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That speck on your screen is not dust

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So here's an ultra-low quality small screen grab of what appears to be the horizon out in the distance.


There's actually a large object 6 m in height and 23 m in length in this picture obstructing the view.




Right there. That's no dust speck (that's no moon).




???????? ??-8/Petlyakov Pe-8


Welcome to War Thunder.


My roommate Gavin introduced me to the game two years ago. I've been playing pretty often ever since. I play in ultra-low quality since my computer can't handle the game's pretty damn good graphics.

War Thunder is a free-to-play game made by Gaijin, a Russian-based company, primarily consisting as a flight-simulator PVP game for the PC, Mac, and PS4, taking place between the Spanish Civil War and the Korean War (starting with biplanes and early monoplanes on to jets), allowing the players to choose between five different nations: USA, Germany (the used to have Swastikas, but were removed for sociopolitical purposes), USSR, Great Britain, and Japan (along with other nations represented within the major factions). There are ground forces as well, but Japanese forces aren't released yet, so I'm not gonna cover that. And it's basically a lower-end version of World of Tanks. Naval forces are going to be added at some point in the future a well.


There are three kinds of battle modes for air battles:

For the PC and Mac, in Arcade and Realistic mode, you can use your mouse and keyboard to play easily. For Simulator mode, you can still use them, but it will be harder than with a joystick.



Quick, generally 10-minute games. Flight models are exaggerated, allowing you to climb faster, turn better, and perform impossible stunts without tearing off your wings. However, they still retain some similarities to their real-world counterparts (slow virage time for a P-47 Thunderbolt). You can see your plane in third-person, cockpit view, gunner view (if possible), bomb-sight view (if possible) or simulator view. There is a leading indicator ahead of enemy aircraft that allows you to point to where you should shoot at. Enemies and allies have markers over their plane from a distance. Ammo can be restocked in the air after a reload timer, however, fuel must be refueled at the airfield (which usually is not necessary). Any nation can be on either team (you can find a P-51 fighting another P-51). If you die, you can respawn in another plane as long as you have any remaining that you have not lost already. If you lose a wing, or sustain significant damage, you have 15 seconds before you are automatically ejected from your plane.


Replay of an older battle. The leading indicator is represented as that large circle over that I-16 near Zhengzhou.


Objectives for maps involve:

Ground Strike

Destroy all enemy ground vehicles (armored vehicles and AAA can be destroyed by rifle-caliber rounds, tanks and pillboxes are best destroyed by bombs, American .50 cals can destroy light pillboxes). If all enemy vehicles are destroyed, your team wins.

Destroy all enemy bases (requires bombs/rockets, approx. 8-10 tons of TNT required)

Destroy enemy airfield (can only be done after destroying all enemy bases, has a significant amount of health, >30 tons of TNT required). If the airfield is destroyed, your team wins.

Destroy all enemy air vehicles (the other team has no more players with available planes left)



Destroy all enemy ground vehicles (dwindles away the enemies' points)

Land and capture all capture zones (shown in the picture above on the minimap, labeled A, B, and C)

Destroy all enemy air vehicles


Front Line

Destroy all enemy vehicles (both ground and air vehicles lost cause teams to lose points)


Air Domination

Stay within 600 m and 4800 m altitude of the specified zone and destroy all enemy vehicles in the zone



Realistic (formerly Historical)

Typically longer games (30 minutes to an hour). Like arcade mode, you can see your plane in different views, and enemies have markers that can appear at a distance if your pilot can spot them. However, flight models are similar to their real-world counterparts. Wings can tear apart after pulling extremely high-G maneuvers, flaps can too at high speeds. There is no longer a leading indicator, so you must predict where your shots will land. Ammo can only be restocked at the airfield. If you sustain significant damage, you can still attempt to hobble back to the airfield for repairs without a 15-second timer, however repairs may take minutes before you are airworthy again. Teams are mostly based on historical alliances (sometimes there are mixed games) and in familiar locations. You only have one life in realistic mode.?


Spitfire Mk IIb heading on a P-40E-1 Kittyhawk in a "Training" mission in Hokkaido. Note the lack of a leading indicator in front of the P-40. Also, you should almost never head-on an opponent that close (zoom away at about 1 km distance).


A cinematic screenshot of a P-51D-5 Mustang setting an A6M5 Ko Reisen on fire over New Guinea.


Objectives are usually the same in each map, where you must destroy all ground forces and/or bases and the airfield/carriers. But usually games end when the other team no longer has any players remaining.


Simulator Mode

An even more realistic version of playing (not perfect). Press I to start your engine at the airfield. You can only view in cockpit, simulator, gunner (if possible), and bombsight (if possible) views in the air. When stopped and on the ground, you can choose third-person view, but it will switch out once you start moving. Engine control should be set to manual in order to fly efficiently, such that prop pitch (for prop planes), mixture, radiator flaps, and sometimes supercharger gear should be balanced in order to maintain optimal performance. Ally markers only appear if you are within 1 km of them, and there are no enemy markers. This is where you definitely want your screen cleaned before playing.

I've never played it in PVP (only test flights), so I don't have any experience in what to expect. However, I've heard that most battles are low-altitude.


Cockpit of a MiG-9. An example of what flying in Simulator mode would look like. However, this was an Arcade match. You still have speed, altitude, and heading and ammo indicators on the top left of your screen.


General Advantages and Disadvantages for Each Nation




- Sturdy planes

- Powerful .50 cal Browning machine guns with more than enough ammunition

- Highly-defensive heavy bombers with additional .50 cal Brownings

- Huge bombloads (40 500-lb bombs as the stock amount for the B-29)

- High top speeds at high altitudes

- Great energy retention

- Typically low battle ratings, such that they are generally placed in battle with lower-tier opponents

- How to put out a fire on an American plane: Fly a B-17. Congratulations! The fire is now put out.



- Generally no cannon-mounted armaments

- Poor maneuverability

- Generally bad player-base (people in F6F Hellcats think they can out-turn a Zero at low speeds)




- Sturdy planes

- Great energy retention

- Cannons. Lots of them. As if Germany wanted to destroy mountains or something.

- Great at mid to high altitude

- High top speeds (not as good as American)

- Decent slow-speed maneuverability (don't do it with an Fw-190)

- Fast bombers



- Until you get planes with 20+ mm cannons, Germany usually sucks

- Average bombload, bomber defenses

- Generally bad player-base (A lot of players fly German planes at low altitude, where they can't perform at their best)


Great Britain


- Powerful Hispano Mk II Cannons (fully upgraded)

- Maneuverable

- Great at mid to low altitude

- Huge bombloads

- Powerful heavy fighters (Beaufighter line)



- Terrible tier 1 planes

- Mk II cannons are inaccurate until fully upgraded

- Mediocre 7.62 mm Browning machine guns (Even with 8 on a Hurricane Mk I, they're only good against low-tier planes such as biplanes)

- Average top speed with early planes

- Wing-mounted guns require adjusting gun convergence to a certain distance

- Early-tier planes cannot handle negative Gs due to float-type carburetors




- Great at low altitude

- Powerful nose-mounted guns for precision firing

- All-around types of planes

- Later bombers are well-defended in their rear (twin 20 mm ShVAK cannon turrets, and five sets of twin 23 mm NS-23 cannons on the Tu-4, which also has the same, if not greater, bombload as the B-29)

- Gaijin



- Mediocre in later tiers due to planes being all-around

- Later tier planes have low ammo count

- There are no disadvantages because Gaijin.




- Great slow-speed maneuverability

- Powerful Type 99 mk 1 and Ho-5 20 mm, and Ho-155 30 mm cannons

- Especially powerful defense turrets on bombers (three twin 20 mm type 99 mk 1 cannons on a G8N Renzan)

- Heavy fighters have great climb rates



- Low top speeds

- Terrible 7.7 mm Type 89 machine guns

- Planes are made of paper

- Generally poor roll rates

- Early to mid-tier planes cannot handle negative Gs due to float-type carburetors

- How to put out a fire in a Japanese plane: Hold J for 3 seconds to eject.


Mistakes of Engagement

Some of the biggest mistakes that new players tend to make when playing is that they think that dogfighting via constant turning is the only way to win. For example, although a Spitfire may have a quicker instantaneous turn rate compared to a Bf 109, the Spitfire will soon lose too much energy and the Bf 109 will have the upper hand. At that point, your only hope is for someone on your team to come by and nab the kill.

In solo engagements, always maintain an altitude advantage. This way, when you dive, you've built enough speed to get away should you overshoot. This is called Boom and Zooming (BnZ), and it works best with American and German planes. However, Russian Lavochkin, and British Hawker aircraft, and late Griffon-powered Spitfire variants are suitable for this as well. The purpose of BnZ is to get up high above the enemy, and when you're directly above them, drop down and fire a short burst before pulling back up again. By the time your opponent can get their bearings, you should be far away enough such that they can't get a good shot at you (typically > 1 km).


Ultra-low quality cinematic screenshots of a MiG-9 applying BnZ tactics against a Fw 190D-9. At high altitude and cold temperatures, planes will leave white contrails as they move. Normally harmless in clear skies, this is especially troublesome for bombers attempting to use cloud-cover in high-altitude missions.


If it takes too long to get to your target, or if your target is heading for nearby allies, pull back up. There's nothing anyone can do if they're too low.

Personally, in Arcade mode, I always stay about 2 km above my targets, and in every game I've been in, there's always that one guy who will try to climb straight up at me. At this point, I'm already going cruising speed at around 400 km/h, so I pull up to gain altitude and off to the side a bit, so they can't line up a shot, until I know that my target is out of energy, and I flip and drop straight down at them while they float and lose control of their plane. Easy kill. It's even better when they keep trying again.


You can do this in basically any plane in Arcade mode. However, if your opponent catches on, cumbersome planes like the P-47, P-51, and Fw 190 series need to rely on their speed as they dive since turning around takes an abhorrent amount of time.

This is one of the best way to use jets, especially early jets against prop planes.


In the red box is my deaths to aircraft kills using the above method in some of my aircraft. Most deaths were due to pilot error such as underestimating distance and energy. Some to lag. I also don't play to win. I just want kills.


Rolls are best used in jet engagements with the scissors maneuver, but can easily be used in prop duels too. Newer players tend to think rolling is simply just rotating with their ailerons. To roll, your ailerons and stabilizers must be used in conjunction in order to actually be effective. If using your mouse, swing your cursor around too while flipping around your ailerons and it will provide a similar result.


Another problem that players have is tunnel visioning. This is where they are too focused on one target that they don't even see another bogey dropping down behind him to shoot him down. Or worse, they don't see an ally also engaging the same target and a collision occurs.

Always maintain your situational awareness, even while engaging in a dogfight. If two or more bogeys are attacking you, make sure you know all of their locations at all times (if 4+, I'm assuming your allies suck and all got shot down, you're pretty much screwed). You can hold C and move your mouse to look around.


Additionally, players tend to waste their energy diving down to low altitude and never recycling the energy back into altitude. This is especially useless when they dive down at the first target they see, unaware of anyone else around them. It's best to stay up as high as possible until you've seen every enemy, which can be done by checking their score (holding N) and seeing if they have gained any points, which go up when they're within 1.5 km of an opponent. Once you know you're higher than anyone else, you can finally dive down. But always remember to return that speed back into altitude to maintain an advantage.


Generally, it's best to have two people to a target. Any more is a waste and a higher risk of collisions.


If you are at a disadvantage, where you can't out-turn or out-run a bogey, try to get to fairly low altitude (around 1 km) and head back to your airfield while avoiding getting shot down, and hope the AAA can shoot down the enemy or that he'll turn around. The AAA in Realistic mode are far more accurate and dangerous than in Arcade.


Strengths and weaknesses of individual planes are best learned through flying them. While in history, certain nations took advantage of pilot error, there is less of that in War Thunder, so just because a plane had a high kdr in real battles, it doesn't mean it was because they simply flew straight in and turned. Ultimately, the best way to know your opponent's weakness is to fly that plane yourself.


I think it's a fun game overall. Most of the player-base speaks Russian, so that can be a plus if you don't speak it and don't like to deal with understanding 12-year-old banter. The environment is generally regarded as one of the most visually-appealing in any game (especially the clouds and bodies of water).



Spitfire Mk IIb zooming away after shooting down an He 112 A-0 above Sicily. Graphics setting was set to Medium.


Finally, here's a trailer that many of us like to call "Russian Propaganda"

Click to watch.


If this were a real War Thunder game, that Bf-109 would've rammed that La-7.

Edited by Strife

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Came here expecting to comment on dead screen pixels.


Was not disappointed :D

"Gofyn wyf am galon hapus, calon onest, calon l?n."

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This is a fantastic review and help guide. Thanks for posting!


The fields have eyes, and the woods have ears.

⁠— Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales: The Knight's Tale

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War Thunder is a great game. Haven't played in a while, but mostly do Realistic (sometimes Arcade with friends). I usually go for the Fw 190 (A-1 and A-4) but can also fly with the Bf 109 tree. I agree with the environment being beautiful, you can run the game with a potato of a computer and horrible internet, and it still looks decent (plus all the optimization cuts down on lag).


+1 Rep @Strife. :)


Do you crave a life of adventure? Check out our Adventures in the Duchy of Riverborne and apply here to join the action!

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Thanks, guys!

And yeah, ultra-low quality looks amazing for being described as "ultra-low". Even its one-step higher setting makes a huge difference

I've been playing Realistic in the Japanese lately, using the A6M3 to research most of my tier-3 planes. Otherwise, I mostly play Arcade with a single plane and go for high kill:death ratios. Been using my MiG-9 and MiG-9 /L to wrack up the points for Russia

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Nice. I'm looking forward to the new Italian plane tree coming out. Also saw rumors that they were going to add tanks for the existing factions that don't have them, as well as ships in the coming months. :)


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Yeah. Once Japan gets its tanks, they'll be working on ships. There was a sneak peak April Fools event earlier this year involving their progress with Naval warfare.

I'm not sure about the Italian tree. I haven't read into it

Edited by Strife

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