Becoming a rocket-marksman in World of Warplanes is one of the toughest feats to achieve in the game. In the game, rockets are basically self-propelled projectiles. Historically they have been mostly used to take out ground targets. However, with a little luck, they would occasionally be employed to shoot down aircraft too.
These self-propelled projectiles have no automatic targeting or target-following mechanism and either detonate on impact or after a certain time due to their built-in timer. Managing to hit a moving aircraft at a long distance requires either a lot of training or a good portion of luck. To help you score some impressive ‘Rocketeer’ frags in the game, we have compiled the overview below, explaining the functioning of rockets in the game.
We wanted to make the rockets in-game emulate, as closely as possible, the behavior of real-life historical rockets. Any rocket that’s launched by an aircraft possesses a set starting speed that corresponds to the current aircraft speed. Immediately after launch, the projectile commences its straight-forward flight, accelerating at 200 m/s2 (metres per second squared). Over time, this acceleration decreases – just like with real-life self-propelled projectiles that lose speed because of air friction and the evaporating fuel.
R4M rockets on board Messerschmitt Me 262
The rocket explodes in the following cases:
- When hitting a surface – this can be the ground, water, a plane or a ground target. That would be the explosion on impact.
- After a certain time in flight – every rocket carries a timer which makes it detonate regardless of whether it has hit anything or not. This is the most important thing to know about how rockets in the game work.
All rockets in World of Warplanes, except for the Tiny Tim (available for the XF5U Pancake) and the R4M (available for the Me 262), have a flight-time of 3-4 seconds. If the rocket hasn’t hit an obstacle after 3 seconds, every 0.2 seconds the server chooses randomly if the warhead should detonate. The “Tiny Tim” rockets have a “lifetime” of 4-5 seconds. This is because of the nature of this projectile, since the “Tiny Tims” were air-to-surface rockets. Hitting a moving target with these rockets will be very hard. However, if you aim it right into a bulk of multiple enemy fighters advancing in one dense formation, you may be successful with it against planes too. With the R4M-rockets, exactly the opposite is the case – these rockets detonate after 2.5 to 3 seconds. Also, you can also only launch them all at once in a salvo of six rockets at a time. This allows you to turn a large area of the sky in front of you into one big fireball that no plane can survive in.
Tiny Tim - leaves only rubble
Upon explosion, every rocket creates a damage zone with a certain radius (damage radius) around itself. How large this damage radius is can be learned from the context-menu of every rocket in the hangar. Within this damage zone, every plane or ground object will take damage from either the explosion itself or scattered debris. The biggest damage is dealt towards the centre of the damage sphere – basically any plane caught in this kind of fire is almost instantly taken out because the force of the explosion rips off its wings or tail. The further away from the centre of the damage sphere, the less damage is dealt. However, be assured that every aircraft that’s caught even at the outer limits of the damage radius is still going to feel the rocket’s impact.
So how do you take down an enemy with a rocket? There is no one-size-fits-all answer. Everything depends on the situation. If your plane travels at a speed of 500 km/h, with this also being the starting-speed of any launched rocket, you can easily calculate that all rocket models except the Tiny Tim and the R4M will cover a distance of 1,200 – 1,900 m before they detonate. Naturally, the slower the aircraft flies when launching your rocket, the less far the rocket will fly and vice versa. What you should try to do is develop an understanding of how far any plane’s rockets usually fly at the aircraft’s average flying speed. This is most easily achieved by going into a training room battle and launching rockets at ground targets at various distances. For example: A ROFS-132 rocket launched from an IL-8 flying at an optimal speed of 254 km/h will travel 970-1570 m before exploding. At the same time, a TRS-132 rocket from an IL-40 at 334 km/h will cover 1040-1660 m until it ultimately detonates.
ROFS-132 self-propelled projectiles on Il-2 wing
Situation 1) The enemy plane is flying at a constant angle to the player’s aircraft and maintains its course. A typical example of this would be an Attack Aircraft which is aiming at a ground target or a Heavy Fighter, scanning the clouds for prey. In these cases you have to determine how far the enemy plane will have moved on this straight line in 3-3.5 seconds and aim your rocket in the direction of this projected collision point.
Situation 2) The enemy plane is flying close to the ground or some other obstacle. Here again, a typical example would be a slower Attack Aircraft. Just as before, you need to assess how far you think your target will have moved over the next 3-3.5 seconds and then aim your rocket at that point on the ground or on the water surface. Even if you don’t hit the plane itself in flight, most likely your target will then be taken out by the resulting splash-damage from when the rocket explodes close by.
Situation 3) Frontal Attack. One of our players correctly wrote once “Our rockets may not be auto-targeting ones but any enemy going head on certainly is“. At around 500 m distance, all you have to do is go into the Sniper View, aim for the plane heading towards you, launch your rocket and then send the enemy player back to the hangar.
Of course, the best-looking rocket-frags are the ones when you manage to hit a manoeuvring aircraft. Alas, these are very rare and it’s tough to give advice on how to achieve them consistently. Hitting anything at this elevated degree of difficulty is both the result of proper aiming as well as the aforementioned luck.
In closing, we want to give you the two following pieces of advice:
At greater distances, it’s best to launch 2-3 rockets at a time at your target, trying to cover a larger area. This will also help avoiding that the rocket explodes too late when it’s already past your target.
Launch your rockets when performing a “Barrel Roll“. Doing this will allow you to spread the damage area not only horizontally but also vertically around your target, improving the chance of a takedown via splash damage. (For this, it’s best to map the commands Roll Left and Roll Right to the keys A and D on your keyboard).
Becoming effective with rockets takes some practice. However, in time, you’ll be able to show off impressive videos with rocket kills that look just as cool as those of our top players. Take a look at the exploits of VIRtUozS, coolassassin and kos_andr in the videos below!