FM2 Overview A later version Wildcat (F4F), this one increased the power available from the engine which made it a much better plane. With the increase in power came improvements in climb, speed (~20mph at low altitudes) and acceleration though the FM2 still suffered from a shortage in most areas as compared to many other planes in AH. What the FM2 lacked in power though, it made up for in other ways, namely some of the best handling and turning in the game plus an airframe that could take a wide range of speeds without difficulty, diving like comet, or turning on the edge of stall. FM2 One of the outstanding parts of the FM2 though is how small and tough it is. It is not a large fighter, making it a darty target, and it feels almost bulletproof at times, sucking up far too much damage without even a whimper of complaint. Engine Performance The FM2 really has a problem with being underpowered for the MA style of play and this really is the only knock against it (well, the main issue at least). The FM2 is capable of a sea-level speed of 290mph (297mph with WEP), making for something that is slower than almost every fighter other than some of the early war stuff. Top cruise speed comes at only 16K, 320mph, while WEP will add about another 5 mph which is unlikely to be very noticable. Climb rates are fair, around 3,000ft/minute, dropping to around 2,500ft/minute around 10K (both numbers include WEP use). Range on internal fuel is 32 minutes at full throttle, which is reasonable, plus the option to add another 26 minutes with an external drop tank. That gives an outstanding range and lots of options for balancing off cruising fuel vs being able to drop the tank to get to combat weights. Any way you look at it though, the FM2 is slow in level flight with many/most of your likely opponents holding a vast speed advantage over you. Weapons In terms of guns, there is only one option in the FM2, four wing mounted .50 cal machineguns with 430 rounds/gun. This is a good load of ammunition for what is a reasonable gun package if only average. There are a number of aircraft with six vs 4 guns in the same class and the difference of the pair of extra guns is highly noticable. That said, the .50's have wonderful ballistics and fire at a high rate, giving lots of chances to land hits. As with all non-cannon four guns aircraft though, convergence will be important since the firepower is easily diluted to ineffective. Set the convergence carefully, accounting for your typical engagement ranges (think, "how far are people away from me when I typically get a shot"), though I would tend to set them under D400 rather than over. By D500 or so, the .50's, while still effective, tend to have less hitting power anyway because of the lost of kinetic energy over that distance. Maneuverability The FM2 really handles very well at all speeds, which is a little unusual. It dives very well and retains complete control up through speeds that would tear other planes to pieces. High speed handling is excellent also, giving you the option to fight at almost any speed with relative ease and at least parity with most other aircraft. It retains energy reasonably, being fairly heavy, though any dive to over 300mph from mid-altitudes is going to leave you low on running speed once drag catches up to you. Slow speed handling is probably amongst the best in the game, placed somewhere around a Hurricane. Saddling up in a slow turn-fight is not typically a problem unless the enemy gets wise and decides to run for it (which you won't be able to match). Roll is very direct and overall the plane feels very stable even when you are a little over-zealous at the controls. Stalls are gentle and recovery easy. Flying the FM2 I've had more chance to fly the FM2 and it has become a little more popular that it initially was though it is fairly seriously lacking in speed. I tend to find that while I can easily get kills in it, using altitude to corner an enemy and then turn-rate to finish them, this tends to leave me vulnerable to the next enemy who comes in. Luckily, many opponents don't really consider the FM2 a real threat, allowing for a low profile escape while nobody bothers to follow (since there are more dangerous planes around). It does mean though that someone who is looking for an easy kill might latch on to you and harrass you until you can shake them free, or get them alone where you can hurt them. I don't know that there really is much of a problem with the FM2's offensive prowness as long as the fight slows down a bit for you or you come in with some altitude and can force the fight slower. BnZ seems to be the best attack method without committing to a real turn-fight and the FM2 feels pretty good in this role. It can dive exceptionally well and then recover altitude in a zoom climb, feeling solid on the reversal for another pass. The FM2 also feels great in a low speed turn-fight, although in doing so you don't typically have the acceleration to flee when the time requires it. the main problem with the BnZ style of attack is that you need to get your four .50's on target for longer than if it had more guns, or cannons, and sometimes you can find yourself with a lot of assists and not many kills. Try and come in with some altitude and find a low fight, often near a carrier group where the enemy airfield is so close it doesn't allow the enemy to gain significant altitude. Keep and eye out for Zeros, they are still better in the turning game, but most else should be at least a dead heat if not in your favor. Try and find brief tracking shots without excessive turning that would slow you down. Slowing down to a pure turn fight in the midst of several enemies will simply put your quickly defensive and limit your options to only a turn-fight (until someone comes along and snapshots you). Also, be careful of the area behind you as the views to the rear are a little limited and your low speed tends to allow people to quickly close up on your rear and take their shot before you may notice them. Defensively, run as much as you can early because once you are slowed down you are unlikely to have a chance to really regain speed until you are un-threatened by other aircraft. Diving to low altitude isn't a bad idea, dashing away on the wavetops and then climbing back up. You may also be able to head for other friendlies, making any persuer think twice about following. Turning defenses should be saved for a single enemy which you can beat in a turn-fight, or when all other options are pretty much exhausted. Fighting the FM2 The FM2 is a small, slippery and tough little bird that can surprise you if you are not careful or get sucked into a turning fight. You need to be careful of FM2's in the same way you are careful of planes like the Hurricane or Zero. If it can get close and stop you from running away, you could be in big trouble as it picks you apart. When fighting the FM2, get hits and never slow down. You don't want to consider a turn-fight, though the FM2 is most likely to offer you one almost immediately. Think of the FM2 as a blue painted A6M (Zero) when it comes to a turn-fight since you are likely to last just about as long if you accept a turn-fight with one. The FM2 also has the advantage of US .50's which can persuade you from trying to end a turn-fight with a sprint to safety since they will sprinkle you with hits out to D1.0 if you run in a relatively straight line. Take snapshots as you pass by, or look for opportunities to get onto the tail of an FM2 at high speed for a brief tracking shot. FM2's tend to spend most of their time low and turning, so wait for them to start to turn away and drop in behind them. A low circling aircraft is predictable, so learn to arrive at the right time. Also, never trade away all your advantage for a single shot, regardless of how a shot it is. The FM2 can take a hit like few other aircraft and may just survive and then turn the tables on you. Take your shot, extend to safety either up or away, and then repeat until the FM2 is taken down. Don't allow yourself to get cornered by an FM2 and certainly don't turn-fight one, even in a good turnfighter. The FM2 turns something like a Hurricane though seems to hold energy a bit better. Almost every fighter should be able to out-run an FM2 if you notice it early enough and can get on the throttle quickly. The FM2 is likely to try and snapshot and spray a bit so any escape should include at least a little wing rocking and gentle weaving to throw off the aim of the .50's it packs in the wings. Vertical maneuvers are not likely to be successful in a zoom sense since the FM2 has a reasonable climb and long range when shooting straight up. Extended looping fights seem alright as the FM2 tends to get a little heavy near the top of any loop. It should be a pretty rare occation when an FM2 should corner you such that you can't pre-plan an escape unless you don't notice it until too late.