Beginner's Guide to Tank Battles

From WarThunder-Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search
Kursk logo.jpg

Getting started

This section will focus on choosing your nation and what to do in your first match in arcade.

Introduction to ground

Choosing a nation

As the play style of each nation changes from between the ranks, this section will focus only on each nation's introductory tanks.

Nation-us-flag.png USA

Early American tanks are a good mixture of mobility and protection. These are the tanks that you will have the hardest time penetrating, especially from the front. Their armour combined with great mobility makes them a powerful nation when used correctly. The best way to use these tanks is in front line combat and flanking. The ability to quickly move from the front line to the flanks of larger tanks makes early American tanks highly versatile; however, they seem to lack the necessary damage to finish enemies off before having to re-position.

Nation-de-flag.png Germany

Early German tanks are defined by their huge damage potential. As for protection, they have decent front armour but bad side armour--never let the enemy see your side. When these tanks penetrate your armour you will be destroyed in quick order, so when facing them make sure you are angled for the best protection. When playing these tanks, try to get close to or on the flank of an enemy tank to make sure your shot will penetrate. Also, try to aim shots carefully, since your reload time is longer than those of tanks of other nations and you might not get a second shot. Early German tanks can be devastating when they are in the right position, picking off enemies in a single magazine/round. However, they are vulnerable to return fire.

Nation-su-flag.png USSR

Early USSR tanks are defined by lackluster armour but good gun penetration and good rate of fire. These tanks are easy to penetrate and are destroyed quickly. When playing these tanks try to stay in the second rank or on the flanks. Sniping is also an option with them because the guns fire at relatively high velocities. Remember to seek cover when an enemy starts to shoot at you, as you will not survive many hits. These tanks are powerful weapons in the correct hands, capable of selecting targets of importance and dispatching them in quick order-however, one must be mindful of one's surroundings since the only protection early USSR tanks have is natural cover or distance.

Nation-gb-flag.png Britain

The early British tanks are defined by speed and adequate firepower. The usage of the cruiser tanks enable to British to have some of the fastest introductory tanks available in the game, second to USSR's BT tanks. Armour on the cruiser tanks are at a minimum to keep speed, but will improve as you move down the rank. Unlocking the medium tank Valentine will also help in armour, though at a cost of speed. The British all have a very high damage output with their large, rapid-fire guns.

Nation-jp-flag.png Japan

The early Japanese tanks have generally light frames but decent manoeuvrability. Their armament has terrible penetration but shells have good explosive content. The only exception is the excellent Rank I truck mounted anti-aircraft gun. The tracked artillery gun is also devastating at medium range.

Nation-fr-flag.png France

The early French tanks are defined by extremely lackluster firepower but excellent armor. Even the highest penetrating shells on the reserve tanks cannot engage most tanks of their tier from the front. The armor, however, is quite a tough nut to crack. Except for large calibre (57mm and above), and the QF 2-pounder, no guns can reliably penetrate the armor of early French tanks. The mobility is generally average or sub-par. The main exception is the P7T AA, an anti-aircraft armed tractor, and the AMR.35 ZT3, a light, maneuverable tank destroyer.

First Match

It is recommended that your first game be Arcade since the hit and penetration indicator reduces the importance of knowing all about the enemy tanks.

The objective of the most games is to capture and control strategic points. This game mode is called "Domination". These will appear on the map with letters A through D. To capture these points, just enter the circle and remove all enemy tanks from it. The capture of these point results in a nice reward so it is suggested to attempt to capture as many as possible. It is not suggested to just run straight at a point through open areas, as this will likely result in a quick death due to exposure to enemy fire. When approaching a point, try to use cover and terrain features to conceal your approach as much as possible.

Try to remember that a potential kill is not worth exposing your tank to enemy fire. A good mindset to haver is to not view exposure as a mere state but rather as a conscious, active decision — "I am exposed for a reason". Every second of exposure represents a risk one should be aware of. Try to surprise your enemies by attacking on their flanks, even when sniping. When you must move into an area that an enemy tank is aiming at, remember to pre-angle your armour and aim your weapon to do as much damage as you can with your first shot. This means aiming for driver's view ports and the cheeks of the turret.

The reward at the end of a match is largely determined by whether you have won or lost the match, and the outcome of the match is largely determined by who possesses the capture points. This, coupled with the fact that a point capture carries a higher reward than an enemy kill, means capturing points is a first priority. Remember, getting 5 kills and a loss will result in a smaller reward than 3 kills and a win.

Advancement considerations

This section will focus on what to upgrade first in your tank and crew, as well as which tank tree best suits your play style.

War Thunder
"Did You Know?"Basic Beginner Information Guide
"Getting Started In War Thunder
Tanks & Ground Forces"

"Part 3: Tanks Arcade"
"Part 7: Tanks Tactics"
"Part 11: Tanks Armour"

"Part 12: Tanks Sniper"

Choosing a tank path

This section will discuss which tanks to research first, as well as give the reasons why or why not.

Nation-de-flag.png Germany

Closed-Casement Tank Destroyer Path
This path starts with conventional tanks, however, they are of Czechoslovakian construction. After that, we enter the "main focus" of the research tree, the armored tank destroyers. German tank destroyers have decent (and sometimes superb) front armour, and powerful guns. With later vehicles the armament and armour is continually improved. The line ends with a very powerful Jagdtiger tank destroyer.

Heavy Tank Path
These tanks are very well rounded tanks with a low profile and good mobility. The armour penetration of these tanks is nothing spectacular unless using APCR ammunition, which does significantly less damage. The play style of these tanks is comparable to the Pz.II; however, their rate of fire will mean you don't have to duck behind cover while reloading.

This line initially focuses more on armour, rather than guns, and ultimately leads to some famous German Heavy Tanks, like Tiger and Tiger II B (H).

Medium Tank Path
These tanks are also well rounded vehicles, possessing large caliber guns and good mobility. The penetration of their weapons is mediocre unless using HEAT ammunition, which does significantly less damage. The play style of these tanks is very similar to the Pz.II, as one must get close to the enemy and hide behind cover while reloading.
Later the vehicles receive very powerful guns (From Pz.IV F2 onward), but they have noticeably weaker armour than their Pz.III counterparts. Following are Panther tanks, which are very potent snipers. The tree eventually leads into the highly mobile and well-armed Leopards .
Open-Cabin Tank Destroyer Path
This path is full of tanks with excellent guns, at the cost of armor. Starting with the Panzerjager I, the entire tree is the definition of "glass cannon", while at the later tiers changing into fast ATGM vehicles with sub-par armor

Early German SPAA are actually more than capable of destroying enemy tanks even at range, and do even better if firing at an opponent's side. These vehicles are glass cannons that will put out a near continuous stream of rounds at the enemy. While each round does little damage as a whole, in combination with each other they can shred exposed tanks in seconds. This, combined with good mobility and good all around gun depression for an SPAA, makes them formidable additions to your line up.

Nation-su-flag.png USSR

Medium tank Path
This line begins with very fast BT-5 and BT-7 tanks. They have decently powerful 45 mm cannons, and are some of the fastest tanks currently in the game. Their disadvantages are mostly their very thin armour, and rather large silhouettes. With these tanks you have to keep moving from place to place, and use your speed to avoid being hit. This line then continues to T-50, which has the same gun, but much better armour, while retaining the great mobility.

Heavy tank Path
Line begins with a T-26 light tank, a small, lightly armoured tank, that is much more suitable for sniping from distance, or defending certain areas. Is is however almost just as badly armoured as BT tanks, but on top of that it is also quite slow, causing its performance to be rather poor, compared to vehicles of other nations.
This line is not recommended to start with, (at least until you learn the game basics, and research few tanks from other branches) because the T-26 is not very capable tank, and gameplay drastically changes with every other tank you buy from this path (T-26-4 is quite unusual vehicle and hard to handle, T-28 is a medium tank and KV-1 is a heavy tank.)

Tankette path
Despite their designation and look, tanks from this path are the most heavily armoured of the Early USSR tanks, and very well compared to other nations as well. Especially the T-70 and T-80 tanks are very durable, as their front armour is thick and highly sloped, making them almost immune to some other tanks, at least from the front. They have average mobility, but quite slow reloading, because they have no dedicated loaders. However, their small size and cramped interior means that if they get penetrated by anything, they are usually knocked out right away.

Later on, the path leads to unarmored tank destroyers and amphibious vehicles.

This line should be avoided, until you decide to add AA vehicles to your growing tank arsenal, as early Russian AA vehicles are very bad - no armour, slow, and the first AA vehicle has only machineguns - completely useless against any tank.

Nation-us-flag.png USA

Light tank Path
Beginning with the M2A4 light tank, this path focuses on very fast tanks with an adequate weaponry to take out tanks around its battle rating, however requiring skillful use of the tank and it's 37mm gun, which lacks HE filler, making 1 shots very rare. However the gun's high penetration allows it to easily take on more powerful and armored tanks it may face higher in the rank. After the M2A4, the M3 Stuart, M3A1 Stuart follows in Rank I. In Rank II, the M5A1 Stuart and the M22 Locust. These tanks began showing a deficiency in armour and firepower as it goes up against heavier tanks in German and USSR inventory, however are still manageable if the speed is exploited against the opponents. At Rank III, the more capable M24 Chaffee appears and is better able to manage against the tanks, with better armour and access to a 75 mm gun, giving it better firepower than any light tank of its rank. It could still be taken out with a good hit from an enemy, so care must still be taken as it is still a light tank. Rank IV introduces the M41A1 Walker Bulldog, which ups the firepower from the M24 Chaffee with the 76 mm cannon, capable of taking out tanks with comparative ease to the 37 mm and 75 mm guns. Once again lacking in HE filler, you must aim carefully, but it's APDS round will slice through all armor at the tier like butter. The light tank line continues with some very strange vehicles, such as the M56 Scorpion, a tank with no armor whatsoever and an exposed crew, but a massively powerful 90mm gun, with access to high penetration HEAT-FS rounds and the feared M82 shot, which packs a russian tier punch in HE filler. The M50 Ontos is a strange tank, with 6 106mm recoiless rifles seemingly bolted to a light chassis, but it packs quite the 6 shooter punch, with six barrels enabling it to fire 6 rounds in rapid succession. The last tier 4 is the T92 tank, which features a radical change in light tank designs. While retaining the 76 mm gun from the Walker Bulldog, the T92 featured a very mobile vehicle and a very low profile, making the tank a very hard target to hit and track once you've got it on the move. The last Tier 5 tank of the line is the M551 Sheridan, a light aluminum chassis mated with a 6 inch howitzer, firing powerful HEAT rounds or, being one of America's currently two ATGM vehicles, firing the MGM-61B Shillelagh guided Missile. The American light tank line is defined by it's high speed vehicles equipped with powerful weaponry, but at the expense of armoring the tank in any capacity. However, with excellent mobility and powerful guns, American light tanks are more than capable of getting the job done.

Finally at Rank V

Medium tank Path
The Medium tank path is a good path to unlock if you want a force of balanced tanks with ability to counter most tanks it will go against, stay mobile, and have adequate armour. The path unlocks with the Rank I M2 medium tank. A very tall tank with a 37 mm gun and an large crew number of six people, it is vulnerable to most enemy fire due to the thin armour, but it provides an adequate start into the American medium tanks. The next tank presents a very different tank concept, the M3 Lee, which features not one, but two guns on the tank. The tank has a 37 mm gun on a turret and a 75 mm gun on a sponson with a limited angle of fire. This presents a very interesting game style for the player, but once able to maximize the ability of the two guns on the tank, the player could become a feared beast on the field. On Rank II, the path introduces the venerable M4A1 Sherman and M4 Sherman, which have a very good frontal armour against enemy tanks of the rank, plus a good 75 mm gun on a turret to go against the tanks. Another Sherman in Rank II is the M4A3 (105) HVSS Sherman which presents a 105 mm howitzer instead of a 75 mm, which focuses on taking out tanks using the power of the HE shell rather than penetration. Rank III brings in the M4A2 Sherman with a much better frontal armour rating, but retaining the 75 mm gun that was becoming insufficient against the better tanks being introduced. However, at Rank III, the stronger M4 Sherman variants with the 76 mm guns, M4A1(76)W Sherman and M4A2(76)W Sherman, are introduced that are more capable of competing against its opponents, though still having a weaker armour compared to its adversaries. In Rank IV, aside the M4A3(76)W Sherman with better mobility to its predecessors, the T25 Medium tank and M26 Pershing will completely change the American play style with their heavier armour and a very good 90 mm gun that can penetrate most of its opponents with ease, allowing players to finally be able to travel the playing field with comfort due to the protection and firepower value of the Rank IV tanks. At Rank V, the Americans present the newer Patton series with the M46 Patton, M47 Patton, and the M60 Patton. While the M46 and M47 are simply an upgraded M26 Pershing with a 90 mm gun, the M60 Patton reigns supreme in the medium tank path with a large 105 mm gun that gives the player a very good punch against enemies.

Heavy tank Path
Although the Heavy Tank Path is unable to be unlocked without researching previous tanks as the tanks here start at Rank III, the tanks presented give the player very strong frontal armour to be able to move forward into enemy territory. The first is the M4A3 (105), which grants the player a highly-protected Sherman tank at the rank as well as access to the 105 mm howitzer. The howitzer is not played like a normal tank cannon and focuses on explosive power or HEAT rounds. After the 105-Sherman is the M6A1 heavy tank, the first "heavy tank" for the Americans. It is a big unorthodox, as it has two cannons, a 76 mm and a 37 mm, that may give players an additional firepower edge if used correctly. It's not the best heavy tank due to many weak points, especially the sides, but it gives the player a good edge in tactics. After the M6 is the Jumbo series, starting with the M4A3E2 "Jumbo" tank, which has the same gun as the normal Sherman, but with a thick 102 mm front glacis that is heavily sloped for maximum effectiveness. Having the option to use APCR in the 75 mm cannon gives the Jumbo a protective and firepower edge over any other Sherman tanks at its rank. After the 75 mm Jumbo is the M4A3E2 (76) Jumbo, which is essentially the same as the M4A3E2 with the additional benefit of a 76 mm cannon and its firepower advantages over the 75 mm cannon. The next two heavy tanks is when the American's heavy tank might comes into full play, first with the T32 that grants a full-power 90 mm cannon and a 127 mm thick front armour that slopes. This tank goes up against the German Tiger II and can do great in battle. The next heavy tank in the line-up is the M103 Cold-War era heavy tank. With arguably the best hitting gun for a heavy tank at its rank, the M103 will not disappoint those looking to redefine the term "heavy tank". The last tanks in the lineup are the M1 Abrams and it's IP variant, vehicles that live up to their reputation on the battlefield with great protection and mobility.

The SPAA Path gives the American ground forces vehicles able to fight off enemy aircraft that could threaten friendly forces. The SPAA for American forces focus more on maximum sustained firepower rather than short bursts of cannon fire. The first two SPAA available, the M13 MGMC and M16 MGMC, uses multiple 12.7 mm machine guns rather than an autocannon, but this gives a benefit of long and sustained fire onto a target. The M15 CGMC is the first American SPAA with a 37 mm autocannon, but still retains two 12.7 mm machine guns as a secondary in case. The M19 GMC is the first American SPAA that does away completely with the machine guns in favor of two 40 mm autocannons. The autocannons on this and the next SPAA, the M42 Duster, are unsynchronized and can fire randomly, which increases fire density at a target for a better chance to hit. The next SPAA is armed with a fearsome 20mm rotary cannon, which has the best fire rate in the whole game. All these SPAAs excel in their performance against aircrafts, but are terrible against ground forces and should not ever be used as a vehicle to engage enemy tanks.

Tank Destroyer Path
The Tank Destroyer Path presents the American anti-tank forces that focuses on flanking the enemy with speed and destroying the enemy with a very good gun. Unlike other nation's "tank destroyer paths", the American idea of the tank destroyers is a vehicle able to engage the enemy and escape, thus the vehicles are more lightly armoured to be able to move in and out of the battlefield quickly, and most have a turret to allow a greater degree of fire. The first tank destroyer, the 75 mm GMC M3, fits the speed part very well as a half-track, but lacks a rotating turret so can only engage targets in front of it. The second tank destroyer, the M10 GMC is much better in the tank destroyer role with a rotating turret and a high-penetrating gun, yet has decent armour but suffers from a low top speed. Perhaps the epitome of the American tank destroyer force is the M18 Hellcat, with its paper-thin armour, a powerful 76 mm cannon, and a title as the fastest ground force vehicle in the entire game. This bad boy could flank the target quickly, fire a shot, then retreat with relative ease. The next tank destroyer reverts back to the M10 style of gameplay, but with the benefit of a 90 mm gun in the M36 GMC, which is basically a M10 with a new turret and gun. The final tank destroyer in the American tree completely does away with the traditional idea of fast-moving vehicles and instead heads for a lumbering giant of armour as the T95. This lumbering "doom turtle", with its 305 mm of frontal armour and a top speed of 8 miles per hour, is the ultimate walking wall in the game, plus with the benefit of a 105 mm cannon, it can decimate most of the enemies it goes up against in its rank. The tank destroyer branch of the American tree require a creative skill set and adaptability in order to be used to their full potential.

Nation-gb-flag.png Britain

Cruiser tank Path
The early Cruiser tanks have high mobility, sub-par armor, and an average gun. Later on, (with the exception of the Sherman II and Sherman VC) the tanks retain their high mobility but also receive better guns and better armor.

Infantry tank Path
The Infantry tank Path actually starts with two well-known Cruiser tanks, the Crusader Mk II and Mk III. Afterwards, come the heavily armored, slow, and poorly armed Matilda II and Churchills. Afterwards, the "Infantry" status of the tree begins to disintegrate. Next, you have the FV4202, a MBT-style of "Cruiser tank". Then, you have the Caernarvon which is another heavy tank. Then, you have the Vickers MBT, another fast, mobile, and underarmored tank. Finally, you end with the Conqueror, another heavy tank.

Tank Destroyer Path
The Tank Destroyer (or more accurately, Self-Propelled Anti-Tank Gun) Path begins with the Valentine infantry tanks. Afterwards, you enter the British Tank Destroyers. With only one exception, the FV4004 Conway, all of the vehicles in this tree are poorly armored. They have extremely powerful guns, and can reliably take out any target of their tier. The path finishes with two ATGM vehicles.

The SPAA Path is full of lightly armored, highly mobile anti-aircraft vehicles. The first vehicle, the Daimler AC Mk. II, is not an anti-aircraft gun, and just an armored car. However, all other vehicles afterwards are. Most of the SPAAs will also have a hard time with anti-tank capabilities, as their guns lack penetration compared to the side and rear armor of similarly-tiered tanks.

Nation-jp-flag.png Japan

To be filled.

Nation-fr-flag.png France

To be filled.

Upgrading your tank

The first upgrades should always be Parts, then something you choose (Tracks, Turret Drive, or Ammo), and then FPE ("Fire Extinguishers"), since without these you will be destroyed or rendered useless much faster.

  • Once you research the "Parts" on any ground vehicle, you gain the ability to Repair most of your damaged modules (like engine, or stuck turret,...) during the battle. Without the Parts upgrade, you can only repair your broken tracks in the field, the other modules requiring you to stand inside a captured points (in Arcade Battle). To start the repairs, if possible, find some cover first and then press & hold (default) "F" key, the crew will then start repairing your tank (depending on how much damaged it is, and how many crewmembers are alive the required time differs). During this process, you can't move your tank, but you can still turn your turret and shoot. Once the repairs are completed, you are free to go.

Note: You can repair your tank as many times as you want during the battle, but you cannot heal or replace your dead crew members, unless you researched the Crew Replenishment upgrade that replaces 1 crew member once. Requirements differ between Arcade and Realistic/Simulator game modes: in AB you can replenish manually at any time, and it will automatically replenish if you are down to 1 crew member. In SB/SB, you will have to stand inside a captured zone and still have 2 crew members to manually order a Crew Replenishment.
Note: You can drastically speed up the repair process by having a member of your Squad stand near your tank and join the repair process. Scouting tanks also gained this ability for their entire team in a recent update, allowing them to speed up the repairs of their teammates when nearby.

  • Fire Extinguishers work the same way - they give you the ability to activate them to extinguish fire, two times before running out. Once your tank is set on fire (by being hit into fuel tank for example) you have to press the assigned key to order the crew to put out the flames. However, keep in mind that doing so will temporarily prevent you from doing any further actions - like moving, reloading your gun, or shooting. Therefore it is wiser to try to kill the tank that set you on fire first, or at least get behind cover, before activating them.

Without them, you are sentenced to a slow, painful (virtual) death.

Next important upgrades are additional types of ammunition , as they often offer better penetration, or other characteristics, and Gun Upgrades.

  • Remember, that after you research the ammo, and enter the battle (and the Tank selection screen), you usually have to first select How Many of them you'd like to have loaded into your tank (The amount of new ammunition is often set to 0 by default). Use the available sliders. Each tank has its own ammo preset, and each time you change it, it is saved, so you don't have to choose the loadout every time. Once you are in the battle, use the assigned keys to switch ammo type (default 1,2,3,...). It should be also said that you currently can't switch shell type once one is loaded into the gun. In other words: If you really need to switch the ammo type immediately, you have to fire your gun first.

Note: Keep in mind that penetration isn't the only viable stat of the shell, different types of ammo are more or less effective at certain ranges, and situations. You can find more info about the different ammo types on this wiki, or directly in the game (in Modifications).
Quick guide: Your standard ammo should always be the basic AP type, because it deals the most damage (has the most destructive effects after succesful penetration). Then carry few HE ammo, to use against AA vehicles and other almost unarmoured vehicles. APCR and HEAT shells, that usually have to be researched, should be used only when your standard AP ammo has trouble penetrating your opponent.

The Gun Upgrades, improve the gun accuracy quite a lot (especially at long range). Remaining upgrades are quite straightforward, improving various stats of the vehicle.

Choosing crew upgrades

The first concern when upgrading crew is to get the cheapest upgrades until you can "Expert" your tank.

  • Each time you add a point to any crew skill (no matter how many crew points it costs) it adds 0.5 point to the overall crew level. Once this crew level reaches certain amount of points, you can (in Crew Training -> Qualifications) increase crew qualifications to "Expert" level; this cost Silver Lions, and the more advanced the vehicle is, the more Silver Lions and higher crew level are required. This Qualification adds +3 crew skill points for ALL crewmembers to Repairs, and then +3 for each specific crew skills (E.g. Loader gets +3 to Gun Reloading, Driver gets +3 to Tank Driving,...).

The effect on vehicle performance is quite noticeable, and it is recommended to get the qualification for every tank you intend to play for at least a few times. (At least for Rank I and II vehicles, for which the qualifications are very cheap).

Note: After increasing your Crew Level even higher, it becomes possible to further train your crew; to increase its qualification to "Ace", this improves the bonuses from +3 to +5. However, this qualification is not for free - it costs some Golden Eagles. Therefore it is recommended to use only for vehicles, that you intend to keep, and play for a long period.

Overally, you should focus on Vitality and Reload Speed as these are the upgrades you will notice the most. Tank Driving skill is also quite noticable, especially in realistic modes. Some people also recommend increasing repair skill since this decreases your repair time greatly; however, this comes down to personal preference.

Brief description of some crew skills:
(Main Article: Crew skills)
Common skills:

  • Keen Vision: Increases the distance at which you can spot the enemy tank or airplane (and in Arcade, the maximum distance at which the Red Nametags and Aim Assistant crosshair can appear).
  • Field Repair: Increases the speed of Field Repairing.
  • Vitality: Increases the crew member's "HP" - how many shrapnel hits & nearby explosions he can take, before being knocked out. Also reduces the time for which he is unconscious (can happen by some non-penetrating hits, or HE ammo explosions)


  • Tank Driving: Improves the overall handling of the vehicle - how fast and efficiently will the driver switch between Gears, and how fast he will start turning or braking with the tank.


  • Targetting: Affects how long it will take the gunner to aim the gun at the position you want (more notable in realistic battles).
  • Rangefinding: Mostly useful for Arcade mode, it affects the accuracy at long range (It affects the Aim Assistant).

Tank Commander

  • Leadership: Improves stats of the other crewmembers by a small ammount.


  • Gun Loading: Quite clear, reduces the time needed to reload the gun.

Radio Operator

  • Radio communications: Somehow improves the maximum distance (and time it takes) at which you receive information about enemy vehicle positions from friendly vehicles.

Ground crew

  • Repair Speed: Will reduce the free repair times in the garage, if automatic repair is unchecked. Will become indispensable with higher BR tanks, due to rising Automatic Repair costs.
  • Repair Rank: Will apply the Repair Speed bonus to its rank level (example: Repair Rank = 3 means the bonus applies to Rank I, II and III tanks).
  • Weapon Maintenance: Located in the "Air Vehicle" Crew Skill tree, will affect Arcade Battle Ground Forces air support units, tightening the spread cone of the rockets and bombs.

Choosing a tank line up

Matchmaking is solely based on Battle Ranking, so try to make sure all your tanks have equal Battle Rankings or at least within a 1.0 difference to ensure a balanced match.

An example of a tank that many people put into early line ups that has a high Battle Ranking and as such makes them play at a disadvantage is the Sturmgeschütz III Ausf. A (or the StuG III A) with a battle rating of 2.3. If you add this to your start-up line of 1.0's and 1.3's, the 2.3 will force the matchmaker to find matches with a 1.3-2.3, 2.0-3.0, or 2.3-3.3 group. Your start-up line-up is most likely going to be decimated by the 2.0-3.0 and 2.3-3.3 matches, and the 3.3 even bringing out the dreaded T-34 tank. So make sure you are not overstepping your battle ratings!

Always consult the stats cards for tanks when creating a line up. Also remember that every vehicle has a different Battle Ranking and stats card in Arcade and Realistic modes. To change which stats card you are looking at, simply click on the mode view option at the bottom right of the research tree.

How to best use each vehicle type in game

Using Light Tanks

Light Tanks are lightly armoured and small, yet highly mobile and armed with an adequate gun. At Rank I and the reserves, the light tanks make up the majority of the tanks involved in the playing field. Make good usage of your mobility and small size to move from cover to cover, peeking out occasionally to fire at the enemy. Don't fire from the same place more than twice as it will let the enemy take aim at your position. Peek out the other side of the cover or reposition for a better chance at survival. You can also use your mobility to get to the enemy's sides, thus giving you a good shot on the vulnerable weak side of the tanks. At the later ranks, most of the nations have phased out the light tanks due to their inadequacy against the larger tanks, but the American and Soviet tree still retain them up to the late ranks. These late rank light tanks put more emphasis on the firepower to deal more damage for the light weight, so more confidence can be had fighting the ranks they exist in. However, the strategy remain unchanged in making sure you do not even take a single enemy hit, as a single hit will end you.

Using Medium Tanks

Medium Tanks are the jack-of-all-trade tank in the game. Armed with a adequate armour, mobility, and firepower, it can fit in multiple roles on the battlefield. Their greatest pro is also their greatest weakness, being just as good in everything and also being just as bad in everything. They are not armoured enough to hold positions, fast enough to flank the enemy, or armed enough to take out any tank they see. Flexibility is the key of the medium tanks, giving you free reign in what you will do to dominate the battlefield. By Rank IV, the firepower and armour of the medium tanks start to wane in the presence of the stronger heavy tanks such as the IS-2 and Tiger II. At this point, start playing the medium tanks akin to the light tanks, taking cover and popping out occasionally to fire before repositioning or get on the enemy's flanks.

Using Heavy Tanks

Heavy Tanks are the breakthrough vehicles of the game and in MMORPG terms, would be the "tank" of the team. Their heavy armour allows them to absorb enemy fire, their size makes them bullet magnet to take fire intended to your weaker teammates, and more often than not you have a very powerful gun able to destroy the opposing forces. Though you may want to ominously crawl toward the enemy with a face of intimidation, you are not invulnerable. Going up to the enemy increases the risk of their gun being able to penetrate certain weak points on your frontal armour or even get a tank onto your sides and penetrate your weaker side armour. Use the heavy tanks sparingly, stand back a certain distance from an enemy strong point and blast at the stranglers, with the distance empowering your armour as the enemy's shells may not have enough energy to penetrate your armour after traveling a distance. Remember to slope your armour by angling the armour so the enemy would never get a straight shot onto your armour.

Using Tank Destroyers

Tank Destroyers are a specialized type of vehicle. However, their usage in history differ from country to country so much that we have to split between the American/British and German/USSR usage of it.

The German's and USSR's idea of a tank destroyer follow the casemate design concept. They remove the turret on their vehicles and put the gun on the body. This allows them to make vehicles cheaper and mounting heavier guns while having a lower profile, but with reduced combat reaction due to lack of turret. Thus, these designs should be exploited with their low silhouettes to hide in the distance or in the foliage so the enemy can't see you. Wait for the opportune time to ambush them, namely by aiming at their sides or their weak points in the front armour. Stay at a distance to reduce the enemy's reaction to you and to also make the most of your armour's effectiveness against the enemy's shell. Some of their tank destroyers such as the Marder III and the ZIS-30 differ by having a higher profile and weak armour, but mounts a very powerful gun for their rank. These should be used with more caution due to the extremely thin armour and exposed crew, but can help dominate an area in your firing view.

The Americans and British have a different concept of tank destroyers than the other two nations. The concept was of a "mobile anti-tank force" and it focused on mobility and reaction. Thus, the two countries mainly have tank destroyers with a rotating turret (though each have their own examples of a fixed gun such as the M3 GMC and Archer). These vehicles are almost like actual tanks except with a reduction in their armour. Unlike the European tank destroyers, their tank destroyers have a high profile of a regular tank, which causes them to be more exposed to enemy fire, and the reduced armour means they can take less abuse than the normal casemate tank destroyers. However, the higher profile and turret also gives these tanks a better gun depression than the casemates so you can enter a hull-down position behind a hill and damage the enemy while exposing very little of yourself. You would want to use these tank destroyers from a large distance away sniping, or use their mobility to ambush the enemy by getting behind their lines and wrecking havoc. Play safely to ensure the survival of your vehicle.

Using SPAA

Self-Propelled Anti-Aircraft are a specialized vehicles not meant to destroy ground vehicles, instead they are meant to attack the enemy aircraft. Equipped with rapid-firing autocannons or machine guns, you are to lead the enemy plane right into your firing field to knock them out of the sky. An SPAA do not have the same armour as a tank, so the SPAA should stay back behind the attacking force to stay safe from enemy fire and yet blast away any plane attempting to strafe your allies. Some SPAA are able to defend themselves against ground targets such as the German Ostwind, the British Falcon and the Soviet ZSU-57-2, but these are last ditch weapons.

Using Fighters

Fighters in-game, whether you brought your own in realistic mode or unlocked them in arcade, gives the team a supplementary air power unable to be brought by a SPAA. In an high-altitude area, avoid the enemy SPAA's and locate enemy attacker planes and bombers and prioritize their destruction. The best strategy to destroy enemy planes is to gain a higher altitude than them, then dive and shoot them down. If no enemy planes are present, strafing the enemy ground units to harrass them also fits fighter duty, but the most important role you can be is act as an aerial reconnaissance for your team, relaying where each enemy is on the map.

Using Attackers / fighter bombers

Come in at low altitude and use bombs and rockets to destroy the enemy's armoured vehicles. Don't forget to set your bombs for a small delay so that you are not destroyed by their blast.

Using Dive bombers

Use tracer fire to find targets and then dive on them. Your air-brakes will help you slow down and make it easier to pull up. Release your bombs as late as possible before pulling out of your dive.

Using Bombers

Use your altitude to avoid SPAA. Use the tracer fire to aim your bombs.

Advanced gameplay

Once you have mastered the basics of ground combat, this section will explain some of the more advanced strategies, tips, and tricks that you can incorporate into your game play.

Protecting a capture point

This tactic requires you to be a very well-armoured and having a good vantage point over the capture point. The preferred tank specifications for this job is one with lots of armour and a very powerful gun, though any tank can do this job given the correct skill sets. There are two ways to protect a capture point:

  1. Stay on the capture point and fight off any incoming invaders.
  2. Position yourself a distance away from the capture point so you are able to see any enemy that tries to reach the point, then pick them off when they are either on the way or on the capture point.

Both have their pros and cons. Staying on the capture point ensures that you will be there to prevent the zone from being captured, but you risk being swarmed by the enemy or picked off at a distance by a tank hitting one of your critical weak points. Positioning yourself away from the capture point gives a vantage point (hopefully) over the zone so you can give supporting fire to any teammates that are at the zone, but if the enemy manage to get to the zone and none of your teammate are on the zone, the zone will be captured by the enemy easily, or neutralized if you are able to kill the enemy on the zone before they can capture it. Either way, it may require you to move away from your position to take back the point. Protecting the capture point requires a good knowledge of your tank's strengths and the environment to find good vantage areas and cover.


Flanking is one of the main tactic that must be recognized by everyone. In tank warfare, flanking is absolutely essential to gain an upper hand over the enemy. Flanking is the movement of units to get around the enemy to their sides, then hitting them. If coordinated, this would force the enemy to engage at two different directions, the front where the main force would be, and the sides where the flanking force is. This will lower their distribution of firepower to two targets, whereas the flanking force and main force can still concentrate their firepower on just one enemy force. With the addition of lowering the enemy's attention to one target, the flanking force also had the benefit of being able to get to one of the tank's main weaknesses, their side armour. This will allow flankers to be able to not only take the advantage over the enemy, but give them a killing edge over their forces.

Flanking requires tanks that are very mobile due to the quick nature of the tactic, yet have a gun that can reliable defeat the enemy. Armour should not be prioritized because that would decrease mobility, and hopefully if the tactic is done right, the main force should be receiving the brunt of the enemy's firepower rather than the flanking force. Thus, the best tanks for this job is a light or medium tank.


Like real-life sniping, this tactic requires skill and patience. Skill to accurately range and hit very far away targets, patience to wait for the enemy to drive right into your firing range. If you are able to exploit not only your tank's firepower, but also the environment, the enemy may never be able to accurately pinpoint your location and you will be able to pick them off one-by-one.

Tank destroyers do this job the best due to their low silhouette and high-power guns compared to tanks, but suffer from a limited firing angle (unless you are using American or British tanks, in which case their silhouette is large, but allow a larger degree of fire).


This is where things get aggressive. No fancy long shots or skillful maneuvers, we're getting up close and personal with the enemy, front and center. This tactic requires fast reflexes and intuition, and most importantly, the ability to get the first shot off to your enemy. The first shot is the most important shot as a brawler, because at the close ranges this tactic is in when fighting, the tank armour can be negligible, and also the first shot could impede the enemy's attempt to fire off a shot at all by say if you are able to kill their gunner, then they can't get any shot off at all.

Any tank can play this tactic really, its just two tank factors that matters the most now, how many tanks your team has and the penetration value on your gun. So a light tank can play this role if it has a very powerful gun and would not be out-numbered by the enemy. Strike at the enemy's ability to fire back by destroying each enemy tank, or their gunner if you do not believe a one-shot kill is possible. Overwhelm them, swarm them, but do not give the enemy the edge, because in brawling, anything is exploitable.

Realistic Battles

This is the game mode that will truly put your skills as a tanker and a pilot to the test. There is no computer assistance to help you in this match. Difference between arcade mode and realistic/simulators are:

  • Lack of aiming assist
  • Lack of indicator for a shell penetration
  • Vehicle engine is historically accurate in power.

• Markers are disabled in RB/SB

Basic concepts

Choosing a line up

When creating a line up, there are several factors to keep in mind:

  • Battle Rating
  • Game Mode (AB/RB/SB)
  • Adapting to the Game Situation

Battle Rating

It is always important to make sure that your vehicles have similar Battle Ratings (BR). BR is what puts similarly capable vehicles in battles with each other. If you have one tank with a really high battle rating compared to the others (such as T-34 mod. 1941 (3.7), T-70 (2.0), and BT-7 (1.3)), the lower-BR tanks will have to fight vehicles that the highest BR tank does. Therefore, to remain competitive throughout a match, bring vehicles that will always be competitive at the BR of the whole line up.

Game Mode

The game mode should also shape how you create your line up. In Arcade Battles, you can only spawn 3 times, and with tanks only. (Airplanes are earned as killstreaks). So, to create a versatile line up (also see Adapting to the Situation), fill all your crew slots with ground vehicles, as otherwise, you will be wasting space. In Realistic Battles, there is an option to spawn in an aircraft, but it requires extra Spawn Points. It is always a good idea to get a good or that can carry lots of ordnance, as this will benefit the development of the tank battle the best. In Simulator Battles (not recommended for a new player), there are two modes of spawning: the "2-spawn" system, or the "spawn-points" system. The Spawn Points system works similarly to that in Realistic Battles, except you can spawn in an aircraft right from the start. In the 2-Spawn system, you can only take out one tank and one plane. All ground vehicles get 2 spawns, except heavy tanks and heavily armored tank destroyers (the M18 gets 2 spawns, even though it is a tank destroyer). It is important to add vehicles to your line up that will be useful in each game mode.

Adapting to the Game Situation

Not every tank is designed for every map. For example, you normally wouldn't take a Churchill out on Kursk, nor would you use a Marder III on Advance to the Rhine. Some vehicles simply have specific roles that not all maps offer. This is why a diverse line up is usually good. As you cannot predict (reliably) what map you will get, your tank line up has to be suitable for most/all maps. In addition, later into the game, the second, third, and proceeding vehicles you choose can impact the game. If your team needs to quickly capture the "A" point to prevent from losing, you want a fast-moving vehicle to get there quickly to stop the "ticket bleed".

Choosing a vehicle to use in game

Earning points

Points are earned for almost every action in the game. These are then used to research your next vehicle. Note that points earned on some actions depend on factors such as how much damage was done or whether your shell bounced. With that in mind, here are some common point earnings. (These are not official values, just ones based on observation.)

  • Capturing a point : 300 pts
  • Being hit by an enemy shell : <=30 pts
  • Hitting by an enemy: <=30 pts
  • Damaging an enemy: <=30 pts
  • Killing an enemy tank: <=100 pts
  • Killing an enemy plane: <=200 pts

General Tips for Beginners

Here are some tips we can give you if you're still new to War Thunder Ground Battles and want some advices, or for ideas on how to fight certain vehicles.

  • M4 Shermans are tough American medium tanks to crack, but the weak points in the front are the transmission area, and the side armour are very thin, large, and flat for an easy penetration.
  • Panzer III and IV are the main German medium tanks in the early ranks, here are some tips...
    • They are quite easy to take out if you hit their front plate as close to a perpendicular angle as possible, but the front glacis part in front of the front plate is basically invulnerable, so aim a bit higher when aiming at the front plate to avoid a round ricocheting off the glacis.
    • Shooting the Panzers in the empty space in the middle of the suspension will most likely cook off the ammunition rack or fuel container under the tank, ensuring a quick kill.
  • T-34s are the early bane in the Rank II with their extreme sloped front armour. Until you gain a powerful gun able to penetrate the front armour like the Panzer IV F2, here are some tips...
    • Aim for the sides of the turret, the areas that look like the "cheek" on a face. These are weak spots and are much weaker than the frontal hull. Shoot the right side because that is where the gunner sits. When that is hit, the T-34 is unable to fire. Once that's done, aim at the left to kill the loader, so if he is able to fire, the next shot will take a longer time to follow-up. Finish by either waiting for the replacement gunner to come in and take him out as well or flank the T-34 during this opportunity and fire at its weaker side armour at the driver's compartment in front.
    • Aim at the hull armour on a hill when it is below you. This way, you can minimize the sloping effectiveness of the tank, as the armour facing towards you is less sloped if you can see it in a near 90 degree angle. The hull armour is only 45 mm thick, and without the sloping advantage, it is easy to penetrate.
    • Ambush the T-34 on its sides, it is less sloped than the front armour. If possible, you can also aim at the small clearing above the track, but below the sloped side armour to hit an unsloped 45 mm side plate behind the track.
  • Mastering the different camera viewpoints is vital to tank battles:
    • Gunner view, named Sniper mode in the controls option, is necessary to make accurate shots at long-distance targets or to hit weak spots.
    • Commander view, named Binoculars in the controls option, is necessary to look over hills and obstacles.
    • Driver view, is sometime useful to peek below obstacles.
    • Turret view, which is the zoomed-in exterior (third-person) view (right-click by default), is necessary for close-quarter combat (especially on urban maps).
  • Use your binoculars, it's free. This ingame tip points at a major element of Ground Forces: spotting enemies before they spot you. Being able to ambush enemies to land the first hit is the best way to win a tank fight. Binding the Binoculars command in the controls option ("Tank Controls" category) will allow you to watch the landscape with a significant zoom, while keeping your hull behind cover and your turret aimed at its current direction.
    • While looking through the Binoculars, the Gunner can be ordered to aim where you are looking, by left-clicking. This function can be used to make accurate shots at long range, when the Gunner view (Sniper mode) is obstructed by bushes, or has a lesser magnification (zoom) than the Binoculars.
    • Most importantly, the Binoculars view position is from the Commander point of view, which is nearly always higher than the Gunner view ("Sniper mode" in the controls option), allowing you to scan and spot above obstacles and hills without exposing more than your cupola.
  • The controls command "Tank: short stop" (no keybind by default), when pressed and held, will stabilize and progressively slow down the tank to a stop. An absolute life-saver when driving at high-speed and suddenly encountering an enemy: continuing with the full-speed drive will make aiming too difficult, while braking will leave you unable to aim until the tank is properly stopped. The short stop is the best way to survive an unexpected duel.
  • The towing hook (default keybind: 0) actually works pretty well if you respect these two rules:
    • Point of attachment: if you want to roll a tank back on its tracks, attach the hook at the top (aiming with the mouse and pressing the hook key), then drive perpendicular to its tracks. The goal is to pull the top of the tank, not drag the bottom across the ground.
    • Momentum: if you want to turn over a large tank, or a tank that has both of its tracks in the air, you need momentum. Pick up some speed from a short distance, make sure to narrowly drive past the tank (don't drive into it!), and just as you sneak past it: look behind you, and HOOK the tank while still speeding away at full speed! Attach the hook to the top or the furthest point from you if possible to really pull it back around. Your tank will suddenly be attached to its target and the momentum will brutally pull it back up. With practice, practically all Light and Medium tanks and many Heavy tanks can be put back on their tracks on the first try.
  • Do not leave a battle if you can still respawn. Not only will you be ditching your team, you will also get a Crew Lock, which prevents you from using whichever vehicles receive the lock.