Ryan Thomas enjoys playing "Wargame: Red Dragon" as his main strategy game, particularly as France and Czechoslovakia.
Airpower is one of the crucial factors in Wargame: Red Dragon. It is the most destructive single element. An anti-tank guided missile aircraft can delete heavy enemy armor instantly, a good bomber strike can completely shift the game, and winning control of the skies with air superiority fighters is often decisive. But while all of that is a praise to airpower, what about the aircraft in the game which underperform? From mediocre offensive capacity to bugged performance issues to questionable operational roles, these are the aircraft which are the worst in the game. You will never see these units and you should never use them.
10. Cheetah E
The second most expensive bad aircraft on the list, the Cheetah E appears like a decent aircraft in most respects. It has a good gun, quite good performance characteristics, and decent air to air missiles. Unfortunately the main role of a bomber tends to be to well, deliver bombs - and with just x8 227 kilogram bombs the Cheetah E's bombload isn't just bad, it is downright offensive for such an expensive aircraft. It isn't the worst on this list, thus the relatively high rating, but it's still bad.
9. L-29RS Delfin
Napalm planes in Wargame: Red Dragon are a mixed bag. Napalm in the game isn't nearly as destructive in of itself as you would think given its historical reputation: it doesn't obliterate infantry squads walking into it but rather causes a slow tick of damage to them, although it does cause tremendous morale and psychological damage. If you want to kill enemies, normally regular bombs are better, and bombers in Wargame are designed around this idea: high risk, high reward units to intervene at critical points in the battle.
Napalm thus has specific but sometimes useful roles: to force enemy troops to move from specific areas, to deny movement into certain places, and above all to block movement roads at the beginning of a match. It is fairly niche but useful, since the enemy either has to cross over these roads and sustain morale damage, or not and lose a critical early position in the match. But if you want to block a road you need a reasonably good spread of napalm, so that the enemy actually takes significant morale damage crossing it, so the entire concept of planes that just drop 2 napalm bombs is up for debate: they just don't inconvenience the enemy enough. The Delfin, as compared to the Alpha Jet A, the Vampire FB-52, and BAC Strikemaster,the other 50 point, 2 bomb planes, is singled out because it doesn't even get a gun unlike the rest. It seems like it was intended to get bigger bombs in exchange, which would be a very worthwhile trade, but in-game there isn't any difference between the flame area of 340 kilogram napalm bombs launched by the other aircraft to the Delfin's 500 kilogram bombs.
8. A-4F Skyhawk II
Cheap bombers have their uses for precision strikes on targets, throw away assets that hit the enemy and where it doesn't matter if you lose them. The A-4F Skyhawk II however, has the unfortunate fate of having 4 227 kilogram bombs, the smallest bombs in the game. While it is still cheap, compared to say the French Etendard IV, which gets nearly the same total bombload, with 2 400 kilogram bombs, and 10% ECM, all for the same price, the A-4F Skyhawk II is probably the worst light bomber other than perhaps the 30 point Delfin - which is more in the way of an aerial missile sponge than a bomber.
7. J 35J Draken
Off hand, looking at the J 35J Draken, it looks like a Swedish version of the Mig 21Bis LAZUR, the excellent East German helicopter hunter plane. You get a gun, great maneuverability, 900 kilometer per hour speed which is good in the context of diving on enemy helicopters, and twin sets of missiles - thus firing at once. What lets it down so badly? Unfortunately, the Rh 28 Falcon only gets 25% accuracy, so it will almost never hit. There are other planes with similarly atrocious accuracy, like the Canadian Voodoo, but the Voodoo gets 5 HE instead of 4 HE missiles so two of them can kill an enemy aircraft or a Hind, and you get 4 Voodoos on elite while you get 4 Drakens on veteran, so it gets worse accuracy than its Canadian equivalent, and is of course, much more expensive too.
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Bigger bombs are better. It sounds terribly trite but it's true, in that a single 500 kilogram bomb is worth more than two 250 kilogram bombs, and perhaps even worth as much as three of them. The Su-7BM (as an asides, BM is the term used in nursing and medicine for fecal matter...) is a Polish version of the Su-7 which "upgrades" from 2 500 kilogram bombs on 60 points to 8 250 kilogram bombs on 70 points, plus a 10% ECM buff. It sounds nice, double the bomb load, but the actual destructive effect is worse - meaning you are paying 10 points more for less damage, compared to an already mediocre plane.
5 - A-7E Corsair II
As with other napalm planes, the point of a napalm plane is generally to provide for a lot of napalm on target, to prevent the enemy from moving through. Most of the time it isn't important if the plane survives, what matters is it is cheap, drops a lot of napalm, and preferably fast. The A-7E Corsair buys improved ECM protection, probably not enough to actually protect itself, but for 25 points more compared to other basic napalm bombers, it starts to become less of a bargain. Ultimately, why would you buy this when you could get the F-45 Phantom II, which can put down four times the amount of napalm and is far faster, if you really do intend to invest the points in a napalm bomber?
Cheap fighters are a questionable bargain in Wargame. Low accuracy means they struggle to do much against high value planes, and low range means that they will often not even be able to shoot back. Some cheap planes are worth it as helicopter hunters, in which case you want a good gun, decent maneuverability, and only moderate speed to give the gun longer to fire. The J-7II does get a decent gun, but it is too fast for it to be able to get long shots off with it, and with only x2 extremely mediocre 30% accuracy missiles, it will struggle to hit much.
3. J 35F
With much said about how napalm planes are not as a whole a useful investment, but do serve niche roles, you might think that the J35F is a mediocre but sometimes helpful aircraft. Compared to, say, its Polish counterpart the Su-7BKL, it gets the same number of bombs, better maneuverability, and better speed, all for 10 points cheaper. Unfortunately, the Finnish J 35F is let down by a bug where it drops half of its bombs per run, and then tries to circle around and drop the other half. This is suicidal in front of enemy air defense, useless since it has already dropped napalm bombs there, drops its bomb load down to half of what it should be, and requires micromanagement to manually evac it, which generally comes at the worst time in a battle - the beginning when you are busying managing all of your units.
2. Mig-21PFM and Mig-21Bis
Most players prefer fire and forget anti-tank guided missiles in Wargame, since they are immune to smoke, they give greater protection for the plane since it evacs instantly and doesn't dive into the enemy AA network, and both fire at once so you don't have to worry about your plane getting shot down or stunned before the second missile fires. There's another problem however, you might not be able to fire off the second missile if you are too close to the target. This is an eternal problem with the Mig-21PFM and Mig-21Bis from North Korea, since they are extremely fast - 1,000 kilometers per hour - and yet only have 2,975 meter range. Thus the plane will only shoot one missile at enemy vehicles, unless if it kills one on the first salvo and fires another. But 28 AP missiles means that most medium and tanks and above will survive one missile, meaning that you only fire one and then have to manually evac the plane - and this single missile only gets 30% accuracy. You furthermore only get a ridiculously limited number of them, 3 per card.
This plagues both North Korean aircraft equally. But unlike the Mig-21pfm, the Mig-21bis can't even claim to be a cheap aircraft: instead of 65 points, it is 85 points, and 20 points starts getting it near the range of real ATGM aircraft. 85 points to launch, most of the time at least, 1 28 AP missile with 30% accuracy is one of the least cost effective units in the game. The benefits you get from the upgrade, AA missiles and 20% ECM, aren't worth it.
If you want to be the Soviet Tom Cruise with a Tomcat, it is a let down to learn how interceptors work in WG: RD. They get two advantages over regular fighters. One is obvious: they have much longer ranged missiles. The other is that they get improved air detection. This makes them niche, but useful on larger maps in team games, since they can spot enemy planes at a longer distance, and useful for Redfor for spotting planes like the Nighthawk. Unfortunately, this is again quite niche, and in exchange they lose accuracy, turning radius, and for the Soviet ones, their secondary weapons, which makes them generally terrible against enemy fighters and even somewhat mediocre against bombers. This is brought to a while new level by the Mig-31, which only gets SA missiles - ie. each one has to hit the enemy or definitively miss before another one is fired - with 30% accuracy. Add on the range penalties compared to the American Tomcat, and the Mig-31 is definitively the worst interceptor and will struggle to kill anything: and all this for a meager 15 point cost saving. For 140 points, the most expensive plane on this list, it's hard to imagine a worse investment. Just get the Mig-31M, which while still not as good as the Tomcat at least gets fire and forget missiles and better accuracy.