I did actually managed to break away from BizzCon and all the talk about Warlords of Draenor long enough to play some War Thunder this past weekend.
I followed my previous wandering path, continuing my goal to “fly all the planes!” and headed towards the German tree.
This time around however, I did not want to spend my time working my way up to rank 5 just to fly some key planes. It isn’t that I didn’t have a model of an He-51 as a kid… I had two, including one done up as Adolf Galland‘s plane. (Did I ever mention I met him in person back in the late 80s?) I just wanted to fly some things further up the tree.
Fortunately, by this point I had accumulated a sizable chunk of “free” experience… which in War Thunder terms as similar to the experience you earn in World of Tanks on gold tanks or tanks that you have trained up completely, in that you have to use the RMT currency to convert it to something useful, thus giving lie to at least one aspect of the word “free”… and was able to convert it into a boost up to rank 5 in the German air force. That put me right into some serious bombers. I was able to get into the Heinkel He-111.
As well as the Junkers Ju-88.
Neither of these are brilliant ground attack aircraft like the A-20 Havoc I mentioned last week. They are instead configured as medium daylight level bombers. (Though you can dive bomb with the Ju-88 if you so desire.)
Both of these planes are modest in speed, bristling with rifle caliber defensive armament, and otherwise not exactly remarkable. Except, of course, that they carry lots of bombs.
These are smaller bombs. They are in the 100 pound category, as opposed to the 250 or 500 pound bombs you can put on some of the allied planes I have flown so far. The SBD even carries a 1,000 pound bomb on its central rack.
But what these bombs lack in size, they make up for in quantity. If it take a couple of bombs to ensure a kill from altitude, it is better to have 20-30 bombs than just four. And if you have lined up armored column coming up a canyon all in a nice straight line, you can lay down a stream of bombs right down the whole lot of them.
And, in War Thunder matches, destroying ground targets wins the day. Unless it is one of those domination maps where you have to land on airfields to claim them… though bombing enemy planes while they are trying to land is fun as well.
So the upside of these two planes is that they are well equipped to bomb the living crap out of ground targets. In the aforementioned “armored column in a canyon” scenario I have destroyed as many as seven ground targets in a single run, which gets you all sort of bonus experience and everybody sees your name in status and you are seriously helping the team.
The downside is that other side appears to have figured this out. So while I have wandered about the sky for whole matches completely unmolested in my Blenheim or TBF, these two planes attract enemy fighters like no other. And this is where you figure out that “rifle caliber defensive armament,” even when you literally bristle with it like the He-111, isn’t all that effective. The twin heavy .50 caliber guns on the A-20 will cause severe damage on a solid hit. The 7.92mm single mounts on these birds really need a lucky shot to do anything at all.
And, to add to this, I really need to write a nasty letter to the Reich Air Ministry about the oddly fragile nature of the tail sections of German planes. They clearly overlooked some sort of serious design flaw.
Here is my typical mission in one of these bombers.
The match starts. I steer towards the enemy, climbing a bit to give myself some more altitude. I arrive over the first target and unload my bombs pretty much unmolested. Then, as I am waiting for a reload or heading in for another run, an enemy fighter finally catches up with me, gets into extreme range, and opens fire with a long, sustained burst. This causes no damage to the plane, except for the tail section, which becomes completely inoperable. The elevators and rudder are completely useless. At this point the plane enters a shallow dive, with the nose down attitude increasing over time. The controls will not respond, and eventually my flight path intersects the earth and that is the end of the flight.
Hop into the second plane, repeat.
And it isn’t just the bombers. The third plane in my hangar is an early model Bf-109.
The tail comes off of that thing as well. Once, thanks to altitude and an upright angle of attack, I had the tail shot off and remained in the air for almost two minutes, wildly cork-screwing about using the ailerons to what effect I could, just distract enemy fighters for a bit. It worked, but that tail came off on practically the first hit. I wonder how true to life that tendency on the German planes is.
One thing I know they did model well on the Bf-109 was the landing characteristics. It is a pain to land, which is what I have always read. Narrow landing gear and a light frame with a heavy but powerful engine up front can mean comedy when trying to put the plane down. I have managed it, but more often than not I end up looking silly. And, of course, on those matches where you have to land to capture airfields…
So the German planes seem to give their own unique experience.
I am now at a point where I have gone up the tree in four of the five air forces. I am pondering whether it is worth buying my way into the Japanese tree to rank 5 to try the equivalent aircraft on that front, or if I should focus on one air force and try to get into some of the bigger bombers and faster fighters.
Where should an aircraft tourist go next?
And, as usual, after the cut I have some additional screen shots which I collected over the past week of play.