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 Aircraft: Fighters
These aircraft are designed for one purpose: total air superiority. If you feel like dishing out punishment from above with little or no threat of retaliation, these are for you. While your immunity from the enemy team is a wonderful thing to have, you will find that you cannot help your team as directly as you can with your infantry units. Use your aircraft wisely; assist your team wherever they need you or you will quickly waste valuable team resources.
The Zero is by far one of the best planes in the game. While it feels somewhat flimsy, this fighter is about as nimble as they come. Having a totally white paint scheme also makes finding it somewhat more difficult than many of the other aircraft. Its only real competition is the Corsair. Against the Corsair, quick turn reversals will win the day. Maneuvers like The Scissors are the key to victory. Do not attempt to follow the Corsair into a dive, as you will quickly be outrun by your opponent and find yourself in the unpleasant predicament of waiting for another plane.
Things to keep in mind:
- This plane has a superior roll rate to its only real competition, the Corsair. Turn reversals will win the day against most decent to good pilots.
- On maps where this plane is present, ground fire will be your largest problem. Getting shot down by enemy planes will rarely happen; it’s that odd tank hiding under trees that’s your real threat.
- Due to this aircraft’s extreme maneuverability, it is easy to get disoriented and find yourself directly over anti-aircraft guns, the bane of this plane. Paying attention to your situation and your mini-map are essential.
- This plane is present on 4 maps:
- Iwo Jima
- This plane is an Angle Fighter. Do not be afraid to get in close with other planes and engage in a low energy turning battle. Against a Corsair, the Zero will triumph.
Considered by many to be the ugly ducking of Battlefield 1942 fighters, the Corsair is arguably the best fighter in the game. The main detractor of the Corsair is the aircraft’s odd handling, especially at different speeds. While other planes, such as the Spitfire or the Yak handle in a similar manner regardless of speed, the Corsair does not. However, nothing can keep pace with a Corsair in an inverted loop or a dive. The Corsair can also out-turn its major rival, the Zero for limited amounts of time. This is tricky, but with adequate rudder control and effective energy management, the Corsair is absolutely superior to the Zero. Never fear, for once you force yourself to fly this aircraft, you will be no less lethal than someone flying a Zero.
There are a few things to keep in mind when flying a Corsair:
- This plane loves energy and will reward you pleasantly if you maintain it.
- This aircraft’s wings generate tremendous amounts of lift. This translates into a wonderful vertical flier and an elusive target. Many pilots erroneously believe this plane is not maneuverable due to the fact that this plane cannot quickly reverse a roll.
- With this airplane, it is essential that you think a few steps ahead. Maneuvers like the Split S and the Yo-Yo are wonderful. Others, like the Scissors, are to be avoided at all costs. If someone attempts to force you into the Scissors, do not attempt to follow them. Counter such maneuvers in a manner suited to your airspeed, which usually means going vertical on them. They will either stall (if they aren’t very good) or break off and try a different approach.
This plane is a nice mix of everything you are looking for. While not as maneuverable as the Spitfire, Yak or Mustang, this plane can hold its own quite well. It's a decent bomber, and a decent fighter. If there's room for improvement, it's in the handling. One of the more subtle advantages of this plane is its engine. Many believe that the Spitfire is a superior aircraft, and they would not be incorrect. The Spitfire has superior roll and yaw to the Me109, but the Me109 always has the option of climbing out of the fight, whereas the Spitfire does not. The conclusion is never follow this airplane along its Z axis, meaning never dive or climb after it. If you try, you will find that you have stalled right as the Me109 comes around for a killer pass. A much better method (since you will be flying the more maneuverable Mustang, Yak or Spitfire) is to continue your turn around the Me109. As he returns to normal flight, you will both be back where you started, which is far better than stalling out your less powerful plane in pursuit of the Me109.
For shooting tanks, this is very good aircraft. While Spitfires fly circles around it, a well-flown Me109 bombs its target and leaves before the enemy knew what hit them. When in a dive, be ready for this plane to pick up tremendous amounts of airspeed. The engine in this plane really shows its colors in a dive. Your control surfaces will become very responsive, very quickly. A shallow dive with this aircraft is the preferred method of attacking most targets, as a steeper dive will result in severely diminishing returns in terms of airspeed. Keep this in mind when in battle with any enemy plane, as most can out-turn you.
Most new pilots really love this aircraft, but for the wrong reasons. They simply out-climb their adversary, which is not always the best solution. The Me109 also has a superior roll rate to the Spitfire. A well-flown Me109 should be attacking an enemy Spitfire from all directions all the time; at least it should appear that way to the Spitfire. A well-flown Spitfire, while not able to climb quite as quickly, will climb to an altitude where they can do an inverted loop which translates into their having enough energy to perform every combat maneuver. This means that while they will be attacking from below, they will be more maneuverable than the Me109. Many a Me109 pilot has felt they have safely out-climbed a Spitfire only to be shot down at the apogee of their climb. Do not let this happen to you. Many newer players are lulled into a false sense of security with this plane. At an even flight level, it is absolutely at the mercy of more maneuverable aircraft such as the Spitfire or the Mustang.
Having one of the most stable firing platforms in Battlefield 1942, this plane receives a bad reputation for being less than adequate for aerial superiority. This is not entirely incorrect, however, never get into a turning battle with one of these planes. Most players have the false assumption that this plane is less maneuverable than the Me109. They are mistaken. This plane, especially at slow speeds, is incredibly maneuverable. It is quite possible to linger over a location at just above stall speed and pick off planes.
One thing worth noting about this plane is there is no escape from an enemy if you’re in a Spitfire. You are slower than everything else in the world, including that girl on skates who just passed your plane. Seriously, this plane does not go fast; only engage targets where victory is assured. Most people believe the Spitfire to be inferior to the Me109, but this could not be farther from the truth. The Spitfire, flown correctly, is more than a match for its nemesis. Never attempt to follow the Me109 vertically, as you will quickly lose any advantage you might have had. Instead, concentrate on what your plane does well, which is turning. Only go vertical with this plane in the direst situations and do not expect to win against an experienced pilot.
Easily one of the most loved planes in Battlefield 1942, the Yak is truly a superb air superiority fighter in every way. This plane seems to want to go everywhere. High roll rate, but not the same pitch rate as the Mustang gives this plane a substantial advantage over the Me109. Its bombs may be slightly off, but this plane quickly swings back around for a second run so it’s not a big deal. In a dogfight, this plane has a tendency to over-correct. Keep this in mind.
While more maneuverable than the Spitfire, this plane should not attempt to follow the Me109 vertical unless a kill shot can be assured. When in doubt, circle around and await another opportunity. This plane is the quintessential Angle Fighter, much more maneuverable than most other aircraft, even at low energy. The best strategy for using this plane is to get on the enemy's tail and stay there to carry the day. If this plane has one weakness, it is that it cannot rebuild energy quickly, unlike the Me109. Be careful of this.
This is everyone’s favorite plane and for good reason. It has insanely sensitive control surfaces, which make it difficult to control in a dive, but a wonderful dog fighter. The only manner in which to defeat this plane is to shoot it on takeoff. This plane does not respond well to vertical dives and its performance comes more in line with the other aircraft at extreme altitudes. Do not toy with it at lower levels, as you will find that it will quickly swing around onto your tail for a kill shot. Coordinated ground fire decimates this plane. It would appear that for some reason it is easier for players to hit; whether because this plane's target profile is largely engine (which takes far more damage than superstructure) or its flight path is more easily predicted.
 Aircraft: Fighter-Bombers
Being a more diverse group than pure fighters, several of these planes can more than hold their own against aircraft from the fighter class. While having a rear gunner is of dubious usefulness, these planes are excellent at ground attack and should be employed to that end.
 Ilyushin IL-2 Sturmovik
This plane allows you to drop bombs without really paying attention, and they will still hit something. This plane, when at speed, also has superior maneuverability to its German counterpart, the Stuka. Speed is essential for using this plane. This plane misleads people into a false sense of security. While it handles well at speed and holds speed well, once it has slowed down it’s a sitting duck. Unfortunately, building up airspeed with this plane seems to take an eternity, however this plane is very forgiving. As such, it is a wonderful aircraft to learn on. As long as altitude (potential energy) or airspeed (kinetic energy) are maintained, this plane seems to perform the impossible. It can easily shoot down Me109s and Yaks simply because it is almost a fighter at high speed. If you follow a plane into a Split-S and don’t think you have room to pull up, this plane will surprise you more often than not. This is a good aircraft for learning the basics of flight in Battlefield 1942.
 Douglas SBD Dauntless
This plane handles well in dives and can turn quickly for a dive-bomber. Just make sure you keep your speed up or be prepared to fly a tank with wings. Due to the close proximity of its guns, this plane also performs adequately in a knife-fight. While unable to run from any other aircraft (except maybe the Spitfire) this plane can usually hold its own in a dogfight if the pilot maintains his discipline and energy. Envisioning where you will be and how you will proceed next is critical for this aircraft.
 Aichi D3A Val
Mediocrity at its finest, this plane is about as middle-of-the-road as dive-bombers come. Its bombs fall relatively close to each other and it has decent handling in a dive.
 Junkers Ju 87 Stuka
The Stuka is probably the most under-appreciated plane in Battlefield 1942 and for good reason. With the Stuka, maintaining energy is nothing short of essential. The problem lies not with the Stuka, but with most pilots’ mentality. The Stuka hates turning. Instead of turning, force its nose down, roll over during the dive and pull up in the opposite direction for better performance. As far as being nimble, keep in mind that the Stuka will hold power more efficiently than most aircraft. As a point of reference, two superbly well flown Stukas can decimate a well flown Yak and Illyusion.
 Aircraft: Medium-Bombers
Road to Rome only Able to decimate large swaths of terrain in a single pass, these aircraft are flimsy yet very powerful. Able to stop an entire column of enemy units in their tracks, Medium Bombers require more finesse than either of the previously mentioned classes of aircraft to handle and emerge alive to tell about it.
A solid airplane with fine flying abilities. This plane more than handles the enemy Mosquito, though it is lacking against pure enemy fighters. While not being as nimble as the Mosquito, this plane maintains its energy in a much more efficient manner, giving the pilot the ability to determine when or if there is a fight, a luxury the Mosquito does not have. If engaged by enemy fighters, altitude wins the day. This plane cannot turn with enemy Spitfires but can out climb them (eventually). Use this to your advantage.
Slower, though more maneuverable than its rival, the Bf110, this plane must be flown by a superior pilot to emerge victorious. Maintain your airspeed, keep your altitude up and you can win, though maintaining energy will become the biggest headache for any Mosquito pilot against a Bf110. Remember to pay attention to your location relative to the ground. Many Road to Rome maps feature a variety of elevations, therefore a plane without a powerful engine can be funneled into a situation that they are unable to survive.
 Aircraft: Heavy-Bombers
Truly the dealers of death in Battlefield 1942, these aircraft can decimate an entire team if flown correctly. While they are flying tanks, they are not immune to ground fire. Be wary of engaging a determined enemy without energy saved to evade the inevitable ground fire.
While it is wonderful for bombing the enemy’s base, this plane is useless for just about everything else. Taking insane amounts of time to line up properly and totally lacking in maneuverability only detract from this plane’s appeal.