The CW-21 is a rank I Chinese fighter with a battle rating of 2.0 (AB), 2.7 (RB), and 2.3 (SB). It was introduced in Update 1.91 "Night Vision".
A unique and capable fighter, the CW-21 will be a surprise to pilots stepping into the Chinese tech tree. Its appearance is unusual but elegant: the spindly wings, highly tapered fuselage, and bulbous nose hint at its high-flying capabilities. The first few Chinese aircraft can be a struggle to fly and master, however, the CW-21 picks up the slack the moment it gets airborne. The CW-21 begins lifting off when reaching 145 km/h (90 mph), and climbs like a rocket, leaving all other planes at its rank in the dust. While speaking of speed, the CW will quickly outrun and outpace most of the competition, leading to a lot of the primary biplane opposition simply being unable to catch up and get within firing distance.
When it comes to firepower, this bird has talons and easily uses its 2 x .50 calibre M2s plus 2 x .30 calibre M1919s to decimate any plane that crosses its path. While it can punch hard with its guns, it cannot take any beating in return due to its complete lack of protection. Not that it will be getting hit much, as a competent pilot will tell you manoeuvrability is key and an agile plane it is. The turn time is easily competitive with most if not all biplanes, except possibly the I-153 that intrinsically trumps all other aircraft when it comes to turning and turn fighting. All in all, the CW-21 is a powerhouse, ready to ascend to great heights and deliver death from above.
The CW-21 is excellent at diving because of its slick wing design. The wings enable the planes ultimate flight performance with the 1,000 hp (750 kW) Wright R-1820-G5 nine-cylinder air-cooled radial engine. The wings are thin but long producing enough lift with the smallest amount of drag. The speed comes with the extremely light semi-monocoque structure which decreases the weight hence improves the performance.
|Characteristics|| Max Speed
(km/h at 3,700 m)
| Max altitude
| Turn time
| Rate of climb
| Take-off run|
|Combat flaps||Take-off flaps||Landing flaps||Air brakes||Arrestor gear|
|Wings (km/h)||Gear (km/h)||Flaps (km/h)||Max Static G|
|Optimal velocities (km/h)|
|< 280||< 260||< 450||> 250|
Survivability and armour
The CW-21 is about as fragile as it looks as far as combat damage is concerned. It does not have any sort of armour protection whatsoever, a historical design decision to minimize weight and maximize its rate of climb. While the resulting flight performance is nothing short of spectacular, it renders the pilot very vulnerable to being knocked out, even by low-calibre machine guns. For this reason, head-ons should be avoided, and when being tailed by an enemy, evasive manoeuvres are very important. The fuel tanks are located in the wings and are at the very least self-sealing.
Upon its initial release, the CW-21 was quite infamous for having literally unbreakable wings that would stay intact after suffering critical damage, but this has since been patched. Attempting to use the wings as a melee weapon is no longer recommended.
Modifications and economy
The CW-21 is armed with:
- 2 x 12.7 mm M2 Browning machine guns, nose-mounted (200 rpg = 400 total)
- 2 x 7.62 mm Browning machine guns, nose-mounted (500 rpg = 1,000 total)
The armament of the CW-21 is fairly respectable compared to other aircraft it faces, although is nothing particularly special. While the ammo count is fairly standard in comparison to similar aircraft it can still leave something to be desired and can cause you problems, particularly if you have poor trigger discipline. All the guns are nose mounted, this makes aiming easier and means you do not need to worry about convergence.
Usage in battles
The CW-21 should be mainly used as a fighter. Excelling in turns, acceleration, with hard-hitting guns, it is very easy to dogfight other planes at its battle rating. Your main composition will sometimes be biplanes and some biplanes can out turn you. However, the CW-21 against monoplanes is where it really shines. It can easily out turn other planes like the He 100 or even the He 112 which is crucial in a dogfight. The CW-21 does not have any close air support potential other than knocking out light targets like anti-aircraft artillery and armoured vehicles, so the main targets will be other planes.
The CW-21 can outclimb practically any other fighter on the battlefield. While it is a good dogfighter, it excels in diving attacks, where enemies can be eliminated in a pass or two, and if not, the extra energy advantage makes the ensuing dogfights much easier. Cruise at high altitude, pick out a target and swoop down to begin the engagement, using the great handling to stay on the target's tail. If the fight is not going as well as expected, it is not difficult to disengage and climb back to safety, though it pays to fly carefully and watch out for bullets coming in from behind.
While intercepting bombers is easy, even the weakest of defensive armaments can do a serious number on the CW-21, possibly ending the engagement abruptly with a pilot snipe. Study the layout of enemy bombers and only approach from angles that are not covered by turrets, or alternatively wait for a teammate to join in and distract the opponent's fire. Note that bringing down large aircraft can use up a large amount of the CW-21's limited ammunition supply.
Something to note is that the CW-21's incredibly lightweight (it weighs less than an I-16) means that the energy retention after dives leaves something to be desired. The climb rate compensates for the mediocre top speed somewhat since altitude can be converted into speed, but this bonus will be quickly lost. Avoid prolonged chases against faster aircraft, otherwise one may be both unable to catch up and drained of energy.
Perhaps the only other opponent capable of giving the CW-21 a run for its money in terms of performance is the German He 100 D-1. The Heinkel also has a very good climb rate and enjoys superior speed, though it has worse manoeuvrability and inferior armament. While the CW-21 still has a better climb rate, He 100 pilots can build up speed in level flight and zoom climb to catch up, and the three 7.92 mm machine guns are still more than enough to dispatch the CW-21. Watch He 100s warily, be prepared to dodge them, and try to land a few hits - the He 100 is incredibly fragile and even a stray bullet can ruin its cooling system, forcing the pilot to return to base or burn up.
Against the CW-21:
- Turnfighter (or biplane): all reserve biplanes (e.g. Ki-10, He 51) can easily out-turn the CW-21, though they cannot out-climb or out-run it, thus the aggressive and active side will usually be the CW-21, forcing turn-fighters into a passive disadvantage. When a CW-21 dives on you, start banking to one side and turn under its negative G area as soon as the distance is <700 m. This is a very common tactic to force an abortion on a BnZ fighter. After a few successful dodges, the CW-21 will usually lose some altitude and speed. They might even run out of 12.7 mm bullets. If they lose patience and try to turnfight you, lure them into flat, continuous turns. Although the CW-21 is also a great turner, it still cannot sustain its turn rate better than a biplane/dedicated turn-fighter (e.g. A6M2), but you can. Try not to get into vertical manoeuvres, as that might allow the CW-21 to use its energy & climb rate advantage.
- Jack-of-all-trades fighter: this may be the hardest situation to deal with and requires more skills on combining manoeuvres and managing energy, as the CW-21 itself is a jack of all trade aircraft, so it is a duel between the same type. As mentioned before, the CW-21 climbs, turns and runs really well against common fighters at this BR (e.g. Ki-43). If you have an altitude advantage over it, perform conventional BnZ. Do not lose patience if they dodge your dives again and again, instead keep the pressure up and gradually force it down to the deck, then it is your prey. If it gets on your tail, combine evasive manoeuvres like barrel rolls, scissors, etc to force an overshoot or even a reversal. Remember to keep your speed up even if that means diving and losing altitude, most planes require some airspeed to manoeuvre the best.
- High-speed BnZ fighter: these aircraft generally require an altitude advantage to unleash their speed. Unless you are so fast that you can simply outrun the CW-21 (e.g. He 100), get higher before diving. You have to pull up high after each dive, no matter how little damage the pass did, because if you do not pull up the CW-21 can follow up or even stick to your tail for some split seconds, and you will get hit. Speed is your best friend at all times.
- Attacker/bomber: a good choice when being boom-and-zoomed by a CW-21 is to steeply dive to the deck. This does two jobs: 1) it gains you speed and separation between you two, making the CW-21 harder to aim at you, and 2) it drags the CW-21 to the deck too, if they want to get this kill. This eliminates their altitude advantage and creates opportunities for your teammates. With you racing at treetop level and the CW-21 following behind, you should get quite some time to aim carefully at its big radial engine. If you are rugged (e.g. Do 17 Z-7) or heavily armed (e.g. B18) you might even make it run out of ammo or destroy it with your gunners.
Manual Engine Control
Not auto controlled
| Not controllable
Not auto controlled
| Not controllable
Not auto controlled
Pros and cons
- Respectable firepower for the rank
- Turn rate is on par with the early Spitfires and even A6Ms
- Climb rate is very good for its rank
- Good dive characteristics - difficult to induce compression, wings will not readily break
- Speed is respectable and can be used to outrun opponents
- Mediocre energy retention
- No armour
- Ammo can run out fast with poor trigger discipline
The Curtiss-Wright 21 was a lightweight fighter-interceptor based on the CW-19. CW-21 designer, George A. Page, only emphasized the plane to have an incredible rate of climb and to not dogfight. It would climb away from a dogfight instead of dog-fighting. The U.S. wouldn't adopt the plane as they wanted a plane with low-level dogfight capability, and to not only excel solely in climbing. George A. Page knew this and designed the plane mainly for exporting.
Intrigued by the CW-21's performance, China looked into the CW-21 furthermore with a prototype being delivered to China. During a discussion about the CW-21, a prototype CW-21 shot down an Italian BR.20. China decided to buy some with China receiving 3 completely built CW-21's and 27 kits. Another three CW-21's were delivered to China and sent to the "Flying Tigers" group. They intended to use the CW-21 for attacking Japanese reconnaissance but ended up crashing due to poor visibility.
Meanwhile, Curtiss-Wright was developing the CW-21B. The CW-21B had inward retractable gears, instead of the gears being retracted into the fairings beneath each wing. The CW-21B also sported hydraulic control surfaces. The CW-21B did end up having a lower climb rate but did have a higher top speed. The Dutch ordered 24 CW-21B's in an effort to obtain modern aircraft, however, it was too late to receive them as they surrendered to the Germans. The Dutch ended up giving the CW-21B's to the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia). After assembling the newly acquired CW-21B's, they started using them. They later ended up finding cracks on some of their CW-21B's and grounded them. This was due to the very lightweight construction of the CW-21B. These CW-21B's were easy prey to Japanese planes and most were destroyed on the ground as well as the few which were able to fly.
Links to the articles on the War Thunder Wiki that you think will be useful for the reader, for example:
- reference to the series of the aircraft;
- links to approximate analogues of other nations and research trees.
|Fighters||P-36A · Rasmussen's P-36A · P-36C · P-36G|
|P-40C · P-40E-1 · P-40F-10|
|Bombers||SB2C-1C · SB2C-4|
|Export||H-75A-1 · H-75A-4 · H-81A-2 · ▂P-40E-1 · ␗P-40E-1 · ▄P-40F-5 Lafayette · CW-21 · Hawk III|
|British||␗Gladiator Mk I|
|Japanese||␗A6M2 · ␗Ki-27 otsu · ␗Ki-43-III ko · ␗Ki-44-II hei · ␗Ki-61-I otsu · ␗Ki-84 ko|
|American||CW-21 · Hawk III · P-66 · ␗P-40E-1 · H-81A-2 · ␗P-43A-1 · ␗P-47D-23-RA · ␗P-47D-30 · ␗P-51D-20 · ␗P-51K|
|Soviet||␗I-15bis · ␗I-153 M-62 · ␗I-16 Chung 28 · ␗I-16 type 5 · ␗I-16 type 10 · ␗I-16 type 17 · ␗La-11 · ␗La-9|