Classes of Planes:
There are 3 classes of planes, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. None of the classes are the outright “best” – each gives you advantages but usually at a cost in another area of performance.
Pros: Fastest and most agile. Has most evasive ability.
Cons: Lightest armor (easily blown up), slow weapon loading, less effective weapon characteristics
Pros: Best weapon characteristics, fast weapon loading, fast locking, most damage inflicted, good armor.
Cons: Slower and less maneuverable than Agility Class
Pros: Heavy armor, stealth (hard for missiles to lock on)
Cons: Very slow and poor maneuverability.
For campaigns and survival mode, it seems like weapons class or defense class planes work best. The fighter opposition is not very skilled and you have a lot of planes, ships and cannons to blow up in the campaign. Having some decent armor helps prolong your life. The speed of the agility class planes is not really needed against these adversaries and. the durability of your plane is much more important. The weapons class and especially the defense class planes work best as you maneuver thru the multitude of adversaries in these modes.
For Versus mode, there is a variety of opinions as to which planes work best in versus mode. From what I have seen, weapons class planes seem to be the most common/popular. The Hawken, in particular, tends to be used a lot. When I use the Hawken, I find that I tend to be able to easily defeat lower level planes but have trouble with higher skill rated pilots. Missile choice is a huge factor (will be a separate posting). Agility planes are a lot of fun – they can usually outmaneuver the other class planes, even if the pilots have a higher skill level, however one or two shots and you’re done – very easily blown up. Defense class planes seem to be the least popular for versus mode – they are easily outmaneuvered by the other 2 classes of planes, which is problematic, even with heavy armor and stealthy characteristics. Part of the fun is trying the different planes and classes as you earn them and seeing which you prefer.