The Luftwaffe Tactics is one of the three Panzer Elite command trees. This tree is quite versatile - it allows calling in two different infantry units and an anti-aircraft tank, allows construction of powerful-but-fragile defensive structures, grants the ability to drop an anti-infantry mine-field from the air, and enables a wide-area airstrike by Luftwaffe aircraft. Though often seen as the most defensive of all Panzer Elite Command Trees, it opens up many interesting opportunities for unconventional attacks on enemy territory.
The Luftwaffe (Lit. "air-force" or "air-weapon") was the name of the German military branch dedicated to dealing with matters of airborne weaponry. Formed in 1935, it quickly became known for its high technological superiority over other western air powers, the expertise of its men, and the ruthlessness of its tactics. Headed by Reichsmarshal Hermann Göring, it was instrumental in securing major German victories at the onset of World War II, and continued to provide a determined defense for the Third Reich until the later stages of the war.
Luftwaffe Ground Forces, expert engineers knowledgeable in the construction and repair of anti-aircraft defenses, can be fielded for a modest sum. They can construct both the rapid-firing Flakvierling 38 20mm AA quad-cannon emplacement, and the fearsome 88mm Flak 36 - a weapon that performs even better at blowing up tanks than it does at shooting down aircraft. Both these emplacements can be used to defend Panzer Elite territory, but the 88mm Flak 36 is also an important offensive weapon with a massive attack range.
Furthermore, the Luftwaffe Tactics company has access to a powerful anti-infantry tank called the Wirbelwind Flakpanzer, essentially a Flakvierling 38 Quad Cannon mounted in a Panzer IV chassis. Additionally, Luftwaffe forces include the elite Fallschirmjäger Squad, one of the best infantry units in the game, which can suddenly appear behind enemy lines to carry all sorts of destructive actions.
Naturally, the Luftwaffe can also provide two different kinds of air support to assist in ground operations. First of these is the Butterfly Bomb drop, which will cover a small area with anti-infantry mines, preventing free movement by enemy infantry through a passageway or towards a Strategic Point. Finally, a patrol group of Henschel Hs 129 ground-attack aircraft can be called in to decimate enemy armored columns with their airborne PaK 40 automatic anti-tank cannons.
The varied and balanced nature of these abilities allows a Luftwaffe Tactics commander to perform all sorts of unique combat operations. He can surprise his enemies effectively, and put in powerful firepower to use on the field whenever necessary.
Command Tree StructureEdit
|Fallschirmjager Infiltration||Luftwaffe Ground Force|
|Allows calling in a Fallschirmjäger Squad. The squad can be deployed at (almost) any neutral building on the map, even inside enemy territory. They are powerful, elite troops with many capabilities, and can be upgraded with assault rifles for wiping out enemy infantry.||Allows calling in a Luftwaffe Ground Force squad. These are expert engineers who can construct defenses, including the Flakvierling 38 20mm AA gun, and can repair structures and vehicles with good speed.|
|Butterfly Bombs||Wirbelwind Flakpanzer|
|Grants the ability to air-drop a set of 11 anti-infantry mines at any visible point on the battlefield. While each mine is relatively weak, it can kill infantry outright and may even cause damage to vehicles.||Allows calling in a Wirbelwind Flakpanzer: an anti-aircraft weapon similar to the Flakvierling 38 but mounted on a mobile tank chassis. It is superior against infantry and light vehicles, and can provide a strong mobile defense for your territory.|
|Henschel Combat Air Patrol||Flak 36 88mm Cannon|
|Allows targeting an area of the map for observation by a patrolling group of Henschel Hs 129 ground-attack aircraft. These aircraft will swoop in to attack any enemy vehicle moving through the area, using their massive PaK 40 rapid-firing anti-tank cannons.||Allows Luftwaffe Ground Force squads to construct the powerful 88mm Flak 36 AT/AA cannon, one of the best anti-tank Defensive Structures available in the game.|
- Total price: 13 Command Points
The Luftwaffe Tactics Command Tree is split into two branches: Airpower and Air Defense. Each has three Command Upgrades to purchase, which must be bought in a specific order.
Airpower Branch Edit
The Airpower branch allows access to the more offensive Luftwaffe assets. First and foremost, it allows creating Fallschirmjäger infiltration squads to perform attacks on the enemy's weaker rear areas. It then unlocks the ability to create instant anti-infantry minefields with air-dropped Butterfly Bombs, even inside enemy territory. Finally, this branch grants you the Henschel Combat Air Patrol - a powerful air raid that can keep an area clear of enemy vehicles.
Fallschirmjager Infiltration Edit
- This Command Upgrade enables a Command Ability also called "Fallschirmjager Infiltration", which costs 420, 4 and calls in a single Fallschirmjäger Squad to the field. These are the elite Luftwaffe paratroopers, one of the best infantry units in the game.
- Initially armed with Kar98k bolt-action rifles, they can be upgraded with FG42 Assault Rifles to provide decisive firepower against enemy infantry at long, medium and even short range. Furthermore, Fallschirmjäger Squads can fire Panzerfaust warheads at enemy vehicles, and can throw Incendiary Devices into buildings to clear them of garrisoned infantry.
- You can call Fallschirmjäger Squads to the field in the normal way, by selecting a point on the map as their destination. Alternately, you can target any neutral building with the capacity to hold at least 4 infantrymen - in which case the Fallschirmjäger Squad will appear from inside that building. You may target any such building on the map, including deep inside enemy territory if one is found!
- Fallschirmjäger Squads can provide various services, especially by harassing enemy units, performing ambushes, or even supporting your offensives by attacking the enemy's defenses from behind. After their job is done, Fallschirmjäger Squads can use their automatic camouflage ability to hide inside enemy territory until needed. This ability activates itself whenever the unit is stationary and behind cover. Though somewhat unreliable, it often allows you to hide the entire unit from enemy eyes, in preparation for the next attack.
Butterfly Bombs Edit
- The Butterfly Bombs Command Upgrade unlocks a Command Ability of the same name. When used, for the price of 100, it will air-drop 11 anti-infantry mines at any visible location on the battlefield (not in the Fog-of-War).
- The air-drop is preceded by a small smoke signal. Next, 11 Butterfly Bombs are dropped by a high-flying aircraft, in a specific pattern:
- 1 bomb anywhere within 2 meters of the targeted point.
- 1 bomb anywhere within 8 meters of the targeted point.
- 1 bomb anywhere within 12 meters of the targeted point.
- 4 bombs anywhere within 16 meters of the targeted point.
- 4 bombs anywhere within 22 meters of the targeted point.
- A few seconds after landing the bombs are automatically camouflaged, hiding them from enemy eyes. Enemy may see the Butterfly Bombs as they fall, and might even fire at the dropping bomblets as they make their way down, if he has units nearby. Infantry units will automatically fire at this weapon if they are not following other orders at the moment, and with enough firepower, the enemy might destroy all your Butterfly Bombs before they hit the ground, making you waste the ability. As such, either use the ability on a place where there are no enemy forces at the moment, to ensure the enemy does not see the bombs and does not know where this mines are, or use them while his forces are engaging yours, thereby busy fighting to focus their fire on the Butterfly Bombs as they fall.
- On the ground, these bombs are armed with a proximity trigger that will detonate them whenever enemy units pass over the mines. Each mine detonates with a small explosion radius, inflicting a small amount of damage on enemy infantry - though each mine has at least a 50% chance of killing infantrymen outright regardless of their remaining health.
- Vehicles can also trigger these bombs, but will rarely suffer any damage. When they do get damaged, they'll receive a decent amount, and may also have their engines, treads or wheels damaged or even destroyed by the blast. Again, vehicle damage is rarer.
- These mines can create an infantry no-go zone, either denying safe passage through a crucial or undefended approach, or preventing infantry from safely taking a Strategic Point. Alternately, the mines can be dropped into enemy territory, especially along the enemy's favourite movement routes, in the hope of killing enemy units by surprise. Note however that the drop zone has to be visible for this ability to be used.
- Note: The aircraft dropping the Butterfly Bombs is flying too high to be shot down. It will not appear on-screen and will not be targeted by enemy Anti-Aircraft weapons. Butterfly Bombs themselves will be fired by Anti-Aircraft weapons and easily destroyed before they land and do any damage at all.
Henschel Combat Air Patrol Edit
- This Command Upgrade unlocks an ability called Henschel Panzerknacker Support. It costs 200, and can be targeted at any point visible to you at the time (not in the Fog of War).
- Once activated, the ability creates an area with a radius of 30 meters, shown on both your mini-map and tactical map (and also visible to your allies, but not your enemies). The entire area becomes visible (fog of war removed) for the duration of this ability.
- For the next 45 seconds, if any enemy vehicle is detected inside the target area, it will draw in a Henschel Hs 129 ground-attack aircraft, which will strafe the target with its PaK 40 anti-tank cannon. This rapid-firing version of the Marder III Tank Hunter's cannon can easily destroy any kind of enemy armor. As long as enemy vehicles remain in the target area, more Henschels will swoop in to make their attack runs - one plane every 8-10 seconds.
- As a result, any enemy vehicle in the target area is likely to be destroyed very quickly - assuming the Henschels get a clear shot at it. Collateral damage is also possible, striking enemy infantry and especially enemy buildings, though the presence of these in the targeted area will not draw in a Henschel on its own - an enemy vehicle must be present to serve as a target for the planes.
- This ability can be used both offensively and defensively - either to target enemy groups or fortified positions for rapid destruction, or eliminating an enemy tank column attempting to invade your territory. In either use, it will often knock out at least several enemy vehicles, if not all of them. Beware when using this in your own territory or close to your own troops, as they can be hit by the shells just as easily as the enemy.
Air Defense Branch Edit
The Air Defense branch focuses primarily on fielding anti-aircraft defensive units, though they can also be used to significantly augment your offensive capabilities. Initially you'll get the Luftwaffe Ground Force, a squad of engineers who can construct basic defenses as well as the Flakvierling 38 20mm AA gun - a good anti-aircraft emplacement that is also deadly to infantry. Later on your can also field a mobile version of this gun called the Wirbelwind Flakpanzer, which can defend large portions of your territory against enemy infiltration.
Finally, this branch will allow the Luftwaffe Ground Force squad to construct the terrifying 88mm Flak 36 AT/AA, an extremely-powerful and long-ranged Anti-Tank emplacement originally designed to shoot down aircraft.
Luftwaffe Ground Force Edit
- The Luftwaffe Ground Force upgrade unlocks a Command Ability of the same name. This ability costs 260, 5, and summons a single Luftwaffe Ground Force squad to the battlefield.
- These soldiers are skilled engineers, and their expertise is the construction of Defensive Structures. Initially their repertoire is quite limited, as they are able to build Barbed Wire and Sand Bags, but can also construct the deadly Flakvierling 38 20mm AA. This emplacement, armed with 4 rapid-firing 20mm cannons, can quickly wipe out entire infantry squads and enemy light vehicles. It is primarily used to defend your territory against infantry attempting to seize control of it, like a Machine Gun Emplacement does for other factions.
- The Luftwaffe Ground Force itself is a rather limited combat unit. Though it has more men than a Panzer Grenadiers squad, they are poorly trained and carry only the basic Kar98k bolt-action rifles. They are better suited for continuous defensive construction rather than direct conflict with enemy units.
- Later on down the Air Defense Branch, this soldiers will be able to construct a much more powerful anti-aircraft emplacement, the 88mm Flak 36 AT/AA cannon, which serves as an anti-tank emplacement and offensive support gun.
Wirbelwind Flakpanzer Edit
- This Command Upgrade unlocks an ability of the same name that allows calling in the powerful Wirbelwind Flakpanzer. It costs 480, 8 to use, but is easily worth the price.
- The Wirbelwind Flakpanzer is essentially a Flakvierling 38 20mm AA gun mounted on the chassis of a Panzer IV tank. As such, it is a mobile anti-aircraft unit which can easily destroy enemy infantry and light vehicle units thanks to its 4 rapid-firing 20mm cannons.
- The Wirbelwind Flakpanzer is superior in almost every way to a Flakvierling 38 emplacement, primarily because it is mobile. A single Wirbelwind can defend an entire section of your territory against enemy infantry, removing the need for stationary emplacements. Furthermore, its crew is protected (it cannot be captured by the enemy), and is much more durable thanks to its tank-like armor. It is often considered to render the Flakvierling 38 completely obsolete.
- Wirbelwind Flakpanzers can also be used to protect the flanks of an advancing force against enemy response. If acquired early on in the battle, a single Wirbelwind Flakpanzer can utterly dominate anything the enemy can field - until tanks begin to appear.
- Also, remember that this weapon is an Anti-Aircraft gun. As such, it will automatically target any airplane in its range. This is quite useful since both American and British players have a doctrine that offers them a wide variety of air strikes: The American Airborne Company doctrine, and the British Royal Commandos Support doctrine.
Flak 36 88mm Cannon Edit
- When this Command Upgrade is purchased, the Luftwaffe Ground Force squads can now construct an 88mm Flak 36 AT/AA gun for 400, 75, 11. This emplacement is little more than a huge cannon on a stationary fixture, but the properties of the cannon make it both an extremely useful Defensive Structure and a powerful offensive support gun.
- The Flak 36 cannon was originally designed to shoot down planes, and can do so rather well. However, it is so powerful that it can easily pierce enemy armor - and it can do so accurately even at extreme range: 100 meters.
- Flak 36 cannons can be placed to protect your sectors against enemy armored assaults, in which case they will usually kill any vehicle that approaches them. Alternately, you can place one of these cannons in a way that allows it to snipe at enemy units in their own territory, thanks to the gun's massive range. Forward spotters, especially camouflaged Kettenkrads, can be used to locate targets for the gun. It can out-shoot even the British 17 Pounder AT Gun emplacement, punching holes in the enemy's defensive line easily.
- Unfortunately, the crew of the gun are exposed, and so can be easily killed independently by artillery or sniper fire. Once abandoned, the gun can be captured by enemy infantry and used against you. It is also quite inaccurate against infantry to begin with (especially in later patches), making it vulnerable to such units and thus requiring support from other Panzer Elite troops.
Kettenkrad Upgrade Edit
Each of the three different Command Trees available to the Panzer Elite will upgrade the Kettenkrad light vehicle unit with a specific ability. The Luftwaffe Tactics tree enables the Kettenkrad to camouflage itself, serving as a forward spotter in many different Panzer Elite combat tactics.
This ability becomes available as soon as the Luftwaffe Tactics command tree is selected - you do not need to actually purchase any Command Upgrades from the tree in order to unlock this ability.
With this ability, the Kettenkrad can freely enter and exit Camouflage mode at your command. While camouflaged, the Kettenkrad is invisible to the enemy as long as it stays at least 6 meters away from enemy units. Remember that some units have an extended detection range, but most units do not.
While in Camouflage mode, the Kettenkrad moves at only 4.8 meters per second, and cannot capture Strategic Points. However, invisibility allows it to scout the enemy's lines and territory without retribution, and especially to act as a spotter for the many long-range Panzer Elite tank destroyers and Luftwaffe Tactics command abilities.
Camouflaged Kettenkrads are great for finding paths through enemy defenses, allowing units to infiltrate enemy territory with ease. This is especially important for the Funkwagen Vampire Halftrack and Fallschirmjäger Squads, both of which need to be able to operate inside enemy territory to make the best use of their abilities. The Kettenkrad can patrol around these units to ensure that the area is clear, and give them early warning if the enemy is approaching. The Kettenkrad itself can also perform sneaky operations behind enemy lines, by finding an unprotected sector and dropping its camouflage to quickly seize that sector, and then disappear again.
Spotting for long-range guns is also extremely important. For example, the Flak 36 cannon has a range of 100 meters, but without spotters can only see 35 meters away. Placing such a gun close to your front lines, and using a Kettenkrad to spot targets in enemy territory, allows this gun to snipe at enemy units from far away - further than they could possibly hope to return fire. The same can be done, to some extent, with Marder III Tank Hunters, especially when their main cannons are sites.
Finally, the Kettenkrad's camouflage is excellent when combined with the Luftwaffe Tactics Airpower Branch abilities, namely Butterfly Bombs and Henschel Combat Air Patrol. Both abilities require line-of-sight to the target, which the Kettenkrad can provide. This allows you to use air-support deep inside enemy territory without risking any of your units. Henschel strikes are especially devastating when carried out on an unsuspecting enemy rally point. Butterfly Bombs can be used to mine a route used frequently by the enemy - he won't suspect mines in his own territory until it is too late!