Beginners guide to plane-battles
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You will have a choice between 5 nations : the USA, Nazi Germany, the USSR, Great Britain and the Empire of Japan. As their respective Ranks and Battle Ranks progress, the USAAC (United States Army Air Corps) will become the USAAF (United States Army Air Force) and then the USAF (United States Air Force), Nazi Germany will become the FRG (Federal Republic of Germany) followed by GDR (German Democratic Republic) at the end of Rank V with the CL-13A Sabre Mk.5 and MiG-15bis and the Empire of Japan will become Occupied Japan with the Japanese F-86F-30 Sabre.
Each plane's differing characteristics mean the pilot must adapt to the strengths and weaknesses of each plane. What works well for an Chaika may prove disasterous for an F6F-3 Hellcat, even though the latter is a much more capable vehicle. For fighter combat, you should learn about the fighting styles.
All the nations start with biplanes and/or light fighters. You will not see a big difference in terms of gameplay on these Reserve planes. The best nation to start with is the USSR. Russians have the best biplanes, mainly because the kept using them during the early stage of the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945).
The United States of America Army Air Corps had a special philosophy in mind when designing their aircraft: the planes are there to support the Ground Forces. This was a relatively successful battle strategy, and it yielded good planes, but it was a seriously restrictive idea. This is why planes such as the P-40E-1 Kittyhawk, the P-39N-0 Airacobra and the P-51 Mustang perform best at low and medium altitudes. This idea of keeping planes at low altitudes was largely abandoned during World War 2. The American aircraft design philosophy dictated that a designer's first priority was speed, then armament, and, last, handling. The result is that American planes are extremely well suited to the BnZ combat style but generally not well prepared for TnB.
Rank I: The PBY-5 Catalina is one of the best bombers for its tier and perfect to show you the bomber gameplay: you are a slow big target loaded with bombs for the enemies on the ground and MGs to defend yourself. If you want a fighter, get the F2A-3 Buffalo, it is better than the obsolete P-36A Hawk. The Tech Trees don't matter a lot at this Tier.
Rank II: Once again, you have a very effective bomber/attacker: the A-20G-25 Havoc. With its 6 MGs in the nose, head-ons with enemy planes often result with a kill. Its successor in the Tech Tree is the B-25J-1 Mitchell, a good bomber. The Rank II fighters are divided in 2 Tech Trees: the Air Force and the Navy. The Air Force has the P-40E-1 Kittyhawk, the P-39N-0 Airacobra and the P-38G-1 Lightning, all of them are great fighters. The Navy starts with the F4F-3 Wildcat, which is not very liked by the players because of its armament (4 MGs only) and its bad handling. It is followed by the F4F-4 Wildcat, the F6F-3 Hellcat and the F4U-1a Corsair, all of them are good BnZ fighters.
Rank III: The Rank III is where the most popular aircrafts come: the P-51 Mustang, the P-47D-25 Thunderbolt and the P-63A-5 Kingcobra. You might have already heard at least one of these names. All these planes are real beasts if the pilot knows what he is doing. The Navy comes at this Tier with the F4U-1c Corsair, equipped with 4 cannons. The Attackers and the Bombers at this Tier are the PBJ-1H (a B-25J-1 Mitchell with less bombs but more armament) and the well-known B-17E Flying Fortress.
Rank IV: The Air Force will offer you the P-51D-5 Mustang and the F-82E, both incredibly good if well-played. The Navy will give you access to the late war F8F-1 Bearcat, a TnB fighter, and the heavy fighter F7F-1. The Attackers/Bombers are the post war AD-2 Skyraider,the B-17G Flying Fortress, the B-24D Liberator and the B-29 Superfortress. These aircrafts are good, but because of their BR, they face powerful opponents such as the Ho 229 V3, the Me 262 A-1a Schwalbe or the R2Y2 Keiun-KAI V1. They will easily shot them down.
Rank V (Jets): The first jet is the P-80A-5, one of the slowest jets. You will also access to the Korean War F-86F-25 Sabre, the fastest plane in-game. The Navy gives you access to the F2H-2 Banshee and the F9F-2 Panther, both designed for low altitude and equipped with 4 cannons. The Jet bombers are the B-57A and B-57B, both impressive.
The RLM acquired the same philosophy as the United States during the Spanish Civil War : first the speed, then the armament, and finally the handling. The best examples of this BnZ doctrine are the Bf 109 F-4 and the Fw 190 A-5(found at Rank III) : they have both 2x 7.92mm MG15 ,and respectively 3x Mg151/20 and 2x MG151/20 with two additional MgFF/M. Germany also has Italian and Romanian aircrafts, such as the CR.42 Falco, the M.C.202 Folgore and the SM.79B Sparviero. The Romanian aircrafts are generally Premium aircrafts such as the He 112 B-1/U2, the Bf 109 G-2 and the Hs 129B-2 (Romanian Air Force). The German bombers are good, but if you want to play with Medium Bombers or Heavy Bombers, Germany might not be for you. Sorry.
Rank I : The [[He51A-1, the He 51 B-1 and the He 51 C-1 are almost ineffective. Get as fast as possible the heavy fighter Bf 110 C-4, it is one of the best planes at this Tier. The CR.42 Falco isn't a bad choice either. The Ju 87 B-2 and the Ju 87 R-2 are a good choice if you want a bomber for Tank Realistic Battles. The He 112 B-0 and the Premium He 112 B-1 are the best german TnB fighters you will find.
Rank II : The Bf 109 E-3 is the aircraft that you should research first. It is one of the best planes at its BR. The Fw 190 A-1 is also a good plane, but it doesn't have enough ammunition to complete its role of Interceptor, especially for a beginner pilot. The Ju 87 G-1 and G-2 are better suited for Tank Realistic and Simulator Battles.
Rank III : The Bf 109 F-4, the Bf 109 G-2/trop and the Fw 190 A-5 are the best examples of BnZ planes : great speed, great firepower, average handling (or worse). If you really want a german plane for TnB at this BR, you can buy a Premium Yak-1B or Premium La-5FN but it will cost you some money. The Hs 129 B-2 is a good attacker, but it is a "sitting duck", it has no gunners and needs a fighter escort.
Rank IV : The late war German planes are harder to play, especially the Bf 109. They become heavier and slower progressively with the increase of the fire power and armor. The Bf 109 G-6 came in 1943, it is a good example of this logic : the 7,92 mm MGs are replaced with the heavier 13mm MGs and the 20 mm MG151/20 cannons can be replaced with 30 mm Mk108 cannons (you can have 3 of them if using Gunpods).
In these late Tiers, you will have access to the craziest ideas of the Nazi and German engineering, the Bf 109 G-10, the Bf 109 K-4 and the Ta 152 H-1 were the last war efforts of Germany and between the best prop-planes In Game.
Rank V (Jets) : The Me 163B "Komet" is one of the first Jets you will have access to and is one of the hardest aircrafts to fly and one of the most impressive along with the Ho 229 V3 and the Me 262 A-1/U4 "Pulkzerstorer". The Germans have the most WW2 Jets while Russians had none, Great Britain only one (the Meteor F. Mk.3 which never saw active combat-operation in Europe) and the USA also one that may have been used against Japan (the P-80A-5).
The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is the most "Over-Powered Nation" according to many players. Their aircrafts are mainly TnB fighters with nose mounted MGs and cannons with low amounts of ammunitions (especially during the Great Patriotic War and after). TnB fighters are easier to use compared to BnZ fighters, this is why it is recommended to start with Russia. The "Soviets" have 3 Fighter Tech Trees : Yakovlev OKB, MiG/Polikarpov OKB and Lavotchkin OKB. The fighters were used generally to cover the bombers while the Germans were searching targets in small groups or alone. This is also an explanation why they had a low ammo count : they didn't need a lot of ammo to complete their mission. The Soviet Air Forces are also called "VVS" ("Voyenno-Vozdushnye Sily", literally "Military Air Forces", you will sometimes find this abbreviation In Game). Do not confound with the "PVO" ("protivovozdushnoy oborony", the Soviet Air Defense Forces).
Rank I : The Rank I Russian aircrafts are planes from the Spanish Civil War until 1941. The first plane you should research is the I-153 M-62 Chaika, it's a fun plane to use and probably the best Rank I aircraft. Then the Yak-1 or the LaGG-3-8 who are faster and have a cannon. The Russian bombers in this era aren't good at all, if you really want a bomber research the BB-1 and Su-2s.
Rank II : At this Rank, all the Tech Trees have a good aircraft to try : Yakovlev OKB proposes you the Yak-7B, the Yak-1B and the Yak-9, Mikoyan-Gurevitch offers you the MiG-3-15 (the plane of the greatest Soviet Ace Alexander Pokryshkin)and the MiG-3-34 (a low BR plane with 2 cannons, a simple burst rips a plane apart), and Lavotchkin OKB gives you the La-5. The IL-2 (1942) "Sturmovik" and the IL-4 are efficient and versatile.
Rank III : At Rank III, Mother Russia gives you super-powers : the Yak-9T and its 37 mm Nudelmann-Suranov NS-37 cannon with 30 rounds... This aircraft is a requirement for every Soviet player. You can use it in Arcade Battles, Realistic Battles and even Simulator Battles. The I-185 M-82 isn't that recommended because it is just a prototype and it doesn't have armor. The La-5F and La-5FN are good also. The Petlyakov Pe-3bis is a great Heavy Fighter thanks to its 20 mm ShVak cannon, it is worth to try. The Yer-2 ACh-30B /Early is (with the Pe-8, plane not in 1.70, coming soon), part of the Soviet Heavy Bombers who bombed Germany. It has a good defense and an important payload.
Rank IV : The Russian Tier IV planes are very good fighters but have less and less ammo. Accuracy will define your Survivability. The Yak-9U, La-7B-20, La-9 and IL-10 (1946) have low amount of ammo, but great fire power.
Rank V (Jets) : The rate of fire of the guns increases, the ammo count decreases. The Il-28, the MiG-15 and theMiG-15bis are the highest planes in terms of BR. They have only a very few seconds of firing, and the low velocity on the of the guns (especially of the NS-37) decreases the chances of hitting the enemy.
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Rank V (Jets) :
Japanese planes are distinguished by their agility, and can be great for dogfighting if played correctly. However, much like in real life, this performance comes at a serious price: specifically, light construction, little to no pilot protection, and lack of self-sealing fuel tanks. Consequently, these planes catch fire and burn very easily; some of the later ones are more durable, but still less so than their Allied counterparts. In WT, Japan also suffers from overkill BR, meaning its older planes can face newer, superior Allied ones. Yet, Japanese planes retain their exceptional maneuverability versus its opponents (usually Americans). Japan lacks heavy bombers until late in the tech tree, but its earlier ones are still reliable and versatile. Japan also has a lot of torpedo bombers, which can be great for taking out naval targets; one must not be careless, however, as such planes must descend to near sea-level to drop torpedoes, leaving them vulnerable to enemy flyers.
The Japanese Empire lacked an independent air force during WW2, so its navy and army (which were bitter rivals to the end) each had their own separate air services. This shows in the Japanese tech tree.
Rank I : It is best to start with the Ki-10 biplanes and grind for the Ki-27 otsu and A5M4. Both of those fighters have open cockpits and are armed with only twin 7.7 millimeter machine guns, but they perform well. There is also the D3A1 dive bomber, which is fast, versatile, and well-armed. For bombers, there are the H6K4/H8K2 flying boats and the Ki-21; they are very slow and cumbersome, but will serve you well until you can get better bombers.
Rank II : Rank II grants access to perhaps the most infamous and notorious Japanese plane of WW2: the A6M Zero. The model available at this tier, the A6M2, boasts twin 7.7 mm machine guns and twin 20mm cannons, though the latter guns do not have a lot of ammo. Following it is the J2M2, another great naval plane. On the army side, you start with the initial variants of the Ki-43; these are highly maneuverable, but very lightly armed and delicate, so don't get too cocky. The Ki-44s are slightly less agile, but still fun to play. The following Ki-61s are nothing special, but research them anyway as this will gain you the Ki-100, which is very durable and well-armed with an ample ammo supply to match. Rank II heavy hitters include the B5N2 dive/torpedo bomber and G4M1, which are both versatile and have good defensive armament; be careful when using the G4M1, though, as its unarmored engines and fuel tanks almost guarantee a fiery doom if you get shot.
Rank III : Not much changes here. You have newer Zeroes and Ki-61s, the Ki-43-III otsu (the last and most powerful variant of said plane), and the A7M2 for fighters. These are all fun to use, but at this point you will start facing some of the best planes from the other nations, which the Japanese fighters may be hard-pressed to keep up with. On the bright side, you have the B7A2 dive/torpedo bomber, which is a jack-of-all-trades plane that can be used in a number of roles. The only bombers you can unlock are different variants of the Ki-49-IIb, which, despite its small payload, can be very useful.
Rank IV : Rank IV gives you Japan's latest and greatest, and while still more fragile than most opponents, these planes are a bit less flammable than in the previous tiers. You have three fantastic new fighters: the powerful N1K2-J Shiden-Kai, the fast and deadly Ki-84 Hayate, and the cool-looking J7W1 interceptor. You've also got the last J2M variants, which have a superb climb rate, and the Ki-83 heavy fighter, which, for a plane of its type, is surprisingly maneuverable and packs a wallop. This tier's dive/torpedo bomber, the P1Y1, is unimpressive, as is the G5N1 four-engine heavy bomber, which is extremely slow and cumbersome despite its many defensive guns (all of them pitifully light). However, the G8N1 (a.k.a., the "Death Star") is among the best bombers in War Thunder; it has a much smaller payload than its Allied counterparts, but its defensive armament is among the best in the game, helping it in reaching its targets.
Rank V (Jets) : Japan has very few jets compared to the other nations, but they're still unique in their own way and all but one are armed with powerful 30mm cannons. The Kikka's BR is low for a jet, but, along with the Ki-200 (a derivative of the German Me 163 Komet), it has VERY little ammo; major trigger disciple is required for both of said planes to be played effectively. The R2Y2s, on the other hand, have devastating quad-30mm armament, with a generous ammo count to boot. The F-86F-30 is basically an American F-86F-25 with Japanese markings; just take your time grinding it and hope the improved F-86F-40 is added to the game someday.