Many Spitfire flight simulators have an incredibly steep learning curve. Even as a lover of anything and everything to do with aircraft, especially those from the Second World War period, I find myself giving up after a time because it's just too damn hard.
With limited time at my disposal, I want something that I can jump straight into and fly the Supermarine Spitfire! War Thunder provides not only that but a realistic level of flight simulator as well for those who are prepared to take the time out to learn to caress their aircraft around the sky. Believe me, in realistic and simulation mode, a War Thunder plane needs caressing. ‘Yank and bank' won't cut the mustard. In fact, you will end up as part of the game's beautifully rendered landscapes!
How it works
When you start off in War Thunder, you will be asked to pick a nation that you would prefer to represent. The options are Britain, France, Germany Japan, Russia and the United States. Aircraft from the 1930's up until the late 1940's are made available, but you will start out with a relatively innocuous one first up. By joining combat sessionw (and excelling in them), you receive research points, silver lions and golden lions. These are War Thunder currency and can be used to purchase aircraft upgrades or even aircraft themselves. Golden lions, the premium currency in the game, can be bought with your hard earned cash. The great thing about War Thunder is that it is not necessary to spend any money at all to fly the Spitfire. By playing the game, you receive silver lions and research points, and these can be used to repair as well as upgrade your aircraft, albeit a little slower.
War Thunder matchmaking is also extremely impressive. You will only battle aircraft of the same level as those in your squadron. As you improve, so does the opposition you will face. When you unlock better aircraft, you can remove weaker ones from your fleet keeping them in reserve. In every battle, you field a squadron of five planes.
Simulation options for everyone
War Thunder consists of three basic battle types; arcade, realistic and simulation. This will appeal to flight simulator enthusiasts across the board and allow them to find a niche that they prefer.
This mode is perfect for gamers who want to strap themselves in and dogfight straight away with the Spitfire. All battles take less than 10 minutes (or until you have lost all your aircraft) and have a variety of formats. These include Ground Strike (where all enemy ground units must be destroyed for your side to win) and Domination mode (where one of your team must land an aircraft at the enemy airfield to control it, hence domination begins, and the enemy must seize it back. Dominate for long enough and your side wins!)
Aircraft flight characteristics are simplified. You can dive, climb and yank your Spitfire around the sky all you want, all of the planes do have different handling characteristics however. Of course, dogfighting requires knowledge of the art of deflection shooting. This is shooting ahead of the target so that your bullets will strike it when it gets to the point you are aiming at. In arcade mode, a “leading marker” indicates where you should be aiming your crosshair and ultimately your shots. This is a great advantage to new players and helps to teach them how to aim properly during a dogfight. If you happen to get slightly trigger happy and run out of ammo, your machine guns or cannons will be replenished after a brief period. Multiple views are also allowed including a third person view, cockpit view and virtual cockpit view. A HUD radar points out enemy aircraft on the map making them extremely easy to find. Control options include flying with a mouse, which although seems impractical works extremely well.
In this mode any aircraft can come up against each other, so often you will be facing off against exactly the same aircraft you are flying!
As you gain more experience, you might consider stepping up your War Thunder experience. Here teams comprise of aircraft of a particular nation only. Scenarios here are historical such as the Battle of Stalingrad, Midway or even Pearl Harbour.
Flight models are far more realistic, and the Supermarine Spitfire has to be flown with care. There is no leading marker to help with aiming, and if you run out of ammo, you will need to return to base. Damage models are also far more realistic, and the Spitfire cannot take too much damage. A gung-ho style of play will result in frustration! Of course, only a virtual cockpit view is available in realistic mode. HUD radar options are not available in realistic battles. Enemy aircraft need to be spotted just as a pilot in World War II would have done.
This is the most realistic mode available in War Thunder and for flying the Spitfire. Here flight characteristics are as close to the actual Supermarine Spitfire as technically possible. Control options are for a joystick only. Again, no lead indicator is present while aiming and aircraft have to return to their airfields to repair and re-arm. Again, HUD radar options are not available, and enemy aircraft need to be spotted and hunted down. The only possible view available is that of the virtual cockpit.
Flying the Spitfire in War Thunder
As a pilot that only flies in arcade battles, I love the Spitfire. Famed for its ability to out-turn its opponents, this characteristic of the Spitfire is accurately transferred into the game and there are not many aircraft that can live with it in a turning dogfight.
That being said, there are various different planes in the game, and each have their advantages. Experienced gamers well rehearsed in aerial warfare and flight simulator games typically found here know a Spitfire can out-turn them will not often get involved in a turning dogfight, especially in realistic or simulation battles. Of course, this is less of a problem in arcade battles where people only want to get involved in the action and claim some kills!
The only problem early Spitfires have is their lack of firepower. Their eight .303 browning machine guns are underpowered, although later versions, which are unlocked through the research tree, have 20mm cannons that make short work of the enemy.
The Spitfire can hold its own against most enemy aircraft you are likely to come against, and once weapon upgrades are available, it becomes even more formidable.