The tech tree of every nation (except for Japan) consists of two branches. The first one always contains light fighter planes – the key players in any aerial battle. The second branch always carries warplanes that are specific to that nation only, highlighting its particular approach to air combat throughout history. As such, the USSR has ground attack planes, Germany and Great Britain has heavy fighters, and the USA has carrier-based fighters. All of these are different classes of planes that play differently, and this needs to be kept in mind when you encounter them in the game.
The German planes featured in the game usually have high speed and strong armament. After WWI, German engineers were not able to develop any military aircraft for a long time, which is why they poured their resources more in the conception of high-speed sports cars. However, the advances they made in this work did later benefit the development of Germany’s aircraft immensely.
Strong water-cooled engines gave their fighter planes excellent climb and dive-ability. Moreover, thanks to their heavy-calibre cannons and machine guns, they were able to sometimes destroy their target with only one good burst. German heavy fighters, designed to intercept enemy attack planes, were highly capable machines that could carry even more deadly weapons, even if it was at the expense of a slightly reduced mobility.
Soviet fighters aren’t as powerful as the German ones, but they have superior manoeuvrability characteristics and almost equal the Germans in speed. Their strong point is close combat, where they are able to out-turn almost any opponent.
The USSR’s nation-specific branch consists of ground attack planes. Their main purpose is to destroy ground targets, which is why they feature heavy armour and a vast arsenal of very damaging weapons. Whilst sturdy indeed, ground attack planes should try to avoid close air-to-air combat because of their rather sluggish nature. However, if pressured, they still can become dangerous opponents, thanks to their high HP amounts and capable rear gunner. If played correctly, they are a valuable addition to any team’s line-up. Remember, it’s easier for a ground attack plane to take down an enemy aircraft than it is for a fighter to destroy a ground target.
American fighter aircraft resemble the “Germans” with their superb speed characteristics and fire power. At the same time, they remain pretty well armored, showing the Americans’ focus on building aircraft that would be durable and reliable in battle. In addition to that, US-planes often carried unusual weapon combinations which made them stand out against the crowd of other nations’ fighters.
As such they would often mount machineguns of a larger calibre, which are inferior to lighter guns in terms of fire range or accuracy, but compensate through an outstanding fire rate – an advantage that can come in pretty handy in intense, close-range dog fights. The second branch of American-specific planes are carrier-based fighters which are capable plane interceptors that can also do their part on ground attack duty thanks to their ability to carry light bombs and rockets as well. Being better armoured than their land-based counterparts, they can take more heat for a longer amount of time, which can be a life-saver in dicey situations.
The completely carrier-based Japanese aircraft fleet consists of the most nimble planes in all of World of Warplanes. Thanks to their unmatched manoeuvrability, getting away from a Japanese attacker on your tail can prove to be one of the most challenging tasks in the game. Light, quick and decently armed, Japanese aircraft are a perfect fit for any player looking for intense and aggressive game play.
However, all of this increased nimbleness comes at the price of a pretty low HP pool. Japanese engineers sacrificed armouring and fuel tank capacity in order to reduce the weight of their planes to maximise their offensive potential. Therefore, Japanese aircraft are good offensive interceptors but need to watch out on defence, where they’re incapable of sustaining enemy fire for a very long time.
The British played a major part in military aviation of the first half of the 20th century. Many of their planes have outstanding climbing capabilities that allow them to outclass their Japanese or Soviet competitors in vertical combat. British planes also perform better than German or U.S. aircraft when it comes to horizontal manoeuvrability, which allows them to successfully employ “Boom & Zoom”- as well as “Turn & Burn” tactics.
In terms of armament, the British aircraft are equipped with a multitude of small-caliber machine guns all the way up until the second half of their tech tree. While this is enough against light fighters in close dogfights, British planes have a more difficult time when engaging Heavy Fighters or even Attack Aircraft.