Battlehawks 1942
Battlehawks 1942 Coverart
Released: October 1988[1]
Developed by: Lucasfilm Games
Published by: Lucasfilm Games
Genre(s): Flight simulation

Battlehawks 1942 was a World War II naval air combat flight simulation video game released in 1988 by LucasFilm Games. It was set in the Pacific air war theatre, and was the first of Lucasfilm Games' trilogy of WWII flight simulations. It was followed by Their Finest Hour (1989) and Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe (1991). [2]

The 127 page manual for Battlehawks 1942 included a 100 page illustrated overview of the Pacific war.


In Battlehawks 1942 the player could participate in four pivotal naval battles of the Pacific war:

In each of these battles, the player could experience the same situation from the US side or the Japanese side of the battle. The player could fly authentic aircraft of the era--Wildcats, Dauntlesses and Avengers on the U.S. side and Zeros, Vals and Kates on the Japanese side. Realism settings such as invincibility, unlimited ammo, and unlimited fuel, starting altitude and the caliber of the opposition pilots were present, so Battlehawks was an amazingly customizable game.

Each mission started with a briefing, giving the pilot a general outline of what was needed to do. In a departure from the usual flight-sim standards requiring players to perform takeoffs and landings, Battlehawks 1942 allowed players to get immediately into the action.

As with most flight simulators, Battlehawks had a cockpit point-of-view, switchable with the keypad for a look around the aircraft. Instruments were few: airspeed, altimeter, bank and pitch, fuel, rate-of-climb, RPM, compass, and indicators for fuel and engine/airframe damage. The cockpit also had levers for landing gear, speed brakes (if equipped) and flaps.

The Battlehawks 1942 manual included detailed Fighter Tactics instructions, such as deflection shooting or how to perform overhead approaches from the same or the opposite course. Mission types included escorting bombers as well as fighter interceptions, which were generally quite challenging and gave a great view of the diversity of the missions that were flown in the Pacific in 1942. Allied players flying Grumman F4F Wildcats would find themselves often vastly outnumbered in a desperate attempt to save their carriers from waves of Japanese Aichi D3A Val dive bombers.

There were also dive-bombing and Torpedo-bombing missions on both sides. Dive-Bomber and Torpedo-Bomber tactics were also discussed in the manual.

The graphics throughout Battlehawks 1942 used a sprite-based (so-called) 3D engine, which is based on bitmaps which are rotated and scaled depending on the player's view. Muzzle flashes and tracers were present, the aircraft took hits and caught fire, smoked or exploded with the pilot bailing out with a parachute.

Enemy artificial intelligence (AI) also was of high quality. Enemy aircraft would twist, turn, jink and realistically evade enemy fire. The performance characteristics of the various aircraft were realistically modeled so that, for example, the more nimble Japanese Zeros were very good at outmaneuvering US fighters such as the F4F Wildcat.

Excellent pilots achieved promotions and several medals in Battlehawks (Air Medal, DFC, Bronze Star, Silver Star, Navy Cross and the Medal of Honor - if the own aircraft received severe hits, the Purple Heart was awarded).

Pacific theater air combat simulation successors of Battlehawks include: "Aces of the Pacific" (1992), "1942: The Pacific Air War" (1994), "Pacific Strike" (1994), "WarBirds" (1997), "MS-CFS2: WW II Pacific Theater" (2000), "Abacus Carrierops für Microsoft FS2002 & FS2004" (2004) and "Pacific Fighters" (2004).


Computer Gaming World gave a glowing review of the game, citing its graphics and historical accuracy. CGW also praised the game's innovative replay feature, giving the player a free-roaming camera with which to view the action.[1] The magazine later awarded the game as "Action Game of the Year", reiterating those praises.[2]

The game was reviewed in 1989 in Dragon #142 by Hartley, Patricia, and Kirk Lesser in "The Role of Computers" column. The reviewers gave the game 5 out of 5 stars.[3]


Achievements awarded to Lucasfilm for Battlehawks 1942: "Action Game of the Year" (Computer Gaming World) and "Program of the Year" (Computer Entertaine).

According to creator Lawrence Holland, Chris Roberts boasted to him at an industry conference that he had reverse-engineered Battlehawks 1942 to create the game engine for Wing Commander.


  • "Battlehawks is a World War II flight/combat simulator if you had not already guessed. Now here is the catch. It does not support the use of a joystick. Crazy or what? You can only use mouse or keyboard. What a joke!" (Zzap! covering Amiga games, Iss. 50, June 1989, p.34)
  • "If you're an aviation enthusiast at all, you'll want Battlehawks 1942 just for its extensive manual. It's 127 pages of history, tactics, theory and aviation lore and includes fold-out maps of the battles in which you can fly. It's truly a spectacular production and almost worth the price of the game by itself." (START magazine, VOL. 4, NO. 4, November 1989, page 44)
  • "Many years ago, while working at Skywalker ranch on Battlehawks 1942, I overheard two people talking over my shoulder about the game I was working on. Imagine my surprise when I turned around and saw Steven Spielberg and George Lucas discussing it and learning further that Steven Spielberg was playing and enjoying it. He was an early video game convert." (Larry Holland, Battlehawks programmer)


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External linksEdit

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Battlehawks 1942. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Lucasfilm Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the GNU Free Documentation License.