Thunderbolt (PT-556)

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Thunderbolt (PT-556)
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Thunderbolt (PT-556)
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The Elco 80 ft, Thunderbolt (PT-556) is a premium rank III American motor torpedo boat with a battle rating of 3.0 (AB/RB/SB). It was introduced in Update 1.83 "Masters of the Sea" as part of the fleet release into Open Beta Test.

The Thunderbolt is an Elco 80 ft-class patrol boat that is unique from her sister craft since she sports a quad 20 mm gun mount at the aft of the vessel.

General info

Survivability and armour

Armourfront / side / back
Hull40 mm (wood)
Superstructure15 mm (wood)
Number of section3
Displacement61 t
Crew12 people

Similar to the other Elco boats, the PT-556 has 6.35 mm of hardened armour protecting the helmsman, who is a critical crew member. With a crew complement of 12 predominately operating guns above deck, this boat can be knocked out relatively easily. The quad Oerlikon mount on the rear features a protected "basket" with an open top, sporting the same 6.35 mm sides and back with a 12.7 mm front plate.


Speedforward / back
AB105 / 28 km/h
RB75 / 20 km/h

This boat weighs as much as the heavier PT-565 while maintaining the top speed of the lighter PT-314, helping this boat live up to the nickname "Thunderbolt" which is scribed on the rear quad mount. With a top speed of 106 km/h in Arcade Battles, this boat is among the fastest in game. Additionally, it sports a high reverse speed and is capable of tight turns.

Mobility Characteristics
Game Mode Upgrade Status Maximum Speed (km/h) Turn Time (s) Turn Radius (m)
Forward Reverse
AB Stock ___ ___
Upgraded 105 28
RB/SB Stock ___ ___
Upgraded 75 20

Modifications and economy

Repair cost
AB1 101 Sl icon.png
RB1 622 Sl icon.png
Crew training10 000 Sl icon.png
Experts180 000 Sl icon.png
Aces590 Ge icon.png
Research Aces710 000 Rp icon.png
Reward for battleAB / RB / SB
Talisman.png 2 × 100 / 170 / 50 % Sl icon.png
Talisman.png 2 × 148 / 148 / 148 % Rp icon.png
Seakeeping Unsinkability Firepower
Mods new ship hull.png
Mods new ship rudder.png
Rudder Replacement
Mods new ship screw.png
Propeller Replacement
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Engine Maintenance
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Damage Control Division
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Fire Division
Mods engine smoke screen system.png
Mods new ship pumps.png
New Pumps
Mods new aa caliber turrets.png
Anti-Air Armament Targeting
Mods ammo.png
20 mm HE magazines
Mods new aux caliber turrets.png
Auxiliary Armament Targeting
Mods ammo.png
20 mm AP magazines
Mods tank ammo.png
Mods new main caliber turrets.png
Primary Armament Targeting
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Artillery Support


Primary armament

Turret20 mm/70 Oerlikon Mk.II autocannon
Ammunition1800 rounds
Belt capacity60 rounds
Fire rate450 shots/min
Vertical guidance-5° / 60°
Turret4 x 20 mm/70 Oerlikon Mk.II autocannon
Ammunition7200 rounds
Belt capacity60 rounds
Fire rate450 shots/min
Vertical guidance-15° / 85°

The primary armament consists of a quad-mounted 20 mm Oerlikon Mk.II turret aft and a single cannon at the front. They are extremely deadly to any small targets.

Both turrets have fast traverse rate and good elevation angles, so there should be no problem in engaging aircraft. Short bursts are all it should take to take out any unarmoured targets or aircraft. The ballistics should be familiar from the other PT boats. You should have some trigger discipline because you don't have enough ammunition to "spray and pray".

The placement of the quad mount makes for a forward dead zone of roughly 20 degrees and roughly 45 degrees left and right of the bow. This can limit the ability to engage targets with maximum closing speed and maximum firepower at once.

  • Universal: HEF-T · HEF-I · AP-T
  • 20 mm HE: HEF-T · HEF-I · AP-T · HEF-I
  • 20 mm AP: AP-T · AP-T · AP-T · HEF-I

Penetration statistics
Ammunition Penetration @ 0° Angle of Attack (mm)
10 m 100 m 500 m 1,000 m 1,500 m 2,000 m
HEF-T 2 2 2 2 2 2
AP-T 34 32 24 17 12 8
HEF-I 2 2 2 2 2 2
Shell details
Ammunition Velocity
mass (kg)
Fuse delay
Fuse sensitivity
Explosive mass
(TNT equivalent) (g)
0% 50% 100%
HEF-T 830 0.12 0 0.1 6.57 79° 80° 81°
AP-T 830 0.12 - - - 47° 60° 65°
HEF-I 830 0.12 0 0.1 11.17 79° 80° 81°

Secondary armament

Turret37 mm AN-M4 cannon
Ammunition900 rounds
Belt capacity30 rounds
Fire rate150 shots/min
Main article: AN-M4 (37 mm)

The secondary armament on this boat is a 37 mm AN-M4 cannon at the front of the boat. The low rate of fire and low velocity makes it unsuitable for general use, but can act as a decent supporting fire to the 20 mm cannons when the secondary armament control switch is set to the ON position. It is unsuitable for anti-aircraft because of the problems mentioned above and the fact that it has poor elevation angles. The high explosive shells also self-destruct, so you can't engage with them past medium ranges. The penetration rates of the armour-piercing shells are on par with the main Oerlikon cannons, so you can have it as your backup for armoured targets.

Penetration statistics
Ammunition Type of
Penetration @ 0° Angle of Attack (mm)
10 m 100 m 500 m 1,000 m 1,500 m 2,000 m
M54 shell HEFI-T* 3 3 3 3 3 3
M80 API-T 41 39 33 26 21 17
Shell details
Ammunition Type of
mass (kg)
Fuse delay
Fuse sensitivity
Explosive mass
(TNT equivalent) (g)
0% 50% 100%
M54 shell HEFI-T* 610 0.61 0 0.1 65.25 79° 80° 81°
M80 API-T 556 0.75 - - - 47° 60° 65°

Anti-aircraft armament

2 х Turret2 x 12.7 mm Browning AN-M2 machine gun
Ammunition4000 rounds
Belt capacity200 rounds
Fire rate577 shots/min
Main article: AN-M2 (12.7 mm)

The PT-556 utilizes the same AA layout as the PT-565, however it does offer twice the ammunition load at 8,000 rounds for the two dual-mount 12.7 mm AN-M2 emplacements. The dual-mount 12.7 mm machine guns are decent at hitting slow-flying aircraft such as floatplanes, as well as damaging frail PT boats such as the reserve torpedo boats. However, against targets at a distance greater than 500 m, the .50 cal MGs will struggle to hit the target. Even if they do hit, at such distances the damage dealt is unnoticeable, so expect the .50 cals to be of no use unless the offending aircraft or PT is right on top of the Thunderbolt.

Additional armament

Setup 14 x 569 mm Mk.13 torpedo
Main article: Mk.13 (569 mm)

The PT-556 carries four Mk.13 torpedoes with 178 kg of explosives, a pretty weak explosive mass compared to counterparts from other countries. Still, it still packs some punch to cripple enemy ships, and since you're carrying four torpedoes instead of two like other PT boats, these can be very helpful in case if you've missed a hit. Setting the depth stroke to 4 m instead of 1 m can alleviate the low explosive mass, but it is still recommended to fire the torpedoes in a salvo of two unless you are confident a single torpedo will strike the target.

Usage in battles

The PT-556 is a PT boat that packed with heavy firepower in the form of 5 x 20 mm Oerlikon cannons and other supplementary armaments. As its nickname Thunderbolt suggests, the playstyle of this boat is strike hard and strike fast before retreating.

Due to the boat's poor survivability, speed and positioning is the key of success. Never rush into the enemy and instead utilizing covers or moving in pack with your teammates. In this way, you can provide heavy fire support on any distracted enemy.

Against destroyers, the PT-556 has no trouble to destroy them with four small torpedoes, albeit usually requires more than one hit to kill them. Thanks to your 4 x 20 mm Oerlikon cannons, you can kill the enemy destroyer by engaging the ship from the sides, then spray your lead into every section the ship's side to wipe out the crew, this is more effective than concentrating on a single section.

Because the main armament is located at the rear of the boat, the Thunderbolt is best used either in a broadside or at a disengaging angle when fighting small PT boats, but against larger ships and destroyers it is recommended to be bow in to reduce the chances of being struck by an HE shell, as well as getting closer to the targeted ship to get a more accurate torpedo spread off.

Pros and cons


  • Main armament consists of five hard-hitting 20 mm Oerlikon cannons
  • Rear 4 x 20 mm Oerlikon turret provided very dense cone of fire
  • Fast and agile as it is a motorboat
  • Can carry 4 x torpedoes, 2 on each side
  • AA defence consisting of 4 x 12.7 mm AN-M2 machine guns which provide enough protection
  • 37 mm gun can be equipped with AP shells to deal with armoured targets
  • 37 mm AN-M4 rounds are pure HE or pure AP and no mix


  • 20 mm cannons have low velocity and awkward angle and therefore are hard to aim
  • Very poor survivability
  • Ammunition storage is next to the fuel tank
  • Each individual torpedo is quite weak and often requires more than one hit to sunk enemy destroyer
  • 37 mm gun is not accurate


PT-556 was an Elco 80-foot class Motor Torpedo Boat of the United States Navy. It was laid down by the Electric Launch Company (Elco) in Bayonne, NJ, on 1 July 1943. She was launched on 16 September 1943 and completed and commissioned on 20 October 1943.

PT-556 had a length of 80 ft, a beam of 20 ft 8 in, and a draft of 5 ft. The displacement was 56 tons and it was manned by a crew of 17. The ship was powered by three 1,500 shp Packard W-14 M2500 gasoline engines, turning three shafts; a speed of 41 knots could be achieved. The armament consisted of two twin .50 cal mounts (total of four machine guns), four 21 inch torpedoes, and one Elco Thunderbolt quadruple 20 mm mount (total of four 20 mm cannons). The PT-556 was one of the few torpedo boats to be equipped with the Elco Thunderbolt mount.

PT-556 was first assigned to Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron Twenty-Nine (MBTRon 29), under the command of CDR S. Stephen Daunis, USN. MBTRon 29 was assigned to the Mediterranean and was based at Calvi, Corsica, and later Leghorn, Italy. Operating under the British Coastal Forces, the squadron saw action along the northwestern coast of Italy and southern coast of France.

PT-556 was transferred to the Soviet Union on 12 April 1945, and was reclassified as TK-435. Her fate after transfer is unknown.



See also

Links to articles on the War Thunder Wiki that you think will be useful for the reader, for example:

  • reference to the series of the ship;
  • links to approximate analogues of other nations and research trees.

External links

Paste links to sources and external resources, such as:

  • topic on the official game forum;
  • other literature.

Electric Launch Company (Elco) Ships
Patrol Torpedo Boats (PT) 
77' PT  PT-20 · PT-59
80' PT  PT-103 · PT-109 · PT-174 · PT-314 · Thunderbolt (PT-556) · PT-565

USA boats
Motor torpedo boats  PT-3 · PT-6 · PT-20 · PT-71 · PT-103 · PT-109 · PT-174
  PT-200 · PT-314 · Thunderbolt (PT-556) · PT-565 · PT-658 · PT-810 · PT-811 · PT-812
Motor gun boats  Kim Qui · LCS(L)(3) · PT-59 · PTF-7 · USS Candid · USS Asheville · USS Douglas · USS Tucumcari · USS Cyclone
Armoured gun boats  LCM(6) Zippo

USA premium ships
Motor torpedo boats  PT-3 · PT-109 · PT-174 · Thunderbolt (PT-556) · PT-658 · PT-811
Motor gun boats  LCM(6) Zippo · USS Douglas
Sub-chasers  Carmi (PC-466)
Destroyers  USS Welborn C. Wood · USS Wilkinson · USS Bennion · USS Cowell · USS Davis · USS Moffett · USS Phelps · USS Frank Knox
Light cruisers  USS Detroit · USS Helena
Heavy cruisers  USS Des Moines
Battleships  USS Arkansas