The best WWII flight sim just got better, thanks to the Ace Expansion Pack for IL-2 Sturmovik: Forgotten Battles. This add-on doesn't really have a theme, but when there's this much new stuff to play with, it really doesn't need one. There are 20 new flyable planes (with variants of certain models pushing the total number of new aircraft to 28), along with new Ardennes, Normandy, and Pacific maps, and enough new campaigns and missions to placate fans until 1C:Maddox's upcoming Battle of Britain sim is released.
A stricken B-17 futilely returns fire at a passing Ho-229 Flying Wing.
A number of new prop planes have been included, some of which have already appeared in previous free patches. However, these have been updated enough to justify a commercial release. American P-51B, P-51C, and P-51D Mustangs, along with P-38L and P-38J Lightnings, can now escort nonflyable B-17Gs and C-47s. Additionally, the P-63C Kingcobra--the majority of which were sent to Russia under the Lend-Lease Program--makes its first appearance. British pilots get four versions of the highly maneuverable Spitfire Mk.Vb to help fend off a number of new German planes, including the heavily armed twin-hulled Bf-109Z, the Ju-87D-5, the long-awaited twin-engine Bf-110G-2, and the tricky Ta-152H-1. Meanwhile, the Japanese get the maneuverable but fragile A6M2 and A6M5 Zeros, along with three variants of the nigh-unstoppable Ki-84 Hayate ("Frank"). There are a few other flyable prop planes as well, including the J8A, the Fiat CR.42 and G.50, and the IAR-80A and IAR-81C.
A few new flyable jets and rocket-propelled fighters have also been added to the virtual hangar. Most are equipped with devastating armaments, and all are incredibly fragile under fire, so fights between these speedy aircraft tend to be swift and brutal. The American YP-80, the precursor to the Korean Conflict's P-80/F-80 Shooting Star, is a nimble match for German jet-powered Me-262s, new He-162A-2s, and new Ho-229 A1 Flying Wings. The Me-163B rocket fighter is incredibly challenging and rewarding to fly because it must be nursed gently at speeds in excess of 1,000kph to avoid blacking out, and ammunition for its powerful cannons is limited.
A few oddities were thrown in that serve as interesting diversions. The flyable Mistel is literally a blast, since it consists of a hollowed out Ju-88 bomber--which has been packed with tons of explosives--that has a FW-190 fighter harnessed to its top. The pilot sits in the fighter, where the control stick moves the control surfaces of both the fighter and the Ju-88 to help guide the behemoth to its target. The pilot just aims, detaches the bomber, scrambles out of the way of the mushroom cloud that appears a few seconds later, and enjoys watching the replay over and over and over again.
V1 rockets are another challenging addition, since it is possible for fast fighters to pull up alongside them to tap them with their wings, thus nudging the jet-powered bombs off course. This same method was used by actual WWII pilots because shooting at a V1 generally caused an explosion that was large enough to heavily damage or destroy the pursuing fighter.
You don't want to be anywhere near the pointy end of this recently-detached Mistel megabomb.
The cockpits and skins included with the new planes are spectacular. The J8A cockpit, in particular, is a thing of beauty. Additionally, some new optional effects give the water a more realistic look--at the expense of reduced frame rates. Outside of this, little has changed in the graphics and sound departments, but since IL-2 Sturmovik: Forgotten Battles looked and sounded great to begin with, no upgrades were really necessary.