The Airplane Plant is a factory that produces airplanes.
|Produces Airplanes, Builds at 10 m/s|
|Vision Radius (elmo)||273|
The Airplane Plant offers a variety of fixed-wing aircraft to suit your needs. Choose between multirole fighters that can double as light attackers or specialized interceptors, and between precision bombers for taking down specific targets or their saturation counterparts for destroying swarms. The plant also comes bundled with one rearm pad.
The Airplane Plant builds:
Tactics and Strategy
The Airplane Plant provides the most unique array of units of any factory in Zero-K; the Planes are more like a support force, as opposed to combat units. Both the speed of the Planes and their first-strike capability is unparalleled. The Swift is the Planes' main air-to-air option, while the Raven, Thunderbird and Likho bombers punish any poorly-covered ground forces.
In contrast to the Gunships, the Airplane bombers deliver their damage in a very short period of time, so anti-air which relies on prolonged engagements is less effective against them. On the other hand, the bombers have to return to base and rearm before making another run. The Swift fighter relies on similar hit-and-run tactics against enemy air forces.
Example Unit Combinations
Once your fleet of Swifts is large enough, add a few Raptors for more sustained damage. Make sure your Swifts are in position to protect the Raptors' flank and rear.
Fly a Swift or two over enemy territory before a bombing run to soak up a few missiles and scout for an unexpected concentration of anti-air. Losing a Swift or two is far less painful than losing a Likho.
Owls jam enemy radar in an area around and below them. Order a line of Owls to fly circles behind your team's front lines to provide radar, line of sight, and to hide your allies from enemy radar.
The Airplane Plant provides its owner with access to four bombers, being the Raven, Phoenix, Thunderbird, and Likho. Upon attacking they will drop their payload, which differs between the different types of bomber.
- The Raven will drop a single bomb almost straight down, dealing 800 damage.
- The Phoenix will drop 15 napalm bomblets, each doing 25 damage on impact and another 150 damage per unit hit as it burns. The bomblets are dropped over a wide area, which means small units may dodge the majority of bomblets, whereas large groups may be hit multiple times.
- The Thunderbird releases disarming lightning from its belly towards the ground in a line, with the center of the line at the ordered point of attack or target unit. The Thunderbird is free to change direction while firing, and can be manually fired (default 'D').
- The Likho drops a single homing implosion bomb dealing approximately 2000 damage.
The four different bombers will move differently during their payload release. As mentioned above, Thunderbirds will happily continue flying in a straight line unless ordered not to. The Phoenix is the exact opposite, and will prefer to drop its payload in a J-shape unless given a move order to continue on in the direction it came from. The Likho launches its bomb at 500 range before turning around immediately.
The Raven has the most complex behaviour of all four bombers. By default, it will dive down to the ground for mobile units to make it hard for them to dodge the slowly falling bomb. They will also dive underneath shields. The lower a Raven flies, the slower it becomes and the longer it will spend in range of enemy weapons. When attacking immobile targets like buildings or stunned units, the Ravens will remain at their maximum altitude and speed. This behaviour can be modified for individual Ravens with a switch on the command panel. The states are as follows:
- Green: Default, Ravens dive low against mobile units and shields.
- Yellow: Ravens will dive low against mobile units but not shields.
- Red: Ravens will always dive low and will fly at low altitude even when not on an attack run. (Can be utilized to decloak most units)
- Grey: Ravens will always fly high.
After releasing their payload, bombers will seek out the closest Airpad, Airplane Plant, or Reef aircraft carrier to rearm. If they are given a move order after attacking, either by putting a move order into their command queue or by manually ordering them to move, they will first complete their move order before proceeding to a repair pad. If they are instead given a second attack order, they will first return to a repair pad to rearm before executing this attack.
Bombing Strategy and Tactics
- When selecting Ravens and Likhos, a line on the right of the selection panel will inform you about how much damage your total selection can perform in one run (Burst Damage). Use this to gauge whether your currently selected bomber wing can destroy the high value target of your choosing (A default strike commander, for example, takes 4 Ravens).
- Use move orders after bombing to make your bombers take the shortest way out of enemy anti-air coverage. Often it is safer to make a 90 degree turn and fly out to the side than to turn the full 180 degrees inside enemy anti-air cover.
- Raven bombs will pass through water surfaces, allowing you to bomb submerged units. Phoenix bomblets explode on the surface.
- Owls provide sonar coverage as well as radar, making them invaluable for spotting submerged units.
- Be careful bombing around EMP units such as Venoms or Faradays! Stunned planes will slowly drift down to the ground, where they can be shot to pieces by any old unit that happens by.
- Using the 'Force fire' command (Default 'F'), and holding down the left mouse button allows you to draw a circle. Release to order your bombers to attack enemy units inside this circle in turn.
- Hold down Ctrl while issuing the above command to tell your bombers to pick a unit inside the circle to bomb. This distributes your bombers between units. It is especially useful against Lotuses, Pickets, or light mobile units which all do not warrant multiple Raven bombs. Consider using this with Phoenixes to spread them over a larger mass of enemy units.
- Use the Area Attack command (Default 'Alt+A') to designate an area in which to bomb. When enemy units enter this area, they will be bombed by your bombers. When there are no enemy units to be found, your bombers will bomb random points of terrain in the area. Consider combining with Phoenixes to hunt down suspected cloaked units.
Ravens are the workhorse of the Airplane Plant. They're the cheapest bombers, they deal a lot of damage, and have the most hitpoints for their cost.
- Sometimes it's worth it to channel your inner World War 2 British bomber command officer and sacrifice some of your Ravens to take out an important enemy target. With five ravens you can bomb a Razor anti air turret to pave the way for more bombers to follow them. Or you can strike at a Singularity Reactor deep within enemy territory. If five of your bombers make it through, you will cripple your enemy's economy and perhaps take out a large portion of their base. Or if your allies are facing a particularly deadly unit, like a Dante, you could turn the tide in favour of your allies with a well-timed bomb run.
- If your enemy pushes out from under their AA cover, a quick wing of Ravens using the spread attack command (Default 'Ctrl+A') can quickly soften the enemy units up for a follow-up by ground forces, or take care of the units on their own if used in sufficient numbers.
Phoenixes are more vulnerable than other bombers, with only 720 hitpoints. They are also more dangerous to vulnerable units.
- While the low initial damage of the Phoenix is underwhelming, the 10-second burn can make quick work of lighter units like Darts even when they dodge most initial damage.
- Burn damage will reset the countdown for units with regenerative abilities like Glaives or Reavers, as well as keep units with a cloak from disappearing from sight.
- Be careful when using Phoenixes around allied units, as the same properties that make them useful against enemy hordes make them a liability in a chaotic front line.
Thunderbirds do not deal damage themselves, but provide utility on the battlefield that can make the difference between a successful assault or a complete catastrophe.
- If you can spare the time to micro, it is often much more effective to manually give your Thunderbird move orders and to deploy its lightning attack (Default 'D') when it is going to be most effective.
- Do not hesitate to inform your team that you're about to disarm the units they're fighting, so they can rush them just as you finish your attack run.
- Be careful not to fly over allied units on your attack run. There's not much point to disarming your enemies if your allies are also disarmed. Though sometimes it can be worth it just to buy your team some time to react.
The Likho is your heavy-duty end-game bomber. It can survive enemy fire that would destroy two Ravens, but costs as much as 6.5 of them. Depending on what you find yourself having to deal with, you may be better off with more Ravens!
- The Likho is especially useful against units that like to clump together into balls, like units from the Shieldbot Factory, Ravagers, and Blitzes.
- The Likho's large cost means that it's a prime target for reclamation if you do lose it. Try not to lose it over enemy territory! If possible, lose it as close to your own front lines as you can! Better still, do not lose it at all.
- The homing bomb of the Likho means it's much less likely to miss moving targets than the bombs the Raven drops. This also means it doesn't have to get so close to the enemy and can be more safely used against units with low range but high damage like Reavers, Maces, or Ogres.
Anti-air units or structures which deliver high burst damage are generally more effective against Planes than those with sustained damage. The Picket is generally preferred over the Hacksaw due to its larger range and flexibility to engage ground targets. The range of the Chainsaw and Artemis makes them effective against any air threat, though they are more expensive.
The most important thing to keep in mind when playing against Planes is not to over-extend. Valuable units may be sniped by Ravens, and if you move a large raiding group or army beyond the range of your antiair it will likely be disarmed by a Thunderbird and destroyed. Don't stick anything outside anti-air range unless you're prepared to lose it. The best defence against bombers is to have your own Swift planes, since they are fast enough to defend you anywhere on the map.
If you are using Gunships against a player with Planes, don't move your anti-ground gunships away from anti-air protection unless you're prepared to lose them. Try to make the Airplane player engage you in a direct fight, since your air-to-air units are tougher than theirs.
If you are playing the Airplane mirror matchup, try to have more Swifts than they do, while still making things happen in the ground war using the cheaper bombers if you can (Raven, Phoenix and Thunderbird). Hold your Swift boost in reserve as long as possible to counter enemy bombing runs or to escape from a losing figher battle.