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Learn more about aircraft carriers in World of Warships. Transcript
Aircraft in World of Warships come in several variants: some launched from aircraft carriers, some launched from catapults aboard traditional surface combatants. Planes launched from carriers are always under the control of the player; those launched from via catapult and carrier-based fighters are more automated and a player cannot issue specific commands to them once launched. Each type of plane has a unique role in the overall scope of aerial combat as it plays out in battle.

Types of Aircraft

There are six types of aircraft that can become involved in battles in World of Warships:[1]

  • Attack aircraft utilize a large number of small-caliber rockets to light fires and strike fast, maneuverable vessels that are lightly armored.
  • Torpedo bombers carry air-dropped torpedoes that can cause hull damage and floods, and are best delivered against slower, less maneuverable targets.
  • Bombers carry either high explosive, effective against all targets, or armor-piercing bombs, effective against heavy targets.
  • Fighters are air-to-air specialists that can be used against enemy aircraft, or for spotting.
  • Spotting aircraft, launched from a ship's catapult, can be used to increase a ship's firing range and provide players a different camera angle from which to aim their shots.
  • Airstrike aircraft, currently HE and depth charge airstrike bombers, deliver their payload to a designated area after a delay. They cannot spot enemy ships or planes, and have a limited strike range.


Aircraft Type Minimap and HUD
Icon [2]
Ship UI Icon
Attack Aircraft
(HE rockets)
169_plane_fighter_enemy.png Ammo_Fighter.png
Attack Aircraft
(AP rockets)
171_plane_fighter_enemy_AP.png Ammo_fighter_ap.png
Torpedo Bombers 143_plane_torpedo_enemy.png Torpedo_Squadron.png
High Explosive Bombers 197_plane_bomber_enemy.png HE_Bomb_Squadron.png
High Explosive Skip Bombers 166_plane_skip_enemy.png HE_Skip_Bomb_Squadron.png
Armor-Piercing Bombers 196_plane_bomber_enemy_AP.png AP_Bomb_Squadron.png
Fighters 175_plane_catapult_fighter_enemy.png Consumable_PCY012_FighterPremium.png
Interceptors 200_plane_catapult_fighter_upgrade_enemy.png Consumable_PCY035_CallFighters_Upgrade.png
Spotting Aircraft 153_plane_scout_enemy.png Consumable_PCY005_Spotter.png
Airstrike (HE bombs) 237_plane_asup_he_enemy.png Ammo_airsupport_he.png
Airstrike (Depth Charges) 878.png Ammo_airsupport_depthcharge.png

Player-Controlled Aircraft

Aircraft carrier players have access to three of the aircraft types noted above with which they can attack enemy surface ships: attack aircraft, torpedo bombers, and bombers. (While some fighters are also launched from a carrier, they are not player-controlled.)

Each of these aircraft types can attack surface ships only and their payload is single-use, meaning that once their rockets or bombs or torpedoes are expended, they must return to their carrier in order to re-arm and launch again. Bombers are almost universally slower than fighters while carrying their ordnance to a target.

If an aircraft carrier is destroyed, her player will still retain control of the current aircraft squadron until all shells are fired or until three minutes expire.

Attack Aircraft

Attack aircraft carry rockets with high explosive (HE) or armor-piercing (AP) warheads. The HE rockets have relatively low penetration values, so their damage output against heavily armored ships is negligible. Rather, primary use is to start fires on enemy vessels, and to harass lightly armored destroyers. Arguably, rockets are the easiest of the three weapon types to aim as they have the fastest sight stabilization and a fairly small strike dispersion. They have no arming distance and have an easy to use aiming reticle.

Attack planes of the Wows_flag_USA.png United States Navy have access to two types of rocket: the smaller, "traditional" rocket, and the much larger "Tiny Tim" rocket that features higher damage, penetration and fire chance over their counterparts, at the cost of the number of rockets carried per plane.

Attack planes of the Wows_flag_Germany.png Kriegsmarine also have access to two types of rocket: the standard high explosive rocket on Graf Zeppelin, and armor-piercing rockets on its other carriers.

Max Immelmann, Chkalov and Béarn do not carry attack aircraft.

U.S. battleship Kearsarge and destroyer Halford, as well as Soviet cruiser Kommissar, also carry attack aircraft.

Aerial Rocket Data

Torpedo Bombers

Torpedo bombers are the preferred strike weapons of aircraft carriers, as they provide consistent damage against almost any enemy ship in a given match. Aerial torpedoes have universally lower damage and flood chance when compared to their ship-launched counterparts, but otherwise behave similarly.

When performing an attack run with torpedo bombers, captains will notice a yellow are in the attack cone; this is the distance in which the torpedoes must travel before they arm. If a torpedo strikes before arming, it will not do damage. The torpedo attack cone also closes quite slowly, so captains should take the time to plan out their attack runs before beginning them.

Indomitable and Béarn do not carry torpedo bombers.

Battleship Ise and cruiser Tone also carry torpedo bombers.

Aerial Torpedo Data


Bombers are the third type of player-controlled aircraft carried by an aircraft carrier.

Dive Bombers

A dive bomber approaches at high altitude, then dives toward the target — using the aircraft itself to aim — before releasing its bomb at low level and pulling out and away.

Traditional dive bombers, found on most carriers, are probably the most difficult weapon type to use, as their aiming reticle is fairly hard to understand, and properly "leading" a target before entering the attack run takes some practice to get right. The payoff for HE bombs is a high fire chance and good damage. The armor-piercing versions can be devastating.

Level Bombers

Like strategic land bombers, level bombers fly high and level and use a bomb sight to aim. The Wows_flag_UK.png Royal Navy, as well as Hornet employ this type of bomber, as do battleships Nebraska, Delaware Louisiana.

Level bombers have an aiming system that is generally easier to use. Offsetting this, they generally do less damage.

Skip Bombers

Skip bombers approach their target low, almost at water level like torpedo bombers, attempting to bounce their HE bombs off the water's surface. Soviet carriers, Max Immelmann and Béarn employ this type of bomber.

Aerial Bombs

There are two main types: High Explosive (HE) bombs favored by United States and Royal Navy carriers, and armor-piercing (AP) bombs favored by the Imperial Japanese Navy and the Kriegsmarine.

Aerial Bomb Data

Hybrid Squadrons and Tactical Squadrons

Hybrid ships are ships that have a squadron although they are not aircraft carriers. Some aircraft carriers have special squadrons called tactical squadrons, whose UI icons are marked with a white star in a green square (see icon on the left). Hybrid squadrons and tactical squadrons function similarly to normal squadrons but have their own key differences. The entire squadron replenishes instead of one plane at a time, and they are unlimited in use. They do not return to the ship after attacking or when the player presses F, so the full preparation time must occur before they can be used again (the timer starts when the aircraft take off). Both types can only carry out one attack per take-off, similar to Soviet aircraft carriers. Usually, not more than one squadron fits on deck (but two with Halford). Both squadron types are not ready at the start of the battle (except with the Essex branch), but instead take several minutes before they can be used. Specific to tactical squadrons, their boost cannot regenerate in-flight, and they often lack access to squadron consumables (except for Hornet's and the Essex branch's squadrons, which have both). Specific to hybrid squadrons, they are launched with rocket boosters, giving them a temporary speed boost (except for Kearsarge’s and Halford’s attack aircraft squadrons). Once these run out, however, they are rather slow (specifically for the squadrons on Ise and Tone), and also lack squadron consumables (except for the squadrons on Nebraska, Delaware, Louisiana and Halford which have Engine Cooling). In contrast, some tactical squadrons of Tier ★ ships are very fast, both cruising and using boost. Both squadron types often serve a supplementary role for ships equipped with them, used in conjunction with the ship's other armaments to deal damage.


Individual squadrons are controlled using the WASD keys and the mouse. Aircraft will automatically retain a set forward throttle, regardless of player input. Squadrons are steered using a combination of the mouse and the "A" and "D" keys. The "W" and "S" keys are used to apply a limited time boost and air braking, respectively. The amount of remaining boost is indicated by the curved bar on the left side of the HUD when controlling a squadron. Boost will automatically regenerate when not being used, but captains can also use the Engine CoolingAir squadron consumable that makes more Engine Boost available. squadron consumable to immediately replenish the boost bar.

Left-clicking will begin an attack run. While in the attack mode, squadron control remains the same.

Pressing "F" when controlling a squadron will relinquish control of the squadron, returning both the captain and their aircraft to the carrier. Surviving aircraft from an attack run will automatically return to their carrier.

Managing Squadron Speed

Main article: Aircraft Speed

Automated Aircraft

The following aircraft types in World of Warships are not flown by the player.


Fighter squadrons can be deployed in three different ways. Once deployed, all three act much the same -- patrolling until they are able to attack enemy aircraft, or expire. A ship consumable launches a small squadron of fighters from the ship's catapult (Catapult Fighter); an aircraft squadron consumable summons fighters from the home carrier (Patrol Fighter), or a carrier may launch its Combat Air Patrol (CAP Fighter) to defend itself.

If enemy aircraft appear within the patrolled area, the fighters will attack them. Fighters can destroy as many enemy aircraft as their number patrolling the area. Afterwards, the consumable effect expires, even if they have shot down fewer planes than the number of fighters in the flight. The fighters disappear and the cooldown time begins.

  • For surface combatants, the Catapult FighterWhile active, a group of fighter planes circles the ship providing protection by attacking incoming enemy aircraft. consumables consist of a squadron of two to four aircraft that orbit their home ship at a radius of 0.9 km for 60 seconds. They will attempt to engage enemy aircraft within their action radius of 3 km.
  • Aircraft carrier-based attack squadrons have access to the Patrol FighterWhile active, a group of fighter planes circles a location spotting and engaging enemy aircraft. consumable. Similar to the Fighter consumable, when activated a squadron of three to seven fighters is called to the location at which it was activated. The fighters will attempt to engage enemy aircraft within their action radius of 2.5 to 4.0 km.[3] Patrol fighters last for 60 seconds, allowing them to be used as a passive scouting tool.
    • The Patrol Fighters on supercarriers are unique in that they have a 4 km action radius, and a 20 second action time and 5 second cooldown on the consumable.
    • The Patrol Fighters on Béarn, Independence, Yorktown and Essex are unique in that they can only spot ships from 2 km. Additionally, the Patrol Fighters on Yorktown and Essex activate 50% faster against enemy aircraft in their radius, have a 4 km action radius, 60 second action time and 5 second cooldown.
  • For aircraft carrier captains, a CAP FighterA group of fighter planes launched automatically to defend an aircraft carrier. is automatically activated when the carrier is spotted. Each consumable consists of a squadron of four fighters that orbit the vessel at a distance of 0.9 km for 10 minutes. They will attempt to engage enemy aircraft within their action radius of 3 km.
  • The detectability range of all carrier-launched fighters is 10 km.


Interceptors are a type of Patrol Fighter consumable. Patrol Fighters are converted to Interceptors by mastering the Interceptor skill. The two are deployed in the same way. Interceptors are called to defend friendly ships against incoming enemy attack squadrons, and are dedicated to the mission: they have a larger patrol radius, they do not interact with enemy fighters, and they do not spot.

Other fighter skills

The aircraft carrier commander skill Direction Center for Fighters adds one fighter to CAP Fighter squadrons but not to Patrol Fighter or Interceptor squadrons.

A number of aircraft carrier commander skills impact both Patrol Fighter and Interceptor squadrons:

The Consumables Specialist skill improves the turn-around time of all catapult aircraft.

Spotting Aircraft

Similar to the Catapult Fighter, the Spotting AircraftWhile active, a spotter plane circles the ship enhancing main battery firing range. consumable launches a plane from the ship's catapult. However, instead of attacking enemy aircraft, the unarmed Spotting Aircraft increases the ship's main battery range by 20% and gives an "aerial" perspective when scoping, which can be switched to by default with the C key. It is available on all Tier IX and X cruisers, Russian cruisers from Tier VI and higher, British cruisers from Tiers V - VIII, as well as all Japanese battleships from Tier IV and higher and American battleships from Tier VI and higher. Ships with access to catapult-launched aircraft usually must choose between equipping either a Catapult Fighter or a Spotting Aircraft, which has a longer duration and cooldown and a larger orbital radius of 3 km (1.2 km for USN ships).

The High-Precision SpotterExtends main battery firing range and increases accuracy. Short action time., found on Yumihari, Adatara, Bungo, and Tianjin increases both the range of the main battery and their accuracy.

The cruiser commander skill Eye in the Sky makes the use of spotting aircraft more reactive.


HE Bomb Airstrikes

Airstrikes are delivered by a squadron of level bombers that drops a spread of bombs over a player-designated area. This reticle is square, and is comparable to 2 battleships in size. When the area is selected by the player, the squadron of planes will appear and fly over to the area after a brief delay. Once they reach the area, they are subject to AA fire and the survivors will deploy a large number of bombs. After deploying, the planes will fly upwards, similar to returning carrier planes, and disappear. Airstrikes have a limited striking range, and they cannot spot ships or other planes.

Airstrikes drop a large number of HE bombs that are equipped with parachutes to slow their descent. This makes airstrike bombs significantly easier to dodge than normal carrier bombs. Ships can have anywhere from 1 to 3 squadrons available. Similarly to depth charges, they can be used one at a time or all at once. When one is used, the cooldown for that single charge begins immediately. The reload time listed in port is for a single charge of the airstrike. Charges reload one at a time.

Currently, airstrikes are only present on Dutch cruisers, starting with Tier VI Kijkduin, and on Dutch destroyer X Tromp.

——  Airstrike Data  ——
Ship Nation Number of Charges Reload Time Airstrike Range Aircraft per Attack Bombs per Plane HP per Plane Bomb Type Damage Armor Penetrated Fire Chance
Icon_default_cruiser.png VI Kijkduin Wows_flag_Netherlands.png 1 80 s 10 km 6 6 1,850 P.u.W. 100 kg 5,100 32 mm 29%
Icon_default_cruiser.png VII Eendracht Wows_flag_Netherlands.png 1 80 s 11 km 8 6 1,940 P.u.W. 120 kg 5,800 34 mm 33%
Icon_default_cruiser.png VIII Haarlem Wows_flag_Netherlands.png 2 100 s 12 km 10 6 2,020 P.u.W. 120 kg 5,800 34 mm 33%
Icon_default_cruiser_premium.png VIII De Zeven Provinciën Wows_flag_Netherlands.png 3 65 s 13 km 6 4 1,860 P.u.W. 120 kg 5,800 34 mm 33%
Icon_default_cruiser.png IX Johan de Witt Wows_flag_Netherlands.png 2 100 s 12 km 10 6 2,110 P.u.W. 140 kg 6,100 36 mm 35%
Icon_default_cruiser_premium.png IX Van Speijk Wows_flag_Netherlands.png 1 130 s 15 km 10 6 2,110 P.u.W. 140 kg 6,100 36 mm 35%
Icon_default_cruiser.png X Gouden Leeuw Wows_flag_Netherlands.png 2 100 s 13 km 12 6 2,200 P.u.W. 160 kg 6,800 37 mm 39%
Icon_default_destroyer_premium.png X Tromp Wows_flag_Netherlands.png 2 60 s 10 km 12 6 2,200 P.u.W. 160 kg 3,700 20 mm 21%

Depth Charge Airstrikes

Anti-submarine warfare (ASW) planes are a type of airstrike that attack submarines. In terms of mechanics, they operate very similarly to anti-ship airstrikes. Instead of dropping HE bombs, ASW planes drop depth charges. These are effective against submarines at all depths. To make up for their lack of standard depth charges, some battleships and cruisers have access to player-launched ASW planes while some aircraft carriers have automatic ones.

Land-Based Aircraft

Land-based aggressor aircraft appear in several scenarios, notably Operation Dynamo (currently removed), Operation Hermes, and Cherry Blossom.

Ships and Their Aircraft Weapons

Ship Type Nation or Ship Rockets Bombs Skip Bombs Torpedoes Airstrike Bombs Tactical Squadron (Rockets/Torps/Bombs)
Aircraft Carrier USA, UK, Kaga, Kaga B, Sanzang HE HE -- yes -- --
Aircraft Carrier Japan, Malta, Graf Zeppelin, Graf Zeppelin B, Enterprise HE AP -- yes -- --
Aircraft Carrier Germany AP AP -- yes -- --
Aircraft Carrier USSR HE -- HE yes -- --
Aircraft Carrier Independence, Yorktown, Essex -- -- -- yes -- HE/No/HE
Aircraft Carrier Taihō -- AP -- yes -- HE/No/No
Aircraft Carrier United States HE HE -- -- -- HE/Yes/HE
Aircraft Carrier Eagle -- HE -- yes -- HE/Yes/HE
Aircraft Carrier Sekiryu HE AP -- yes -- HE/Yes/No
Aircraft Carrier Aquila AP -- -- yes -- --
Aircraft Carrier Colossus, Erich Loewenhardt AP HE -- yes -- --
Aircraft Carrier Max Immelmann -- -- HE yes -- --
Aircraft Carrier Chkalov -- HE HE yes -- --
Aircraft Carrier Indomitable HE HE -- -- -- --
Aircraft Carrier Béarn -- AP HE -- -- --
Aircraft Carrier Hornet -- AP -- yes -- No/No/HE
Battleship Ise -- -- -- yes -- --
Battleship Kearsarge HE -- -- -- -- --
Battleship Nebraska, Delaware, Louisiana -- HE -- -- -- --
Cruiser Tone -- -- -- yes -- --
Cruiser Chikuma II -- -- -- yes -- --
Cruiser Kommissar HE -- -- -- -- --
Cruiser Netherlands (Tiers VI–X) -- -- -- -- HE --
Destroyer Tromp -- -- -- -- HE --
Destroyer Halford HE -- -- -- -- --

Air-to-Air Combat

Air-to-air combat occurs automatically through the usage of the CAP FighterA group of fighter planes launched automatically to defend an aircraft carrier., Catapult FighterWhile active, a group of fighter planes circles the ship providing protection by attacking incoming enemy aircraft. and Patrol FighterWhile active, a group of fighter planes circles a location spotting and engaging enemy aircraft. consumables. When activated, AI-controlled fighters will appear and engage enemy aircraft within their range. The aircraft launched from the Catapult Fighter and CAP Fighter consumables will follow their host ship, while Patrol Fighters will remain where they were activated. All three consumables have limited life spans.

Fighters on the Mini-map

Each fighter squadron has a radius of action. When deployed, the squadron appears on the mini-map as a filled-in circle showing its range of action. The color is red for enemy and green for friend. The squadron will attack enemy aircraft that stray into that circle; attack aircraft should avoid entering a red circle.


With Update 0.8.0, the various fighters may attack and shoot down enemy bombers, but no longer affect their aiming. The New Aircraft Carriers: How Best to Use Them?

  1. Other aircraft and dirigibles can be seen in the skies above some Maps. These are decorative and do not become involved in battle.
  2. Minimap and HUD Icons come in a range of attractive colors: Enemy (red, shown) 175_plane_catapult_fighter_enemy.png, Team (green) 177_plane_catapult_fighter_ally.png, Division Mate (gold) 176_plane_catapult_fighter_division.png, One's Own (white) 174_plane_catapult_fighter_own.png, Penalty (pink) 172_plane_catapult_fighter_teamkiller.png.
  3. See Update_0.8.0.3. With the skill rework in Update 0.10.0 this radius can be increased.

List of carrier-based aircraft (Wikipedia)

From World of Warships News: