War Thunder is an MMO that has to do with aerial combat between fighters from pre-World War II, to the jets that filled the skies early in the Cold War. Although the game centers around air combat, it already features extensive use of bombing ground targets to achieve objectives. The game involves all five of the major aircraft players in World War 2, The United States, Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union. And over time, many more planes will be added, as well as tanks, and ships.
Arcade mode, suitably enough for the fairly mindless shootfest it's intended to be, features such wild unlikelihoods as Bf-109s and P-51s on the same team, the Japanese fighting over Stalingrad, American planes bombing Pearl Harbor (!), ammunition reloading in midair and planes withstanding ludicrous amounts of firepower that should be enough to down a whole flight.
Averted in historic battles, where players can't respawn, are limited to aircraft used by a specific side and must land to replenish ammunition and weapons.
Very averted in full real battles, where everything follows the laws of physics and there is no videogame-style help for the player whatsoever - not even a chase camera.
A damaged floatplane on a friendly airfield will respawn in the air when repairs are completed. The same goes for the Me 163 and Ki-200.
Ace Custom: Pilot any plane through enough battles and you unlock the ability to modify it in a variety of ways which can improve its performance. This includes everything from installing a new engine, to polishing the airframe to reduce air resistance, to customizing the pattern of shell types in the plane's ammo belts to optimize them versus different target types. Kind of downplayed though in that these improvements are only modest ones.
Since 1.33, there are more customization options, but they are linear upgrades most of the time.
The upgrades make it seem like every aircraft you get was well used and insufficiently maintained instead of being brand new out of the production line.
Acrofatic: The SB 2M and Ar-2 can out-turn the Spitfire.
The Alleged Plane: The starting aircraft are mostly biplanes that can barely climb, and have peashooters for guns. But also averted in that those guns can theoretically kill the pilot of an F-86 Sabre with one really lucky shot, and the fact that biplanes can out-turn any other plane in the game.
Somewhat averted by the soviet starting planes, which - by virtue of having four medium-speed machine guns when the other biplanes have two slow ones - can make mincemeat out of other starters on most one-on-one fights and even tackle planes several levels higher with a fair chance of winning.
Also averted in general: If you see an enemy fighter, Google it, and the Wikipedia entry describes it as being "substandard" or something similar, such as the La GG-3 or the P-40 Kittyhawk, a smart pilot will still attack it with reasonable caution. Enough instances of getting your pilot knocked out or your engine perforated will demonstrate why that is necessary.
Especially the La GG-3 and P-40. A 20mm cannon at Level 1 and six .50 caliber machine guns at level 2 are enough to make being in front of one very, very dangerous.
April Fools' Day: In 2013, Gaijin Entertainment released a trailer showing cute, colorful ponies as the new playable faction called Equestria. Then they actually updated they game to include said ponies, each packing four 20mm machine guns, 8 rocket tubes, and 2 half-ton bombs. Oh, and they each flew like a high-speed rocket plane. However, after April 1, 2013, they've been removed and haven't appeared since.
Attack Its Weakpoint: Out of rockets and cannon shells for that bomber? Shoot its engines and watch it spiral back to the ground.
Tired of getting shot by a bomber's machine gunners? Simply shoot them and knock them out.
Let's just say that this is about the only way you're knocking down most bombers...
Shooting the cockpit has a high chance of killing the pilot, which results in the plane going down, and you saving ammo for other planes.
Awesome, but Impractical: The two rocket planes, the Me163 Komet and Ki-200 Shusui, are the fastest planes in the game by a fair stretch going at almost 1000km/h, but have so many drawbacks they're essentially useless. First, you have only 4-6 minutes of fuel at most, most of which you'll spend getting to the fight in the first place. Second, while they have a pair of formidable 37mm cannons, the amount of ammo they carry for them is laughable. Third, they're ludicrously expensive to maintain, costing over 50k credits to repair in arcade battles, or 126k for historical ones. Fourth, with just a single landing skid and no real flaps or airbreaks to speak of, they're almost impossible to land, with you far more likely to end up being spread over the entire length of the tarmac, and finally, to add insult to injury, even if you do manage to land the damn thing, the lack of actual landing gear means you'll come to a ridiculous lurching stop, resting on one wing.
Base rushing at the team level can certainly count, especially for players trying to earn their double XP bonus for the day. While, it may seem like a worthy tactic that will end the match quickly, it often results in half the players on the winning team barely getting any points, and thus, any experience. This gets particularly frustrating for some when the match in question leaves them stupidly close to an aircraft or upgrade they want.
Awesome yet Practical: The APIT Bullet is a three-in-one deal that combines the benefits of Armor-Piercing, Incendiary, and Tracer into one projectile.
Bigger Stick: Though not always the best, players packing a more advanced fighter does have an advantage over those that don't. Also averted in that biplanes can knock down jets with a well placed shot.
BFG: Some of the auto-cannons in the game certainly qualify.
The P-39 Airacobra packs a 37mm cannon, which was designed to shred bombers. Something that it does VERY well.
The Ju 87G packs twin 37mm cannons that can blast an enemy fighter in one shot.
The Yak-9K held the title of "Biggest Gun on a Single-Engine Fighter" with its 45mm cannon... until Patch 1.37.
The recently added Ki-102, equipped with a 57mm cannon.
Patch 1.37 introduces the Hs 129B-3 which is armed with the 75mm Bordkanone. The fact that this gun can destroy Pillboxes and is more effective against Tanks than the Me 410A-1/U4's 50mm Bordkanone means that it's guaranteed to pop any plane in one shot.
Patch 1.37 introduces the SN354, a Hawker Tempest Mark V that is armed with two 47mm cannons which knocks the Yak-9K from its title and makes the Ju 87G look even more useless.
Bottomless Magazines: In arcade mode it's more like bottomless ammo reserves. The magazines themselves do run out, but all you need to do then is to break off for a few seconds while the guns reload from a Hammer Space reserve. Historic Battles and Full Real battles avert the trope: players must land in order for ground crews to reload their weapons.
Convert Free Exp to rapidly increase your rank in a selected Air Force. (Getting to Rank 20 may take a year or two.)
Convert to Silver Lions. (Aircraft prices start getting prohibitively expensive at Rank 5.)
Buying Premium Aircraft that are fully upgraded and earn 100% XP and 2x Silver Lions.
Accelerate Crew Training. (Translation: Buying XP for a Green and Incompetent crew instead of taking the very long route of grinding kills for them.)
Recruit additional crews beyond the regular five allowed. (The 4th and 5th crews only cost Silver Lions. The 6th and above crews cost Golden Eagles.)
Buying Talismans that earn 100% XP for regular Aircraft.
Buying Upgrades for regular Aircraft immediately instead of waiting until they have enough XP for them.
Brits with Battleships: The RAF is fully playable, and brings out all the famous toys, including the Hurricane Series, the Spitfire series, Lancaster Bomber, and even the Fairy Swordfish.
When Gaijin adds the fleet feature especially.
Camera Abuse: The game fully simulates weather effects on the aircraft, causing the planes to wobble if caught in an updraft. But they also rock around when the plane is too close to Flak Shells going off, or too close to a bomb going off. Flying too close behind a plane that has an oil leak can cause oil streaks to obscure your vision, which can be a serious problem in a low altitude knife fight. Pulling too many Gs in a maneuver will cause the camera to briefly black out to greater or lesser degrees depending on the crew's endurance level and how extreme the turn is. If the craft even goes into negative Gs, this can potentially be a red-out instead.
Cherry Tapping: nothing like getting an expensive high-tier bomber effortlessly blown out of the sky by a reserve plane that's been leveled enough to mount rockets.
Color-Coded Armies: Played with. All of the planes are painted in the manor of which they were painted historically. But there is a theme for most of the aircraft.
American planes are either olive-drab or silver for land-based aircraft, and different shades of blue for carrier based aircraft and float planes.
German planes are typically painted a dark green, or khaki depending on the theater paint scheme unlocked.
Soviet Planes are usually painted a bright green, or solid white, although some aircraft are different shades of green for camouflage, with the later fighters being left bare metal.
RAF aircraft are usually painted with a camo pattern. Although a few of them are painted a blueish grey.
Imperial Japanese aircraft are either all white, or green on top with white on the bottom, but it's hard to mistake that big red meatball on the wings.
Coming In Hot: Played straight when trying to land a damaged aircraft on a runway. Successfully landing on a friendly runway, even if it is a crash landing, will allow the plane to be repaired and returned to the battle, while crashing the plane anywhere else will keep it out of the battle and potentially cost the player Lions after the match. This is especially important on Historical Battles, where the player cannot deploy in any other planes once one is down.
Conservationof Ninjutsu: Skilled players can, and do, manage to pull this off both at the individual level (one friendly vs many enemies), and at the meta level where they are the last ones alive, against several opponents... and WIN
Cosmetic Award: Some of the awards grant players access to new emblems for their planes, as well as new paint schemes.
Creator Provincialism: This was thrown about for a time due to Gaijin Entertainment’s Russian origins. Several players charged that the Russian tree was overpowered, with most of their anger directed at the Yak-9T, at least in Arcade Battles. Its speed and maneuverability were nothing to write home about, but the armament and damage models generated a lot of heat. The machinegun is nothing special, but the Yak-9T is armed with a 37 millimeter cannon (the same caliber that the P-39 Aircobra is armed with). However, in earlier versions of the game, the cannon fired at a much, much faster rate than its American counterpart and did not overheat. This resulted in Yak-9Ts being able to spam huge, high-explosive rounds at a rate no other plane could match; if a Yak-9T landed a second or two of continuous fire, you could kiss your plane goodbye. The damage model was absurd as well, and was the largest complaint the fanbase had; the Yak-9T could take a ton of punishment before it went down, as demonstrated by the infamous “Lumberyak” video, which showed the plane hitting each of its wings on ground obstacles multiple times at 100% throttle. Though both wings were reduced to “black” health after the first hit, neither were ever removed from the airframe (and the plane recovered ludicrously quickly for being so low to the ground and suffering such a large amount of damage). For comparison, the video also showed a Bf-109 attempting the same stunt; it couldn’t survive a single hit.
Thankfully, the developers did nerf the Yak-9T; the cannon now will jam if it’s fired continuously for more than a few rounds, and they are rather flammable (if hit with incendiary rounds, they’ll light up like a fine cigar).
Aaaand in 1.33, Gaijin added the Yak-9K, which has a 45 mm cannon. Yes, they took a plane that was once considered broken and broke it further. If that cannon so much as nicks your plane, you're likely to be a cloud of debris.
There are also numerous accusations that Gaijin has been deliberately setting the performance of German aircraft to be significantly lower than their real life stats and then nerfing them to be even more inferior when they're felt to be "doing unacceptably well".
Critical Failure: "Gun Jammed" indicates that one or more of your guns have seized up, leaving your plane with less firepower than before. This can be potentially fatal when you're chasing an enemy or making a head-on attack. Doubly so on planes with only one cannon, and the gun that seized up is aforementioned cannon, leaving them with two, or even worse one, subpar machine gun.
Critical Hit: One bullet in the right place, and a plane becomes a poof of dust in the sky, or a charred wreck on the ground. Or remain a perfectly good plane... with a dead pilot at the helm, soaring majestically in a curving trajectory that only has one possible ending. Oh, and your bombs can be set off by enemy shots if they're really lucky.
Fighters can take down enemy aircraft with ease, but are less then useless against any ground targets harder than an armored car without any bombs or rockets.
Attackers can engage anything, but pay for it as they are usually slower then fighters, but lack the armor of a bomber.
Float Planes can only land on water. Which is great if you need to set down, not so great if you're trying to capture a runway in Domination Mode.
Bombers can carry a large number of bombs, but must rely on their gunners to take down fighters that attack them, and are typically very slow.
Some bombers are actually frightfully good at averting this. Due to incredibly tough hulls and fairly heavy turreted armament, it's possible for some heavy bombers to rack up more air kills than a decently competent player in a fighter simply by... flying straight.
Critical Existence Failure: Played with. Some aircraft can take an enormous pounding, and still be able to fly normally. But one shot to the cockpit and that plane is toast no matter how little damage it's taken. On the same token, all it takes in some cases is to knock off a stabilizer or an engine, and the plane is done.
Death from Above: As typical for Aerial warfare, this is probably the best method for engaging enemy fighters and bombers.
The preferred method of attack for Dive Bombers like the SBD Dauntless and Ju-87 Stuka
The preferred method for engaging any ground target, whether dropping bombs, launching rockets, or simply strafing with a fighter's machine guns.
Death of a Thousand Cuts: standard procedure for downing someone in a plane several tiers above yours - it takes a lot of machinegun bullets to kill a plane armored against cannon shells. Also, the only way heavy bombers can ever be shot down without using rockets or scoring a lucky critical.
Difficult but Awesome: Bombers are for primarily hitting ground targets which are too hardened for fighters to strafe effectively, while being vulnerable to fighter interception themselves. However, with enough points invested in their gunners and/or being able to manually control those gunners while making evasive maneuvers with the keyboard, a skilled bomber pilot can actually engage and shoot down enemy fighters quite effectively, while being better able to withstand their fire.
Dodge by Braking: Played straight, as used as in real life during a dogfight to shake and enemy and get on their tail instead. Drop the throttle, extend the flaps (if you have them) and jink, corkscrew, yo-yo, or Do a Barrel Roll. If the one in pursuit cannot shed energy fast enough, they will overshoot the one they are chasing and may find themselves becoming the chased one instead. However, deliberately going to a low energy (low speed and low altitude) state does tend to leave one vulnerable until more energy can be built up, so if the former pursuer has nearby teammates this can leave the braking plane vulnerable.
Dueling Games: Wargaming's World of Tanks and its derivatives World Of Warplanes and World of Warships. Most players coming from the still-in-closed-beta World of Warplanes feel that War Thunder is a superior title as the aircraft feel both fast and agile. Also, the release trees for War Thunder are not only larger then World of Warplanes, but includes aircraft types that World Of Warplanes has decided to leave out (such as Bombers).
Every Bullet is a Tracer: You have the option of using Ammo Belts that are 90-100% Tracers if you're still having a lot of trouble hitting the target with any other loadout, or want to light up enemy planes with a salvo.
Experience Points: Used to gain access to new fighters for a specific country. These are earned by doing things to help your team towards victory. Players that don't contribute however, get nothing, while players who do contribute are rewarded based on what they do. Players also acquire crew points to distribute between aircraft crew members such as the pilots and gunners.
False Flag Operation: Not an actual gameplay mechanic, but many premium aircraft are planes from different nations tech trees painted up in another's colors, such as a US Navy A6M5 or a Luftwaffe Wellington.
Fragile Speedster: Japanese fighters. Justified as in real life the only way to achieve the speed and agility they had was to sacrifice armor protection for the pilot and fuel tank. Sure, a well placed round will turn a A6M Zero into a fireball, but good luck actually hitting it.
They aren't so much fast as agile. Compared to planes of other nations the Zero is fairly slow, but it makes up for it with incredible maneuverability.
Friendly Fireproof: Averted. Players who shoot down a friendly are often penalized HARD for it. So much so, that often no matter how well you do after the match, you WILL lose credits AND experience if you so much as shoot down one friendly fighter.
Geo Effects: Skilled players will often fly nap-of-the-earth when they're trying to avoid enemy fire. The results vary, but it can be rewarding when you miss a mountain by inches, and the plane behind you... doesn't.
Glass Cannon: In low levels, the Chaika. It mounts four machine guns and they fire twice as fast as the other biplanes, effectively giving it about four times the firepower of every other biplane that isn't soviet (and twice as much as even them), and making it capable of attacking planes several tiers above its own with a fair chance of winning. However, it's just as resistant to damage as the other biplanes - that is to say, it'll go down in flames if someone so much as throws a handful of pebbles at it.
At higher levels the Japanese - mirroring their Real LifeWW2 designs - have several planes that hit very hard, but have very little armor and will be swatted out of the sky by any equivalent-tier plane that's survived their first attack.
The CR.42 Falco mounts two 12.7mm machine guns which allows it to wreck other biplanes and put the hurt on higher level aircraft.
Gullible Lemmings: It's not unusual to see 4 or more members of your team chasing after a single enemy in a long conga line, vying to be the one who gets the kill. This, as one might imagine, makes them incredibly easy targets themselves. It's even a viable strategy to send a single plane down low as bait, wait for the whole enemy team to pounce on it, and then dive on them from above at your leisure.
Guy in Back: Several of the aircraft have them in the form of gunners. However they're blind as a bats when the AI controls them, but when you control them, they get Improbable Aiming Skills. Fortunately, investing in crew experience can mitigate this issue.
Historical In-Joke: The ultimate fighter on the Russian tree, the MiG-15, is painted up in North Korean livery. This is most likely a reference to the fact that the Russians secretly sent many pilots into the Korean War to build up a pool of experienced jet fighters. US pilots would refer to them as "Big Daddies", since the Russian pilots were typically much better than their North Korean comrades.
Hit-and-Run Tactics: The most commonly used method of attack against more agile fighters. Get about 2-3000 feet above them, then dive down on top of them all guns blazing once you're in range. If the attack hasn't killed them use the speed built up in the dive to run the hell away before they can target you in retaliation.
I Call It Vera: Players can pick and choose different nose art from the Allied decal list. All of which are actual nose art, from actual aircraft.
Ineffectual Loner: Good teamwork is necessary for survival and victory. Even a Bomber flying at high-altitude needs help from another Bomber or an escorting Fighter.
Fighters should not attack a group of Anti-Air units unless they are distracted by other friendly aircraft.
Jackof All Stats: Heavy Fighters and Attackers. These aircraft can carry bombs and/or rockets that can be used for ground attack. While their heavy cannon armaments are easily able to knock down most fighters unfortunate enough to get in their gun sights. Despite this, they're not as agile as a dedicated fighters, and have lower bomb loads then dedicated bombers.
Katanas of the Rising Sun: Featuring the deadly A-6M Zero, the H-6K flying boat, the G-4M Betty Bomber, B-5N "Kate" Torpedo Plane, and D-3A "Val" Dive Bomber.
Kill It with Fire: Being lit on fire is usually a death sentence for light aircraft and a serious problem for big ones. Some gun loadouts have incendiary bullets to facilitate this occurrence.
Law of Chromatic Superiority: In order to distinguish different versions of the same plane quickly, each iteration has a different color scheme, which leads into this as one climbs the tech tree.
Lead The Target: You have to shoot where the target plane is going to be in order to hit it. A "lead target indicator" is included to help people in Arcade battles, but is absent in Historical and Full Real battles.
Lethal Joke Plane: Several of the aircraft do not seem to fit in their intended roles, or seem just awful at first plane. But players familiar with the history of the aircraft will quickly figure out how best to use them.
The Ju-87 Stuka climbs worse than a lead turtle, is pretty fragile, and can't dogfight as well - the only thing it CAN do well is when he has a bomb ready and above 2000m. Come level 7, and you get Stukas with TWO 37MM CANNONS. Which rip wings and motors and tails like nobody's business in one hit. Large amounts of Trolling has been done with such a poorly manoeuvrable, visibly pointless plane.
It actually starts a little earlier. The Ju-87 D-5, while visually no different from the D-3 before it, differs in one very important manner: It has 20mm cannons with a much larger ammunition count than the G-1 and G-2. While it might not be a trolling machine like the Ju-87 G, it is still a bad idea to get in front of one.
The PBY Catalina, which must be the slowest bomber ever. Also big and rather exposed in motors. HOWEVER, excluding motors and wings it is VERY durable and has such a large bomb load that it will kill half of the ground units (or sea units) if the fighters don't sic on it for free xp.
The SBD Dauntless Dive bomber. Only two .50cal guns in the nose, and twin .30cal for the Guy in Back to use make players feel underpowered while using it. But it's extremely sturdy, and can shrug off a surprising amount of hits. It's also fairly maneuverable, and can even give some of the Japanese planes a run for their money. In real life, Stanley "Swede" Vejtasa took his SBD Dauntless against three A-6M Zeros... and WON.
The H-6K-4 can probably one-up the PBY for slowness. On top of that, it's got one of the heftiest repair bills of any aircraft at that level, and catches fire very easily when hit. However, it's got a tail-mounted 20mm cannon that's going to given many players a rude awakening when they approach it for the first time. And when upgraded can carry two 2,000lb bombs that can reduce a Ground Strike Area Target to a smoldering crater in just two runs. On top of that, it's a real pain in the neck to shoot down as very very few aircraft at that level even pack the right weapons to damage it, let alone shoot it down.
Biplanes, pure and simple. Slow, peashooter guns, poor climbing ability, and most of them have their landing gear down at all times. However, they turn better then any other plane in the game, and while their guns are weak, they can kill the pilot with some Improbable Aiming Skills.
The P-47 Thunderbolt counts as most players probably aren't familiar with its history. Ingame, it has very poor acceleration (due to its weight), average maneuverability, and it gets matched up against very nimble fighters that pack Bomber-killing cannons. But with 8 .50call Machine Guns, and a maximum load of 10 rockets, 2 1000lb bombs, and a single 500lb bomb, a player knowledgeable with its history will quickly tear up any and all ground units if the other team is stupid enough to leave him alone.
Rockets are slow, relatively inaccurate, and are effectively useless at long range or against hardened targets (such as most ships). However, they can one-shot most aircraft (some only take two), and with the right settings and crew point investments, rockets can go from useless weight, to near game-breakers.
Lightning Bruiser: Several of the attackers, but the most well known from Real Life is the P-47 Thunderbolt. It could take a beating, and then dish it back out with eight.50cal heavy machine guns. All while having an engine that could perform well at any altitude.
The Load: Planes that keep flying in a straight line upon spawning are players that have joined the match and gone AFK just for a small sum of Silver Lions and XP.
Players that quit at the start of a match either have a bad connection, don't want to play the selected map, or just like to inconvenience the team by leaving it with one less contributor.
Made of Iron: The Yak-9T and Yak-9K are the best known examples of unrealistic durability. They can smack their wings against trees at high speed and still not show any bit of performance degradation. This however has been fixed in the last few patches.
Bombers can be very tough to take down if you don't know how and where to hit them. But the one that takes the cake is the H 6 K 4 Japanese Float Plane. When it's a top rank plane, the worst it has to face is the occasional .50cal machine gun, and even then, most of the players lack the knowledge of where exactly to hit it. On top of this, the 20mm cannon in the tail will make short work of anyone stupid enough to get in behind it.
Magic Tool: Airfields in most cases, assuming you can land on them, can repair your plane from Swiss cheese with nothing working, to fully capable and battle ready within 90 seconds after coming to a complete stop. Damage that would have effectively rendered the aircraft completely unusable.
Mighty Glacier: Bombers. They pack the heaviest punch for air to ground work, and can take a beating. But they're usually sluggish, and the gunners are seemingly blind when it comes to dealing with fighters, at least until they get a few points into their skills. Partially averted though, in that they are not particularly slow (thanks to their multiple engines most of them are usually quite fast in absolute speed) but their mass and stability makes them difficult to accelerate or turn quickly and easy targets for enemies.
At low levels the H 6 K flying boat gets a honourable mention, as it's slower than any other bomber and the first plane new players will likely see that truly soaks up bullets like a sponge.
More Dakka: True to Real Life, many of the aircraft in the game are packing multiple machine guns and cannons. Justified in that the goal is to create a high weight of fire on the target, so much so you can run a buzz-saw through him and possibly rip a wing off.
The British are masters of the trope; the Hurricane I has eight machine guns, and the II has twelve. They create a large volume of fire that'll blow most light fighters out of the sky, but they tend to lose badly to cannons when going after armored targets.
Mutual Kill: Head-on Attacks can usually end up with both planes having destroyed each other or not being able to break away in time. For example, two fighters destroy each others engines and one fighter getting rammed by the wreck of his opponent.
Nazis with Gnarly Weapons: To be expected from a World War 2 game. The Bf-109, Fw-190, Ju-87, He-111, Me262, and Me163 are all present and accounted for.
New Roman Legions: Gaijin decided that Italy didn't have enough aircraft to justify being it's own nation and reduced the Regia Aeronautica to being a sub-branch in the German Air Force.
No Kill Like Overkill: in order to prevent kill-stealing - where one takes a lot of effort to damage a plane but sees his kill credited instead to a passing team mate who casually fires the final burst that kills it - many players will continue to follow damaged planes in their final dive and keep shooting them well after it's clear they no longer have any control and can't avoid a crash, because total destruction while still in the air will award the kill without having to wait for the impact.
No One Should Survive That: Happens sometimes when players break off an attack thinking that the plane they're chasing is going to crash. Hilarity ensues when they realize that they were wrong...
No Swastikas: Par for the course for a game made in Russia. None of the German fighters have a single swastika in any of the locations they would logically have one.
In the 1.33 update, Gaijin added black X's to many German planes where swastikas would have logically been, so no one can say they aren't trying as much as they can for accuracy.
One-Hit Kill: Cannons and Rockets have the potential to do this if they hit the fuel tank. Can also happen with a hit to the bombs, or on some aircraft at least, a hit to the wing spar.
Anti-aircraft artillery cannons, while not very accurate in and of themselves, are extremely good at removing wings.
An amusing troll tactic is to use the Me 410's 50mm cannon or the Ju 87G armed with twin 37mm cannons against enemy fighters. Although this is VERY HARD to do, the satisfaction of pinching several players out of the sky in one shot is very rewarding.
One Hit Poly Kill - Bombs have a splash radius that can destroy multiple units if they're close enough but you'll need a direct hit with bombs that are less than 250kg.
Over Heating: One must be careful to shoot measured bursts rather than letting the guns go until empty, because doing so will overheat and jam them. In arcade battles the jam can be fixed with a reload, but in the other modes it's a trip back to land at the base.
Playing Possum: when having a determined attacker on one's tail and seeing no immediate way to get rid of them, it can be beneficial to fake having been damaged beyond the ability to maintain control by slowing down, stopping all evasive maneuvers and pointing the nose to the ground. Some players - especially if themselves under fire by an ally of their target - won't press the attack at this point, and assuming their target can't avoid a crash will disengage and look for something else to do. Cue their vengeful target gunning the throttle, breaking off the dive and looking for blood...
Point Defenseless: massively averted. If you think you can just fly up to a bomber in a light fighter and fire your peashooters at it undisturbed until it finally succumbs, a few instances of getting your pilot killed by their turret guns should be enough to start you considering reasonable angles of attack instead.
Also, beware the AAA that dot most of the maps. While the mobile AA guns aren't much to worry about, the stationary flak guns seen near pillboxes or airfields have a nasty habit of blowing players out of the sky that aren't working with other team members.
Go ahead, try and make an attack run on a destroyer in a slow-moving torpedo bomber at low altitude without any fighter cover to distract it... we dare you.
Ramming Always Works: Almost guaranteed to destroy both the rammer and the rammed. However, because ramming never gets you credited for the kill, the maneuver is usually a product of either extreme frustration (after, say, a bomber has survived three ammo belts and is still limping along), desperation (last friendly survivors on the ground, enemy heavy bomber heading at them, and you flying a reserve plane with no chance of taking it down in time with gunfire), or noobishness (pursuing players forgetting there's a throttle and slamming into you because they're flying a faster plane). Or simple dickishness - ramming is typically seen as a low move and will attract a lot of verbal abuse in the chat, so trolls can load up on reserve planes and smack them into people just to enjoy the anger.
Revenge Before Reason: a lot of less-than-experienced players will get so incensed at being shot down that they'll ignore mission orders entirely and focus all their energy into vengefully pursuing their attacker. The game actually encourages this, by leaving said attacker selected as a target when you jump in a new plane even if you wouldn't be able to target them with normal means.
Shaggy Search Technique: Every now and then there will be a mission where visibility is exceedingly low due to heavy fog, thick clouds, or night. Such conditions are beneficial for high-level Bombers but are very detrimental for Fighters as they have to stumble within kissing distance to find an enemy plane.
A mission that takes place at dawn will give a visibility advantage to the side that has the sun to their back as the blinding light makes it hard to be seen by the opposition until it's too late. This is actually Rule 1 of the Dicta Boelcke, a list of aerial combat tactics written by German fighter ace Oswald Boelcke.
Shows Damage: Through a very nice bullet-hole and bomb-crater system.
Sniping the Cockpit: Played straight. As part of the Subsystem Damage gameplay, crew can be incapacitated, and if the pilot is killed or knocked out the plane is considered "downed" and will crash. Further, no matter how robust the construction is and how much damage the air frame can absorb, the cockpit is always vulnerable at least through the glass canopy. This means that head-on confrontations between planes are particularly deadly for both parties.
Spanish Civil War: Several of the low-level Soviet, German, and Italian aircraft were used in the Spanish Civil War, and many of them have Nationalist or Republican paint schemes available.
Subsystem Damage: Played straight, and part of the simulation. Various components of the plane can be hit and the damage will affect its performance in a variety of ways. For example, losing a chunk of its wing has a drastic effect on the pilot's ability to control it. On the other hand, some light damage can be mostly just cosmetic and have little effect on performance. For someone looking to shoot down a bomber, going for this by attacking the engines is a good idea. If you see your target's elevators fly off or get a notice about them losing tail control, then they're doomed; best they can do is delay the inevitable and try to spite you by getting killed by one of your teammates before they hit the ground.
Taking You with Me: Sometimes happens with desperate players who will crash their planes into someone else's to bring them down, an interceptor ramming a bomber, for example. Conversely, a plane with a turret mount in it which is going down might still fire wildly at whomever inflicted critical damage on them in the hope of bringing them down too as they spin toward an inevitable crash. It's also not uncommon for a bomber who is outnumbered at low altitude to drop his bombs and then crash his plane into a target in order to deny the enemy a kill.
Yanks with Tanks: Hits all the major entries under WW2 aircraft, and quite a few more besides. Several variations of the all-metal B-17 Flying Fortress are present, the P-47 Thunderbolt is there, along with the P-51D-5 Mustang.