Ammunition

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Ammunition types.jpg

Ammunition is the basic firepower of every plane or vehicle, whether it be offensive or defensive in utilization. All aircraft and ground units in War Thunder use ammunition to some extent (excluding some of the jet bombers). There are varying ammunition types and calibers, ranging from 7,62 mm rifle caliber rounds to 152 mm howitzer shells.

Aircraft

Ammunition belt types

Currently there are six principal types of ammunition in-game, featuring slightly different shell types depending on nation: Universal, Air Targets, Tracer, Night, Ground 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-armored 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 armor of 20mm 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 armored aircraft,as it features mostly armor piercing rounds which more effectively defeat armor than other shell types.
  • 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 armor 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 armor penetration results. This is especially noticeable on sleek tapered sections, such as the tail and wing surfaces from 6 o'clock (behind). Smaller calibers 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 caliber HE-I round which explodes on impact. This can be seen with the MG131'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 armor (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 posses 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 15mm cannon or the Russian 12.7 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 armor 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

List: types and caliber

Browning M2 12.7mm
AN/M2 20mm Cannon
20mm Hispano Cannon
MG 151 15mm Cannon
ShVAK 20mm Cannon
Type 99 Mk1-2 20mm Cannon
Aircraft-weapons.gif

USA

  • Browning M2 - 12.7 mm (20s reload time)
  • Browning M3 - 12.7 mm (20s reload time)
  • Hispano - 20 mm (40s reload time) (P-400)
  • AN/M2 - 20 mm (40s reload time) (SB2C series)
  • AN/M3 - 20 mm (40s reload time) (AD-2, F8F-1B, F2H-2, F9F series)
  • FMC T-160 - 20 mm (40s reload time) (F-86F-2 Sabre)
  • T13E1 - 75mm (60s reload time) (Only on PBJ-1H)

Germany

  • MG 15 - 7.92 mm (15s reload time)
  • MG 17 - 7.92 mm (15s reload time)
  • MG 81 - 7.92 mm (15s reload time)
  • MG 131 - 13 mm (20s reload time)
  • MG 151 - 15 mm (20s reload time)
  • MG C/30L - 20 mm (40s reload time) (He 112 A-0)
  • MG FF - 20 mm (40s reload time)
  • MgFF/M - 20 mm (40s reload time)
  • MG 151 - 20 mm (40s reload time)
  • MK 103 - 30 mm (60s reload time)
  • MK 108 - 30 mm (60s reload time)
  • BK 37 - 37 mm (60s reload time) (Ju 87 G series, Hs 129B-2)
  • BK 5 - 50 mm (60s reload time)
  • MK 214A - 50mm (60s reload time) (Me 262 A-1/U4)
  • BK 7.5 - 75 mm (60s reload time) (Hs.129B-3)

Soviet

  • DA - 7.62 (15s reload time) (TB-3)
  • PV-1 - 7.62 mm (15s reload time) (I-15 series)
  • ShKAS - 7.62 mm (15s reload time)
  • Berezin UB - 12.7 mm (20s reload time)
  • ShVAK - 20 mm (40s reload time)
  • B-20 - 20 mm (40s reload time)
  • B-20M - 20 mm (40s reload time)
  • B-20S - 20 mm (40s reload time)
  • VYa-23 - 23 mm (40s reload time)
  • NS-23 - 23 mm (40s reload time)
  • NS-23K - 23 mm (40s reload time)
  • NR-23 - 23 mm (40s reload time)
  • N-37 - 37 mm (60s reload time)
  • N-37D - 37 mm (60s reload time)
  • NS-37 - 37 mm (60s reload time)
  • NS-45 - 45 mm (60s reload time)

Great Britian

  • MAC 1934 - 7.5 mm (15s reload time) (on French aircraft)
  • Vickers E - 7.7 mm (15s reload time)
  • Vickers K - 7.7 mm (15s reload time)
  • Browning - 7.7 mm (15s reload time)
  • Browning M2 - 12.7 mm (20s reload time)

Japan

  • Type 89 - 7.7 mm (15s reload time)
  • Type 92 - 7.7 mm (15s reload time)
  • Type 97 - 7.7 mm (15s reload time)
  • Type 98 - 7.92 mm (15s reload time)
  • MG 15 - 7.92 mm (15s reload time)
  • Ho-103 - 12.7 mm (20s reload time)
  • Type 2 - 13.2 mm (20s reload time)
  • Type 3 - 13.2 mm (20s reload time
  • MG 151 - 20 mm (40s reload time) (Ki-61 hei)
  • Type 97 - 20 mm (40s reload time)
  • Type 99 mk1 - 20 mm (40s reload time)
  • Type 99 mk2 - 20 mm (40s reload time)
  • Ho-3 - 20 mm (40s reload time)
  • Ho-5 - 20 mm (40s reload time)
  • Ho-155 - 30 mm (60s reload time) (Ki-87, Ki-84 hei)
  • Type 5 - 30 mm (60s reload time)
  • Ho-401 - 57 mm (60s reload time)

Italy

  • Breda-SAFAT - 7.7 mm (15s reload time)
  • Breda-SAFAT - 12.7 mm (20s reload time)
  • Lewis - 7.7 mm (15s reload time) (SM.79 1936)

France

  • MAC 1934 - 7.5 mm (15s reload time)
  • Hispano-Suiza HS.404 - 20 mm (40s reload time)

Tanks

Ammunition shell types

Tank shells come in two general categories: Kinetic energy shells, and chemical energy shells.

Kinetic energy shells ability to penetrate, and depending of type of shell, also to do damage, depends on a combination of the shell's mass, speed, and hardness. Since mass and hardness are constant for a shell, this means that the longer a shell flies, the more speed it loses due to air resistance, the less damage it will cause.

Chemical energy shells do their damage based on a chemical reaction, and unlike kinetic shells their ability to penetrate and do damage are not affected by the shell's speed. This means that they do the same amount of damage regardless of distance to the target, if they hit.

It can be worth noting that there is no '-T'-suffix to tank shells. It is assumed that all tank shells have a tracer component in the shell base.

Kinetic energy shells

  • AP Shot icon.jpg
    Armor Piercing (AP)

Basic solid steel shot, which uses kinetic energy to defeat the armor plate. The shot causes damage by fully or partially penetrating the armor plate, causing steel fragments of the shot and the armor plate to hit crew members, automotive components, ammuntion, fuel tanks, etc. The standard early-World War II ammunition for most nations.

  • APC Shot icon.jpg
    Armor Piercing, Capped (APC)

Here a nose cone (or cap) of softer metal was fixed to the front of the solid shot. When this struck the target armor the shock was transferred away from the tip of the round to the neck, thus helping prevent shatter. An added bonus was that it was found that the softer caps improved "grip" against sloped armor, squashing on impact to allow the main shot to penetrate rather than glancing off. A downside with the cap was the decrease in long-range accuracy due to the cap interfering with the shell's aerodynamics.

Display of shell normalization as an effect of a capped (APC) shell (clickable gif)
  • APBC Shell icon.jpg
    Armor Piercing, Ballistic Cap (APBC)

To improve aerodynamics of the AP shells, a ballistic cap can be added to the tip of the shot. This cap gives the shell a more pointed shape, allowing it to flow in the air more readily than a normal round. The cap is made of a brittle metal, which breaks on impact, and does not aid penetration nor give any slope "grip" as a APC round does.

  • APCBC Shell icon.jpg
    Armor Piercing, Capped, Ballistic Cap (APCBC)

A combination of the ballistic cap of APBC and the cap of APC, giving the round improved long-range accuracy and the slope grip. Note that some APCBC ammunition was only listed as APC, and that APCBC shells can come both with and without a high explosive filler.

  • APHE Shell icon.jpg
    APHEBC Shell icon.jpgAPCBC-HE Shell icon.jpgHigh Explosive Filler (-HE)

AP shots are often just solid metal shells that penetrates armor and causes damage by tearing through the interior and releasing shrapnel via spalling. The lethality of AP, APBC, APC, and APCBC shots can be increased by adding an explosive filler into the shell, intended to explode upon penetrating the enemy armor. This filler will, however, also decrease the mass of the shot, decreasing its ability to defeat the armour plate. In APCBC shell designations, the HE part is often just dropped e.g. the German Pz.Gr.39 round is "APHECBC" but is simply listed as a "APCBC". In-game, the images of each round and stat cards give a good indication on which shells have or doesn't have the explosive filler.

  • APCR Shell icon.jpg
    Armor Piercing, Composite, Rigid (APCR) or High Velocity, Armor Piercing (HVAP)

A very dense core, usually made from tungsten carbide, in a soft metal shell. Upon impact, the soft shell will deform, causing the core to penetrate the armor plate at very high speeds. Compared to solid shot AP they create much less shrapnel so sniping for weak points is necessary. These shell were the primary high-velocity penetrator used during World War 2 before the transition to APDS rounds.

  • APDS Shot icon.jpg
    Armor Piercing, Discarding Sabot (APDS)

Similar to the APCR in principle. Rather than a soft shell, however, the thin, long shot discards it shell (sabot) upon leaving the gun barrel, reducing the shell's drag and thus reducing loss of speed over distance, while not causing significant change to the mass of the penetrator compared to APCR. Compared to solid shot AP they create much less shrapnel so sniping for weak points is necessary. Most APDS penetrator rods were made from tungsten carbide, the same material for APCR, though some of the more modern ones still around use depleted-uranium instead for the penetrator.

  • APDS-FS Shot icon.jpg
    Armor Piercing, Discarding Sabot, Fin-Stabilized (APDS-FS)

Essentially a APDS round, with the exception of the shot having fins attached to stabilize its flight path. Exclusive to smooth bore barrel guns, which currently is only the T-62. These are the most modern type of kinetic penetrator still in use today, with a majority of the battle-use rounds made of depleted uranium.

Chemical energy shells

  • HE Shell icon.jpg
    High Explosive (HE)

While not intended to destroy tanks, high explosive rounds can damage tanks by destroying their tracks or damaging periscopes and automotive parts, and even crack and destroy armor plates if sufficiently powerful. Probably the main exponents of this approach were the Soviets, who not only issued every gun with some form of anti tank round, they were also happy to shoot HE at tanks. A 152 mm HE shell will spoil any one's day.

  • HESH Shell icon.jpg
    High Explosive Squash Head (HESH)

A thin-walled shell filled with a plastic explosive that upon impact causes the explosive to "pancake" onto the armour, which a fraction of a second later is detonated by a charge in the shell. The explosion will cause a shockwave in the armour and knock loose metal fragments on the other side of the armour (spalling), showering the inside of the tank with them. It has best effect against flat armour surfaces, and relatively thick armour, since thin armour does not cause sufficient spalling. This shell type appeared after WW2 and was mainly used by the British.
In game it ignores any armour-angle, except for ricochets, and deals damage by metal-flakes which are blown off inside the armour by the exterior explosion. Basically the fighting compartment is showered in metal rain. Currently only true armour thickness (opposed to line of sight thickness, again armour-angles are ignored) will provide sufficient means of protection.

Display of a HEAT charge striking armour
  • HEAT Shell icon.jpg
    High Explosive, Anti-tank (HEAT)

Rather than relying on penetration by pure kinetic energy, the HEAT shell achieves penetration through a combination of chemical and kinetic energy. When a HEAT shell detonates on impact, a metal cone (often copper) is cold-formed by the pressure created by the detonation of the HE-charges surrounding it turning the metal cone into a metal beam which penetrates armour at supersonic speeds. Thanks to the HE-charge creating the penetration potential on impact unlike conventional kinetic rounds, HEAT rounds do not lose any penetration potential even on very long distances. Another advantage of an HEAT round is its multi-purpose damage characteristics, the explosion by the HE-charge makes HEAT also effective against soft targets like trucks, facing armour the metal beam creates on penetration a deadly cone of armour fragments and itself destroying any modules or crew members in its way, though ingame the after penetration damage can be quite annoyingly punctual requiring a very precise aim. This ammo type was greatly improved past the sixties to improve on many issues the first WW2 iterations had like limited after penetration effects, low travelling speeds and penetration.

  • HEAT-FS Shell icon.jpg
    High Explosive, Anti-Tank, Fin-Stabilized (HEAT-FS)

A more sophisticated form of the HEAT round above. The HEAT-FS round has an advantage over HEAT by having a higher muzzle velocity as well as a more lethal warhead. A HEAT-FS round can penetrate an average of 300 mm of armor at any range, making them a very good round to use on long-range target as well as close-range.

  • ATGM icon.jpg
    Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM)

Main article: Anti-tank Guided Missile
This is a HEAT-FS round with a twist. Instead of being sent to its target via a straight trajectory, the HEAT warhead is guided by a missile projectile, controllable by the player. This allows far-range target that had to be manually ranged by distance to be targeted with pin-point accuracy with a missile that can change direction by command. Though a general disadvantage is the large missile size that restricts ammo count, the lethality given by this option allows players to seek out and destroy enemies at distances they would not even think of being engaged at.

  • Smoke Shell icon.jpg
    Smoke

Main article: Smoke
A specialized shell that causes no noticeable damages to any armored vehicle, but it allows the player for create their own smoke screen to conceal a position from enemy fire. Smoke lasts between 20-30 seconds and it obscures line-of-sight vision and also hides markers from friendlies and enemies. A noticeable trait in all smoke shell in comparison with regular shell is the reduced muzzle velocity.

Ammo Racks

Ammunition for ground vehicles are stored in Ammo Racks.

Armaments

Main article: Category:Tank_guns

USA

Germany

Soviet Union

Great Britain

Japan

Pages in category "Ammunition"

The following 4 pages are in this category, out of 4 total.

Media in category "Ammunition"

The following 13 files are in this category, out of 13 total.