Crimson Skies – Hints and Tips

Crimson Skies is a nice gateway drug as far flight sims go. It doesn’t have the complexities of a genuine vintage fighter plane simulation, but it’s also not completely dumbed down either, making it a prime choice for players who want to steadily ease into dogfighting. It’s also a darn funny game!


1. Attack Quickly
2. Using the Spyglass
3. Furballs
4. Hightailing It
5. Successful Rescues
6. Constructing Planes
7. Using Turrets
8. Equipping Your Wingmen

Attack Quickly

The more wingmen you’ve got in the air, the better your chances. For this reason alone, you should never hesitate to plunge into a fight, even if you go in first and draw the fire of the incoming enemy fighters. If your plane is the only one in the air, you will find it very difficult to attach yourself to an enemy six (since all of them will be targeting you).

If your armor is in great shape, and you are approaching an enemy fighter wing head-on, it’s almost always a good idea to simply take their incoming fire on the nose and give them the business in reply. Trying to swerve while you exchange gunfire is a bad idea—you still get hit, and very few of your shots land. If your plane is weak, you should dive below incoming fire and forget about firing back.

3Most enemy fighter wings approach your position in formation. If you have the time to gain quite a bit of altitude before they arrive, you can often dive as they pass below you, thumping one of their planes while you swoop behind them. This leaves the enemy one fighter down and you on their collective sixes. If a wave of enemies includes an ace, the ace will often peel off and come right for you. In this case, you should focus your attention on the ace. If you focus on a rookie, you can be sure the ace will take advantage.

Using the Spyglass

When two planes target each other in a dogfight, the results are pretty predictable. One plane may get on the other’s tail, which often results in a kill—unless the plane in the lead is much faster, or its pilot pulls off a nice maneuver (more on this later). Sometimes the two planes will get locked into a repeating pattern, however, and it’s good to know how to break out of the pattern successfully.

One common stalemate is the circle, where a pair of planes each bank sharply, turning toward the other, but fail to catch up. If you’ve got friends nearby and you outnumber the enemy, it is probably best to wait for one of your pals to come break the tie. If not, then you need to get out of the situation before one of your enemy’s pals shreds your wings.

Simply banking in the other direction won’t help. This will cause you to pass in front of the enemy for a moment, giving your opponent some chance of pulling out early and tailing you. Your best bet is to perform some tricky maneuver that gives you some chance of disorienting an opponent. Most of these tricks require some space between you and the ground, so circle slowly upwards if your altitude is low.

8Let’s talk about your spyglass. It’s not just handy for keeping track of where your opponent is—it can also tell you whether or not your opponent is already under fire. Knowing these things will help you guess what he or she might be about to do. If you are banking sharply toward a targeted fighter, look at the spyglass to see what the target plane is up to. Say you are banking left and the target plane is heading to your right; in this case, you should ease back to a horizontal position as the target comes into view, lest the target simply rush past your view.


When several planes representing both sides of a conflict are entangled in a dogfight, we call it a “furball.” In such a state, it is often wise to quickly cycle through your possible targets, looking for the most convenient one. When an enemy fighter passes nearby and it’s very likely that you’ll be able to saddle up on him, turn and follow and re-target the new plane. A quick kill is better than settling a vendetta.

If you’re fighting solo against two or more enemies, and you find yourself caught in a stalemate with your target, bug out and select a new target. You may catch a few bullets in the process, but at least your target’s comrades won’t hunt you with impunity.

When you shoot an enemy plane, you will soon see flames burst from it. This indicates that the plane has lost its armor in that section (nose, tail, or wings). If you have equipped your plane with both armor piercing and dum-dum ammunition, switch from AP to dum-dum when you see those flames.

Hightailing It

Whenever you hear and feel your plane falling apart in a hail of bullets from astern, it’s time to take significant action. Some of the same maneuvers that get bogeys off your tail can be used to break stalemated dogfights, too.

1Dropping the nose of your plane and hurtling toward earth gives you more benefits than just speed. Apart from zeps, the sky is free of sheltering obstacles. Down at ground level, it’s much more likely that you will find tight spaces in which to disorient your opponent. Not only that, but it’s far more difficult to detect a target that is racing along the ground than one that is in mid-air; airplanes are more naturally camouflaged when viewed from above.

It’s not worthwhile to weave back and forth unless your enemy is directly behind you. Better to pick up all the speed you can and weave among obstacles, or suddenly bank one direction or the other. When an enemy is close behind, dropping your speed suddenly can cause the pursuing plane to overshoot you. At the very least, you’ll have a good chance of disorienting your pursuer.

Successful Rescues

As all pirates (at least the honest ones!) know, ground-dwellers often need to be rescued by us flyers. Whether we’re scooping people off of moving trains and cars, or plucking them from the top of zeppelins, our rope ladders are our best friends. But there are a few things we all need to do before we can expect our pick-ups to leap for the lowest rung.

It goes without saying that we need to slow down so we don’t pull their poor little arms off. About 150 miles per hour works best for the final approach. And of course we need to come in low enough so just a little hop will be enough for them to reach the ladder. But it’s also crucial that you line up your approach from behind whatever vehicle the pick-up is standing on; coming in from the side or the front will not work.

The same goes for zep docking hooks. If you ever need to latch onto a hook, get in the zep’s wake and come in from behind it. Either drift to the hook slowly, or, if the zep turrets are giving you what-for, you can cut off the throttle just before you reach the hook and hope to slow down enough.

Cargo zeppelins sometimes back away from their docking hangars, so watch out! If a zep is backing up, you will still need to approach it from the stern in order to attach to its hook, even though the zep is moving in the opposite direction.

Constructing Planes

4Keep this in mind: when you buy a plane, you can sell it back for the same amount of cash at any time. So if you want to tweak a plane you’ve designed, you can sell it at face value and reconstruct it for only the cost of any added parts or weapons. Want to trade in a pair of 30 caliber guns for a nitro engine or some additional armor? Just sell the plane you’ve been flying, and make the changes. Don’t worry about losing cash!

Your choice of plane greatly depends on the mission you are facing. Most missions, however, involve dogfights with enemy fighters. Fly a plane with equal or better agility than your foes; if this is not possible, go to the other extreme and select a heavily armored, turreted plane.

A plane’s agility is hard-wired into its airframe. Thus, there is no way to take a cumbersome plane like the Warhawk and transform it into anything more nimble, even by removing all of its armor and weaponry.

The least agile planes (Balmoral, Firebrand, Kestrel, and Warhawk) are most useful when your foes are flying the most delicate and quick crafts—especially the Hoplite. Certain areas of the country, most notably Hollywood, use Hoplites as their security planes. A heavy plane, equipped with additional armor and turrets, is your best bet against these foes.

In most of your missions, you should equip a plane that has agility at least as great as the mission’s most difficult enemies. If you are flying with all of your wingmen, you can get away with using a plane that gives up some agility for the sake of power.

Ranked by agility from least to most: Warhawk, Balmoral, Kestrel, Firebrand, Brigand, Hellhound, Devastator, Fury, Bloodhawk, Peacemaker, and Hoplite. If you are having trouble in a mission with a particular plane type, customize a plane that is near that type on this list (with the exception mentioned above).

Whatever airframe you select, you should equip it as closely to its maximum weight capacity as possible. Equipping a plane with less weaponry or armor than it can hold will not give you any gain in speed or agility. The only equipment that influences speed is the plane’s engine.

You should consider modifying the number of guns and hard points your plane carries, using the spare weight for a nitro engine and/or more armor. Some pilots favor the use of both armor piercing and dum-dum ammunition, but others prefer to save the weight of a heavy gun and transfer the use of that weight into defenses.

Using Turrets

If you have a plane equipped with rear turrets, learn to use them effectively. When you see a turret straining to aim at a target (the chase camera view works best for this), bank your plane in the opposite direction so that your turret can fire. This tactic is most useful when you fly past a ground target, like a turret truck or patrol boat, and you fail to destroy it. If you bank correctly, your turret will often take the target out for you.

2In a dogfight, your turrets can discourage or even destroy opponents that are on your tail, so long as you bank so that the target is within the range of the turret. When you load out your planes for a mission, you’ll need to select ammunition for your turrets; arguments can be made for each sort of ammo. If you are flying with little backup against multiple unhurt aircraft, load them with armor piercing ammo. If you have a group of wingmen with you, load your turrets with dum-dums.

Sometimes, in our more wealthy periods, crews of pirate ships like to take an afternoon to practice dogfighting skills. Every now and then we even take to the skies to joust against each other. If you take part in these matches, you may find that a pair of rear turrets really helps you excel. There’s nothing like a hail of bullets to shoo off hangers-on.

Equipping Your Wingmen

When we sit around the Pandora’s lounge, we often talk about what planes and what equipment we like best. You might think we’d chat incessantly about guns and ammo, but the number one item on our common wish list is definitely armor. When we visit other zeps and talk to their pilots, we hear the same story.

If you can afford to design your own planes, create a plane for your wingman that provides as much armor as possible. We’d appreciate a hard point or two, and at least one pair of guns, but we can easily get by with that bare minimum. If flak is available, load our hard points up with it; we are fine with slug ammo if our planes just have one gun pair. Max out the plane’s armor with the weight you save, and we’ll stick around for a lot longer.