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A Tale of Two 109s: IL-2 and WW2 Fighters
by Len "Viking1" Hjalmarson

Product Name: IL-2 Sturmovik
Version: Pre-beta
Category: WWII Prop Simulation
Developer: Maddox Games
Publisher: Blue Byte Software
Release Date: TBA
Minimum Spec: PII 300, 64 MB RAM, 3D Accelerator
Rec'd. Spec: PIII 600 or better, 128 MB RAM, 32 bit 3D accelerator with 32 MB RAM or better
Past Articles: Click Here For List
Article Type: Preview
Article Date: March 1st, 2001

Did you know that both Janes WW2 Fighters and IL-2 simulate the Me109 G-6? They do indeed.

Do you consider that WW2 Fighters had far superior graphics to EAW, and that in fact it was the most graphically immersive prop combat simulation ever released? Of course you do.

Did you know that IL-2 Sturmovik will simulate three versions of the Me109 in detail, including different cockpits for each? These versions are the F2, G2 and G6.

In the current preview build the cockpit is that of the F-2, which lacked the horizon indicator of the later models. But the faithfulness of the 109 cockpit in IL-2 to the actual aircraft is simply stunning.

Left Side: Me109 G-6 in WW2 Fighters. Right Side: Me109 F-2 in IL-2

In the image above you see the default cockpit for the Me109 G-6 in WW2 Fighters. On the right you see the cockpit for the Me109 F-2 in IL-2.

In order to make a comparison between the 109 cockpit in WW2 Fighters and that in IL-2, I had to fire up WW2 Fighters, which I hadnt flown for a few months. I was prepared to see the glorious graphics after a long time away; I was not prepared to be disappointed.

In the next image you will see the zoom out cockpit view in WW2 Fighters. Immediately afterward you will see the wide cockpit view from the 109 in IL-2. Both these views have been scrolled down slightly so that you can also see the detail in the interior.

109 in WW2 Fighters

109 in IL-2 Sturmovik

These next two images are cropped from the original screen capture and compressed. Click each to see the larger, non-resized version.

109 Instruments in IL-2. Click for larger image.

109 Instruments in WW2 Fighters. Click for larger image.

The wide view field of view in IL-2 is not quite as wide as that in Janes WW2 Fighters, but you can see that the difference in detail is substantial. Using this cockpit full screen makes the differences stand out even further.

Aircraft Detail

The greater shock to my system came on comparison of the external aircraft detail in these two simulations. After a few hours in IL-2, the aircraft exteriors in WW2 Fighters looked washed out and blurry. This first image is from WW2 Fighters, and the second is from IL-2.

Me109 in WW2 Fighters

Me109 in IL-2

Finally, I thought that a side view of the summer paint scheme in IL-2 would even more clearly show the lavish detail and sharpness of the textures.

Summer Paint in IL-2. Click for larger.

After 20 minutes of flying WW2 Fighters I began to understand how far graphics and hardware abilities have evolved in the last three years. There is simply no comparison.

Damaged 109 in IL-2

The winning combination is excellent use of light, including light source shading and dynamic lighting with specular highlights, and high detail in all the textures. The combination is simply unbelievable.

Other 109's

Now of course there are other simulations out there that also model the Me109, most notably EAW and Rowan's Battle of Britain. Just for fun, I've included some additional shots of these aircraft in action. First, European Air War. For its day it was a pretty impressive bit of work!

Me109 in EAW. Click for larger.

Battle of Britain represents a nice improvement in artwork over EAW. This skin is not original to the sim, but a modification by Ctp_Farrel with some of my own finishing work added.

Me109 in Battle of Britain. Click for larger.

The other recent 109 release was in Wayward Design's B17: The Mighty Eighth. This is the best of the bunch, not including IL-2. Here is a profile of the Me109 in B17.

Me109 in B-17. Click for larger.

The cockpit is also quite good in B17. Far be it from us to exclude Wayward's effort from this comparison. Here is the central instrument panel cut out of a larger screen shot from the Me109 in B17.

Me109 Instruments in B-17

So many 109's, so little time!

Of course the comparison of WW2 Fighters to IL-2 is ridiculous. Hardware horsepower and graphics sophistication have come many miles since the time of the Jane's release. B17 would be a better comparison, but B17 is not a fighter simulation and there is no serious dogfighting action.

Detail throughout IL-2 is incredibly high. The aircraft in IL-2 will set new standards in detail this year, for appearance as well as flight and damage models. It's a great time to be a virtual warrior!

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