War Thunder: The Guide to Stukas

War Thunder

A Stuka (I presume the D-5) out at sea.

The Art of Engaging Ground/Naval Targets

The Stuka’s main purpose is the destruction land and sea-based targets. These targets may be stationary or mobile, lightly or heavily armored. Whichever the case, you have the tools to succeed, to a degree. From your first Stuka to the D-5 you will have access to bombs. The D-5 will be especially powerful here, as it has the most powerful bomb load, combined with 20mm cannons. The G-1 and G-2 lack bombs but have very strong cannons.

Here I should underline one very important thing about your bombs. Based on personal experience when you have a “main bomb” (like the 250 kg bombs on the B-2) and “pairs” of smaller bombs (like 50 kg or 250kg) a single bomb release will in first order drop the “pairs”. So on the B-2 you can have three bomb drops in total. First two pairs of 50kg bombs and then a single 250 kg bomb drop. Later on, with the D-3 and D-5 you will have only two bomb drops, first the 250kg “pair” and then the single 500 kg. As far as I know you cannot drop single bombs, and I imagine that was a mechanical decision, not to “damage” the Stuka’s balance by having too much weight on either wing.

What manner of Ground Targets will you face? Structures are limited to: Pillboxes, Light Pillboxes, Artillery and AAA. Land Units include: Light, Medium and Heavy Tanks, Armored Cars, AAA, and Vehicles. Naval Units include: Landing Boats, Destroyers, Light Cruisers, Cargo Ships,  Battleships and Carriers. Among the toughest from these three categories you will have Battleships, Pillboxes and Heavy Tanks.

Heavy and Medium Tanks are difficult to penetrate with your Cannons for a number of reasons. In order to have maximum penetration, thus damage, you have to hit enemy weak spots. This includes the top armor, the rear (like the engine) but also weak areas around the tracks. The problem is that in order to exploit these areas you have to attack the enemy from the correct angle. Since the Stuka was designed for perfect Vertical dive bombing you can literally fly down at an enemy Tank and fire from above. This calls for a lot of practice, and you will still need Armor Piercing Ammo in order to succeed. At the game’s current state (May 2013) tanks cannot have damaged “Modules”. Sometimes you can lit an engine on fire (or so it seems) but this does not have any effects on the tank’s performance. Thus it is very hard to judge when a tank is damaged. As a general rule of thumb, unless you are dedicated to using proper angles and ammo you should focus on lighter land targets

This is where the Stuka shines. Light Land Targets (Armored Cars, Vehicles, AAAs) are extremely vulnerable to Stukas. The 20mm Cannon needs (based on my own experience) one or two direct hits on a target to destroy any of them. Meanwhile the G-1 and G-2 cannons need only a single hit to take out lighter vehicles. This makes Stukas highly useful Support Planes, when taking out enemy Air defenses for larger and more vulnerable bombers. Even the basic Machine gun is capable of taking these targets out, even if it calls for using much more ammo (but then, you have more ammo to spare).

Pillboxes and Light Pillboxes need at least 50 kg bombs to damage. Pillboxes are especially sturdy so a Stuka is better off focusing on other structures, while bigger bombers destroy any Pillboxes in the area. Again, the 20mm Cannon or the basic machine gun have no problems with taking out AAA and artillery emplacements. Be wary of AAA guns, as flying straight into an enemy’s fire is not the best idea, even if you do need only one or two hits to take him out. Once you reach the D-3 and D-5 you will be capable of destroying Pillboxes with direct hits from your bombs.

Naval Targets are a much bigger problem. A Stuka can destroy a Destroyer or Cargo Ship with its bombs. Anything larger will pose a serious problem, since its guns will not damage these ships at all. Once you run out of bombs you will have to either go to resupply at an airfield or wait for the bombs to respawn. Either way, you are highly limited in the Naval Bombardment role. The only exception are Landing Craft, which are vulnerable to your machine guns and cannons.

The key to a Stuka’s success, in the end, is its use of bombs on heavier or priority targets and then using its guns on lighter, yet no less important, ground units. As a general rule, on Berlin and Ruhr maps, I use my bombs on the heaviest local Target (depending on the objective) and once I use up my bombs I focus on lighter targets, prioritizing AAAs. After I run out of light targets I will attempt to destroy enemy Heavy and Medium Tanks, up until I am forced to flee or I run out of ammo.

In case you are interested in “numbers”, when it comes to bombing or attacking ground targets with different types of cannons and bombs here is a Forum Topic, from the War Thunder Forums, providing you with all the possible, up to date, information. All of this researched by user Sliver so all the kudos for this goes to him!

Things to Consider when Dive Bombing

The Stuka can dive in a perfect 90 degree angle and then recover. The problem is that you cannot achieve that safely, unless you use certain precautions. When plummeting down at an enemy you should do two things. Firstly, reduce the throttle on your engine to 0%. Secondly, activate the air brake. In a perfect 90 degree angle I found that with both of these precautions taken you will never exceed 500 km/h. The danger of going above that speed includes loss of landing gear, and on one or two occasions I have observed the loss of my bombs, during extremely hazardous speeds (or I clicked the Bomb Release button by mistake). Another threat of going down at too high a speed is difficulty with adjusting your Stuka’s dive path, if you are going off-target. Also, a recovery from too high a speed could effect your crew’s performance (if you invest in your Crew’s skills this is less likely).

If you are worried of enemy fighters hunting for bombers on ground level you can safely perform a Dive Bomb from any height, as long as the two precautions stated above are “active”. There is one exception, the G-1 and G-2 Stukas. These lack an Air Brake, so you will have to be wary of using extreme heights when attempting a Dive with them.

War Thunder

While the enemy Fighter is capable of delivering a very deadly hit you can answer with a very accurate rear machine gun response, destroying its engine or even killing its pilot.

Fighters: Your Primary Concern

You will face different foes, in the air and on the ground. Fighters will be your primary concern. A skilled Fighter Pilot will attack you from above or below, making your rear gunner useless. If you plan on fleeing you will have to level yourself as close to the ground as possible, otherwise your gunner cannot effectively cover you. At the same time trying to outmaneuver a fighter will be difficult. You might have a lower speed to try and stall them but your turn rate is terrible. In other words, a more advanced fighter will always have an advantage over you. Do not try to engage fighters, unless you have the necessary fighter support. Against weaker Fighters you still stand a chance, and with the 20 and 37mm cannons you can surprise bombers. If you take control of your rear gunner focus on the enemy cockpit. If you are lucky you might just kill the pilot. Destroying the engine is also a good idea. It is very unlikely that you will do anything more than that, since your machine gun lacks any punch to deliver a deadlier blow.

If you still desire to attack enemy fighters make sure to drop your bombs first. These will weigh you down, so use them up in first order.

Conclusion

The Stuka is a plane to be reckoned with, despite its limitations. In Lower Rank battles it can perform exceedingly well, both against enemy fighters and land objectives. Later on it will be out-classed by larger bombers and fighters, which makes it a much less useful asset. On the other hand, a skilled Stuka Pilot can make a difference, as I found time and time again. Practice is key, and a lot of patience. Just like the Hetzer’s gotta Hets, the Stukas hast gotta Stuk. (World of Tanks Reference, sorry!)

Alex “WriterX” Bielski

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About The Author

Aleksander "WriterX" Bielski
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Student of Psychology, he was identified as a Nut-Job even before he started the course. Having done some small work as a Modder for a number of titles, and worked as a Game Designer part-time, Alex now writes in third person. As Co-Owner and Editor of AlterGamer.com he aims high, while being armed only with a sling. In the future, he hopes to become a fully qualified Newspaper Editor, and purchase Google.

One Response to War Thunder: The Guide to Stukas

  1. CM says:

    Very enjoyable read and quite a few useful advices, thanks a lot!

    Little correction for the dropping order and left-right wing drop simultaneously for those interested in some historical information (excuse if you’ve been talking about “mechanical decision” for the game, not for the actual plane):
    It actually was possible to change the drop order and also to drop single bombs, e.g. only left or right wing bombs or all 9 / 5 / 3 bombs together or in pairs. The pilot could control the dropping order from within the cockpit.

    The official manual of the plane, however, clearly disadvised to do so because it would make dives difficult to aim and the constant pressure on the control stick due to one-sided drag would easily make the pilot tired. For the German speaking volks, the manual (Dienstvorschrift) for the Junkers 87 series are all called “L.Dv.T.2087″ with the specific type added behind (e.g. L.Dv.T.2087 B-1/Fl) and are easy to find freely available on the internet.

    Much of the information is very interesting, but not actually usable for War Thunder, so only bother if you are into it besides of the game aswell. They are obviously only available in German, I don’t know if there are any translations available somewhere.

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