We’ve had a letter about our series of War Thunder guides, from a Mr J. Clarkson. He says: “Dear KiaSA, never mind all of this signing up and game mode and aircraft type nonsense, how can I paint ‘The Fighting Cock’ on my aeroplane?” Well, Mr Clarkson, you’re in luck, as Part 4 is a bit of a miscellaneous wrap-up, starting with with aircraft camouflage and decals.
Camouflage and Decals
Click the left hand icon over any of your planes, “Hanger”, to open the hanger view. From here there’s a “Test Flight” button on the right, if you’d like to try out some aerobatics without a bunch of people trying to shoot you down, and an “Information” button in the middle of the three on the left for a bit of historical detail about the plane. The one we’re interested in, though, is the button with the paintbrush icon next to it, “Paint”.
The first choice to make is the base camouflage skin. Most aircraft start with a single skin (in which case you’ll move straight on to the Decal step), but you may have an alternative; the Hurricane I, for example, has a Polish Air Forces camouflage option:
Further skins for some aircraft can be unlocked by completing challenges; you can see all unlockable skins and the criteria for obtaining them under “Profile”, in the top right of the screen, along with decals, challenges and medals.
After choosing the basic paint scheme you can add your own your own touches via decals. Everyone has access to two decal slots, with more being available to premium players. Select a decal slot, and you’re presented with various categories of decal. Select a category, and you can browse the entries within; I find the interface a little clunky, but it’s usable. You get plenty to start with, and unlock more as you play. Decals don’t appear to be limited to the nation of your selected plane, so if you’d like your Hurricane to proclaim that M. D. Baranov is the terror of the fascists or to have the insignia of Jagdschweder 26…
… then you can. Hold the right mouse button to pan around your aircraft, and as the on-screen guide says use Shift+mouse wheel scrolling to change the size of the decal (you can manage some pretty gaudy effects by scaling decals up to cover most of the plane), and Alt+mouse wheel to rotate it.
For Mr Clarkson’s benefit, in the “Allies (inscriptions)” section he can find “Panchito: the fighting cock”, based on US Bomber nose art inspired by a Disney character, though perhaps he was thinking of No. 43 Squadron, The Fighting Cocks.
As you gain air force ranks, your crews are also gaining skills. The third button over a plane, the pilot’s head icon, opens the crew window with four tabs: Pilot, Gunners, Ground Service and Qualification. There’s a good guide to skills on the Wiki, including tables showing how much faster you reload with higher skills. The amount of crew XP needed to raise a skill by one point increases as the skill goes up, so it doesn’t make much sense to pump all the points into a single skill
You’ll probably want to focus on the Pilot for a single-seat aircraft, not much point improving Gunner skills (unless you’re planning to put the crew into a different aircraft later; the crew retain their skills). With multi-crew aircraft the Gunner skills are more important; the first of these, “Number of experienced gunners”, is crucial as you start with a single skilled gunner, and if you have more than one turret position on your aircraft (quite likely on medium and heavy bombers) then the effect of skill points spent in the other areas is dramatically reduced. Extra skilled gunners are awfully expensive at 240 crew XP; you can use the “Accelerated Training” option to purchase crew XP for golden lions, otherwise it’s a lot of saving up. The third tab, Ground Service, allows you to speed up repair and rearming times; Reload Speed is especially useful in Arcade mode where you don’t even have to land to reload. The final tab, Qualifications, are specialisations that can be purchased (for silver lions) for each aircraft once your crew reaches a certain level, and offer a hefty boost to a number of other skills.
Although your great skill and masterful tactical aptitude will surely ensure you emerge from most battles unscathed, every now and again, through pure bad luck or unsporting enemy behaviour, you might get shot down. Or rammed by an enemy aircraft. Or rammed by a friendly aircraft. Or you might misjudge a strafing run and prune a few treetops with your wings (note: your aircraft warranty doesn’t cover using the plane for horticultural purposes). Or your graceful landing attempt to capture an enemy airfield may result in an interaction with the ground at a somewhat higher velocity than would be ideal. On reflection, it’s incredibly unusual to come through a battle unscathed, so you’ll need to repair your aircraft. By default this is done automatically, but if you want to save a bit of money you can un-check the box in the bottom left of the screen next to the spanner, “Automatic repair of all airplanes after battle”; your aircraft will then gradually be repaired for free over time. Each aircraft gets 10 free repairs after you buy it, you can see how many are remaining, along with the time to repair for free and average repair cost, in the stats of a plane when you mouse over it. The Rank 1 Gladiator takes 21 minutes to repair for free, or on average costs 208 lions, for the Rank 19 Meteor if you don’t want to pay 21,960 lions then you’ll need to wait 17 days, 1 hour and 56 minutes! I tend to switch between two or three different nations while waiting for aircraft to repair, or you can always manually repair an aircraft (a spanner icon appears on its bar if damaged) if you’re in more of a hurry.
Premium Accounts and Planes, and Converting XP
As mentioned in Part 1 there are two currencies in the game: Silver Lions earned from playing missions and battles, and Gold Eagles bought with real money. Gold Eagles have several uses: each nation has three crew slots to start with, a fourth and fifth can be bought with silver lions, then further crews cost gold eagles. Crew XP can be purchased with gold eagles in the “Accelerated Training” option, as per “Crew Skills” above. You can purchase some Premium Aircraft with gold eagles; these are usually shown on the right hand side of a nation’s tech tree, and tend to be more unusual variants, often foreign aircraft.
The “Shop” button in the top right of the screen has a few more options. You can upgrade to a Premium Account, boosting the amount of experience and lions you earn from battles (the results screen at the end has a “Here’s what you could have won…” section, showing how much you would have earned with a premium account). The Store features a couple of campaigns, and starter kits containing both premium aircraft and gold eagles.
As you gain ranks for a particular country you also gain “Free XP”, this can be used with the “Convert XP” option to boost the rank of any country, so you can either really focus on getting to a high rank for one nation, or if you want to try something different but aren’t keen on being stuck in biplanes for a couple of ranks you can skip past those.
In this example I’m spending seven eagles to convert 10,500 Free XP to boost my British Air Force Rank from 2 to 3.
You certainly don’t need to buy any Gold Eagles if you don’t want to; player skill and teamwork will get you a lot further than just spending money. Like many games of the genre I imagine the pressure to spend real money increases as you move up the ranks and the cost of new aircraft, repairs and the like gets steeper and steeper, but if you’re not too hung up on progress and enjoying the battles I wouldn’t worry too much about it. If you feel the game is worth it, though, and want to progress a bit faster, by all means buy some Eagles.
Which country should I play?
I’ve seen a few people asking which country to play; I’ve only played Britain, the Soviet Union and Germany in the low ranks so far so can’t give a definitive answer, but out of those: the British have great fighters, from ranks 2 to 6 you unlock two Hurricanes, two Spitfires and two Beaufighters. They’re not so hot on bombing, though, with a big gap from the Blenheim and Beaufort at ranks 2 and 3 to the Wellington at rank 7. The Germans, conversely, have plenty of bombers at ranks 4 and 5 if you prefer to haul a lot of high explosives around (the Ju-87, He-111, Ju-88 and SM.79, the latter being a rather good Italian plane), but comparatively poor fighters until the Bf-109 at rank 6 (you may want to convert Free XP to skip a couple of ranks, if you an afford it). The Soviets have the ground attack line that builds up to the iconic Sturmovik, but also have decent single seat fighters and medium bombers for a balanced portfolio covering all roles. Note that this is just the early ranks; later on the Germans are much stronger in fighters with few high rank bombers, while the British build up to the Lancaster heavy bomber.
Other Game Modes
These guides are aimed at getting a new player up and running in Arcade mode, a whirling maelstrom of instant action. If you’re seeking more realistic and considered gameplay, you’ll probably want to step up at least to Historical Battles.
Historical Battles use the Realistic mode; you can still fly with a mouse and keyboard quite easily, the Instructor takes care of the basic flying, and you can stay in third person view, but you won’t be able to get away with the really silly stuff from Arcade mode like vertical dive bombing from 30,000 feet in a heavy bomber. You’re limited to one aircraft, no respawns, so choose carefully, and bombs and ammunition don’t reload in flight, you have to return to your airfield and land. Historical Battles are based on real scenarios and therefore have fixed teams (e.g. Germany vs the Soviet Union or Japan vs Britain), though (possibly due to player numbers) your aircraft selection isn’t limited by the date of the battle, so you can find biplanes up against jet fighters. I’ve only poked my nose in a couple of times, they seem to be more tactical affairs with larger maps and longer flight times coupled with the greater caution needed in Realistic mode.
If that’s still not real enough for you then there’s another mode after that, Full Real battles in Simulator mode, no assistance at all with flying, you get to control the prop pitch and mixture and trim and magneto positions and… I tried a test flight in Simulator mode, and very nearly made it to the end of the runway before crashing. OK, that’s a wild exaggeration, I got nowhere near the end of the runway before crashing. One rather interesting thing is that the game supports head or face tracking hardware that allows you to look around in the game by… looking around. I gather this works in all modes, but is probably most useful in Simulation when you’re locked to the cockpit view, there’s a guide on the forums if you’d like to try it.
If you’re not so keen on player vs player combat you can fly missions or campaigns against AI opponents with either AI wingmen or human chums at the realism level of your choice (Arcade, Realistic or Simulator). Under “Game Modes” in the top left select “Missions”, from there you can join someone else’s mission, or create your own with the “Dynamic Campaign”, “Single Mission” and “Mission Editor” buttons in the bottom left.
Well, I think that about wraps it up; if you have any questions do leave a comment, or there are some Contact details at the top of the page if you’re terrifically keen. Soupy twist!