The 7th of September brought us War Thunder players a new Major Update, "Direct Hit". Although a lot of the focus for this update lies on Air and Sea - with additions such as the legendary MiG 27-M and the JA37C "Jaktviggen" -, War Thunder's tankers were not left empty handed. A total of 12 new ground vehicles were added for us to enjoy, and these will be looked over and given a short review in this article, brought to you by EverythingWarThunder.
The overview will go over each nation's additions in order, starting from the rightmost nation from the list in War Thunder's hanger:
Sweden - one addition
As for additions, there were not many, though Sweden received one very great addition in this update, namely the Pansarbandvagn 301 (Pbv 301).
Put at BR 2.3, tier II, this rather chunky SPAA vehicle does not have all too much going for it: it's armour is only thick enough to protect the vehicle from machine gun fire - and that is when talking about the front armour, since even the German 7.92 mm machine guns are able to go through the sides of this poor SPAAG. Moreover, Pbv 301 has lackluster mobility and a decent at most cannon traverse rate, the vertical angles are not all too good either. The Pansarbandvagn 301 is a low-tier SPAAG in other words. Then how can this be a "very great addition then", you might ask. Simply put, Sweden needs it. Sweden lacked fast-firing SPAAGs as all of its SPAAGs were equipped with the 40 mm Bofors (which do not seem to be able to take down, let alone hit planes). The fast-firing Pbv 301 also has another ace up its sleeve, it has obviously got an AP belt containing one hundred-percent AP rounds with a penetrating force of 40 mm at 100 meters distance. When it is put in the right hands, this SPAAG is a force to be reckoned with in the lower tiers! Oh, and yeah, it also gets a full-HE belt for taking down planes as well; something it does better than its Swedish low-tier contemporaries.
France - zero additions
Moving over to France, its record is even worse than Sweden's since France sadly received zero tank additions in this Major Update. With no other changes worthy of mentioning here, we must move on.
Italy - one addition
Just like Sweden, Italy received one addition this update. One that enthusiasts of the Italy Ground Forces can look forward to, namely the C13 T90! (A new fast-boy, who would have thought?) Now, what is the "C13 T90"?
Interestingly enough, the name does not give away what this is, but this picture might. Entering the battle arena at a Battle rating of 6.7, this is an AUBL/74 and Dardo combo - sort of; an AUBL/74 turret strapped onto an IFV chassis. The well-trained eye, or actually mostly any eye, can see that this is in fact not the same chassis as the one found on the Dardo, though they are similar. Anyway, sporting an AUBL/74 turret, it fires a HEAT round penetrating 250 mm of armour. This round can comfortably penetrate the upper front of a German Tiger II, but is unable for instance unable to go through the thick front plate of a Sovjet IS-4M. Both of these are inside the C13 T90's range of possible opponents. All in all, drivers of the C13 T90 can expect a very mobile and lightly armoured light tank that certainly packs a punch.
China - one addition
Enthusiasts of China's ground vehicles could look forward to a brand new top-tier MBT (ok, maybe it is not brand new, but still). Welcome, ZTZ99-III!
The MBT prior to this one in China's tech-tree is called ZTZ99-II. Already here it is indicated that there is not that much differentiating the two vehicles. Many of the changes/upgrades given to stage III, have little to no effect in War Thunder. We see the same mobility, gun, and rounds available to fire. The armour is also the same, though on stage III they have been moved around a bit to increase survivability - again, not really noticeable in-game. The turret present on stage III is also allegedly "welded", removing some turret weak spots from the prior stage II variant. Just like the ZTZ99-II, the active protection system is not modelled here either. Overall just a new vehicle very similar to the Chinese top-tier MBT that we already see in-game. Still, a very welcome addition that means more presence of Chinese vehicles at top-tier and more availability for players.
Japan - 4 (~5) new additions
Next up on the list, we have Japan, the nation that spoiled the most with new additions this update - and rightly so. Without further ado, let's jump right into it.
2 New low-tier SPAAGs
Japan Ground Forces could welcome two new low-tier SPAAGs to its tree in this update! The M16 GMC and the M19A1:
Somewhat experienced tankers quickly realize that these are copies of the famous American counterparts. This means that these two additions are nothing new to the game, just to Japan's tech-tree. Nevertheless, Japan's SPAAG-line needed these additions, as it needed filler vehicles to fill out its gaps. Nothing more to mention here, time to move over to the other additions.
Type 74 (C)
Japan received yet another Type 74 in this update! Yep, that is right. Japan now has three Type 74 variants in the normal tech-tree and yet another one in the premium tree.
BR of 8.0. Not really any different from the other ones already present in the normal tree. This variant comes without any available APFSDS round, justifying the reduction in BR to 8.0 - since the other two are found at 8.7. Other than the removal of a couple of rounds, not much is different. Let's move on!
Type 87 RCV
Saving the best for last, the second wheely-boy to join the Japanese Ground Forces, welcome the new Type 87 RCV to the Japanese tech-tree!
Here we got a very mobile and nimble light tank joining in at a decently low Battle rating of 7.3. Thinly armoured, fast, and only equipped with a 25 Oerlikon cannon, it is strictly a support vehicle. Not at all suited for front line combat. The 25 cannon is the same as the one found on the Italian Dardo, known for its high fire rate of 560 rounds per minute. The only difference is that the Type 87 RCV can carry more ammunition for it. The 25 mm cannon is the only offensive armament the Type 87 RCV gets (it does also sport a 7.62 machine gun, though). As for ammunition, it is identical to the aforementioned Dardo, starting out with an APDS/HE belt, with a full-HE belt as well as a full-APDS belt (80mm of penetration) ready for researching right of the bat. At modification tier IV, you will find a full-APFSDS belt (92 mm of penetration). Overall, one of the more interesting additions of "Direct Hit", with a generous BR on top of that as well.
Great Britain - one addition
For Britain, we also get a very nice addition that fits in very well. Take a look at the new Vickers Mk. 3!
Looking like a mix of a Vickers chassis and some sort of Centurion/Chieftain turret-mix, it currently sits at a BR of 8.0. It is an upgraded version of the already in-game Vickers Mk.1. The Mk.3 version most prominently features the new turret, providing a little bit of increased protection - although barely noticeable at 8.0. Mk.3 also features a new and improved engine with increased horsepower and slightly increased top speed. More than that, it has the same 105mm Royal Ordnance L7 cannon as the Mk.1. Although, the Vickers Mk.3 gets access to a HEAT shell penetrating the standard 400mm of armour. All in all a well-received addition to the British tree.
USSR - one addition
For USSR we got a new top-tier addition, and this to the IFV/light tank-line. Welcome, the 2S25 "Sprut-SD"!
Sitting at the top of the Soviet light tank line, it has a BR of 9.3. It does not differentiate that much from its contemporaries; it is mobile, amphibious, lightly armoured, can fire rockets, has decent reload speed, and an overall good cannon for dealing with enemy vehicles. With a bit higher profile, the Sprut-SD is á bit more difficult to hide compared to the BMP series, although still a force to be reckoned with on the battlefield!
Germany - one addition
The last Major Update gave Germany a very well anticipated vehicle: the Marder A1-. This Major Update, we got yet another one: The Marder 1A3.
It is only a small upgrade, although an upgrade nonetheless. Only small changes visually, but the big change is in the ammunition pool. Most noticeably, the prominent back machine gun from the previous model has been removed. Instead, it has been moved to the left side of the turret. Furthermore, a new belt has been added to this Marder variant: a DM63 belt! Featuring 3/4 APDS rounds and 1/4 HE rounds, it has a penetrating power of 61mm of armour at 100m! Other than that, you get access to the same missile as the Marder A1- variant. As said, a small upgrade, although an upgrade nonetheless.
US - one addition
The US Ground forces got a new Abrams tank! The M1A1 HC!
Seemingly an identical M1A1 Abrams, this one - placed at a BR of 10.7 - has a few aces up its sleeve, be sure of that! First of all, it can be distinguished by the added equipment on the back-end and on the sides of the turret, as well as the sight-looking thing added on the left side of the turret roof (from the vehicles point of view) - more on this later. Second, it appears that this M1A1 Abrams is protected by the same armour layout as the top-tier vehicle M1A2 Abrams, being protected from even the strongest APFSDS shell in the game - the German DM53 fired from the Leopard 2A6! Third, it gets access to the same ammunition as the M1A2, the M829A1 APFSDS shell, which the "normal" M1A1 does not. Fourth, last but not least, this M1A1 HC Abrams (as if it did not have enough stuff beforehand) also gets access to an active protection system - and yes, it is modelled! This means that the sight-looking thing up there on the left side of the turret roof spoofs enemy laser-guided missiles fired at the vehicle.
All of this, and it's still at a very generous 10.7. Why so "very generous"? Considering it has the same ammunition and armour layout as the 11.0 M1A2 Abrams, as well as a modelled active protection system! Something seems odd here...
Post-mortem to Major Update "Direct Hit"
In this update, we mainly saw a focus on high/top-tier, as almost every newly added vehicle was rank V and above. The ones that were under rank V was the Japanese (American) low-tier SPAAG for Japan and the low-tier SPAAG for Sweden. Seemingly generous Battle ratings were given to the Japanese Type 87 RCV and the American M1A1 HC, and the Japanese got yet another Type 74 added to the tech tree - and also not put into a bracket with an already existing one, but rather create yet another vehicle that has to be ground in order to proceed in the tree.
Anyway, an update focused on filling gaps and balancing nations out - nothing bad at all. Well thought, Gaijin, well thought.