IL-2 1946 got thumbs down a few years ago from a majority.
I do miss it, but without a lot of people to fly with I havent really touched it.
It is still installed on my PC and I use it to compare and measure progress in Cliffs of Dover(CoD/CloD), IL-2 Battle of X(Stalingrad/Moscow/Kuban*)(BoX) and DCS.
Although EAF members voted CloD to be the default sim, the members are split between all the above sims.
This makes it difficult giving you advice in what to purchase, and anyone saying anything else is a liar.
What I will give is a rundown of the state of the sims and their current state.
Cliffs Of Dover
Aircrafts: 1939-1940 RAF/Luftwaffe/Italien
Theather: Southern England, Notheren France and a bit of Belgium
Realisme: More complex than IL-2 1946
Price model: You buy the sim and that is it. We expect that path 5.0 will cost extra
The sim is flyable and the modders patches are distributed over Steam which make is a breeze to install.
There are a large community in the ATAG forum
We are all waiting for patch 4.5 which will add new aircrafts, upgrade DirectX, and kill a lot of bugs.
There will be no change to how to make major campaigns.
IL-2 Battle of X
Aircrafts: 1939-1943 Russin/Luftwaffe/Italien
Theather: Finland, Stalingrad, Moscow (Kuban will probably be released in september)
Realisme: Same complexity as IL-2 1946
Price model: There are 3 games with a common client and authorization system, which allows a customer to use them separately or as a combined product. Owning one give access to a map and a selection of aircraft.
This is without doubt the successor to the original IL-2 1946.
This sim is pretty much a mature product. Graphics have been updated and enable VR. The selection of aircrafts makes it a lot more balanced than CloD.
It currently lacks the ability to host servers without a special key from the developers which make the community dependent on what is already there.
The community are based over at https://forum.il2sturmovik.com/
Aircrafts: Bf-109K, Fw190D-9, Spitfire IV, P-51D, and a shitload of modern day aircrafts as well as helicopters
Theathers: Modern day “Caucasus region and Black Sea that encompasses much of Georgia”(Free map), Normandy 1944, Modern day Nevada(US).
Realisme: Full aircraft management and a very complex flightmodel
Price model: You get the Caucasus region and a modern day Su-25 for free. All else cost money.
DCS world is essentially a study sim. The flight-model and avionics are in the same segment as Microsoft Flight-simulator was.
The WW2 Normandy map is currently in an open Beta and you must have purchased it to fly on it.
It supports VR and if you buy it we recommend that you dont by it from Steam as it creates some limits.
I recommend talking to OD if you have question about this sim as I consider him our best resource on the subject.
The community can be found over at https://www.digitalcombatsimulator.com/en/products/world/
I own all of them and all the WWII aircrafts in DCS as the maps (which is an expensive as hell)
None of the Sims have any kind of access to campaign tool like Scorched Earth Online Warfare (SEOW) which is my major critique of all of them.
They all make promises for the future. The IL-2 BoX series roadmap is the most stable. They deliver on their promises on a timetable (sort of).
DCS comes in second but due to the complexity it takes longer. The modders of Team Fusion manged to get license agreements for CloD in the start of the year, but they are working in their free time. Their first result was to make their patches available over Steam which was a success. Patch 4.5 have finished development but are in testing and this can take many months. Essentially they don’t promise anything and have no timeline for their roadmap, but their results are good when they finally arrive.
But promises does not sustain a flight-simmer.
If your founds are limit You have to decide where you want to go.
EAF training program is still made for CloD, but I am sure some of our Training Officers are capable of teaching in BoX as well. DCS is another matter due to the complexity.