Friday, May 16, 2014

Tier 2 Banzai!

Having provided tips, guidelines and a little bit of historical background information for tier 1 aircraft in War Thunder, I'm now moving on to the tier 2 planes.

The A6M2-N "Rufe" is essentially a Zero fighter that underwent a float plane conversion.  Overall, the performance is degraded by about 20 percent, which leaves players with a less than ideal dogfighter.  Personally, I found this to be my least favorite tier 2 Japanese plane in the game, but sadly it is a necessary stepping stone on the way to a proper Zero.  Like other float planes it can land at airfields quickly on domination maps.  As general recommendation for aircraft with this kind of armament use machine guns to damage opponents from afar then close in and finish them with cannons.

The Ki-45 Tonryu was called the "Nick" by the Allies, but in Japanese it was known as the "Dragon Slayer."  It's an accurate namesake given that this heavy fighter is outclassed by most single engine planes in a dogfight, nor does it particularly excel in a ground attack role.  What it does do extremely well though is shred bombers.  This shouldn't come as a terribly surprising revelation though since the Ki-45 saw the most success as an interceptor of bombers in real life.  In terms of advice, all I can say is climb using over-boost, find an enemy bomber and hope the rear gunner keeps any escorts away long enough to fill the target full of 20mm and 37mm cannon rounds.  The "tei" model of this aircraft has two of its 20mm cannons mounted at an upward angle making it well suited to attacking bombers from underneath.

Moving on to the A6M2 "Zeke" (or more famously the "Zero") should be a high priority for any Japanese faction player that wants to duel other fightercraft.  Historically, the Zero was one of (if not the) fastest turning military aircraft during the second World War due to to its extremely lightweight design.  The two wing mounted 7.7mm machine guns don't pack much punch, but the 20mm nose mounted cannons will make mincemeat out of most targets.  Ammo for these bruisers is pretty limited though so line up those shots nice and close before squeezing the trigger.  Also, don't hesitate to reload if you have a bit of breathing room.  In a one-on-one turn fight the Zero is practically guaranteed to win.  However, head on confrontations are far less certain, best avoid them unless the Zero has a substantial height advantage. Additionally, be prepared to do a lot of aerial acrobatics in a furball if you want to live for more than two seconds, because the moment an Aircobra or Yak gets the Zero in their crosshairs it's over.  Don't bother with bombs either since they handicap the Zero's one real strength - maneuverability.

The B5N2 "Kate" is a rather unique single engine plane in that it has no forward firing armament.  It's not particularly fast and its bomb/torpedo payload isn't anything special either.  I can turn surprisingly well though and it's very easy to land.  As far as I can tell this aerial oddity is meant to be used as a kind of kamikaze.  While I only had limited success actually ramming into other planes, ground strikes against closely guarded ships, bases or airfields were surprisingly effective despite concluding in fiery death moments after payload delivery.  The large experience point bonus attached to this plane also does a lot to encourage these kind of suicidal tactics.

The G4M1 "Betty" (like the Zero) had range far in excess of what most equivalent aircraft were capable of.  Sadly, that feature doesn't translate in any way, shape or form to the arcade battle mode of War Thunder.  On the other hand it's greatest drawback (also like the Zero), the lack of armor and self sealing fuel tanks, does apply.  Allies often referred to the G4M1 as the "Zippo," "Lighter" or "Cigar" owing to its tendency to catch fire with incredible ease when damaged.  In a bit of sad irony Betty aircrews had nearly identical nicknames for their planes in Japanese.  Needless to say it's a weak twin engine bomber, both in terms of toughness and bomb payload.  For best results in this green tinderbox stay over 5000 meters up and hit stationary targets from high above.

The Ki-61 Hein, or "Flying Swallow," is a unusual entry into the Japanese roster.  In the early parts of WW2 it was often misidentified as a German or Italian fighter, the latter of which earned it the Allied reporting name "Tony."  This Kawasaki Heavy Industries made aircraft had numerous reliability problems associated with its water-cooled engine.  Thankfully, this issue doesn't crop up in arcade mode.  In terms of firepower, variants further down the tech tree obviously dish out incrementally more punishment.  While not as fast turning as the Zero, the Ki-61 does dive a bit better. In addition to this it's one of the few Japanese planes that sports self-sealing fuel tanks, making to slightly less likely to catch fire than most other Japanese planes.

The Ki-49 Donryu (Japanese for "Storm Dragon," but referred to as the "Helen" by Allies) is a significant improvement over the G4M1 in terms of speed and maneuverability.  However, its defensive armament is a mixed bag by way of trading the 20mm tail cannon for two 7.7mm machine guns (one in the underbelly and the other replacing the tail cannon).  Overall this provides the bomber with fewer blind spots, but less stopping power when an enemy is attacking from behind.  Expect to get more hits, but fewer kills than before.  Bomb loads remain unchanged for all versions.  The upgraded Ki-49-IIa model which might not seem worth the time and effort to research since the only noticeable difference on the stat card is the tail gun getting increased to a 12.7mm weapon.  What isn't mentioned though is the addition armor protection and self sealing fuel tanks that make the Ki-49-IIa a bit more durable.

 It's interesting to note that Japan had a "Special Attack Unit" based in mainland China that specifically trained pilots to ram B-17 bombers with their Ki-61 fighter aircraft.  While called "kamikaze" by the Allies, the members of this unit did not think of themselves as such because they tried to bail out and parachute to safety or make emergency landings after successful collisions.  Perhaps the developers over at Gaijin Entertainment should consider awarding points exclusively to the Japanese faction for employing this tactic.  If nothing else it would encourage historical authenticity. 

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