What’s up guys Rogue-9 here! It’s time for another in depth exploration of one of the vehicles in Battlefield one and it was supposed to be the Sikorsky Ilya Muromets heavy bomber but after a whole week of research and testing… this was announced. And what’s the point of an in depth guide when a significant change to one of the variants is just around the corner? So instead, we will be exploring the Attack planes and we will leave the heavy bomber for later. As usual, the video will focus on comparing and contrasting the weapon and gadget loadouts of the three variants of Attack Plane in the game before I present my final conclusion on which one is best but since this is going to end up quite a lengthy video, you will find timestamps in a pinned comment below that will take you directly to the discussions of the individual planes or the conclusion.
First up, we have the Ground Support Attack Plane, armed with a 20mm autocannon and a cluster of eight 10kg fragmentation bombs. As with all attack plane variants, it has a secondary gunner position in the back where a teammate can man a light machine gun that can fire at targets in a 360 degree arc around the plane. This LMG can fire a burst lasting a maximum of seconds before it needs to cool down for 2.5s but given the damage per shot against all the other types of planes (listed here from left to right as attack planes, bombers, fighters and heavy bombers) a skilled gunner can take down any opponent with just the one burst. Against infantry, this gun is going to require 4-5 shots to kill, which makes it highly impractical for getting ground kills.
The Pilot’s 20mm cannon is far more effective against ground units (in fact, its stats are exactly the same as the 20mm shells fired by ground units) and as such, the damage it does is of course dependent on the perk combo of the enemy troopers and here: Flak will reduce the explosive damage by 10%, Juggernaut by 20% and running both by 30% and that can mean that it could take up to 7 shots within a 2.5m radius to take down the enemy. Semi-solid cover, such a buildings can be destroyed with a second or so of concentrated fire. Against other planes, the damage of the 20mm shells can vary widely.
In my tests, a single shot could frequently hit part of the enemy plane, over penetrate and then cause a second hit when impacting another hit zone of the plane. In addition to this the shells would explode on very rare occasions and cause minor explosive damage when fired against the two smaller types of planes (the fighters and attack planes) although never against the two bombers. The result is that even though the inaccuracy and relatively low muzzle velocity of the gun make it a little more difficult to hit enemy planes, the effects of a well-aimed stream of shells can be devastating. Against vehicles, the 20mm performs just like the ones we have explored in earlier episodes of this series except that you get 25 shots before your gun overheats instead of the 15 you will normally get for ground vehicles. Damage for each individual shot is quite limited but if you manage to land all 25 shots in your 3.9s burst, it can all add up quite quickly. Reload time for this gun is also around 2.5s. The secondary cluster of 10kg bomblets available to the Ground support attack plane is of course best used against infantry, where a total of 3 or 4 bombs in a range of 5-8 meters from your target is usually enough to get the kill.
Requiring half of your bombs to land near to a single enemy might seem like a lot, but when drop this string of explosives at the end of a strafing run with the cannon, the dispersion and large effective range of the bombs can easily finish off injured soldiers. Due to their diminutive size though, these bombs are ineffective against semi-solid cover. If you want to get at enemies within a building, make sure to shoot up the roof with your cannon first. As is to be expected, these tiny bombs are no more than a nuisance against armoured vehicles. The best you can really hope for is to temporarily interrupt their repair cycle, giving your teammates a better chance to destroy that vehicle. On your own though, you are definitely going to do a number on the vehicles paint job… but not much more. The Ground Support Attack plane’s gadget slot will give you a pair of spotting flares, just like the ones used by the scouts.
They are incredibly useful for highlighting targets for yourself and your teammates to pursue. Now over to the Tank Hunter Attack plane, which comes with a 37mm cannon (the same calibre as the cannon on the light close support tank, by the way, although functionally, the guns are slightly different) and a pair of 50kg bombs that are always dropped together. Since this is again a plane that is predominantly focused on combating ground units, let’s start out with its effectiveness against its primary target: enemy armour. Heavy vehicles will take 5 shots, while lighter ones will require 3. Realistically, you should usually be able to land 2-3 shots in a single pass, so this plane can be highly effective at mopping up some pesky tanks. Especially once you take the two 50kg bombs into account, which a skilled pilot can drop at the end of each pass.
The bombs will cause both minor impact damage (the higher you fly, the greater the damage) and a fixed explosive damage with a 3-6m drop off. The stats you see on screen are per bomb, so on a good pass you can take about a third of the health of a heavy vehicle and half of the health of the lighter ones. The capabilities of these two weapons combined, mean that a skilled tank hunter pilot can destroy pretty much any vehicle in a single pass and even if the first pass doesn’t do the job, the 2.25s reload time per shot for the cannon, its 5 shot capacity and the relatively quick 15s reload for the bombs mean that you can keep making run after run at your target, interrupting his reload cycles and eventually getting the kill. As long as you don’t fly straight at the enemy vehicles (remember, a single well placed shot from their cannons can take you out instantly) there is almost nothing they can do to escape you.
Against infantry, the Tank Hunter plane has a medium effectiveness; it’s OK but not great. Direct hits with the cannon will of course take out anyone but the splash damage is less convincing requiring 2-3 close misses for a kill. Semi-solid cover can be destroyed by a single shot. The 50kg bombs are pretty much the same, OK/not great. Direct hit damage can cause varying damage depending on the drop height: from 10dmg up to 10m up to a maximum of 40dmg from 200m and up. The splash damage is powerful enough so that you can kill infantry in a single pass, as long as both bombs land close enough. Explosive drop-off starts at 5m and ends at 8m.
A surprising and somewhat disappoint finding of my tests is that these 50kg bombs are not able to destroy cover, so if you want to get at infantry sheltering within a building, you need to blow the roof off with your cannon first. Last but not least, the tank hunter can also be fairly effective against enemy planes. Two shots will to take out a fighter, three will take out an attack plane and four will take out either of the bomber types. Sure, you only have a relatively slow firing, single shot cannon but getting the hang of hitting your targets just takes a little practice and don’t forget, you also have a gunner position from where a teammate can assist you.
With a good gunner, this plane can make you an absolute menace for the enemy team. The gadget for this plane is an emergency repair that can definitely come in handy from time to time, especially when you have been damaged to below 15 HP, since all versions of the attack plane will lose control until you can complete one repair action. And finally, last and maybe least?, we have the Airship Buster Attack Plane.
As the name suggest, this variant excels at taking on enemy airships but apart from the two new maps, how often do you really see those and does that mean that most of the time, this plane is useless? Well, let’s see what it can do against more common enemies. This variant is armed with a 13.2mm Tank und Flieger heavy machine gun and eight Le Prieur unguided air-to-air rockets. Interestingly, even though the fire rate of the main machine gun appears pretty high, it is actually only 380 rpm (slower than the 20mm cannon of the ground support variant). Another interesting thing is that the 13.2mm ammunition used by MG is in fact exactly the same as that used by the Tankgewehr in the game. Imagine if the ammo was modelled the same as well! Being able to fire 380 bullets of Tankgewehr ammo per minute would be absolutely devastating against land vehicles and planes alike and so it is unsurprising that this is sadly not how the gun works… And I say sadly… maybe I should exchange that with thankfully. So, how good is the machine gun then? Well against armoured land vehicles… 0 damage, it does nothing… it’s useless.
Infantry will take 3 body shots and 2 head shots to go down but with a lack of accuracy, no splash damage and no penetration capability, you’re pretty much wasting your time trying to strafe ground targets. Against enemy planes is definitely where this HMG shines. It will do relatively good damage against all other planes except the original bomber and even though the fire rate is a little slower than that of the 20mm, it’s longer burst capability of 5.5s and higher muzzle velocity make it much easier to hit your targets consistently and if you coordinate with your gunner to both open fire on a target at the same time, you can take them out before they even know what is hitting them. The secondary rockets you will have available to you as the pilot tell a very similar story. In theory a direct hit against enemy infantry can kill but successfully landing a shot is 95% luck at the best of times. Splash damage is appalling both in terms of the damage and the maximum damage radius.
Vehicles will take a tiny amount of impact damage and a little bit of explosive damage that is not worth writing home about either and given the inaccuracy and 15s reload time for these rockets, you’d have to be incredibly lucky to do anything more than annoy an enemy armoured vehicle. And sadly, these glorified bottle rockets are not that much better against enemy planes. The main problem I have with them (apart from accuracy) is that they are super inconsistent. Sometimes during my tests, a single rocket would hit, do a small amount of impact damage, then over penetrate and fly off towards the blue horizon. On the other hand, sometimes a single rocket would cause double impact damage and then explode with the explosion causing damage to two different hit zones of the target. This means that a single rockets strike can cause anywhere from 3 impact damage to an enemy attack plane, to total of 40 damage or more.
So you’re essentially rolling the dice when firing a rocket barrage at another plane. If your aim is good and you open fire at exactly the right range, you may get 4-5 hits and that can do anywhere from 15 or so points of damage up to destroying the enemy outright. I guess the rockets are designed for use against airships so maybe this unreliable performance against planes is desired behaviour, who knows. The Airship Buster’s gadget is a 5 second speed boost. I tested this boots manually, by overlapping both footage taken from the side and 3rd person footage of my flight, with timers set to make the beginning and end points of essentially a race. The first test showed a 24% increase in speed, the second one showed a pretty exact 25% increase in speed, so I am very comfortable concluding that the speed increase is in fact 25%. The reset time for the boost is 15s and it starts immediately after you trigger it. And finally, boosting the speed not only allows you to quickly catch up to your targets or get away from a dangerous situation, it also allows you to turn quicker ever so slightly.
It’s not a huge difference but can definitely be enough to get you out of the sights of a plane on your tail. So there you have all the info about the three types of attack planes and now to conclude. In general, I would say that the attack planes are 100% my favourite type of plane. Pretty fast and agile with very powerful weapons and a gunner that can both protect you from pursuers as well as assist you against targets in front of you. But now, when it comes to ranking the three variants, things become a little more challenging.
I have already singled out the Airship Buster for being the least versatile and for that reason I would probably rank it at the bottom of the pile. It has no real capabilities of attacking ground targets and the rockets are really unreliable and difficult to use. That being said though, I would not write this machine off completely. With its heavy machine gun and gunner position, I would say that this plane is the absolute number one in air-to-air combat. The combined forward facing firepower can absolutely shred enemy planes and if you’re being chased by an enemy fighter, just keep the plane straight and level and let your gunner go to work. A good gunner will be able to defeat an incoming fighter 9 times out of 10 and allowing him to do is work is a key to surviving in the air. In fact, let me quickly digress from my ranking discussion to elaborate on this little piece of general advice. When flying any plane with a rear facing gunner position in Battlefield 1 the number one mistake I see pilots make is to try to evade incoming fire.
The thing in air combat is that if you are flying straight, you are actually pretty hard to hit from behind. Your wings will only offer a very thin profile and even your fuselage is nothing more than a small box. Once you start to turn though, you will offer up the length of your fuselage and the profile of your wings as targets and you actually become easier to hit.
Couple this with the fact that you are making it significantly harder for your gunner to return fire and you end up with the perfect strategy for making it as easy as possible to shoot you down. Think about it, in your experience what is more dangerous? A turning enemy attack plane, manned by a pilot and gunner or an attack plane where the pilot flies straight and jumps into the gunner seat temporarily to put a stream of led straight into the nose of your plane? But now back to my personal ranking of the attack planes. Yes, the Airship Buster is the least versatile variant but also (IMO) the best air-to-air plane you can pick. Plus also, it is extremely powerful against airships so that’s quite cool I guess. Out of the other two variants, it is quite hard for me to pick a definitive winner and I would say that you choice should probably depend on the situation you are faced within the current round. Both planes are pretty good at taking on enemy planes (as long as you have a reliable gunner) and in terms of ground targets, the Tank Hunter is great against tanks and OK against infantry, while the Ground Support is great against infantry although not all that amazing against tanks.
I guess with that characterisation right there I have answered my own question. The Tank Hunter is the most versatile and will be useful in more situations. Add to that, the fact that as a vehicle driver (land or air) you primary focus (again IMO) should always be on suppressing the enemy’s vehicles. The Tank Hunter is amazing in this role and can still do some decent damage to the infantry if you run out of ground or air vehicles to murder.
The Ground Support used to be absolutely spectacular at making life a misery for the enemy infantry but after a bit of a nerf a good while ago, it’s not that overpowered anymore. Nevertheless, if you’re in a match, where enemy tanks are not a problem, then picking this dedicated infantry harassment machine may well be the best choice. The bottom line is that with a good gunner and some practise, the Attack planes as a group are my personal number one choice out of all planes. Airship Buster for general air combat, Tank Hunter for vehicles and Ground Support for farming infantry kills. But as always, those final thoughts and the rankings are just my personal opinion. What are your thoughts on the attack planes, which are your most or least favourite variants and of course, which vehicle do you want me to explore next? Leave your comments below and with that: I hope you enjoyed the video and I will see you in the next episode! The effects of a well imed…
The effects of a well imed… Well IMED?!? Wha What does that even mean? The effects of a well aimed stream of shells can be devastating… The you go… SUCCESS!.
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