plane designer featured image
Game: Hearts of Iron IV
Content Type: Gaming Guides


With the release of the Hearts of Iron IV DLC By Blood Alone, Paradox gave us the highly anticipated plane designer. Following in the footsteps of the tank and ship designers, plane customization is based around choosing a chassis and attaching modules to that chassis.

Similar to the ship designer, aircraft now have an overhauled research tree based around airframes and supporting modules. However, the plane designer is simplified and easier to follow compared to the extensive naval research tree.

In order to access the plane designer, navigate to the production tab or press Y. Select “Build Aircraft,” and on the right you will see a variety of plane designs and chassis. Clicking the yellow button by a plane will allow you to design a new variant of whatever plane you chose. If you would prefer to use a different airframe, say a medium one instead of a light one, you will have to navigate back to the production tab to change it.

hearts of iron 4 plane designer airframes
French airframes available in 1936.

At the top of the interface, you have areas to name the design, choose the production icon, and select a 3d model for the variant. You cannot change the type of plane here. Instead, the plane type is determined by the airframe and the main armament selected. On the right side of the interface, you can see the various stats that will influence how your design performs in combat.

Directly below these customization options, we get into the meat of the plane designer. The top row of plus signs indicate the armament modules that can be added to a plane. On the very left module on this row, you can select the main armament. Additional armament modules allow you to increase firepower at the cost of increased weight and production cost.

hearts of iron 4 plane designer interface
A barebones strategic bomber design

The bottom row of plus signs are the non-weapon modules you can add to the plane. The left-most module is the engine which, unsurprisingly, every plane needs before it can be produced. Remaining modules on the row are special features which can do neat things like add defense turrets, gas tanks, or floating devices.

  • A plane design cannot be created without having more thrust than weight.
  • The amount of thrust that exceeds weight will add bonus speed.
  • For aerial combat, Speed, Air Defense, Air Attack, and Agility are the most important values.
  • For disrupting other aerial missions, speed and detection are vital.

The plane designer finishes the trifecta of equipment designers in Hearts of Iron IV. It’s exceptionally useful and adds new depth to aerial combat that has been severely lacking since the games release. Being comfortable with the plane designer will allow players to create planes to serve a variety of roles during their Hearts of Iron campaigns.

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