War Thunder tanks: the best ground vehicles

It can be difficult to know which War Thunder tank is right for you. Read our guide for a list of the best

A War Thunder tank driving across a field, smoking rising behind it, with its main cannon aimed

No one can dispute that War Thunder provides a lot of choice. From nippy armoured cars, to hulking heavy tanks, to cloud-gazing anti-aircraft vehicles, the sheer volume of vehicular offerings can appear a little daunting. Whether stepping into armour for the first time or picking a new tank after having mastered advanced techniques to become a regular peril of the battlefield, it can be difficult to know which tanks are right for you.

Well, quiver in fear no longer. We’re here to provide a quick rundown of the best tanks available in War Thunder. No more wasting research points on obsolete unlocks or poorly performing tanks that pale in comparison to your existing armoury, you’ll know which tanks to beeline on the tech tree and what flavour of combat they offer. Some of our picks opt for supreme firepower, others prioritise speed and agility, while more place endurance and hardened armour above all else.

It’s important to know the strengths and weaknesses of the tank you drive into battle. The best tanking is approached slowly, with caution, and an overriding plan of attack. Plunge headfirst into the fray with no regard for your tank’s capabilities, and you’ll soon be left a burning heap of metal. With that in mind, choose a tank that sounds appealing and suitable to your playstyle.

So, adjust the rangefinder and open the breech, as dive into…

The best War Thunder tanks

  • Tiger H1
  • Challenger 2
  • Leopard 2A6
  • M50 Ontos
  • T-80U
  • ZTZ96A
  • T-50
  • Panther A

Tiger H1 War Thunder Tank driving across a green field as mud throws up in front of it

TIGER H1

Infamous from the battlefields of history and infamous in-game, the German Tiger H1 is a jack-of-all-trades and competently suited to nearly any firefight. Its 88mm cannon, compatible with a range of shells, makes quick work of all enemy vehicles that are likely to cross its path, and its side armour will glance incoming shells if angled appropriately. A 650-horsepower engine makes it one of the faster heavy tanks, and a reasonable gun depression angle keeps it fighting in undulating terrain.

Jack-of-all-trades suited to nearly any firefight

The Tiger H1’s weak side armour is also its Achilles heel. If not angled properly, weaker tanks will penetrate its skirting, and more powerful opponents will one-shot it with ease. Position the tank carefully and make sure your sides are covered. If a defensive position is untenable,  rely on its high firepower to get a shot in, before whatever is hustling up to you.

Slow acceleration provides little opportunity for daring escapes or heroic pushes, but in a straight-up gunfight, in which enemies are located and targetable – you’ll be the star of the show.

Challenger 2 War Thunder tank with its main gun angled

Challenger 2

Hang behind your front lines, sit snuggly in a covering bush, wait for an enemy prevaricator to try their hand at flanking, before launching a shell with pinpoint accuracy into their side. The British Challenger 2’s extremely high accuracy, fast reload time, and competent optics lend it perfectly to a sniping playstyle. Sit comfortably away from the central melee and engage the enemy from afar.

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A low top speed and sub-par acceleration limit the Challenger 2’s capabilities to lead frontal assaults, better suiting it to staying behind the central offensive column, picking off enemies before they can flank the main batch. Unremarkable armour makes it easy pickings for anything meting out high damage, but a decent reverse speed enables the Challenger 2 to duck out of the fray when caught in a tight spot, while keeping its cannon targeted on incoming threats.

The leopard 2A6 War Thunder tank against a blank grey backgroun

Leopard 2A6

Introduced in November 2020’s New Power update, many have called the West-German Leopard 2A6 the best tank in War Thunder. And with good reason. Impenetrable turret cheeks and upper front plate armour, swift gun rotation speed, improved gun optics from its predecessor the Leopard 2A4, and access to the highest-penetration shell in the game – the DM53 – make this tank a guaranteed killing machine. The effectiveness of its gun cannot be overstated.

This tank is a guaranteed killing machine

Unremarkable mobility means solo flanking is an impossibility, so keep to hull-down positions and make optimum use of that unmatched main cannon. The Leopard 2A6 need  only be wary of Soviet HE shells. A shot to your tracks might leave you immobilized and desperately hoping to fight another day, but a bludgeoning hit to your turret will likely send fragmentary shards through your fuel tank and crew, and that’s a dead tank.

Some have called the Leopard 2A6 overpowered, and many have begged for a nerf. But make no mistake, a quality tank will amount to nothing in the hands of an amateur tanker that doesn’t know how to leverage its strengths. Learn the tank,  and learn it well.

The M50 Ontos War Thunder tank set against a plain grey background

M50 Ontos

Hard-hitting, stealthy, and capable of unexpectedly decimating enemy flanks, the US M50 Ontos brings a totally novel playstyle to War Thunder. Kitted out with six recoilless rifles that can be fired within less than a second of each other to launch high-explosive anti-tank and squash head shells. Its recoilless rifles eliminate the need to reposition between shots, allowing you to fully exploit a weak enemy position after finding the perfect angle.

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Its primary drawback is its paper-thin armour. This is not a tank that wants to be taken into the main fray, but one to stealthily push around the enemy’s side and ambush with an unexpected barrage.

Its unforgiving playstyle can also be off-putting. Miss your shot and you’ll be waiting over a long reload time, and an even longer manual targeting time, before getting back in the fray. With an 18-shell ammo capacity, it can be tempting to unload salvos quickly in a blanket offensive, but temper a high rate of fire with accuracy for the most effective offensive load.

The T-80U War Thunder tank with its turret rotated to its side

T-80U

Few sights strike such tangible fear in the hearts of enemies as the Soviet T-80U bounding over the hills, surrounded by a sturdy regiment of supporting allies. An exceptionally well-armoured front that can generously glance incoming shells, a durable rear-end that can soak up shrapnel, and a low profile complete its defences, making it a difficult target to spot and near-impossible to destroy in sufficiently flat bushland.

Difficult to spot and near-impossible to destroy

The auto-loaded 125mm cannon on its top also makes a particularly painful thorn in the enemy’s side, capable of launching regular volleys of shells to wear down enemy combatants.

Although the T-80U shines in a momentous forward attack, it’s left wanting when retreat is preferable. A slow reverse speed means you’ll have to remain keenly aware of your surrounding points of exit and implement a quick getaway plan if things go sour. And keep the enemies at length. Poor side armour and a large ammunition carousel means its chances of survival following shell penetration are all but nil.

The ZTZ96A War Thunder Tank with a flat roof and in a shimmering green

ZTZ96A

There are few better options for straightforward tank-busting than the Chinese ZTZ96A. Sporting a 125mm main cannon with fantastic angling, and firing the most powerful HE shell available to any main battle tank, it can reliably destroy most armoured targets in one shot, both angled and flat. Wrapped in strong armour, its roof-mounted heavy machine gun can also be usefully deployed against light aircraft.

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With a poorer reload speed than some of the equivalent tanks at its tier, you’ll be relying on your own instincts to draw the most out of the ZTZ96A, especially given is poor mobility, which throws any ideas of tasteful flanking operations out the window.

The T-50 War Thunder tank with short turret and green camouflage

T-50

Even the lowest-tier tanks can carve out a masterful space on the battlefield. Agile and well armoured, the Soviet T-50 scout tank is excellently suited to nipping around enemy armour, relying on its high speed to perform flanking manoeuvres, before quickly returning to safety amongst allied forces. Thick, sloping armour sets it apart from other beginner tanks, and forgives the faux-pas of new players when they’re frantically racing to slide past enemy lines.

Fantastic beginner choice

The T-50’s handling will take some getting used to, and its slow turning speed makes it unsuitable for extreme adrenaline manoeuvres. Be careful not to damage its tracks when driving at top speed across rough terrain, but, ground allowing, leveraging its high speed to evade enemies or shift them from your weak side armour will keep the T-50 in the game.

A fantastic beginner choice that demonstrates there’s more to look for in a tank than big shells and monstrous firepower.

A Panther A War Thunder tank sitting on a dirt track stationary

PANTHER A

High mobility, respectable gun rotation, ammunition options suitable for crippling most any opponent tank – these make the Panther A one of the best medium tanks in the game. Like most German offerings, it comes kitted with heavy, sloping front armour, offset by poor sides, but its agility allows quick getaways and subtle defensive anglings. Its range and firepower outdo tanks of a similar battle rating, punching through armour from moderate distances.

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The Panther A’s ubiquity is its downfall: everybody knows its weak spots. Enemies will be firing directly at your soft gun mantlet to cripple you, so avoid head-on confrontations and make quick work of those you encounter. Best move with a pack of others, utilise speed to take the enemy off-guard, and make sure every shot counts. With a high profile, subtlety isn’t the Panther A’s speciality, so quickly get stuck into the thick of battle and make the most of its punishing main cannon.

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