Reviewlets: A30 Walker & M60 Bulldog

Two guns for my newest favourite Planetside 2 vehicle, the Galaxy. The Galaxy is a highly situational choice; a twelve-man troop transport VTOL aircraft and is very iconic, being a firm favourite from the first game. Unless you just want to use it as a flying kamikaze bomb to burn up otherwise unwanted Aerospace resources, you’ll want at least five crew for this plane to get the most out of it; a pilot and four gunners. Seven additional passengers can be loaded for the full 11-man paradrop on target facilities, and the whole paradrop thing is the Galaxy’s primary purpose – rapid redeployment across awkward or distant terrain. Everyone except the pilot is protected from falling damage when jumping from this plane, at any height. Static and regular squads should be looking to have a few members practice and pimp their Galaxies to increase squad mobility in general. To beat the Acquisition Timers and Resource Costs, have several Galaxy Pilots work in rotation.

The secondary purpose of the plane is a bit more hit and miss; the ‘Galaxy Gunship’ concept from PS1. With all armaments upgraded from the stock M20 Drake average-at-everything heavy machine guns, can the Galaxy become a potent offensive unit in its own right?

A30 Walker (Galaxy Primary/Secondary Anti-Air Turret) 500 Certs, 700SC

This turret is a potent anti-air light machine gun. It has a usefully long range, big magazine, fast reload and improved rate of fire over the default M20, making it just the thing for pesky ESF Mosquitoes, Reavers and Scythes, allowing the gunner to keep up a lengthy harassment of enemy fighters and bombers. Available for the top and rear turret slots, (seats 2 and 3), they provide useful and broad arcs of coverage, but the pilot needs to be aware of the general direction of incoming fire and rotate the body of the plane appropriately, trying to keep the enemy in the top/rear/centre region, thus ensuring both top and tail guns have a good arc to play with. These guns are principally for keeping ESF at arm’s length rather than outright killing them, but my regular gunners do get a fair number of kills with these; enemy ESF cannot ignore these turrets for long and must keep their distance, or try to come at you from under/ahead.

Useful Upgrades: Zoom Optics and Ammo Capacity. Magazine Size and Reload Speed are already usefully high to start with, so should be lower priority for spending, particularly since you’ll likely have two of these turrets to upgrade.

8/10: Extremely useful. Most of my Galaxy deaths have been to either Phalanx Flak Cannons (which you can’t do much about anyway) or to Mosquitoes and Reavers. Any Anti-Air capability you can give the Galaxy is great, and in the absence of a Galaxy-Mounted Flak Turret, this is the next best thing! Annoyingly, you’ll need to pay for it twice to unlock Primary and Secondary versions, but still worth it.

(Like everything Galaxy-based, these turrets are Common Pool, so non-Vanus can go with these too.)

 

M60 Bulldog (Galaxy Tertiary/Quaternary Grenade Launcher Turret) 250 Certs, 500SC

This turret fires reasonably punchy, small AoE contact detonated shells, designed for clearing clumps of infantry on the ground. It’ll also whittle merrily away at enemy vehicles too and is comparable to the default C75 Viper turret found on the Lightning; similar clip, more damage and faster reload, but with a lower rate of fire and shorter range. The turret is available to replace the left and right wingtip nacelle guns used by seats 4 and 5. Not an awful lot of use while in the air and en route to targets, I think the idea is that these guns are to be used against ground targets immediately prior to dropping troops, softening up the facility somewhat ahead of ground deployment, and then by a circling Galaxy after the drop, to support the capture and help repel resecure attempts, although you’d have to weigh up if the two gunners, who will need to stay aboard, would have been more use on the ground instead. (I usually keep the AA gunners aboard for preference, if any.) The turrets do get kills in my experience, but the intended targets are usually either big and powerful; tanks, etc, or small and fiddly; distant lone infantry, making them far less useful to the day-to-day Galaxy pilot than the A30 Walkers. Tank kills are tricky but possible; remember that most tanks can’t aim straight up. In general, I find the best defence is simply to get the plane the hell out of dodge when faced with anything substantial enough to need these turrets. Hovering and dukeing it out rarely ends well, because everyone tends to drop everything they’re doing when presented with the chance at a Galaxy kill! In a dedicated ‘gunship’ configuration, make sure you have all the Galaxy extras; Composite Armour, Flares, Airframe, etc. These turrets won’t do it alone.

Useful Addons: Magazine Size, as you only get 6 normally. Zoom Optics help with whomping distant infantry.

5/10: A lot less useful than you’d expect, mostly because a Galaxy is not a tank, and really can’t survive hovering for long enough to make these work well. For a strictly Anti-Air Gal, you might even do better with the stock M20 guns. A nice extra option and relatively cheap to buy, but there are better things to spend the points on…like the A30 Walkers!

(Common Pool, so available to all.)

 

Pimping out the Galaxy is an expensive job, with four possible turrets to buy at present, and clearly only for folks who can be reasonably confident that they’ll have gunners to man them often, but the A30’s in particular have made a noticeable improvement in keeping my bird in the air.

For those who can’t or don’t want to part with the readies, I have another tip for helping fight off the scourge of Empire Specific Fighters; Hemlock’s Handbrake!

Observe:

Hemlock's Handbrake

Pay attention class!

 

Fig. A is a familiar sight; Oh No! The fiendish Johnny AirCav is on our Six, pecking away, and we have no tailgunner! We’re going down! Or are we? Not if we don’t panic, we aren’t!

Keep an eye on the minimap; when Johnny AirCav is about halfway between us and the rear edge of the minimap, and looks to be flying straight and level, do the following:

  • Full Speed Ahead, if you aren’t already.
  • Nose Up Sharply! Ideally we want the plane to be flying directly upward, as seen in Fig. B
  • Mash Space Bar for Great Victory! This will make the Gal go ‘up’ in relation to the horizontal surface of the Galaxy, i.e. Backwards at some speed.

If all has gone well, see Fig C. The Galaxy has considerably more HP than the ESF, and if the fighter is following too closely, salivating over a juicy Galaxy kill, he won’t be able to get out of the way in time, and will quite often slam into your upper surface, scaring the bejeesus out of your top-turret gunner. Roy Lichtenstein ensues, and I’m not talking about the one with the woman crying into a phone! This will do only about 10-20% of your own total HP to you in damage, but utterly obliterate Johnny AirCav. It’ll even give you the kill pop-up, too!

This manoeuvre gets a bit more dicey if you’ve picked up multiple bogeys, but worth a go anyway, because the alternative is being shot down by Johnny AirCav and his mates anyway. A Galaxy can theoretically ram a Liberator to death, HP-wise, but those don’t tend to go fast enough for the above to work that well. Also, they have a really hurty Anti-tank front gun, so won’t be chasing you for terribly long. Have to rely on tail and top gunners for those.

The whole thing is hilarious, and seems consistently repeatable enough time to be a proper tactic and everything! Get up there and give ‘em hell!

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