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  • Writer's pictureAaron "Ribbon-Blue" Mendoza

Renewed Interest in the "Forgotten War": Korea. IL-2 Series

A New Simulator About a Historic Pivoting Point in Aerial Warfare

Did you realize that the announcement of ‘Korea. IL-2 Series’ was made on the day the Korean War started? Almost 75 years ago. It is not common knowledge, is it? Yet many combat focused flight simmers know the exact date for the Battle of Midway or Operation Bolo. For decades, I have been perplexed at how a conflict that nearly turned into a third world war has continued to be so overlooked. Not only in popular media, but, surprisingly, in flight simulators. 

To a certain degree I view flight simulation as an exercise in appreciating history via aircraft. Flight simmers eager to fly even the most obscure variant of a long-gone aircraft a majority of their peers may have never heard of. It is amazing how since the 1970s computers and game consoles have been able to run varying complexities of flight simulators, and the amount of titles that portray the Korean War is dismal. With literally thousands of flight focused titles produced over the decades, the continuous lack of purpose built interactive media about the Korean War is puzzling. This is why after reading the first dev log for the recently announced of 'Korea. IL-2 Series' has heartened me.

Korea. IL-2 Series. F-80 Shooting Star.

Keeping the focus on flight simulation, the aircraft of the Korean War have always been available to fly in civilian aviation focused simulators and in combat flight simulators in varying degrees. In recent memory, titles like War Thunder, Digital Combat Simulator, Microsoft Flight Simulator and X-Plane 12 have the aircraft roster players would need. That is not to say that their flight characteristics are unbelievable, or their 3D modelling is subpar. These simulators lack that purpose built quality to represent the conflict these aircraft were defined by. Making historical accuracy a part of the core of a simulator adds a certain context. When the seasons are correct, terrain is accurate, aircraft markings are on point, known historic events are being reenacted, etc. The aircraft of that timeframe feel more 'alive' than in a sandbox scenario where anything is possible.

Korea. IL-2 Series. Troops waiting for a train to cross.

After the start of open warfare in June, 25th, 1950, twenty-one nations sent soldiers into combat on the Korean peninsula until the end of armed combat on July 23rd, 1953. The air forces involved in combat were the propeller driven work horses of World War II, highly modified late-production versions of those aircraft and mass-produced jet-propelled combat aircraft. Though, even the jet fighters of this conflict were still more similar to their war bird counterparts than the stratospheric jets that would fly two decades later. The technology behind beyond visual range combat was unavailable during this time. Air-to-air and air-to-ground combat for propeller and jet powered aircraft still relied on within visual range engagements; close range combat with throttle, sick and rudder energy management being a deciding factor. 

If there is any developer that is perfectly placed to handle a purpose built simulator specifically for the Korean War, it would be 1C Game Studios (1CGS). The reason for this is two-part.

Korea. IL-2 Series. F-51D Mustang.

With a history that has roots going as far back as 2001, this development team / publisher has specialized in World War II focused flight simulators. The IL-2 Sturmovik series has produced something like 16 standalone games and multiple add-ons, with some of these titles still actively supported with vibrant online communities of players. With such a longstanding focus on the aircraft of the iconic war birds of the 1930s and 1940s, they have become experts in the arena of close range aerial combat - “dogfighting”. 

The portrayal of World War II aircraft in particular is something 1CGS has done well with when you look at their series as a whole. Even if people have leveled complaints about mundane mission design from time to time about its past installments, what is undeniable is their digital aircraft are well representative of their real world counterparts. With researched flight models, good damage models and overall consistency between each game, 1CGS would theoretically be able to maintain this quality even with jet aircraft of the era as their performance would not be a complete departure from what IL-2 and its development team is known for. A quote from the official website for ‘Korea. IL-2 Series’, supports this:“...with all major systems modeled and more detailed damage: internal parts visible through the holes, aircraft skin sheets that can become loose, etc.”

Korea. IL-2 Series. Render of a MiG-15.

The IL-2 Sturmovik series is a good example of how a series can be respected as a genre defining flight simulator without falling deep into the pursuit of study level fidelity. Depending on your point of view, some simulators are bogged down by the quest for dozens of interactive buttons, knobs and Whitepaper accuracy. Rather than spending years prioritizing one or two aircraft to get them eye bleedingly accurate, the purchase of an IL-2 title immediately gives access to a set of solid, believable aircraft that do not go through years of additions and refinements to be considered ‘feature complete’. 

In fact, again according to the official website, there will be eight complete, player controlled aircraft at the time of its release. Including aircraft like the F-4U Corsair, F-51D Mustang, F-86A Saber, IL-10 ‘Beast’ and MiG-15 ‘Fagot’. Larger aircraft like the B-29 Superfortress and Tu-2 Bat are also in the simulator, but it is unclear if they are flyable by players at this time.

Korea. IL-2 Series. B-29 Superfortress formation.

Looking at the historical record of aircraft in the conflict, there is quite an assortment. This list for quick reference of aircraft from Military shows that a simulator focused on this war could have great diversity of airframes added to it in the future. 

I sincerely hope that the announcement of ‘Korea. IL-2 Series’ renews the interest of many flight simmers and content creators to keep up with this upcoming game and inspire them to look back at other titles that have included content about the Korean War. 

About the Writer

Co-founder of Skyward Flight Media. After founding, the first English Ace Combat database, he has been involved in creating flight game-related websites, communities, and events since 2005. He explores past and present flight games and simulators with his extensive collection of game consoles and computers. Read Staff Profile


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