Going Bombing in War Thunder

After last weekend’s plateau in War Thunder, where I settled upon the US tree for a while, I again began to wander.  Being in what I would call the “World of Tanks” model, where you earn experience that lets you unlock bigger/faster/better planes, I started thinking about where I wanted to go as opposed to what I wanted to do at that very moment.

And what I decided I wanted to do was drop bombs.

While I had been doing better with the P-26, I still had more time invested in the British tree.  I had even invested in the first rung of the light bomber line, the Fairy Swordfish.

Swordfish in Flight

Swordfish in Flight

I did not have a lot of luck with the Swordfish, which is part of why I jumped to the US tree for a bit.  The Swordfish is a torpedo bomber and comes by default with a torpedo slung between its under carriage.  I have yet to end up in that plane on a map where there is anything to torpedo however.  So that tends to get jettisoned at the first sign of trouble.  The plane is also slow, not very well armed, and a bit fragile.

Dear, the tail's come off again

Dear, the tail’s come off again

The Swordfish did introduce me to the joy of gunners.  At the low tiers even the sting of a single .303 in the rear cockpit can be quite a surprise, and my gunner sent a number of attackers packing.  You can, if you want, take over the gunner’s role.  You switch spots, the plane goes into a straight and level autopilot, and you get to aim the rear gun.  However, I found that the CPU gunner was doing okay on his own and that I was better off moving about rather than flying in a straight, predictable line.  And the gunner thing got me to focus back on the British tree.

More after the cut because the 8 year old in me keeps making me take screen shots of airplanes.

So into the British tree.

A bit of work and I was flying the two engined Blenheim.

Blenheim aloft

Blenheim aloft

The Blenheim ended up being the bomber I wanted… for the moment.  Like World of Tanks, War Thunder classes aircraft by tiers (or ranks in this case) to keep planes of comparable capabilities in a single match.  But, like the other game, War Thunder will also jump you up or down a tier in order to get matches going sooner rather than later.  When the Blenheim gets dropped down into a match of starter aircraft, it is practically invincible.  I started off flying high and bombing, but ended up dropping down to tree top level and just trolling little biplanes, daring them to blaze away at me while I destroyed ground targets.

And that latter is the key.  On almost every map, blowing things up on the ground is the key to victory.  Shooting the bad guys down is great, but victory goes to those who defeat the enemy’s ground forces, and I was doing okay on that front.  So when I ranked up again, I went and bought the next plane on the light bomber tree, the Bristol Beaufort.

Beaufort dodging a Hurricane

Beaufort dodging a Hurricane

Like so many of the planes in this game, I built a model of the Beaufort when I was young.  I remember that the box even had a little rhyme about the plane, allegedly from the war.

Little Beaufort loves dangerous sport
And knows where to find it.
Trust it to roam and it will come home
With a flaming wreck behind it.

The Beaufort served me well, though in lacking a frontal gun for the pilot, it meant more cruising around at altitude to drop bombs.  Plus it started to drag me up the match making tree.  And once I ranked up and decided a Spitfire was the thing to have, my Blenheim started to feel a lot less solid.

Spitfire... because why not!

Spitfire… because why the hell not!

How War Thunder works is that you have three or more crews to handle aircraft.  When you get into a match, each one of your crews can fly in it.  So if you start with crew one and their airplane and it gets shot down, you can join in again with crew two and the aircraft they support.  So you get multiple bites at the apple in any given match.  But the match making is done based on the highest tier plan you have crewed up.  So when I traded the Swordfish, tier 1, out for the Spitfire, tier 4, I was suddenly in higher tier games.

Tiers, or ranks, queued up

Tiers, or ranks, queued up

And the Blenheim began to show its weaknesses.  As in the real world it worked fine against 30s biplanes, once facing cannon armed foes it was more of a target than a contender.

Meanwhile, the lack of pilot gun on the Blenheim began to make me quest the UK’s commitment to ground attack.  That lead me to the Russians, who ended up as fanatics on the subject.  I ranked up there, starting with the BB-1 and then leading to its upgraded version, the SU-2.

SU2 in a snowy setting

SU2 in a snowy setting

Four forward guns for the pilot, a gunner in the back seat, and bombs to drop, that was a setup I liked.  While the actual SU2 was pretty much wiped out when facing the Germans early in the war, in War Thunder it does okay.  Success against ground targets with that lead me to pick up the Pe-2.

Pe-2 in Flight

Pe-2 in Flight

The Pe-2 is a fast light bomber with a nice heavy machine gun up front to take out ground targets and a gunner in the back to protect you.  The only thing it lacks, at least initially, is bombs.  Odd that.  But you have to level the bird up a bit before you unlock the ability to hang bombs off of it.

The Pe-2 Upgrade Tree

The Pe-2 Upgrade Tree

Which is about where I sit today.  I am enjoying the ground attack and bombing aspect of the game, which is something I can do competently for the most part and which hasn’t required me to invest in a joystick.  I did also spend a bit of time playing with the scenarios, which I found a bit less satisfying.  It isn’t the same if there isn’t another person at the controls.  Plus, seeing how I did, I am not sure the Battle of Britain would have come out the way it did if I had been there.

More pictures of my weekend of flying.

10 thoughts on “Going Bombing in War Thunder

  1. Kethry Avenger

    What about buying a gamepad? just a 360 controler that can be used with a USB slot? Cheap, with good control without having to try you luck with a joystick.


  2. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @KA – I actually have a decent Logitech game pad which I did try to configure for War Thunder. There was no pre-set for it and the results of my own attempt and setting it up lead to… unsatisfactory results.


  3. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    As a sort of “I meant to write about this… then forgot” follow up, that shot of the Beaufort… or what’s left of one… was from a domination battle where you fight over control of one or several neutral airfields. You turn it to your side by touching down on it and staying on the runway until a timer runs down. Once it is your airfield, you can get re-armed and repaired. I turned the airfield while being strafed, and it clicked over just in time for me to be still counted as intact enough for repair instead of replacement. A minute later I was able to take off and rejoin the fight. Such service.


  4. Mekhios

    War Thunder is a great game and unlike WoT doesn’t force you to buy gold rounds to be competitive.

    I’ve found the sweet spot in WT are the level 4-5 matches. These matches give a good compromise between power, survivability, and the ability to still make some in game money. With some skill maxxed 4-5 aircraft you can easily go seal clubbing as many players at these levels don’t want to invest in skilling up the crews.

    Level 6 and above tends to devolve into one shot kills and money starts becoming an issue (unless you want to spend real world cash for bonuses).

    For bombing the twin engine fighter/bombers tend to give the best performance. The pure bombers are mostly useless as they take a long time to reload and reposition for a bombing run. Out of my stable of aircraft they give the poorest earnings vs time played. This has also been confirmed by The Mighty Jingles who has also taken an intense dislike of bombers in this game because of the performance issue (http://www.youtube.com/user/BohemianEagle).


  5. Polo

    I think you would enjoy the Beaufighter. No bombs but the cannons up front let you tear apart other planes while you still get the comfort of having a tail-gunner.


  6. *vlad*

    German Aces racked up massive totals against the Russians, but not because the latter had terrible aircraft; rather that their training was often so so bad.

    For example, in the early stages of the war it was not uncommon for there to be only one or two Russian pilots in a squadron who could actually navigate . The rest of the squardron would simply follow them round, and if that leading plane got shot down, the rest had no idea how to get back to their base.

    The Germans possibly did the Russians a favour by destroying so many of their obsolete aircraft on the ground during Barbarossa. It led to the rapid modernisation of the VVS which eventually controlled the skies in the east. Za Rodinu!


  7. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @*vlad* – Indeed, the air war in the East was considerably different than in the West. While the air war over Germany tended to take place at 10-20K feet, in the East most of what happened was focused on ground support and took place at 5K feet or less. Aircraft that were obsolete in the West because of poor high altitude performance did well enough in Russia.

    Of course, the Germans not only trained better, but clearly had some masters of the art that they kept on the front line for the whole war, rather than rotating them back to train new pilots. In Hartmann’s autobiography, I remember him writing about shooting down IL-2s. They key was to hit a weak spot on the under side, the oil cooler if I recall right. I think about that when I am feeling like a hotshot for actually hitting an enemy plane every so often.

    My goal on the Russian side is the IL-2. That is serious ground attack hardware. I’ll stay low to cover that weak spot.


  8. mrrx

    After reading this I tried to load up War Thunder and discovered I had uninstalled it in irritation. Let me know if they give you a fun way to play that doesn’t involve garage battles (using all three of your crew slots in any particular battle.)


  9. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Mrrx – I viewed the multiple aircraft thing as something of a bonus, giving you a couple bites at the apple in a given match. This works for me given how quickly I sometimes lose that first plane. The other night in an overcast match I flew into a mountain 30 seconds in as I dove to pick up some speed and line up potential ground targets.

    You are still limited to a given number of planes and it does add into it what I would call a “hangar package” configuration dynamic. But if you don’t want to fly all your planes you can send all your crews off on holiday or whatever it is they call it.


  10. Hetstaine

    Coming from EAW (European Air War) the il2 series and a bunch of other pc flying sims i found WT extremely easy in the first three hours and in fact by my second battle i lead the player list with ground and air kills. I tiered up to the Hurri mk2 rather quickly and bailed straight into historical but after waiting 5 minutes at the waiting for players screen twice i had to jump back into arcade to get a flight.

    It was ok for a quick air quake and i thought this is what airborne cod is like, fun but got rather boring pretty quick and it seems all i would be doing is just grinding for the planes i want and then waiting longer and longer for battles in the higher tiers. And what the hell is the swordfish doing with torps on land maps ? I also found myself fighting against japanese floatplanes in a gladiator over the russian front. Weird.

    Hopefully it will at least pull some people into the niche of pc flight simulation though with Battle of Stalingrad and DCS WWII Europe 1944 :)

    ..i wonder if i should grind for that Tempest or will i be waiting forever for a matchup ?


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