Plane ammunition

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Ammunition belt types

Currently, there are seven principal types of ammunition in-game, featuring slightly different shell types depending on the nation: Universal, Air Targets, Tracer, Night, Ground Targets, Armored Targets and Stealth.

  • Universal ammunition is generally suitable for any engagement.
  • Air Targets ammunition is used for destroying air targets more effectively and will often prove itself useful against non-armoured ground units like trucks and MG emplacements.
  • Tracer ammunition is useful for newer players because it allows you to see where your shots are travelling more easily than other ammunition belts, allowing for easier aiming. This ammunition type generally does little damage on the armour of 20 mm or greater, however, some nations' machine gun rounds have very dangerous incendiary tracer belts, e.g. the Brownings are notorious for setting fuel tanks ablaze.
Comparison of Universal and Night tracer ammo belts for the German MK 108 30mm cannon. The Night belt is on the right.
  • Night ammunition is a variation of tracer ammunition where the tracer isn't as bright, to help prevent flash blindness and preserve the pilot's night vision. Night battles are rare in War Thunder, but once in it, the usual tracer rounds shine bright like lasers in the sky, showing every pilot the location of a dogfight. A severe disadvantage in Realistic and Simulator mode.
  • Ground Targets ammunition is recommended for killing ground units, or more heavily armoured aircraft, as it features mostly armour piercing rounds which more effectively defeat armour than other shell types.
  • Armored Targets ammunition is almost always the highest penetrating belt available for a plane. It is best used by bombers when defending their rear, as the front side of enemy planes is usually the thickest, meaning that some ammunition does far less damage. AT rounds, however, can rip through the engine and cockpit of almost any plane flying in range of the turrets. It is also used well by ground attack aircraft with higher calibre guns (e.g. IL-2-37, Ju 87 G, Hs.129B-3, etc.) as the penetration can skyrocket, allowing for easy destruction of even heavy tanks. Planes, being much weaker, will usually disintegrate upon even being clipped by these shells.
  • Stealth ammunition is used by more experienced players because the bullets fired cannot be seen by the shooter or the target since the belt does not contain any tracer rounds. This is useful for ambushing enemies, as they can't see when you are firing at them until they have received damage. Stealth can be used more easily in Arcade Mode, due to the lead indicating reticule.

Different nations may have the same basic ammunition belts, however, these will generally contain slightly different shell types in different ratios, depending on what aircraft you are flying.

Ammunition types

Most of the ammunition types are self-explanatory, but there is some confusion over a few of the types. Let's go through them one-by-one.

Incendiary(I), Adjustment incendiary(AI), and Immediate-action incendiary(IAI) rounds all sound very similar but they affect enemy vehicles differently upon impact.

  • Incendiary(I) will set engines and fuel tanks on fire if hit often enough and if the armour screen many planes have is penetrated. They often have tracer chemicals (IT) in the base of the round which also has incendiary properties.
  • Adjustment incendiary(AI) shells feature a capped nose which upon impact will deform (like dough) and allow the rest of the bullet more contact area. Due to the effect of normalization now angling the shell more efficiently, better armour penetration results. This is especially noticeable on sleek tapered sections, such as the tail and wing surfaces from 6 o'clock (behind). Smaller calibres will bounce off even 1 mm thick duralumin. The "Adjustment incendiary" suffers less from this problem, otherwise, it works just like a normal incendiary round. Note: Only incendiary shells use this as they rely on penetrating the target to do their work. HE, FI and other explosive shell types have contact fuses and will just explode upon contact, circumventing the need to penetrate.
  • Immediate-action incendiary(IAI) is not really an incendiary shell. It's a small calibreHE-I round which explodes on impact. This can be seen with the MG 131's stealth belt.

The composition of the "Practice shell" type differs for most nations. In general, they are just full core rounds, which means they possess decent penetration depth against armour (but less than AP) and have good disabling/damaging values against heavy modules like engines; fuel tanks and radiators (better than standard AP). However against soft targets (control surfaces, crewmen) they prove themselves inferior to area-of-effect shells like HE-I, HEF and FI-T. Compared to incendiary rounds they possess more instant damage while the latter will do more damage over time.

A type that may be unfamiliar to players is the Armor-piercing (cermet core) round, used by some German ammo belts like the 15 mm cannon as well as some Russian 12.7 mm/14.5 mm ammo belts. This round has a tough inner core made of a composite material composed of ceramic (cer) and metallic (met) materials, which give it enhanced armour penetration characteristics.

Machine gun bullets

  • Ball - Omni-purpose
  • T - Tracer
  • I - Incendiary
  • IT - Incendiary tracer
  • AI - Adjustment incendiary
  • IAI - Immediate-action incendiary
  • AP - Armor-piercing
  • AP-I - Armor-piercing incendiary
  • AP-I(c) - Armor-piercing (cermet core)
  • AP-T - Armor-piercing tracer
  • API-T - Armor-piercing incendiary tracer

Cannon shells

  • P - Practice
  • T - Tracer
  • IT - Incendiary tracer
  • IT* - Incendiary tracer (self-destroying)
  • FI-T - Fragmentation incendiary tracer
  • FI-T* - Fragmentation incendiary tracer (self-destroying)
  • AP-I - Armor-piercing incendiary
  • APHE - Armor-piercing high explosive
  • HEI - High-explosive incendiary (minengeschoß)
  • HEI - High-explosive incendiary (minengeschoß, night tracer)
  • HEF - High-explosive fragmentation
  • HEF-I - High-explosive fragmentation incendiary
  • HEF-SAPI - High-explosive fragmentation (Semi-armor-piercing incendiary)
  • HVAP-T High-velocity armor-piercing tracer