Throughout the past century of tank development, a large range of ammunition types have been produced and seen combat. As time progressed, technology improved and rounds also improved in terms of lethality, accuracy and ballistic performance. Despite this, most rounds can be categorised under one of two primary categories: kinetic rounds and chemical rounds; and further under a variety of subcategories.
- 1 Kinetic energy shells
- 1.1 Solid Armour-Piercing Rounds
- 1.2 HE-Filled Armour-Piercing Rounds
- 1.3 Sub-Calibre Armour-Piercing Rounds
- 2 Chemical energy shells
- 2.1 High-Explosive Rounds
- 2.2 Anti-Emplacement Rounds
- 2.3 High-Explosive Anti-Tank Rounds
- 2.4 Guided Missiles
- 2.5 Utility Rounds
- 3 Media
- 4 See also
Kinetic energy shells
Kinetic rounds penetrate and deal damage based on a number of factors; shell type, projectile mass, round velocity and material hardness. Mass, shell type and hardness are constants, but velocity reduces with distance travelled and as such at longer ranges kinetic rounds will lose penetration ability and in some cases post-penetration efficacy.
Solid Armour-Piercing Rounds
Solid AP rounds are a kinetic munition that utilise a hardened metal (often steel) shell with full-calibre diameter. The result is a simple, yet effective anti-tank round that will punch through armour with high equivalent thickness values, while retaining reasonable post-penetration effects which, when well-placed, can deal significant internal damage to components and crew directly within the shrapnelling path.
AP is a standard early World War II ammunition for many nations. In War Thunder, AP rounds should be used as a general use anti-armour round, with careful round placement to maximise post-penetration damage.
Armour-Piercing, Capped (APC)
APC is commonly found as a mid-tier shell for both the British and French on their mid-to-late WW2 vehicles. In War Thunder, APC is best used as a short-to-mid range round for combatting angled armour that regular AP rounds may not easily penetrate.
Armour-Piercing, Ballistic Capped (APBC)
APBC is found on some early Russian vehicles, but is relatively uncommon otherwise compared to APCBC. In War Thunder, APBC is best used as a longer-range alternative to APC or APHE rounds which often exhibit less favourable ranged performance.
Armour-Piercing, Capped, Ballistic Capped (APCBC)
APCBC is found as a high-tier shell for British, French and American mid-to-late WW2 vehicles. In-game, APCBC should be the preferred option of solid shot rounds in all situations, when available, and should be situationally switched for APHE rounds if they're available.
HE-Filled Armour-Piercing Rounds
HE-Filled Armour-Piercing Rounds take the concept of armour-piercing rounds and add a deadly twist - a quantity of HE filler on a timed fuse, designed to explode after a successful penetration. While the concept sacrifices some structural integrity and thus penetrating power, the destructive ability of an APHE round is nearly unrivalled.
Armour-Piercing, High-Explosive (APHE)
APHE is primarily found on Russian vehicles earlier in the tech tree, and on some earlier American and German vehicles. It should be prioritised for use when penetration is likely, or switched for AP or APCR if improved penetration is required.
Armour-Piercing, High-Explosive, Ballistic Capped (APHEBC)
APHEBC is primarily found on Russian vehicles earlier in the tech tree as a mid-tier round, and on some American and German vehicles. It's ideally used against targets where angled performance is required and HE filler is preferable.
Armour-Piercing, High-Explosive, Capped, Ballistic Capped (APHECBC)
APHECBC is found throughout the Russian tech tree as a high-tier round, and on some American and German vehicles. APHECBC should be used preferentially and interchangeably with a high-penetration round where available.
Sub-Calibre Armour-Piercing Rounds
Sub-Calibre AP rounds are, essentially, what they say on the label - the penetrator itself is of a smaller calibre than the gun barrel, using a 'sabot' to make up the calibre difference. How the sabot is handled is dependent on the type of round - it may be either discarding or non-discarding. Sub-calibre rounds sacrifice post-penetration effectiveness for high round velocities and high penetration values.
Armour-Piercing, Composite, Rigid (APCR)
APCR is found throughout most tech trees, most commonly available to vehicles from mid-WW2 through to early cold war vehicles. APCR rounds are best used against minimally angled armour, where other rounds will be unable to penetrate.
Armour-Piercing, Discarding Sabot (APDS)
APDS is first made available on post-WW2 British vehicles, and is available to most vehicles in possession of an L7-derived gun. In War Thunder, APDS is best used as a long-range round, with multiple shots often being a necessity due to the lack of post-penetration damage. APDS is quite ineffective against lightly-armoured vehicles.
Armour-Piercing, Fin-Stabilised, Discarding Sabot (APFSDS)
APFSDS is first available to some late Rank V vehicles, and is often the primary round for most Rank VI or VII vehicles. It's effective at all ranges, and due to most APFSDS rounds having an extremely high velocity, they maintain their performance at even extreme ranges. APFSDS is quite ineffective against lightly-armoured vehicles.
Chemical energy shells
Chemical energy shells deal damage based on a chemical reaction, and unlike kinetic shells, their ability to penetrate and deal damage are unaffected by the shell's velocity. This means that target distance often doesn't affect the round's effectiveness.
High-Explosive rounds are a simple shell packed full of a high-explosive material, primarily designed for anti-infantry and anti-emplacement applications. However, this translates surprisingly well when applied to light vehicles - significantly more so than armour-piercing rounds or in some cases even APHE rounds. Unfortunately, most HE-based rounds are relatively useless against well-armoured vehicles.
HE rounds are available to almost every vehicle in-game. However, low-calibre HE rounds are ineffective against all but the most lightly armoured targets, so this type of round should only be utilised by vehicles with large-calibre guns, such as the KV-2 or Sturmpanzer II.
High-Explosive Time Fuse (HE-DF)
HE-DF rounds are available to a number of vehicles originally designed for anti-air purposes, such as the YaG-10 (29-K) and the 8,8 cm Flak 37 Sfl. They're best used against aircraft by rangefinding the aircraft in question, setting the fuse range to a reasonable assumption based on the result and leading reasonably. They can be extremely effective against aircraft if used correctly, but are mostly ineffective against armoured vehicles.
High-Explosive Variable Time Fuse (HE-VT)'
HE-VT rounds are available to some later anti-air vehicles, such as the OTOMATIC or Begleitpanzer 57, and are capable of destroying aircraft or helicopters if the round passes within close proximity of the target. They are extremely effective against mid-ranged aircraft but cannot be relied upon for use against armour.
HE Grenades are available to vehicles with 'recoilless' cannon designs or other non-standard cannon designs. They are generally as effective as an equivalent HE round, however have significantly lower muzzle velocity and as such are extremely inaccurate at long ranges. HE Grenades are found on vehicles such as the BMP-1.
Rockets can be unreliable and inaccurate, but due to their often large calibre and large amounts of HE filler, they can prove effective against some armoured vehicles. Rockets are either mounted ancillary, as on the Calliope or the M26 T99, or on rocket carriers such as the BM-13N.
Anti-Emplacement rounds are designed specifically for combatting emplacements, however have proven to have some anti-tank value. They rely on different mechanics to normal rounds, but can prove particularly ineffective against heavy armour.
Shrapnel rounds are available exclusively to early Russian vehicles. Shrapnel is exclusively useful against lightly armoured targets, and shouldn't be used against front-facing armour of any other tank.
High-Explosive Squash Head (HESH)
HESH rounds are available to most British vehicles from Rank V, and other vehicles in possession of an L7-derived gun. HESH should be primarily used against lighter armour or side armour, although occasionally the HE splash effect can cause unexpected results. HESH is completely ineffective against heavy armour or composite armour designs.
High-Explosive Anti-Tank Rounds
High-Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT) rounds make use of shaped charges to penetrate armour, forcing superplastic metal through into the crew compartment, damaging crew and modules. HEAT rounds prove particularly effective at long ranges, as their method of action does not lose effectiveness with range. Unfortunately, though, the fuse on a HEAT round must be extremely sensitive, allowing the rounds to detonate on trees and fences that other rounds would pass through.
High-Explosive, Anti-tank (HEAT)
HEAT rounds are available to a variety of WW2 German vehicles, as well as higher-performance HEAT becoming available to some late French and American vehicles, as HEAT-FS rounds cannot be fired from rifled cannons. HEAT is limited in effectiveness and its usage should be carefully considered as many vehicles have armour it cannot penetrate.
High-Explosive, Anti-Tank, Fin-Stabilized (HEAT-FS)
HEAT-FS rounds become available to many nations from Rank V although notably the British do not receive HEAT-FS at any stage due to its incompatibility with rifled cannons. At Rank VI and Rank VII, HEAT-FS may prove ineffective in many cases due to the prevalence of ERA and composite armour. Despite this, it can still be used for ranged engagements, as particularly late HEAT-FS rounds have extremely high penetration power.
High-Explosive, Anti-Tank, Fin-Stabilised, Proximity Fuse (HEAT-FS PRX)
HEAT-FS PRX rounds are extremely specialised and are available to only the M1A2 Abrams (as of 1.93). They combine the anti-armour power of a standard HEAT-FS round with the anti-aircraft effectiveness of a HE-PRX round. Their proximity fuse will detonate only above a specified altitude, so they can be used normally against other armoured vehicles.
High-Explosive, Anti-Tank Grenade
HEAT Grenades are available to vehicles with 'recoilless' cannons or other non-standard cannon designs. Their effectiveness is similar to that of an equivalent HEAT round, however due to their low muzzle velocity they can be inaccurate at long ranges. HEAT Grenades are found on vehicles such as the BMP-1.
Guided missiles utilise a guidance system (of various types, such as MCLOS, SACLOS, Radar, Heat-Seeking) to accomplish their intended role. They sacrifice round velocity for long-range precision. Different missile types are effective in different applications - some have anti-tank properties, while others are effective against air targets.
Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM)
ATGMs become available through Rank V, and are primarily carried by specialised ATGM carriers, although some tanks have ATGM-capable main cannons and some exceptional designs such as the Strv 81 (Rb.52) or the AMX-13 (HOT) mount ATGMs on ancillary pylons. ATGMs are powerful and SACLOS guided missiles are easily aimed, however they travel slowly and well-aware targets may be able to move into cover prior to the ATGM reaching them.
Anti-Tank Guided Missile Proximity Fuse (ATGM-PRX)
Proximity Fuse ATGMs can prove extremely effective against low-flying aircraft or helicopters, and utilise a similar proximity fuse concept to SAM missiles - although often ATGMs pack significantly more HE filler than SAMs do. ATGM-PRX missiles are available to specialised ATGM carriers such as the Shturm-S.
Anti-Tank Guided Missile, Tandem Charge (ATGM Tandem)
Tandem ATGMs are effective against ERA-protected vehicles, and often have very high penetration values. Tandem charge ATGMs are available to specialised ATGM carriers such as the Shturm-S.
Anti-Tank Guided Missile, HE (ATGM-HE)
HE ATGMs are only effective against light vehicles in most cases, despite packing large quantities of HE filler. They are available to specialised ATGM carriers such as the Shturm-S.
Surface to Air Missile (SAM)
SAMs are very effective at long distances against aircraft, particularly helicopters. They are often extremely high velocity and pack a large amount of HE filler for a powerful airburst effect. SAMs are available to specialised anti-air vehicles such as the 2S6 Tunguska or the ADATS (which, notably, has multi-purpose missiles that are also effective against armoured vehicles).
Utility rounds are ineffective for use against other vehicles, but provide value in some sort of utility.
Smoke shells are available to various vehicles throughout most tech trees, however their effectiveness is somewhat limited compared to dedicated smoke launchers.
- Ammo racks - How all tank ammunition is stored within the tank