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If you’re looking for the best World War 2 flight sims, then you’ve got more than a couple of choices to take into account. Thanks to the resurgence of flight sims over the past few years, we’ve seen a good couple of new flight sims making their mark by focusing heavily on the events of World War 2. Still, though, some of the sims on our list are classics, capturing the feel of the time period perfectly.
While there are plenty of great sims out there, Ubisoft’s IL-2 Sturmovik:1946 pack at Amazon still remains the best of the best. A ton of great plans to fly, and a slew of small features that really help bring the experience to life accentuate one of the best designed flight sims we’ve ever had the pleasure of diving into. Still, though, there are plenty of World War 2 flight sims worth highlighting and we’ve compiled this list to help you explore new frontiers with confidence.
Originally released in 2006, IL-2 Sturmovik: 1946 is still one of the best World War 2 flight sims available on the market. Including all of the original IL-2 Sturmovik combat flight simulation games -- as well as their expansion packs -- this package is worth every penny you throw at it. With 229 historically detailed aircraft and 200 missions spanning iconic WW2 locations like the USSR and Korea, there’s plenty of content here to help keep you busy for a long time.
Despite the release date, IL-2 Sturmovik: 1946 has aged very well. The graphics still look top notch outside of a few environmental things, and the amount of sheer detail inside of the cockpits is almost unfathomable when compared to other sims that have been released since then. On top of that, you can also create almost any type of mission imaginable using the game’s advanced mission-builder.
Fun flight mechanics
Not really a flight sim
Could use more focus on flying
It might seem a little weird to see Battlefield V on a list for the best World War 2 sims, but hear us out. Consoles have long been ignored when it comes to detailed flight sims because of their lack of moddabability and additional peripherals like flight sticks. While it might not really be a flight sim, the flying mechanics in Battlefield V are some of the best that any FPS game has seen.
The Battlefield series has always been really well known for its vehicular combat, and the various airplanes in Battlefield V do a really great job of capturing the feel of WW2 flying. It’s still a little arcadey compared to some other games on our list, but if you’re on a PlayStation or Xbox, then we definitely suggest picking it up and giving it a try.
Highly detailed models and missions
Requires a base game to play
DCS World offers a vast amount of options for players to mess around with, including several independent campaigns like the DCS: BF 109 K-4 Kurfürst - Jagdflieger Campaign. Featuring 12 semi-historical missions that focus on the JG26, this content pack is set between the months of March and July of 1944, throwing players directly into the pit of World War 2.
Players can partake in a wide variety of mission types, including free hunt, intercept, a bomber escort mode, and ground attack. The plane included in the pack features realistic details inside the cockpit, and follows the same realistic simulation settings that are available in DCS World’s base game. If you’ve ever dreamed of watching the masses storm the beaches of Normandy from the air, then this pack is one worth checking out as one of the cheaper DLC options for DCS World.
Very detailed model
Fly one of the most iconic WW2 planes
$30 price tag for downloadable content
While it might seem a bit daunting to spend $30 on an add-on pack for a free-to-play game, the DCS P51 Mustang package offers players a chance to dive into one of the most iconic warbirds of World War 2.
Jump right into the detailed cockpit of one of the most prolific Allied planes of the era and generate new missions a single click. There’s plenty of content to explore in DCS World with the DCS P51 Mustang pack, and if you love World War 2 flight sims, you’re not going to want to miss out on this particular beast.
A ton of aircraft to fly
Long grind times
Most aircraft cost money to purchase
Developer Wargaming has made a name for itself creating realistic and enthralling simulations that feature some of the most iconic moments of the world’s military history. That’s why it should come as no surprise that World of Warplanes has garnered so much love since it’s release.
In World of Warplanes, players take to the air with detailed mmo-levels of action. Fight in intense 12 vs 12 battles against a slew of other planes as you vie for control of some of the most iconic locations from World War 2. With access to hundreds of different aircraft, there’s really no better combat flight simulator out there when it comes to sheer scale and upgradeability.
Of course, the one big caveat here is that many of the different planes will require you to purchase them with real-world money, or grind out large amounts of in-game cash to buy them.
Free to play
Over 1,700 vehicles to choose from
Focuses on more than just airplanes
Where some games prefer to focus on one area of World War 2, War Thunder has chosen to tackle it all. Step into the most comprehensive free-to-play mmo military game ever and explore various aircraft, armoured vehicles, and naval craft from World War 2 and the Cold War. When we say that War Thunder has a plethora of vehicles waiting for you to use, we aren’t joking.
Players can join massive online battles and utilize over 1,700 different vehicles -- including aircraft -- to pull off their objectives. The title also includes seamless cross-platform play, which makes it even easier to team up with your friends and start tackling some of the most iconic locations from World War 2.
When it comes to finding the best World War 2 flight sim out there, you really can’t go wrong with IL-2 Sturmovik: 1946. With almost 300 aircraft to explore and master, and a detailed mission generator, there’s no shortage of great content here. The graphics haven’t aged that well in some places, but the sheer amount of detail in the cockpits is almost unrivaled to this day.
Brittany Vincent is a freelance video game and entertainment writer whose work has been featured in publications and online venues including G4TV.com, Joystiq, Complex, IGN, GamesRadar, Destructoid, Kotaku, GameSpot, Mashable, and The Escapist. She is the editor in chief of mojodo.com.