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Hello! Ladies and gentlemen! There is controversy and discussion in War Thunder revolving the Japanese artillery piece Type 75 and one of its available shells. The M107 (PF) is a Proximity Fuse shell - but what kind of proximity fuse shell? What I like to do with controversy and drama, besides hearing and enjoying it, is to clear it out. Because of this, I have been testing, viewing, and doing research on the subject. I wanted to give answers to questions and join discussion around the subject and I also obviously wanted to know for myself. With that stated I headed out to get answers. What kind of proximity fuse shell do we actually have access to in this thing? Does it work against tanks? How about planes?
Investigating the mystery of the M107 (PF)
One good place to start searching for answers to our question is War Thunder itself. So that's what I did. Researching the matter on the Type 75's very own introduction page/article on War Thunder's web page, following statement was found:
Following the article, the so-called HE round with proximity fuse at the Type 75's proposal works like most player of War Thunder would expect and what is traditional for these kinds of shells: It explodes before contact with a material such as an armour plate. It explodes when near such a material, to put it in other words. This obviously means that the shell could be used to explode enemies who are hiding behind cover by shooting over or next to said cover and exploding the shell above the roof of the enemy or from the side.
Next source would be War Thunder's YouTube video about this Japanese SPG/artillery piece ( also found below ), which was released about a month after the vehicle's release in late 2019.
Here it is stated - just as in the Type 75's introduction article, by the way - that the "HE round with variable time fuse can be used to blow up enemy vehicles by simply being close to them. Now this was a bit more than two years ago as of the writing of this very article.
And why would that two years time be important? Well, mostly due to the fact that another video covering the Type 75 and its shell choices has been published by War Thunder - pretty much exactly three months prior to this article, which would also make it about two years younger than the first video they posted on the vehicle.
In this release they specifically study all of the rounds at the Type 75's disposal. Interesting here however, is that it's explicitly stated that "This fuse doesn't get triggered by enemy tanks, though. Its trigger is the ground." This is a direct contradiction to what we've learned thus far; we just read and heard that it could be used against tanks - with a very high success rate. Two years ago, it allegedly worked as any other proximity fuse shell that we have in the game, exploding when close to enemy vehicles - regardless of if it's ground or air. Though that seems to have been changed. So no more proximity fusing of enemy tanks and planes then? I would've guessed no.
But I didn't stop there
I obviously didn't stop my research there, rather I had to test it out for myself - versus planes. The M107 (PF) does not work when trying to use it a traditional proximity fuse shell versus tanks, mostly because the shell explodes over the ground as soon as it has flied its arming distance of 300 meters, ultimately not even reaching the enemy ground vehicle, and also because it was stated in the closest video up above covering the shell. In said YouTube video, playing versus tanks is discussed. The narrator, Bruce, gives his own tips for using it against tanks, making sure to state how difficult it is to have it done perfectly. Consensus is that it can be used against tanks, but it is not recommended unless for fun and testing.
So I tested it versus planes. I used Arcade battles as my testing ground since there I would be helped by the lead indicator versus planes that is present in this game mode. Here are the results in screenshot format:
First "victim" in the first match. In the replay it is shown how my M107 (PF) shell simply flies past the plane, flying below it with a distance from the plane of about maybe 3-5 in-game meters. Here not exploding. Although, next screenshot:
He got taken out. (And yes, it was by me, I got credited with the kill, and nobody else was here contesting the kill.) It appears as if my shell pierced through his wing even though it was so far below the plane. That is why I hold the next theory for more likely. Namely, that my shell exploded below him by being inside the fusing radius. Interesting here although, is that no explosion could be seen, neither in the match itself nor on the replay here. Strange.
However, I tested it again on another plane that wanted to oppose me:
Easier to see here, the result was a success. My shell, the M107 (PF), which can be seen in the screenshot, exploded in front of my second "victim" of my first match, before reaching it. I feel like I should mention too, that this would have been pretty much a direct hit on his nose if the shell wouldn't have exploded before. Yes, the shell can be seen flying even though it just blew itself up, but that can be ignored for this test.
Just one last screenshot provided here to simply show that he got taken out by the blast, and also showing that he flies pretty much right into the explosion cloud.
One thing that does confound me about this specific success, is that the pilot was firing his nose guns at the time. This could be a problem since my round came at him straight from the front. Experienced players could quickly come to realize that the pilot might have shot himself out of the sky so to speak. If he fired his guns and hit my shell, he would have detonated it on his own part. This is rather impossible for me to assess and investigate though.
The results so far have been promising, but not definitely convincing. Another round of testing! Test match number two, first victim. This time around, it was more convincing. This test subject was yet another one who thought he could oppose the Type 75, trying its ability to take him down. Clearly seen in the screenshot, my shell exploded far off from the plane - this time away from the pesky rounds fired by this pilot.
Another couple of screenshot of the same occasion, showing the flight path of my shell a little more clearly and how the M107 (PF) exploded on the side of the plane. The plane got taken out by the blast.
In the last test, another head-on explosion, we can also see how the shell performs in air head-on occasions; it explodes before direct contact with the plane, completely eradicating this poor plane that unknowingly acted as my last victim of my last round of testing.
Consensus of the testing
As it was introduced, the M107 (PF) shell was a proximity fuse shell. Working just like other ones of its kind: it would explode by simply being near an enemy target. As time went on the shell changed and became another sort of proximity fuse shell - a ground one. Now, as is stated and shown in the small animation on its stat card and explained by War Thunder themselves in their latest video on the matter, it explodes simply when the distance to the ground is three meters or less. Meaning that versus tanks, this shell is neigh useless as a proximity fuse shell; only with the stars aligned for you and a tad of skill could a kill be pulled-of using its proximity fuse ability. When the fuse is not being activated, the M107 (PF) essentially becomes the normal M107 shell, which - as seen on its name - is the same thing without any proximity fusing.
Versus planes it seems to a bit of a different story. Here the proximity fusing seems to work as intended and as expected by a large part of the community. In a large majority of cases portrayed above, the shell did explode inside the fusing range, taking out the plane in one shot without making direct contact with it. It then does seem as if the Type 75's M107 (PF) shell can be used as anti-air shell - and with good success rate too.
The reason for its controversy could be traced back to its history. Once, the M107 (PF) was a traditional proximity fuse HE shell that was eagerly used by many drivers of the Type 75. Then, after a year or two, things changed and it become the first of its kind in War Thunder; the M107 (PF) became a proximity fuse shell with a ground fuse. This message has not quite reached all of the War Thunder player base. While some still believe it is as it once was, some others got the message and negates any real use of this unique shell. It seems as if we landed somewhere in between.
I had a great time testing this out and I hope it was just as interesting reading about it. So will you now go out to test this for yourself? Maybe you already knew about this? Welcome to share your expectations-versus-reality occasions with this Japanese howitzer in a comment. I can however disclose that I definitely will be using the proximity shell more, now that I for sure know about its capabilities.
Until next time! o7