Flying vehicles are a small but important, niche in Robocraft. Unhindered by physical obstacles, they can scout large portions of the battle quickly, spotting hidden threats and in some cases, eliminating them. They also provide support for ground forces through ambush-like attacks, and some can loiter over the battlefield for long periods of time, detecting and destroying opponents at long range. While never a replacement for ground vehicles, they can provide useful, if not vital, support assets. However, such vehicles are often easily visible from the ground, so caution and skill in flying is required. Strategic use of flying cover is essential to dodge flak and missles
Flying vehicles can be broken down into three different classes: airplanes, blimps, and hovercraft. Hybrids of these three classes exist and are not uncommon. Regardless of vehicle type, intensive testing is required to produce suitable aircraft. This is best done through trial and error, although the use of guides here and experience will shorten the process greatly
Planes, or 'flyers', primarily use aerofoils to achieve high altitudes, high speeds and high maneuverability. These are typically low armored to reduce weight and rely on agility to stay safe. Knocking out a wing or a thruster can ground them easily. The typical strategy with flyers is to load up on a burst of damage and either fly low to take out a target in one hit or shotgun down and hope for the best. They typically are regarded as very fragile, and can be rendered inoperable by often a single railgun hit. However, with the recent update to the wings, larger flyers are becoming more viable. Such flyers are less agile, but can take a lot of damage. The higher CPU, though, means that the hit-and-run aspect may fail with the reduced damage that a high CPU causes.
Another variation is the Jet plane. Thrusters combined with helium allow for a faster plane and no aerofoils. However, with the high base speeds of Aerofoils, and the drag created by helium, they are a difficult bot to make viable in combat.
Blimps, sometimes called satellites, use helium and thrusters to quickly reach high altitudes. Blimps are characterized by their low maneuverability and heavier armor than traditional aircraft. The stable platform is ideal for sniping with railguns or artillery. However, with the dropping of the flight ceiling in more recent updates, the satellite has become less and less viable, leaving Helium cubes only for use as stabilization or extra lift for flying Megabots.
Hovercraft use hover blades, which allow hovering over the landscape, but do not allow flying above a certain height. Hover blades stabilize the robot when suspended above their vertical limit. When driving near steep hills, there is a serious risk of flipping over. Hovercraft will still operate when flipped; however, steering controls will be inverted. They operate much like the ground vehicle they support, and are the most durable of the three. Strategy as a hovercraft is remarkably similar to a ground bot, though, and by many, is not considered to be a "real" flying bot type.
There are also hybrid hovercraft/tank vehicles, which utilize both wheels and hover blades for a tactical advantage. Wheels have better maneuverability, but hover blades (in conjunction with a thruster or two) are faster. Having both allows the user to get the best of both worlds. The hover blades can be used to obtain a height advantage, with the wheels being the primary method of movement. An additional benefit is, if the wheels or the hover blades happen to be damaged, you can simply switch to the other mode of transportation. The only downside is the sheer amount of CPU needed for both forms of movement; a hybrid craft is unlikely to achieve the same amount of sophistication as a non-hybrid without the necessary CPU.
Another trend is to use hover blades with Mech legs - meaning that there is no lift off of the ground, but climbing hills and steep terrain becomes a lot easier. In addition, the stabilization effect of the hovers is considered to be a beneficial side effect.
Obsolete: Back when the Pilot Seat was the focal point of a robot, there was also the Escape Pod, a ground/air vehicle that when a point gets hit (usually near the pilot) the seat will eject with helium and/or thrusters.
Weapons are essential too. You should never have no weapons.
Subatomic Machine Gun (SMG) Edit
This weapon is ideal for hovercrafts and airplanes, due to their lower operating altitudes. Hovercraft are often more durable than other aircraft, and can use these more effectively than other aircraft. When mounted on airplanes, it allows them to reliably target aerial targets at a reduced ability to destroy ground targets. Avoid mounting them on blimps: they are relatively ineffective at the ranges blimps will fight at. Its low recoil means it can be installed on all but the very lightest aircraft.
This is the ideal air-ground weapon for all aircraft types. Although less accurate than SMGs, they deal splash damage and rely on hit-and-run tactics suitable for airplanes. Hovercraft can operate with them much like their ground-based counterparts, and are superior to them in the respect that a direct hit is required to damage them. Airplanes can employ hit-and-run attacks or simply raining shells from above. They are particularly powerful on low-tier blimps for their sheer power. However, they make very poor anti-aircraft weapons, and are fairly vulnerable when confronted with opposing aircraft.
While suited to hovercraft, avoid this weapon on airplanes. Use on blimps can result in flipping over due to great recoil. Because Rail Cannons require absolute stillness for accuracy and require great surface area to operate effectively, they are ineffective as aircraft weapons. Hovercraft may be able to use this weapon with greater ease than others, since airplanes cannot stay still by nature of design and blimps may suffer from the severe recoil after firing a few shots. However, extremely close hit-and-run attacks by airplanes can cause severe damage.
Use only on hovercraft or heli. They are powerful tools on hovercraft, able to move rapidly to other allies. While possible to mount successfully on airplanes and blimps, they are unsuited to their use on airplanes due to the nature of their operations since airplanes cannot stay in an area long enough to effectively heal allies and blimps operate at altitudes where the weapons will be of no value.
Use only on hovercraft and airplanes. While possible to mount on blimps, the poor or nonexistent mobility, prevalence of other weapons, typically small size and extremely low chance of midair collision makes this useless on blimps. When mounted on hovercraft, it is usually as a close-in defensive tool to dissuade opponents from closing in, and if fast enough, a ram. When combined with SMGs, the damage can be overwhelming. When used on airplanes, it turns the aircraft into a flying torpedo. However, given the kamikaze-style attacks used by aircraft equipped with Tesla Blades, survival is marginal at best and should only be used on isolated or heavily wounded targets. The Tesla Blade can be hard to use because it is small and can be hard for the user to inject it into the enemy.
Both versions of lock-on missile launchers are good weapons for aicraft and especially helicopters. It is a little bit harder to use when operating an airplane because locking a target while moving is harder than when hovering with a helicopter. The missile launcher is a good weapon for aicraft because their high altitude allows them to see most of the map and to lock enemies more easily, as walls are less of a problem when at high altitude. The two versions are good for helicopters and airplanes, but the LOML Stinger is usually easier to use because of its inferior weight and size compared to its legendary counterpart, which is also harder to obtain.
Building a HovercraftEdit
These are generally easy to build, and can be readily produced through the adaption of an existing ground vehicle. There are two distinct sub-classes: hover tanks and gunships. Hover tanks are more akin to ground vehicles, and are often adapted from them. Gunships are more like flying vehicles, and are often newly-built vehicles. Either sub-class require an even distribution of hover blades and a body light enough to get off the ground.
Depending on the shape of the chassis, hover blade placement will be different for different vehicles.
By mirroring hover blades on each side of the craft, it will remain balanced. If employing hover blades it should be noted that the blades should be placed above the craft's center of mass; if they are not, the craft will most likely flip over at the start of the match or when going over small terrain obstacles, leaving the vehicle upside down and often defenseless. If one creates an oddly-shaped hovering vehicle, balancing the craft becomes critical; hover blades behave very oddly if they are placed asymmetrically and can often lead to hilariously awful, spiraling, tumbling metal objects.
Building a Blimp/Satellite Edit
An airship or satellite can be used to guard Capture Points or your main base, but their slow speed can make them easy targets for Aeroflak cannons and Lock-on Missile Launchers.
If you do decide that a satellite/blimp is right for you, make sure that your bot is heavily armored, using Electroplates and a fair number of Health Cubes in order to make yourself viable enough to protect a location.
A Mega Plasma or Rail is recommended, as the Alpha strike of those weapons may be enough to stave off retaliation.
Note: The Satellite or Blimp as a viable bot has long become a relic of the past. Determined players may find a way to make a robot work for them, but it requires a lot of strategy, experience, and vigilance in-game to pull it off correctly.
Building an AirplaneEdit
Since the recent Aerofoil update, airplanes work significantly differently than they did before. Referred to by the developers as "wheels of the sky," aerofoil controls self-stabilize to an extent, and even have their own directional thrust.
However, some mechanics still apply, and in every build, make sure that your wings and rudders are symmetric.
Stacked wings/rudders helps for cases of redundancy, but make sure a pair of wings is placed towards the front, and towards the back of your robot, making sure that a large enough gap exists between them. The closer the wings are together, the less they affect your plane's ability to pitch. (Meaning that ascending or diving is sluggish.)
Make sure that you have at least one rudder is sticking up in the center of your bot, preferably towards the back. This assists with turning, and greatly decreases the chance that your bot will "slip" in the air.
Thrusters are used to boost your aircraft's speed boost stat, but they have a force of their own, so try to center their thrust around your plane's center of mass.
Smaller thrusters can also be used strategically to aid your plane's agility, especially if your design lacks the flexibility to move your wings to the correct positions. This is more common for art bots that you want to make battle-viable.
Building a HelicopterEdit
Helicopters are good flying units and can equip all weapons in the game, really good with Nano Disruptors, Rail Cannons, Plasma Launchers. They are more agile than their aerofoil-equipped counterparts, but they are slower in overall speed.
They just need rotors placed symmetrically on the bot. More rotors = more big vehicles.
One rotor is for very small helicopters. Some of them have three or four rotors.
It is recommended when building helicopters that you keep your weight in mind as if your helicopter is front-heavy it will lean forwards making the copter harder to control, but if you use this to your advantage it can be quite helpful.