HistoryJournal.org

Best world war flight sims

Posted in European, Just for Fun by Alex L. on April 1, 2009

Ever since I was little, I have admired the courage of combat aviators in both of the world wars. While aircraft in the First World War buzzed inconsequentially above the front lines where the decisive battles were fought, the pilots who confronted one another – without parachutes, in open-cockpit aircraft that resembled kites more than jets – must have had some large cojones. In the Second World War, a couple of thousand Spitfire and Hurricane pilots (“The Few” as Churchill called them) staved off the conquest of an entire nation in the Battle of Britain.

While my days of hours spent waxing heroic in the online skies of such flight simulators as WarBirds are long behind me, I have caved in to curiosity and decided to research which is the best flight sim for the world wars. The winner for the Second World War category is Battle of Britain II: Wings of Victory. While other sims like IL-2: Sturmovik and Microsoft Combat Flight Simulator 3 are more popular due to their multiplayer option, Battle of Britain II is the most realistic (notice how closely the gameplay mimics real guncams from World War II in this beautiful YouTube clip). This game alone also features air battles with up to 200 planes, truly approximating the sorties in the real Battle of Britain. There is a devoted Battle of Britain II online community, where there has recently been talk of adding multiplayer to the game.

The best World War I flight sim is First Eagles: Gold, which simulates air combat in the latter years of the war. Games of this era have never been as popular as World War II flight sims, so I can’t imagine the multiplayer community for First Eagles is very strong. Nevertheless, this is the most recent incarnation of the genre and the gameplay looks decent (see this YouTube video of a Sopwith Camel dogfighting with a Fokker Dr. I). While combat flight sims have declined in popularity since the 1990s and early 2000s when it seemed that every year competing companies were releasing a new hit (Battle of Britain II was released in 2005 and First Eagles in 2006), the genre seems to have at least reached a high plateau with its leading exemplars.

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