World of Tanks Crew Guide

Version 5.5.1      Last Modified: 11/04/2010

Crew Overview
Tanks are machines. Armor, weapons, speed... all of it means nothing if your tank doesn't have well trained and experienced crew members operating it. In World of Tanks the experience of your crew will determine how far you can see your enemy, how maneuverable your tank is, how accurate you can shoot, and how fast your main gun can be reloaded for the next volley. Crew competence is represented by a percentage, starting at 25% and can be leveled up to 100% by gaining experience through combat or training at the academy. Other factors can add to a crew's skill, such as outfitted items and commander's bonuses. The current top crew skill is 115% with a 100% commander and an Improved Ventilation outfit.

There are five different types of crew positions in a tank...

  • Commander
  • Driver
  • Radio Operator
  • Gunner
  • Loader

Not every tank is large enough to accommodate a large crew, and sometimes crew members will have two functions. The German starting tank, the Leichttraktor, has a commander who is also the gunner and the radio operator. In the StuG III the loader is also the radio operator, etc. Testing to this point has not revealed any detriment from the multitasking. A radio operator / loader with a skill of 90% will work just as well as two separate radio operator and loader crew members of the same skill percentage. The exception are commanders, who receive no bonus from themselves, and therefore currently capped at 100% base skill rating.

As mentioned above, Improved Ventilation can be bought and equipped to increase crew skill by 5%.

 

Barracks
The Barracks is a management tool for the player to view his crew outside the Garage. Crews can be sorted by country, location, competence, and qualification. The Barracks is also a place to keep crew members not currently assigned to any tanks. Each player starts with 16 empty bunks for crew members not assigned to vehicles to stay until room on a tank becomes available. 

Additional bunk space can be bought for those of us that just can't say goodbye to that elite MS-1 crew we started with. Sixteen extra crew spaces for 300 gold is the current price.

 

Crew Interface
Interacting with your crew in World of Tanks is very easy. When in the vehicle garage or the barracks crew members are displayed with the information listed below. 

The crew's skill level is the percentage of the crew's ability as mentioned above. The avatar is a picture of that crew member. Crew names at this point cannot be changed and are randomly generated by the game. Below the name is the crew member's current specialization of training (more details on that below). The rank insignia is a graphic representation of the rank to the left of it. And finally the crew function as well as qualification. Function is important because it lets you know what this particular crew member is responsible for aboard the tank (in this case, reloading). The five crew functions are shown below...

Commander Driver Radio Operator Gunner Loader

As stated above, crew members can have more than one function on a tank but cannot have more than one qualification. Once a crew member's qualification is chosen it cannot be changed and that crew member cannot perform a task he is not qualified to perform if there is a space in the tank for that specific type of crew member. For instance, a driver cannot become a radio operator if there's a spot in the tank specifically for radio operators. However, in the case of many small tanks there isn't enough room for radio operators, so then the driver performs the dual function of driving and operating the radio.

The crew's Personal File can be opened by left-clicking the crew members tab in the Garage or Barracks. 

Inside the Personal File is his name, rank, qualification, competence (skill) level, modifiers, competence (vehicle) as well as additional (secondary) skills and qualifications. On the right are four tabs: Service Record, Training, Skills, and Personal Data. The functions of each tab will be examined below.

 

Positions
 
Commander

The tank commander has two primary functions in the game: augmenting the crew under his command by giving them a skill bonus, and spotting the enemy. Under his expert supervision crew members get an extra percentage point of experience for every 10 percent commander's skill, rounded up to the nearest tenth. For example, a commander with 52% skill rating gives a +5 to all crew members, while a commander with a 56% skill rating gives a +6 to his crew.

Using his binoculars or peering outside the tank's cupola, a tank commander has a better view of the battlefield than anyone else in the tank. For scout tanks this is extremely important, and experience can be gained by revealing enemy tank destroyers and self-propelled guns (SPG's) on the map. For tank destroyers on the front line this is also important, since enemy vehicles usually must be destroyed head-on before they can pass outside the arc of fire. Knocking out an enemy tank from long range ensures it won't get a chance to fire at the tank destroyer's thin side and rear armor.

 

Radio Operator

Situational awareness is the ability to understand and act on events unfolding around you. It's vitally important in any war game. Once the enemy is spotted by the commander that information is then passed to the radio operator, who sends it out automatically to all units within radio range. Conversely, the radio operator receives enemy contact reports from other friendly units in radio range. Equipping your tank with a powerful radio is vital to understanding what's happening on the battlefield. Soft units such as tank destroyers and self-propelled guns need the best available radios to keep in contact with reports from behind enemy lines. Without them artillery will be firing blind.

 
Driver

Battlefields are full of different terrain ranging from paved roads to marshes and swamps. The more experienced the driver, the faster the tank to negotiate the different types of terrain. Preliminary testing indicates the higher the driver skill the faster the tank will accelerate, turn, and rotate in place (neutral rotation). Players have also stated that engine and track damage are repaired more quickly by more experience drivers, but this is untested and the proper tools to test these ideas are not currently in place. What has been tested is tank acceleration and speed, which is slightly improved with higher driver skill. The biggest difference is going over rough terrain, such as the swamps in the middle of the Karelia map. Veteran tank drivers (110%, 99%, 85%, 75% and 66% skills) went through noticeably faster than new drivers (33% and 28% skill). More testing to follow.

 

Gunner

Anyone that's ever fired a weapon for precision marksmanship understands shot dispersion. A weapon might be lined up perfectly with the target no two rounds ever seem to land in exactly the same place. Dew point, wind, barometric pressure, and even the Coriolis Effect can significantly change a bullet's trajectory. Scale this up to the size of tank warfare and add the experience (or inexperience) of the gunner. It's much the same.

Shot dispersion as well as crew experience is represented in World of Tanks by an aiming circle (shown below) that expands and contracts around a set of weapon crosshairs. The area covered by the aiming circle is where the shell can impact after it's been fired, therefore it's most desirable to have the aiming circle shrink down to be as small as possible. This is where the skill level of the gunner crew member comes in.

The more the experience of the gunner the faster the circle will contract, and the smaller the circle will become. As the gunner advances in skill, shells will impact at the crosshairs location more and more often. This is essential for hitting critical parts of enemy tanks, as well as tanks at long ranges. The aiming circle will expand the faster a tank is moving and sometimes when the tank is hit. It will contract (and shooting will become more accurate) as the gunner's skill increases and when the tank is stationary. Please note that the point of aim is centered only where the gunner is looking. The point of impact (purple) is the indicator of where the barrel of the main gun is pointed and where the shot will go if fired.

 

Loader

After a shot has hit (or worse - missed) the tank's main gun needs to be reloaded right away. Every weapon has a listed reload time in its characteristics, which gives a rough idea of how long it will take your crew to make ready a new round after firing. This task falls on your loader crew member. A loader will increase or decrease weapon reload time depending on his experience level. The loader will reload the main gun at the same speed regardless of if the tank is moving or standing still.  

Example: Marder II with a 7.62cm PaK 36(r) gun with a listed reload time of 16 rounds a minute... 

Skill* 28% 48% 65% 80% 95% 101% 110%
RoF** 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

Example: Wespe with a 15cm sFH13 L/17 gun has a listed rate of fire of 4 rounds per minute...

Skill* 28% 53% 60% 81% 90% 110%
RoF** 2.33 2.66 3.0 3.6 4.25 4.5

These tests*** are far from conclusive and one should not assume the rate of fire shown in the game is the maximum rate of fire. Preliminary tests with other guns show rates of fire higher than those listed in the game when used by highly trained crew. On the other hand, some guns will not reach their listed rate of fire until the loader's skill has been maximized.

 

* Skill is the total of the crew members base skill + commander's bonus.
** RoF means rate of fire. In other words, how many shots can be taken per minute.
*** All tests were repeated at least two dozen times per gun from a stationary position on the test server.

 

Service Record
As crew members participate in battles their accomplishments and awards are kept in an individual service record. This is found under the Service Record tab in the crew member's Personal File.

At the present time awards and statistics are only available to the player and cannot be viewed by others. Awards don't give any bonuses, although all of this is subject to change.

 

Skills
When crew members reach 100% base skill they are able to learn a secondary skill. These skills are...

Like a crew member's primary skill, the secondary skill will be displayed as a percentage. Once one secondary skill is learned to 100% that crew member can learn another until all three are mastered. Secondary crew skills will de-activate if the crew member falls below 100% base skill. This will happen when crew are transferred to tanks they have not been fully trained to operate, or if the crew member has been retrained below 100% skill. In that case the crew member still keeps his secondary skills, and they are re-activated once 100% skill level has been reached (again).

 

Crew Injuries
During battle a shot may penetrate the tank's armor and injure one or more of your crew. If this happens the crew member that was hit will suffer a 50% penalty to his skill rating for the rest of the battle. A player can determine which crew members are hit by checking the vehicle status box at the lower left hand corner of the screen.

If any of the icons representing crew functions at the bottom of the box are lit up in orange (in the above example it's the loader) that crew member has been injured. One injured crew member can be healed during the course of the battle by using one of the following kits...

In both cases the selected crew member will be brought back to full health, but in the case of the Small First Aid Kit it will only be for 2 minutes and then the crew member will become injured again. Tanks can only have one First Aid Kit equipped at a time.

 

Speed Up Crew Training
When all available upgrades for a vehicle have been unlocked the player has two choices: continue to gain experience for that vehicle and hope to convert it to free experience at the cost of gold, or speed up the training of the crew and gain no experience for the vehicle. To speed up crew training click the "Speed Up Crew Training" check-box in the upper left-hand corner of the Garage, or in the upper right-hand corner of the Tech Tree.

It has been said by several moderators and developers that the percentage of increase experience for "Speed Up Crew Training" is 30% although some conflicting posts have claimed 20%.

 

Training
If you don't have time to develop your crew but you do have money - especially gold - you can buy trained crew directly from Regimental School at 75% skill for 20,000 credits or from the Tank Academy with 100% skill for 200 gold. It's a simple way to help those people who want to be able to compete but don't have the time to grind up (level up) a crew. Training can be used to purchase new crew members, or increase the level of training for existing ones. 

To train just right-click the officer's tab in the Barrack's or Garage section of the game and choose the "Training" tab.

Thus far there are no known negative side-effects of immediately training your crew to 100%. The one (very small) perk to training up crew purely by combat experience is rank. 

 

Re-training
Crew members will suffer a skill penalty when assigned to a class of vehicle (Pz.III, Pz.IV, Pz.VI, etc.) they are not familiar with, and even more so with a different vehicle type (Light Tank, Medium Tank, Heavy Tank, etc.) altogether. In order to maximize the crew's ability in a vehicle they need to be re-trained in that vehicle class and/or type. For example, a gunner from a Pz.II light tank is now going to crew a Pz.35(t) light tank. Without retraining that crew member now suffers a 25% penalty to his skill because he's crewing a class of tank he's not trained for. That same crew member instead is put in a Bison SPG, but without retraining suffers a 50% penalty to his skill because he's not trained in that type or that class.

So what's the catch?

When a crew member is re-trained he's going to lose a certain amount of his skill. After all, being an ace tanker is a Panzer II doesn't make you an immediate ace tanker in a Tiger II. How much skill is lost during re-training is up to the player and can be afforded. The cheapest way to retrain is to send the crew member to Rapid Courses for free and start again at 50% skill level. For a mere 20,000 credits that same officer can go to Regimental School and 75% of his skill. Lastly, if the player has 200 gold coins to spare that crew member can go to the Tank Academy and achieve 100% skill. 

To re-train just right-click the officer's tab in the Barrack's or Garage section of the game and pick the "Training" tab.

Choose the vehicle type and model, then the level of training desired. To finish training click the "Train" button at the bottom of the Personal File interface.

 

Personal Data
Crew members can be personalized by changing their avatars and names. There are dozens of avatars (head shots) to choose from, as well as a set list of hundreds of first and last names. Why players cannot simply choose their own names to type in is a mystery at this point. It currently costs 50 gold to chance the avatar and name of a crew member.

For whatever reason name combinations to re-create famous German tank aces are missing. Michael Wittmann, Otto Carius, Ernst Barkmann, and many others are not possible name combinations at this time. Some Russian tank aces such as Ivan Lubshkin and Pavel Gudz are available, but others are not.

 

FAQ
Q: Can I re-name my crew members? 
A: Yes, but from a pre-set list of names.

Q: Can my crew members die?
A: No, but they can become injured in battle.

Q: Can my crew members change qualifications? For instance, can my gunner become a loader?
A: No.

Q: Can my crew members change classes? For instance, can my medium tank gunner crew a heavy tank?
A: Yes, with a 50% skill penalty without retraining.

Q: Can my crew members change types? For instance, can my Marder II gunner crew a Hetzer?
A: Yes, with 25% skill penalty without retraining.

Q: Are there any other penalties or bonuses to crew skill level?
A: Yes. Crew members receive a bonus to skill equal to 10% of the Commanders skill level, rounded up.

Q: Can my crew gain experience even if they are not re-trained for the tank they are crewing?
A: Yes.

Q: What is the benefit to speeding up crew training?
A: Crew members will gain 20% (some say 30%) more experience per battle.

Q: What's the highest level my crew can advance to?
A: Base skill goes from 50% to 100% but with skill modifiers it can reach 115% (only 105% for commanders).

Q: Can I train more than one secondary skill?
A: Yes, all three can be trained, one at a time, on each crew member.

Q: Can re-name my crew after real life tank aces?
A: In some cases, particularly the Germans, mostly not. The Russians are about half and half.


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