Biplanes are mid-sized, dual axis, tri-engine, tactical dive bombers capable of high-alpha maneuvers and exceptional speeds. They were designed and manufactured by Hiroshi Sato to aid the Equalists. After the Anti-bending Revolution's conclusion, Asami Sato repurposed the planes to a more constructive goal and used Future Industries to perfect them.
As a fleet of United Forces battleships entered Republic City's harbor, several Equalist biplanes ambushed the fleet, dropping their explosive ordnance on the unsuspecting battleships. During the battle, General Iroh firebent toward a biplane heading for the helm of his ship, but he was subsequently thrown into the harbor by an explosion caused by an accidental hit to one of the biplane's bombs. After the battle, the Equalists emerged victorious, successfully disabling the entire fleet using their new vehicle.
In the underground shelter, General Iroh, who had been rescued by Korra, sent a wire to Commander Bumi, warning him not to bring the second wave of reinforcements any closer to the city until the biplane issue had been neutralized. Iroh, Bolin, and Asami then pinpointed the location of the Equalists' airfield and decided to infiltrate the base. However, upon their arrival, the group was captured and imprisoned by Hiroshi Sato. The former businessman visited the captives in their cell to gloat that he had intercepted General Iroh's transmission and knew exactly where Bumi's fleet was hiding and revealed to the three prisoners his plans to destroy the fleet. Soon after he left, Naga broke into the base and freed Iroh, Bolin, and Asami. The group then headed outside toward the outer airfield.
Upon reaching the airstrips, General Iroh decided to pursue a biplane that was taxiing for takeoff. Employing his firebending, the general shot toward the moving biplane and hijacked it, forcing the Equalist pilot to exit and deploy his parachute. Although Iroh found the biplane difficult to control initially, he eventually managed to tail the rest of the formation and began attacking the other planes, using the Equalist weapons and his own firebending.
After efficiently taking out several enemy aircraft, Iroh's plane was destroyed when another biplane launched a bola at his propeller, causing its blades to stop rotating and the plane to fall from the sky. Once again, he used his firebending to propel himself onto the wing of another biplane. Once on the wing, he launched a fire blast, destroying the engine of the biplane that was ahead of him. Iroh successfully hijacked the plane he was on at that moment. However, his biplane was once again attacked and damaged due to a bomb dropped from another aircraft above him.
Before the attacking biplane had the chance to drop any more weapons, Iroh launched a firebending blast up toward the open bomb bay, causing the bombs to detonate and effectively destroying the entire plane. Immediately after, Iroh was forced to abandon his biplane, as it was headed straight for the statue of Aang on his memorial island. After Iroh jumped out and grabbed onto the Equalist banner hanging from the statue's staff, the plane he had stolen crashed into the statue's head, causing the giant mask of Amon to fall off and reveal Aang's face once more.
Six months after the Anti-bending Revolution, Future Industries, under the direction of Asami Sato who had learned how to pilot the planes, was offering the biplanes to businesses around the world. However, because of her father's deep involvement with the Equalists and recent incarceration, companies were not interested in buying the planes or doing any type of business with Future Industries.
Engine characteristics Edit
Biplanes have one rotary engine in a central 'tractor' position and two, inline six cylinder piston engines in a 'pusher' configuration mounted under the edge of each upper wing. Each engine has a three-blade propeller. The placement of the two pusher engines on the upper wing, (rather than being suspended between the two wings) allows the Equalist biplane to be an excellent dive bomber.
Wing characteristics Edit
The Equalist biplanes have an unequal span, forward staggered wing configuration. The lower wing has an inverted gull wing design, and both wings are strut braced in a two-bay configuration. The wings have a high aspect ratio, allowing exceptional high-alpha maneuvers. The twin rear stabilizers do not serve as a control surface and are fixed in position; the ailerons are the only directional control surface.
Armament characteristics Edit
The biplanes are equipped with various weapons for combat. Located on the underside of the aircraft is a bomb bay that houses small yet powerful high explosives. The biplanes carries four torpedoes underneath their two lower wings which, once in the water, continue on a straight trajectory under their own power and detonate on impact with another object. As a means of self-defense against any airborne threat, the biplanes have a compartment located beneath the cockpit which is capable of shooting bolas at anything behind them. Once fired, the bolas become entangled in the propellers of the enemy biplane, causing it to tip stall. Unlike other bolas used by mecha tanks and some Equalist chi blockers, these bolas do not electrocute their targets. However, they are stronger than typical bolas, as shown by their ability to wrap themselves around the propellers of a plane without being shredded.
Due to their relatively large target zones, flimsy strut-supported build, flammable components, and lack of defensive armor, the biplanes can easily be destroyed or disabled by a single hit; firebending, lightning and earth are strong enough to destroy the engine block or wings. Waterbending ice can be used if the plane is flying low enough. However, their agility and high speeds make them difficult targets. Their lack of a movable rudder renders it impossible for them to make coordinated turns, making it a very difficult plane to fly and control. At the same time, as mentioned above, they have no air-to-air combat weapons. The biplanes must therefore either bomb an opposing aircraft from above or put themselves in a vulnerable position to fire their rear facing, defensive bolas. Engine malfunction caused by a jammed rudder can cause a biplane to disintegrate completely. While effective and successful in taking out General Iroh's fleet, the Equalists lost several planes to these weaknesses even with the element of surprise on their side.
- The biplane is based on various planes used during World Wars I and II.
- The aircraft's frame design has similarities to the Airco DH.4, a British airplane designed for bombing during World War I, and is also quite similar to the British Fairey Swordfish.
- These aircraft, however, unlike their real-world World War I counterparts, are not equipped with air-to-air weapons leaving it difficult for them to attack other aircraft.
- While it is a biplane, the lower gull wing design creates performance similarities to the Junkers JU 87 Stuka, a purpose built, dive-bombing aircraft that was employed by Nazi Germany, or the Aichi D3A Val, another dive-bombing aircraft used by the Empire of Japan, during World War II. This style is also seen on the Vought F4U Corsair, developed by the United States for its Pacific Fleet at the same time, though at a much bigger extreme.
- The aircraft's double rudder bears a resemblance to the British Lancaster Avro, flown throughout WWII.
- The manner in which General Iroh, Bolin, and Asami destroyed the biplane squadron is very similar to how Sokka, Toph, and Suki destroyed the Fire Nation airship fleet seventy years earlier during the arrival of Sozin's Comet.
- Just as the Equalist biplanes were quick to disable General Iroh's fleet, the Fairey Swordfish (one of the last ever biplanes used in any military) played a decisive role in sinking the German battleship Bismarck.
- The attack on General Iroh's fleet resembles Imperial Japan's sneak attack on Pearl Harbor that sunk, or heavily damaged, much of the U.S. Pacific Fleet stationed in the harbor.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Skeletons in the Closet". Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko (writers) & Joaquim Dos Santos, Ki Hyun Ryu (directors). The Legend of Korra. Nickelodeon. June 23, 2012. No. 11, Book One: Air
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 The Legend of Korra Comic-Con 2012.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 "Endgame". Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko (writers) & Joaquim Dos Santos, Ki Hyun Ryu (directors). The Legend of Korra. Nickelodeon. June 23, 2012. No. 12, Book One: Air