Crew are an essential part to World of Warplanes: You can not fly a plane without crew. And seeing that automated planes have not yet been added, and most likely won't be, crew are needed for all planes. This page is dedicated to getting you familiar with your crew.
There are two crew that you will encounter in the game: The pilot and the rear gunner. Each type has its own set of skills that it can master, though it takes much time to master one skill, let alone two.
The pilot is the most important of the crew. Your plane would be a pile of metal scrap if there were no pilot. Pilots drive the plane, shoot the guns, and do everything else related to the main functions of the plane. You will be seeing a pilot from your first plane onwards.
The rear gunner is the second crew type you will hear about. It will appear in advanced planes. They are responsible for getting whoever is on your tail... off your tail. They will shoot at enemies that come within their range. However, they have a shallow range, much less than of your plane as a whole, and they have less accuracy, so do not rely too much upon your rear gunner. But in some certain situations, they can save your life. Note that planes on your tail, while getting shot at by the rear gunner, will often injure the rear gunner too by firing.
There are multiple skills that a pilot and rear gunner can learn. There are some skills that both can master, and in fact must before learning another, and some skills unique to the pilot or the rear gunner.
You can choose a skill to start levelling, as well as find out how much experience will it take, by clicking a crew member and selecting his Personal File.
The first skill every member of the crew learns is a main proficiency – pilot or rear gunner. Basic crew members have a 50% proficiency which grows with every bit of experience you get in battles. You can also train them in a Training Wing to gain 90% proficiency for 100,000 credits, or for 400 gold you might send them to a Combat Wing and train proficiency to 100%.
Proficiency is the most important characteristic for the crew. At 50%:
- A pilot guides the aircraft poorly. This means that the aircraft achieves its maximum rotation speed on all its axes (yaw, pitch and roll) 20% slower and its engine achieves maximum power in both nominal and afterburner modes 20% slower.
- A pilot Shoots and aims bombs poorly. With 50% pilot proficiency all the guns mounted on the aircraft have a 10% larger aiming spread than is optimal, while bombs and rockets have a 20% accuracy penalty.
- A rear gunner with 50% proficiency takes a 30% longer pause between salvos, so, in effect, he protects your aircraft almost a third less effectively.
While a crew member achieves proficiency, the penalties to his skills are reduced linearly, so for example at 75% they will be reduced by a half.
After gaining 100% proficiency, the crew gains access to additional skills that affect various aspects of their effectiveness. As with proficiency, they start working right from the start when you choose them with effectiveness corresponding to the percentage you've gained. Note that contrary to proficiencies, you cannot “force-learn” skills for credits or gold, and every single following skill requires much more experience.
Since the 100,000 credits needed for retraining to 90% proficiency are not incredibly much players are advised to do so if they can afford it. The remaining 10,000 experience needed to gain full proficiency can be gained in few battles.
Here are skills that only a pilot may learn. These can only be learned after the crew becomes 100% skilled at one other skill.
- Fire Resistance - decreases damage taken from fires and shortens the maximum fire duration by 20%.
- Eagle-Eyed - Increases range at which enemy aircraft are detected by 10%. This effect is cumulative with the effect of the gunner's skill "Vigilance".
- Battle Tested – Reduces chance of injury to the pilot by 20%. Improves aircraft controllability by 25% when aircraft wings, tail and fuselage are critically damaged. Remember that an injured pilot cannot shoot accurately, while critically damaged wings and tails drastically decrease the aircraft’s turning rates over the roll and yaw axes.
- Engine Guru I – Increases engine thrust by 3%. Significantly improves aircraft acceleration. This affects both acceleration rate and boost effectiveness.
- Engine Guru II – Increases engine thrust and top speed by 2%. The effect is cumulative with the effect of the skill “Engine Guru I”.
- Marksman I – Reduces dispersion of forward-firing weapons by 5%. Significantly increases chance of hitting a target. This skill is most effective for aircraft that are armed with particularly inaccurate weapons like machine guns and close-medium range cannons. For “sharpshooter” aircraft the skill is only beneficial when firing at extreme ranges.
- Marksman II – Reduces dispersion of forward-firing weapons by 5% and increases accuracy of firing at actively maneuvering targets by 10%. The effect is cumulative with the effect of the skill “Marksman I”
- Demolition Expert – Increases damage caused by bombs and rockets and their blast radius by 10%. This is a great skill for attack aircraft, heavy and multi role fighters and heavy bombers who may need to utilize their ordinance.
- Aerobatics Expert – Increases maneuverability in all axes by 2%. Provides a significant advantage in close maneuvering combat.
- Aerodynamics Expert – Increases the positive effect of the mounted equipment on aircraft maneuverability and speed by 40%
- Protection Expert – Increases the positive effect of the mounted equipment on aircraft durability and resistance to critical damage by 40%
- Expert Rocketeer – Significantly increases chance of directly hitting an aircraft with rockets. With this skill it will not be necessary to hit the aircraft dead on, the rocket will explode and deal damage even when passing the target at close range.
Special Pilot Skills
- Fire Fighter – Extinguishes fire by active maneuvering. Gain and maintain a high angular velocity in any axis to extinguish a fire.
-Allows aircraft to quickly extinguish fires via active maneuvering. To activate the skill certain conditions must be met: The aircraft must be on fire and turning with high angular velocity over the roll axis and slightly over the pitch axis. A typical example is an aileron roll. After the skill is activated the fire will be extinguishes in 2-2.5 seconds. Keep in mind the aircraft must first reach the necessary roll speed which does not happen instantaneously, which is why this skill is most effective for the maneuverable fighters rather than heavies, bombers or attack aircraft.
- Cruise Flight – Increases the view range by 20% and engine thrust and top speed by 3% when the aircraft does not receive damage for 20 seconds. The effect is lost once the aircraft hits an enemy target or receives damage.
- This skill is automatically activated at the start of a battle and is disabled temporarily if you take or deal damage to enemies, including ground targets and the use of rear guners. The effects of the skill are stacked with similar effects from other skills and equipment.
This skill will be useful for attack aircraft who are able to reach enemy ground targets faster, detect them and choose the approach direction from further away, as well as retreat to a safe place and hide from the enemy fighters later in the game. It also helps high altitude fighters and heavies reach their optimum altitude faster once a battle starts.
- Resilience – Repairs all critical damage and heals all crew injuries, reduces engine and weapon overheating by 50%, and increases maneuverability and engine thrust by 5% when aircraft loses 70% of hit points. The skill is activated automatically once per sortie.
It will be most useful for fighter pilots, providing a significant momentary advantage that can tip the scales of an engagement in your favour.
- Evasive Target – Reduces damage received and chance of receiving critical damage and pilot injuries by 25% when actively maneuvering. Gain and maintain a high angular velocity in pitch and roll axes to activate the skill.
To activate the skill, the aircraft must maintain a high rotation speed over the pitch axis and be slightly rolling. The speed must be no lower than 20% of optimum airspeed. Evasive target is disabled if the rotation speed over the pitch axis decreases or after 2 seconds pass since activation. It is very beneficial for light and multi role fighters that engage in dogfights and perform a lot of sharp turns.
- Raptor Strike – Increases chance of setting an enemy aircraft on fire and causing critical damage by 50% when diving and attacking with forward-firing weapons. Takes effect when aircraft speed approaches maximum dive speed an pitch angle exceeds 45 degrees.
To activate the skill your aircraft needs to reach at least 60% of its maximum dive speed (you can find this in the aircraft specifications panel), the dive angle must be no less than 45%. The skill is deactivated when you exit the dive. Raptor strike is a great choice for machines with a high altitude, especially for heavies and fighters with high caliber armament. It not only emphasizes the advantage of this kind of weaponry, but also works great with the typical play style of boom and zoom aircraft.
- Adrenaline Rush – Reduces weapon overheating by 25% and increases firing accuracy by 10% after destroying an enemy aircraft. Effective for 10 seconds.
This skill only works for 10 seconds but can be reactivated by further kills. Keep in mind that a series of frags does not increase the skill duration by 10 seconds every time, it only resets the timer and starts it anew. So, for example, if you manage to get 3 kills within a 1 second interval between them the Adrenaline rush will be active for 12 seconds, not 30.
Rear Gunner Skills
Here are some skills that only a rear gunner may learn.
- Endurance - Reduces injury of the gunner by 20%.
- Vigilance - Increases view range by 10%. Stacks with the pilot skill Eagle Eyed.
- Armourer - Increases the burst length of a turret by 20%
- Ballistics Expert - Increases the range of a turret by 10%
- Quick Reflexes - Turret aiming time is reduced by 50%.
- Defensive Fire - Reduces damage from an aircraft which the gunner is firing at by 30%.
- Precision Gunner - The rear gunner has (significantly) more chance of scoring critical hits on enemy aircraft.
- Weakest Link - The rear gunner automatically starts shooting at the target with the least HP. Works only if at least 2 aircraft are in turret range and field of fire.
When choosing a combination of skills to level as a priority, you should consider the aircraft type and even model. For example, highly manoeuvrable fighters will benefit much from Engine Guru or Aerodynamics Expert, while heavily armoured Ground Attack Aircraft pilot might prefer Protection Expert. In general it is good to focus on improving strong points rather than mitigating weak points of an aircraft.
While each aircraft has skills that benefit the plane more than others. However, never pick up skills that have no effect whatsoever: a fighter does not have any ordnance, so both Expert Rocketeer and Demolition Expert have no use. For Ground Attack Aircraft, Bombers and most Heavy Fighters the skill Fire Fighting is practically useless: although fire can cause a lot of damage to these aircraft, the skill needs active manoevring, which is something these aircraft typically struggle to do.
A skilled crew will be much more effective in battle because the aircraft will become faster, more manoeuvrable and it’s weaponry – more accurate and deadly.
Crew members can be injured from shots, which decreases their abilities for that match, such as an injured rear gunner loses accuracy. Crew can be healed in-battle by a first aid dressing package. All crew are automatically healed upon return of the aircraft to the garage. Injured or knocked out crew will gain less experience than if they are unharmed. Crew also is healed, like modules, when repairing at an airbase (generally you need to repair to 100% HP first before modules and crew are healed). A injured crewmember will perform less well than a non-injured crew member, and a heavily injured crew member even a bit worse. Information on this system from update 1.9 can be found here: Old crew injury. Whether this information is still completely correct is a bit unclear, information will be updated once this is clear.