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War Thunder in figures: game review

Viktor Korol

Leading software analyst in fintech, crypto, trading and gaming. An active trader and cryptocurrency investor.


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War Thunder is one of the top games involving combat vehicles: aircrafts, tanks, warships, etc. The game allows you to pilot hundreds of World War II models. Since its launch in 2013, the game has won numerous gaming awards and moved many competitors aside. Sixteen servers around the globe ensure no lags and high ping. We want this article to be not a typical War Thunder review, but a deep dive into game mechanics, modifications, crew, types of battles, rewards, gameplay tips and more. 

Recent War Thunder updates and modifications

Date Version Short description
March 14, 2018 1.77 “Advancing Storm” update. The game switched to Dagor Engine 5.0, lots of vehicles were added.
October 3, 2018 1.83 “Admiral Hipper” update. The navy came out as a beta test, the navy of Great Britain was introduced.
May 29, 2019 1.89 “Imperial Navy” update. Japanese Navy and anti-aircraft missile systems added.
September 11, 2019 1.91 “Night Vision” update. The game switched to the new sound engine Fmod Studio, new mechanics – night vision devices, thermal imagers. New gaming nation – China.
October 29, 2019 1.93 “Shark attack” update: new machines, e.g. Ka-50, Swedish aviation, new locations.
March 16, 2020 1.97 “Viking fury” update. A branch of Swedish tanks, new maps and onboard aviation systems added.
May 26, 2020 1.99 “Starfighter” update: a new nation of Italy (closed beta test), more vehicles, changes to damage models.
June 7, 2020 “Regia Marina” update. The Italian navy came out in full access for all players.

Modifications allow each player to customize the game interface to their preference, both in the hangar and on the battlefield. There are several types of War Thunder modifications: 

  • Appearance. Any combat vehicle, camouflage, hull, details.
  • Sound. Configure the soundtrack, guns and engine sounds, voices. 
  • Combat interface. Markers, sights, etc.
  • Hangar. The background or hangar interface as a whole.
  • War Thunder CDK (content development kit) – a set of tools to generate custom content individually. For instance, edit/create new missions and locations, share it with other players, participate in the content program and earn money.

Combat vehicles classification

All War Thunder vehicles are divided into three main categories: aviation, ground machines, and naval forces. All of them include models of 9 countries (USA, Germany, USSR, etc.) Let’s take a closer look at each type of machinery.

  • Aviation

Fighter – a plane designed to destroy aircrafts, hit ground and sea targets, perform air reconnaissance.

War Thunder aviation

Twin engine fightercombat aircraft for direct air support of ground forces on the battlefield, with missiles, bombs, cluster munitions and other ammo.

War Thunder aviation vehicles

Bombers – serves as enemy distraction, bombing or missile defense – both on the battlefield, and behind the enemy lines.

War Thunder bomber

Jet aircraft and helicopters.

War Thunder review: vehicles

helicopters in War Thunder

Number of units in Aviation category:

Nation Fighters Twin-engine fightes Bombers Jets Helicopters Premium aircraft
Usa 67 12 24 19 9 29
Germany 64 4 23 18 7 27
USSR 61 10 38 21 9 21
Great Britain 60 1 23 18 5 22
China 33 1 11 10 6
Italy 31 6 11 8 1 9
France 34 2 15 12 7 6
Sweden 23 7 10 4
Japan 53 21 10 1 19


  • Ground combat vehicles

Light tanks – rapid-fire, fast, thin armor. Capable of entering the enemy lines, spotting positions, calling artillery support.

War Thunder light tanks

Medium tanks – mobile, rapid-fire, decent armor. In battle, they play a crucial role, capturing points and moving quickly from one flank to another. They can call for artillery support too.

War Thunder medium tanks

Heavy tanks – armored, well-armed but slow and clumsy. Primary role is to fire, keep directions on the map, and destroy enemies with large-caliber guns.

War Thunder heavy tanks

Tank destroyers – the most powerful and accurate guns for a slow sniper game. 

War Thunder tank destroyers

Anti-aircraft vehicles – mostly to shoot down aircrafts. However, with armor-piercing shells, these machines can destroy tanks of lower ranks as well.

how to play War Thunder

Number of units in Ground vehicles category:

Nation Light tanks Medium tanks Heavy tanks Tank destroyers Anti-aircraft vehicles Premium vehicles
USA 15 33 11 15 7 27
Germany 14 28 13 28 9 27
USSR 21 29 19 23 11 33
Great Britain 11 30 8 13 8 16
China 11 17 3 10 3 5
Italy 7 15 13 6 4
France 17 17 6 7 5 7
Sweden 9 11 12 7 4
Japan 8 18 1 10 5 6


  • Navy

Barges flat-bottom cargo ship with a simple hull shape. The game has two types of barges with different weapons: naval ferry barges, anti-air ferries.

War Thunder naval forces

Boats – small light ships, very agile and fast, making it advantageous on the battlefield. The game includes 7 different categories of boats for specific combat tasks.

War Thunder ships

Sub-chasers – superior to boats in terms of firepower and survivability. However, the majority of these ships cannot withstand concentrated fire.

fleet in War Thunder

Destroyers is the class of warships, superior to barges, boats, and sub-chasers in terms of firepower, number of crew, armor, and maximum speed, but inferior in size and power artillery to light cruisers.

War Thunder destroyer ship

Cruisers – the most potent warships. But don’t forget – the higher the firepower and size, the slower the ship is. There are two categories of cruisers in the game: light and heavy cruisers.

cruiser ship in MMORPG

Premium vehicles – cover all three categories – aviation, ground vehicles, naval forces. These machines bring richer trophies (experience and silver). You can only buy it for Golden Eagles (in-game currency).

Number of units in Fleet category:

Nation Barges Boats Sub-chasers Destroyers Cruisers Premium
USA 14 5 9 7 7
Germany 4 11 4 11 7 5
USSR 9 16 11 5 10
Great Britain 17 2 10 10 5
Japan 9 7 8 8 6
Italy 12 1 4 4 3

Read more: War Thunder vs World of Tanks.

Vehicle upgrades, ranks and battle ratings

Any combat vehicle, regardless of whether it’s a tank, plane, or ship, has three main blocks of modifications. All of them affect the properties, e.g. improve speed, firepower, armor, etc. The more upgrades installed on your vehicle, the higher chance of winning battles is.


  1. Flight performance – includes such modifications as compressor, engine, wings repair, fuselage repair, radiator, etc.
  2. Survivability damage resistance, upgrades to plane frame and cover.
  3. Weaponry – more powerful, more accurate fire, less jamming.

Ground vehicles:

  1. Mobilityincrease the maximum speed and tank maneuverability.
  2. Protectionrepairs, firefighting and crew replenishment.
  3. Firepowerimprove firepower, reloading acceleration, speed of tower turning, fire accuracy, change shell type.


  1. Seakeeping – increase the maximum speed, controls, vessel turning time. 
  2. Unsinkabilityperform repairs on the battlefield, improve fire protection, etc.
  3. Firepower ship armament, shell supplements.

All vehicle modifications include 2 types of boosters: backup vehicle (use any technique 2 times in one battle) and talisman (get +100% research points). Also, we advise to upgrade repair and fire modules first, as it could increase battle time. Read module descriptions carefully to make properly-informed choices.

Ranks and battle rating. Naturally, with so many vehicles in War Thunder a question arises: how does the game select opponents for equal battles? The answer: through tank ranks – 1 to 7. A player reaches the next rank via upgrades only. 

Each combat unit has its battle rating, based on features and combat success. Again, the game selects players with similar battle ratings and crews. Therefore, we urge you to prepare carefully for transition to higher battle ratings (BR). It is better to gradually increase the rating, as well as not to buy just one vehicle with high BR. 

ranks and ratings in Warthunder

Crew classes

Each category of combat vehicles has a crew responsible for various characteristics of the machine. The number of crew members is different. For example, an aviation crew consists of 4 people, and ground vehicles have 6 members. Each member has unique skills and 5 upgrade levels. Note that the whole crew can be improved to Expert or Ace. Let’s take a closer look at crew skills.

  • Aviation
Category Unique skills
Pilot Keen vision – the maximum distance of enemy detection. Awareness – the spatial range of enemy detection. 
Defensive armament Number of gunners, fire accuracy, precision (reduce scattering of impact points).
Logistical services Repair speed – in hangar, airfield or port. Repair rank – determines vehicle ranks eligible for repairs. Reload speed, weapon maintenance (reduce overheating, jamming).
Qualifications Ace & Expert – increase points, when using a specific combat unit.


  1. Pilot skills are mainly in demand by fighters. Detecting enemies faster than they detect you is a great advantage. Also try to improve stamina and vitality – to  maneuver better at high speed.
  2. Improving defense skills is mostly for bombers and fighters because it affects firing accuracy.
  3. Upgrade reload speed and weapon maintenance, as ammunition is consumed quickly, as a rule.
  4. The more you want to pump up a single skill, the more skill points you need. If only one particular skill is essential, it would be better to distribute points equally between different skills, and then compensate lost points through qualifications upgrade.
  • Ground vehicles
Category Unique skills
Driver Tank driving – braking speed, fast gear shifting.
Gunner Targeting – accuracy and speed of aiming at the target. Rangefinding.
Tank commander Leadership – impacts the whole crew.
Tank loader Weapon reloading – reduces the time.
Radio operator gunner Artillery targeting accuracy, artillery strike calling time, radio communication distance.
Logistical services Rank and speed of repair.
Qualifications Ace & Expert


  • Fleet:
Category Unique skills
Ship commander Leadership, crew interchangeability, radio communication distance.
Observers Detection distance
Engine room Ship control – telegraph switch time, rudder reaction speed. Fire prevention.
Gunners Reloading guns and accuracy of firing.
Damage control Reduce the risk of catching fire.
Logistical services Rank and seed of repair
Qualifications Ace & Expert

At a first crew upgrade it is better to start with repair speed and fire prevention – things that help to stay in combat longer.


Ground vehicles. War Thunder has a massive amount of ammunition of various categories and properties, from simple blanks to modern cumulative missiles. Most tanks don’t need to take more than 15 – 20 rounds of ammunition. It will significantly reduce the risk of being destroyed.

One of the most popular ammunition is the armor-piercing high explosive shell. When it hits an enemy, it breaks into small fragments and destroys everything inside. You can kill an enemy with a single shot. To hit armored tanks, you should use solid armor-piercing rounds or sub-caliber rounds.

Aviation. There are also several types of ammunition for aircraft with different properties and use in combat. There are several types of shells: incendiary, adjustment incendiary, and immediate-action incendiary.

Fleet. Ships can carry all types of ammunition. For example heavy cruisers have main guns (both light and heavy armor-piercing shells) and extra guns launching torpedoes. It has the same classification as in aviation or ground vehicles. 

When selecting ammo, carefully analyze the battlefield and potential enemy vehicles. A proper choice gets you closer to victory.

War Thunder modes

  • Arcade mode

Easy to learn, yet not so simple in regards to damage mechanics. In Arcade mode, all vehicles inflict the most realistic damage, making it the most dynamic War Thunder mode. Here there are no restrictions by nations – teams can form from different vehicles and nations without reference to historical events.

  • Realism mode

The main idea is to simulate physical vehicle models down to each and tiny detail. In battle  tanks behave as they did in WW2, for instance, and a tank commander has to spot enemies himself (without marking). Naturally, camouflage plays a big role, unlike in the arcade mode. Next, the more enemies you neutralize, the more points you are awarded that can be used to purchase revival. 

  • Simulation mode 

Damage physics is similar to realism mode, but here the game starts as a first-person play. There are also no markers, either enemy or ally. In air battles, you are placed in the cockpit, which limits vision and complicates controls. 

All modes in War Thunder are divided into multiplayer and single, or PvP and PvE. For example, Dynamic Campaign, Historical Campaign, Individual Missions are PvE campaigns designed for single or team play. 

In-game currency

Silver Lions is the basic War Thunder currency. Players receive it for destroying enemies, gaining achievements, exchanging Golden Eagles, completing missions and training. It can also be obtained as a combat trophy, randomly after the battle.

War Thunder currency

Golden Eagles is a premium in-game currency for additional content. It can be obtained both by purchasing with real money and by winning competitions during promotional events. Literally everything in War Thunder is accessible with Golden Eagles, due to a currency conversion option. Moreover, one can activate the Premium account with extra features.

silver lions and golden eagles

Premium account is essentially a temporary boost of a main account in the form of bonuses for fighting. For example, premium owners receive +100% points in all game modes, +50% Silver Lions for actions in random battles, 4 decal slots, etc.

War Thunder review: gameplay experience

To start the game, a player has to register an account and join the War Thunder community. In the beginning, choose the nation and a category to upgrade – aviation, ground vehicles, or naval forces. The game has excellent graphics, special effects from explosions, high sound quality, realistic machinery. One of War Thunder’s upsides is the ability for different vehicle types to fight on the battlefield.

Note: The Arcade mode is more dynamic and faster than other game modes. You can master it quickly because of helpful markers to hit targets and spot the enemy on the map. In practice, 1 and 2 ranking vehicles are the easiest to upgrade, as they are not expensive and not a lot of research points are required. It is more challenging to get access to 3rd rank and higher. Therefore, we recommend to activate Premium account after the 2d rank.

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About author

Viktor Korol
Viktor Korol

Leading software analyst in fintech, crypto, trading and gaming. An active trader and cryptocurrency investor.

Viktor Korol gained a passion for IT as early as school, when he began creating multimedia websites, and managing online gaming projects later. Viktor has been publishing articles and help guides for beginner administrators. For 3 years he also worked as a telecom operator and thus gained expertise in network technologies and maintenance. His graduation degree is in Software and Automated Technologies. In 2019, Viktor was appointed a software analyst at ThinkMobiles.