue, but in the first two missions the other 110 engaged bandits on their own.

According to my tests, the AI  has a daytime and a nighttime spotting behaviour. As far as I can tell, the switch between these behaviours happens at specific times and doesn't depend on the visibilty situation. As a result, AI aircraft and AA might not spot targets during dusk and dawn, although they are clearly visible for the player. When no searchlights are present in this situation they will only spot targets that have opened fire.

 

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4 hours ago, Juri_JS said:

According to my tests, the AI  has a daytime and a nighttime spotting behaviour. As far as I can tell, the switch between these behaviours happens at specific times and doesn't depend on the visibilty situation. As a result, AI aircraft and AA might not spot targets during dusk and dawn, although they are clearly visible for the player. When no searchlights are present in this situation they will only spot targets that have opened fire.

 

 

Good to know.

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2018-12-28-19-23-42.jpg

 

I wonder, what the opinion is on the missions against U-2s? Are they too easy to shot down? Initially I had some problems in these missions during my tests because of the big speed difference. More than once I've crashed into one of the U-2s. What I've tried was to extent the flaps to slow down, but this didn't worked very well for me.

 

By the way, the "Night Witches" mission is loosely based on a well know mission flown by Joseph Kociok. During the mission Kociok shot down four U-2s of the night witches. None of the crews survived. As a result the whole regiment had to be grounded. Kociok was killed during the night of  26/27 September 1943 when he collided with a DB-3 near Kerch.

Edited by Juri_JS
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At first, the speed difference limited my success rate significantly.  I have adopted the following tactic while flying these missions: 1.) Fly at a medium air speed until I find a target.  2.) Fly directly toward the target at 3/4 throttle.  3.) Identify the target and adjust airspeed accordingly.  (U-2s are highly reflective and present a different silhouette than other aircraft.  If a U-2, cut the throttle and bleed off airspeed.)  4.) Get as close as possible to the U-2 before opening fire.  (U-2s are quite fragile and break/burst into flames quite easily.)  5.) When available, get extra gun pods to increase firepower and use a full burst.  6.)  If above a U-2, circle around until below or at the same altitude as the target as it will not move very far.  6.)  After firing, take evasive action.

 

The preceding will yield greatly improved success.  It is all about marksmanship and low speed.  I have to admit that getting very close to a U-2 will result in defensive fire.  They are, however, lightly armed.

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Hi Juri,

 

regarding the U-2s, I also first tried a few times to reduce speed by lowering the flaps, until I found out, that even with flaps down I mostly overshot the very, very, very slow biplanes. I then switched my tactics and I tried to attack the biplanes from the side and low, assuming that this is the rear gunner's blind spot. From that point you have a good chance to bring down the U-2 with a deflection shot/burst and get away without being hit by the rear gunner.

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Loving the campaign Juri, but can you tell me the criteria for success of mission 3, Submarine Cover? I've flown it twice and downed all the Il-2 but not before one of the boats gets sunk. 

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32 minutes ago, Elem said:

Loving the campaign Juri, but can you tell me the criteria for success of mission 3, Submarine Cover? I've flown it twice and downed all the Il-2 but not before one of the boats gets sunk. 

Basically you only have to land at Anapa and the mission will count as a success. If possible the submarine should survive, but it's not necessary in order to advance to the next mission.

Edited by Juri_JS
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I survived the first 2 missions 😂 Holy crap.

 

Juri,can I make a wish?

 

If you plan to improve this campaign or for the next one, can you please put the players plane in a cold & dark condition,incl. taxi to the runway? 

 

Cheers

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Dear Sir,

Could be a mix. It is often a matter of wind direction and force that makes the taxiing so frustrating.

But Cold and dark start makes you aware of trimming necessities and  taxiing is a part of the immersion . 

I suggest to start on the runway if the takeoff and /or the mission has a high failure probability . This to shorten the time to "fly" to the core of the challenge.

Just my two pence.

 

 

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Started this campaign tonight and am really liking it. The cat-and-mouse game of trying to find the find the bombers and then finding the right angle at which to attack them is really compelling. :good:

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