Update 5.107 has been released! It brings something for everyone - from two additional aircraft of the Great War to a Soviet fighter of 1943 and a historical campaign set in Normandy in 1944.
Let's briefly go through the other important changes first - there are improvements in many parts of the sim. The number of German fighters has been reduced to be more historically accurate in Normandy and Rheinland scenarios and the night bombing and transport missions have been updated in all theaters of war: this includes searchlight beacons, friend-or-foe identification, night fighters, and pathfinder aircraft which fly ahead of the bomber formation and carry out the initial strike to mark the target. In multiplayer dogfight mode, the coalition selection (and therefore the penalty in case of a coalition change) applies immediately when selecting a spawn point, not after the first flight to make spying on the other team's actions harder. The commander menu for player-controllable tanks has a new option for selecting ammunition depending on the target type. Force Feedback users: Flight stick movement affected by control surface weight has been fixed on the Nieuport 11, Nieuport 17, Albatros D.2, Sopwith Triplane, and Halberstadt aircraft. You can view the full change list below.
Now, onto the new content!
Your role in the Overlord campaign (also available on Steam) begins as a replacement pilot arriving with the 354th Fighter Group on D-Day and assigned to the 356th “Red Ass” Squadron under the command of Major Richard Turner. In mid-June 1944 the Pioneer Mustangs flew strike missions across the English Channel from ALG Lashenden during the first V-1 rocket attacks on London and were directly in the path of the “Doodlebugs” as they headed towards their intended targets. They moved to ALG-2 at Criqueville in late June where they flew ground attack, search and rescue, fighter-bomber escort, and fighter sweep missions during all the major battles of Operation Overlord. After the Allied breakout at Saint-Lô, the 354th FG was reassigned to the new XIX Tactical Air Command and moved east with Patton’s 3rd US Army through Paris and eventually into Germany. Due to the hectic flight schedule and squadron reorganization, you will move up from wingman to element leader and finish the campaign as a flight leader.
In terms of tactical characteristics, the La-5F (also available on Steam) was an evolutionary improvement of the La-5 on the way to the La-5FN. There weren't enough FN engines to power all the fighters produced until 1944, so mass production of the La-5F was inevitable through 1943 with continued improvements here and there. As working conditions and resources improved, production standards gradually rose, resulting in, among other things, better aircraft: La-5s produced in summer-autumn 1943 were about 150 kg lighter.
The biggest improvement from the pilot's point of view was the new bubble top canopy with emergency jettison (even our La-5FN series didn't yet have emergency jettison). This eliminated one of their biggest fears, not being able to bail out of a burning aircraft, which caused many to fly with open cockpits, which severely limited the speed of their aircraft. Now they could put that fear to rest and enjoy the improved field of vision - the main reason why bubble top variants became the norm in all air forces later in the war, despite the increased drag they had compared to older canopy designs.
To sum up, the La-5F in the sim is a bit more agile than the older La-5, turns a bit better than even the FN, offers a better field of view, and is slower than the FN in level flight and climb because of the more powerful engine of the latter. With a cockpit modeled for today's standards, it is a nice addition for the second half of the 1943 timeframe.
At first, the Hanriot HD.1 was meant to replace the older Nieuport 11 and 17 planes, but the new Spad 7s were already in use on the front lines and had accumulated positive feedback from pilots for their inline engines. Meanwhile, Nieuport squadrons still used Le Rhone rotary engines. As a result, the French Air Force (Aviation Militaire) decided not to switch to HDs as it wasn't cost-effective, and the acquisition was canceled.
However, the Entente allies found this plane attractive - it was stronger, maneuverable, and slightly better than the Nieuport in general. The Italian Air Force (Aviazione Militaire) had received 831 Hanriots by the end of the war while Aeronautique Militaire Belge bought 125 and used them effectively, especially the Belgian aces like Coppens, de Meulemeester, and Olieslagers.
When the Nieuport 17 arrived on the battlefield in March 1916, it swiftly replaced the Nieuport 11. By the end of 1916, every scout squadron in the French Aviation Militaire had Nieuport 17s. Its superiority over any British plane led to its adoption by the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Air Service. The Nieuport 17 GBR was customized for British service with an overwing Lewis MG replacing the Vickers in the nose and Imperial system instruments instead of metric. Many top Allied pilots flew Nieuport fighters, like Albert Ball and Canadian ace W.A. Bishop. Captain William Avery Bishop, of 60 Squadron RFC, scored 28 of his 72 kills in a Nieuport 17, B1566 between April 20th and July 20th, 1917. He also conducted an air raid on a German airfield on June 2nd in this aircraft, earning him the Victoria Cross.
We hope you'll enjoy the new update! See you in the skies!
Hanriot HD.1 airplane is available in Early Access for all owners of "Flying Circus Vol. III";
Nieuport 17 GBR (British) airplane is available in Early Access for all owners of "Flying Circus Vol. III";
Soviet Collector Plane La-5F series 38 has been released;
A new historical campaign "Overlord" has been released (American fighter pilot of the 354th Group flying a P-51B Mustang in June-August 1944);
Normandy and Rheinland Career Mode: the number of German fighters has been reduced to be more historically accurate;
Career Mode: updated templates for night bombing and transport missions, added searchlight beacons, friend-or-foe identification, night fighters, and pathfinder aircraft;
Normandy Career Mode: in phases 1 to 3 Allied escort fighters will appear over the airfield when starting a mission on the ground and a kilometer behind the player when starting the mission in the air;
Eastern Front Career Mode: new mission types Support the Attack and Support the Defense (they will be added to other theaters of war later);
Tank Crew: the commander menu of the player-controllable tanks has a new option for selecting the ammo depending on the target type;
AQMB: British C-47 missions added;
Force Feedback: the effect of flight stick movement by the weight of the control surfaces has been added to Nieuport 11, Nieuport 17, Albatros D.2, Sopwith Triplane, and Halberstadt;
Dogfight: to make spying on the other team's actions harder, the coalition selection (and therefore the penalty in case of a coalition change) applies immediately when selecting a spawn point, not after the first flight;
Multiplayer: fixed a problem with the incorrect color of selected tactical code symbols;
Rheinland: fixed incorrect water reflections of trees growing on steep slopes;
Nieuport 11 and Nieuport 17: fixed a problem with the engine overcooling too fast;
La-5 ser.8 FM updated based on La-5FN and La-5F research;
La-5 ser.8 and LaGG-3: bomb release is set to two at a time (previously it was one at a time), bomb release safety lever corrected (it is set to "ПО" position with no bombs and "ПЗ" position when carrying bombs), bomb release button sound added;
Li-2: compass and autopilot direction indicator have been corrected to eliminate a small deviation in readings;
Li-2: fluorescent instrument illumination has been adjusted;
Li-2: pilot's death and capture after bailing out over enemy territory are counted correctly;
Li-2: RPK radio compass shows relative radio station bearing correctly;
Albatros D.2: the look of the bolts on the machine gun sights improved;
Spitfire Mk.IXe: Mid-1944 skin rondels reflect the light correctly;
Stalingrad Career Mode: armored gunboats now move in the artillery spotting missions;
Career Mode: fixed taxiing at Mozhaisk airfield in Moscow region and Winkton airfield in Normandy;
A memory leak bug that might have caused the mission editor to crash randomly when using high-resolution monitors (2K-4K) has been found and fixed.