AVSIM Commercial Add-On Review

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Rating Guide

Publisher: Abacus
Description: A close look at the pivotable World War II air and naval battles in the Coral Sea and near the island of Midway in the Pacific Ocean.
Download Size:
1 CD
Simulation Type:
CFS and CFS2
Reviewed by: Pardave Lehry, AVSIM Associate Editor

Possible Commercial Rating Score: 1 to 5 stars with
5 stars being exceptional

Abacus is one company that has readily embraced the Combat Flight Simulator series. Since the early days of the series, the company has released quality add-ons for various eras in world history. Now, they're back with their next installment for the series: Battle of Midway.

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Test System

Intel PII 450 MHz
Windows 2000 Professional
256 Megs RAM
Diamond Viper V550 Video
Turtle Beach Santa Cruz Sound
Toshiba 48X CD ROM
Cambridge Soundworks FPS2000 Speakers
MS Sidewinder FF Pro
Panasonic 19" Monitor

Flying Time:
20 hours over 8 days

Just after rotation. Most of the missions in the package have you take off from a carrier.

Even after issuing the wingmen their targets, they still like to float around in space.

It's nice to see that the panels provide some depth to when you're flying, instead of a flat panel being stuffed in your face like the default panels. It gives for that added depth and sense of realism.

The Buffalo is a fast aircraft. Keep an eye on the airspeed if you fly the missions using this aircraft because it will out-run the Japanese fighters, no problem.

They have actually released a total of three add-ons: Battle for Midway, Pacific Theatre, and Combat Squadron. We'll be taking a look at the other two as well. But for now, it's the Battle for Midway.

The Battle for Midway package actually consists of two facets of world history: The Battle for the Coral Sea and the Battle for Midway.

The signal that WWII had started for the United States was the Japanese invasion of Pearl Harbor. At this point, the US was racing to build war machines to send to the Pacific, while at the same time war continued to spread across Europe. In the early days of the Pacific war, the US Navy positioned its aircraft carriers Enterprise and Yorktown in the Coral Sea with two intentions: one to clean the Japanese out of bases in the Solomon Islands, and two, prevent the Japanese from reaching New Guinea and subsequently Australia.

The Battle for the Coral Sea lasted two days, commencing May 7th, 1942. It was the first battle in which carrier-based aircraft were used for an entire battle. The Americans learned quite a bit in those two days, including a secret weapon used by Japanese pilots _ smoke. The Japanese pilots would release this smoke from their planes hoping the American pilots would believe they had scored a successful hit, when in fact they hadn't. In the end, the Americans were successful in destroying the Japanese carrier forces in the Coral Sea, thus preventing the Japanese progression into New Guinea and Australia. Both sides paid an expensive price during the conflict. The Americans lost 312 men and Japan, an estimated 3,057. Due to the casualties in the Coral Sea, the Japanese would never again launch an offensive. But the war wasn't over yet.

Less than a month after the Battle of the Coral Sea, the American and Japanese carrier fleets would meet again. When the smoke cleared off Midway Island, the Japanese had lost four carriers, hundreds of aircraft and one out of every three pilots. They never recovered from the blow.

Battle For Midway comes with 12 new aircraft and 16 missions. Each split evenly between the Americans and Japanese.

In the American hangar, you'll find:

  • Douglas SBD-3 Dauntless
  • Grumman F4F Wildcat
  • Douglas TBD-1 Devastator
  • Brewster F2A-3 Buffalo
  • Boeing B17 Flying Fortress
  • Lockheed P-38 Lightening

    In the Japanese hangar, you'll find:

  • Aichi D3A-1 Val
  • Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero
  • Kawanishi N1K1-J George
  • Nakajimi KI43-I Oscar
  • Mitsubishi G4M1 Betty
  • Kyusha J7W Shinden

    Each aircraft comes with the usual moving flight controls, flaps, and landing gear. They also come with modified panels, as well as the virtual cockpits. There is a noticeable difference between the various aircraft. The Douglas SBD-3 Dauntless is an aircraft I was able to throw around the sky and quickly recover from dives. The Wildcat took a little longer to pull out of a dive. The Buffalo was a sensitive aircraft, and very fast. I was always out-running the Japanese fighters, meaning I would have to come around for another shot.

    As mentioned earlier, there are 16 missions, eight American and eight Japanese. The missions are re-creations of missions actually flown at Coral Sea and Midway. Three missions make up the Coral Sea battle. The first mission proved to be a challenge. Attack Japanese Outposts on Lae and Salamaua has you attack a fleet of merchant and enemy ships. They're easy. The problem is the nearby enemy airfield. As soon as you near the ships, a swarm of Zeros takeoff. They're the problem because the Zero was such an agile fighter. These pilots like to fly in circles, which is pretty much what they do, leading to a further challenge of shooting them down. But the Zero was such a weak aircraft structurally that a spurt of gunfire was enough to send them down. The rest of the American missions are pretty easy. They include defending Midway, sinking the Shoho and Kaga, and protecting the Lexington. These missions are easy and you are pretty much guaranteed success. With some of the missions, you'll realize that warp is disabled, meaning you're hand flying the aircraft back. I found this out with Sink the Kaga. I got all the fighters, sank the carrier, but warp was disabled. Two fighters had gotten away, and the chase was on. I did manage to catch up and shoot them down, but then I had to fly 170 miles back to the carrier manually.

    Switching over to the Japanese forces, the very first mission ended with me being unable to start the engine on the Val. Reloading it fixed that problem. I found the aircraft here were much easier to fly, hence I was able to finish the missions much more quickly than the American side, although it will take a little more firepower to shoot down the American fighters. The mission structure is pretty much opposite to what you just flew on the American side. You'll be taking out various American fighters and carriers. The missions are easy and you shouldn't have any problem, although at times, I found it was only me doing all the work, with the wingmen just having fun flying.

    One thing to be careful about is drifting away from the battle scene. On both sides, the enemy has a tendency to head away from the main objective. If you notice yourself flying further and further from the pack, turn around and head back. Eventually, the aircraft you were chasing will return and you can take him down then.

    Microsoft is to be commended for such an open architecture. Abacus has to be commended for embracing that architecture and delivering some top notch add-ons. The aircraft lack the default details such as the landing gear compressing and expanding during takeoff and landing, but the missions deliver a "feeling of being there." Flying these missions allow you to recreate the feeling the American and Japanese pilots had when they headed for battle. Battle For Midway is historically accurate and definitely worth the purchase price for anyone who loves the Combat Flight Simulator series. You can make your purchase (US$29.95) directly from Abacus by clicking here.

    This guy's headed for the bottom of the Pacific.

    As this Zero sits waiting for takeoff clearance, the Japanese ships are getting into position, and the American fighters are heading your way.

  • What I Like About Battle For Midway
    • Historical accuracy. The missions depict what really happened in 1942.
    • The added depth to the panels. Feels like you're actually sitting in the real thing instead of looking at a monitor

    What I Don't Like About Battle For Midway
    • Some of the missions have you flying around in circles
    • For some reason, warp is disabled on some missions, making for some long flights home

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