Hearts of Iron 4 (HOI4) – Best Fighter Plane Designs

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There is no way you can ever win a war in Hearts of Iron 4 if you don’t have a huge amount of Fighter planes. With their help, you can bring other planes down and get Air Superiority in various regions.

However, it can be hard for a player that doesn’t have a lot of experience in aerial warfare to design an incredibly efficient Fighter plane.

Recommended Read: How to Naval Invade in Hearts of Iron 4

Especially since there is no simple way to figure out which stats are the most important when designing a Fighter plane in HOI4 since so many of them seem relevant.

This is why, in this guide, we will give you a list of the best fighter plane designs that you can use in HOI4 that are surely ready to win all aerial battles in the game, no matter the year.

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Best Fighter Plane Designs in HOI4

All of the Fighter plane designs that we will show you for HOI4 will be based on the technology you can get at each point in the game.

Since almost every 2 years, you should be able to unlock a new airframe for your Fighters, we have come up with a few designs for each airframe you have.

There are also two types of Fighters in HOI4: Light and Heavy Fighters, and they are both very useful in their own right.

This is why we will show you both a Light and Heavy design for each part of the game to use to always get Air Supremacy in HOI4.

In general, there are three stats that matter for a Fighter plane in HOI4:

  • Air Defense
  • Air Attack
  • Agility

As long as you can find a decent balance between these stats, as well as keep the production cost minimal, you have a good Fighter plane design on your hands.

Most players would say that Agility is the most important stat, as it makes sure that other Fighters can’t destroy yours.

However, Air Defense represents the HP of the Fighter, and having this stat higher than 0 will make sure that your Fighters don’t instantly die.

Also, if you don’t have Air Attack, you can’t take down enemies’ planes, which will usually have a lot of Air Defense if they are Bombers.

Here are the best Fighter plane designs in HOI4, based on each year you can get them and on their type:

Best Fighter Plane Design for 1936

At the start of the game, you won’t really have a lot of options to improvise, as the technology is very limited.

Still, here are two good Fighter plane designs you can use right now in 1936 in HOI4:

1936 Light Fighter Plane Design

The biggest problem that the Light Fighter plane has in HOI4 is its limited range. This is why we will need to add some things to the design to fix that.

We will start with the Basic Small Airframe for the base of the plane. Then, we will fill those two weapon slots with 4x Light Machine Guns, as this is the only way they will actually deal some damage. Also, make sure to have the 2x Engine II installed, as it is the best one cost-efficient wise.

Then we head to the Special Features. Here, we add the Self-Sealing Fuel Tanks, which can be found in the Special Modules category.

These are a must-have on all planes, as they increase the Air Defense significantly and don’t really provide any bad downsides.

The second Special Feature we’ll add is the Drop Tanks, which will increase the range of our puny Light Fighter planes by 300 km.

This will make a huge difference at the start of the game, as the Basic Small Airframe has an incredibly limited range.

Though this plane design won’t really dominate in a dogfight, it has really good Agility and will get your Air Superiority every time as long as you build a lot of them.

1936 Heavy Fighter Plane Design

For this design, you will have to use the Basic Medium Airframe. Fill all the 4 weapon slots with 4x Light Machine Guns, for maximum Air Attack.

Change the engine to 2x Engine II, and get the Special Features: Self-Sealing Fuel Tanks (Special Modules) and Light MG Defense Turret x2.

Though your aircraft will be relatively heavy and will be quite low in Agility compared to Light Fighter planes, this design will allow you to destroy all the other planes in the air.

Heavy Fighters are much better at Interception missions than regular Light Fighters.

Since they also have good Air Defense and above average Agility, they are also hard to defeat.

This is why Heavy Fighters might be a much better choice for countries that can’t pump out a lot of planes, as they are very resilient and will also destroy a lot of enemy planes.

Heavy Fighter planes also have a natural advantage in their Air Superiority stat, which makes them better than Light Fighters if you have enough of them.

They also have an extremely long range compared to Light Fighters, allowing them to get Air Superiority in a lot of regions without having to build new Air Bases.

The only problem with Heavy Fighters is that they require almost double the production cost to make compared to Light Fighters. Still, we recommend them at the start of the game.

Best Fighter Plane Design for 1938

The only extra technologies you can discover for planes in 1938 are Heavy MG and Cannons I.

Though two upgrades might not seem relevant, they can make your Fighter planes twice as powerful.

1938 Light Fighter Plane Design

All that we changed for the Light Fighter plane in 1938 is that we use 4x Heavy Machine Guns instead of the weak 4x Light Machine Guns.

There is no difference between them when it comes to disadvantages, and the Heavy Machine Guns increase Air Attack by 50%.

As long as your enemies don’t use Heavy Fighters, which the AI usually doesn’t, you shouldn’t have any problems with Air Superiority.

These aircrafts will also be a lot better at Intercepting other planes, and since you can make a lot of them fast, you will dominate most enemies in aerial battles.

1938 Heavy Fighter Plane Design

Here is the design for the 1938 Heavy Fighter plane in HOI4:

  • 4x Heavy Machine Gun
  • 4x Heavy Machine Gun
  • 4x Heavy Machine Gun
  • 4x Heavy Machine Gun
  • 2x Engine II
  • Self-Sealing Fuel Tanks
  • Heavy MG Defense Turrets x2

As you can see, we just changed the Light Machine Guns and Light Defense Turrets to their Heavy versions. This will almost double the Air Attack and will only slightly lower Agility.

Though it might not seem like the changes are huge, this version of the Heavy Fighter plane is almost unstoppable during these years.

With that huge Air Attack stat, you will notice during most aerial battles that you will have a 1:10 kill ratio against your enemies.

With decently high Agility combined with Air Defense, you won’t have many problems against the Light Fighters the other players and AI use.

Best Fighter Plane Design for 1940

The year 1940 comes with new airframes for our Fighter planes, which means we must change the designs and get better versions out.

Still, the old Fighter planes can still hold their ground with this new generation, but it would be a good idea to upgrade as soon as possible.

Luckily, we won’t have to change the design anymore in the near future, as the only new technological advancement we can discover until 1944 are Cannons II.

Though Cannons can make our Fighters have an unstoppable Air Attack, we would lose too much Agility for no reason.

1940 Light Fighter Plane Design

It’s time for the Improved Small Airframe. This airframe will make a huge difference and will make your Light Fighter planes turn from decent, support aircrafts to unstoppable machines.

The Agility that they get with the new airframe makes a huge difference. They also have a new weapons spot, allowing for a third 4x Heavy Machine Gun.

The new Engine III upgrade will also come in very handy with a huge boost to speed.

Keep the same Special Features from before, and maybe add Armor Plates if you feel like you would want your planes to be a bit more sturdy.

The extra production cost is almost insignificant, and the range will be fixed by the Drop Tanks, so you should be ok.

If you also liked the range you got with the previous model, then you can get 2 Armor Plates and get rid of the Drop Tanks. You should have a similar range to the one for the ‘36 and ‘38 Light Fighter planes, with a lot more extra Air Defense.

1940 Heavy Fighter Plane Design

Now that we’ve reached 1940, we can change the base aircraft for the plane, using the Improved Medium Airframe now.

We keep everything exactly the same as in the 1938 version, but we just change the engine to the Engine III version and add an extra 4x Heavy Machine Gun.

We don’t want to add more engines or defense turrets, as the production cost will skyrocket, and we will never actually get to see these Fighters on the front lines.

One change you can make for this version is adding one Cannon instead of the Heavy Machine to get some extra Air Attack.

The minus to Agility here won’t make a huge difference, but the production cost might not be good for some weaker countries.

Best Fighter Plane Design for 1944

In 1944, HOI4 players gain access to new airframes and engines, making an upgrade inevitable.

Unfortunately, nothing else really matters, as you can either just get the very expensive Modern airframes or stick to the Advanced ones.

You will still keep the same weapons and special features, so there isn’t really any reason to go into it too much.

The Light Fighter will also gain a fourth weapon, which will do great for damage, but at this point, does it even matter?

You can just upgrade your engines to Jet Engines, but that’s the final step for Fighter planes in HOI4. There really isn’t anything more interesting that you can do with them anymore.

That’s everything you need to know about the best Fighter plane design in Hearts of Iron 4!

Have any input or suggestions for this guide? Let us know in the comment section below.

Adrian Oprea

Based in London, United Kingdom, Adrian Oprea is a Guides Writer. As a professional single-player RPG player, Adrian has often been stigmatized. He has decided to pour his frustration into writing guides!

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