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The Tier 9 tank destroyers are an interesting, varied, yet under-appreciated group of tanks. As a group, they are often overshadowed by their end-tier brethren. Nonetheless, they carry some of the most devastating non-artillery guns on the battlefield, second only to their tier 10 counterparts, and superior to tier 10 heavy and medium tanks.
They also have very very different characteristics and playstyles, and most players will be in these tanks, free XP aside, for 250+ games. They are a common sight on high-tier battlefields, and need to be understood not just in playing them, but also fighting alongside them, and in facing them.
I will add as a caveat that I only have extensive firsthand experience with two of their tier 9 TDs (704 and Foch). I have experimented with the others on the test servers, but by necessity I will be focusing on hard numbers and experience with/against them on the field, rather than in-depth tank by tank reviews.
Let us start by looking at the most important element of a tank destroyer: the gun.
*DPM = Damage per minute, and assumes 100% crew, rammer, and includes first shot, but excludes premium consumables, vents and Brothers in Arms crew skill.
**listed as standard/premium.
*** Tortoise fires APCR, not HEAT
As can be seen from the table, there are three main classes of guns when it comes to TDs, 150+mm guns that hit for 750, 128mm German guns which deal 560, and ~120mm guns dealing 440 to 400.
However, looking at the gun and the associated hard parameters is only half the story. A hard hitting gun is of little use if you cannot bring it to bear. That is where the soft stats come in. Let us look deeper into the usability of the various guns. Factors which influence the usability for TDs include, but are not limited to: presence or absence of turret, traverse arc of guns in casemate TDs, bloom on side-to-side traverse, bloom on rotating the tank, and bloom on moving.
*JagdTiger’s gun depression is 7.5 degrees, rounded up to 8
**The WT Auf. Pz. 4 has only 15 degrees of gun elevation with the 150mm
In the above table, “dispersion on gun traverse” refers to the amount of reticle bloom you will notice when your tracks are locked, but you are moving the gun from side to side (in casemate TDs) or rotating the turret (in turreted TDs). “Dispersion on movement” refers to the amount of reticle bloom you will see due to either rotating the tank or moving the tank front/back. If you both turn and move the tank, then that value applies for both hull rotation and tank movement twice, for double the dispersion.
Depression has been left unrated simply because depression greatly depends on the height of the tank, 6 degrees of depression on the pancake 704 is considered reasonably good, but 5 degrees of depression on the WTF4 only applies when the gun is pointed backwards.
It doesn’t matter how big of a gun you have if you cannot bring it to bear. Three key factors determine the overall mobility of a TD, top speed, HP/ton and terrain resistance. Another crucial stat is hull traverse speed—casemated TDs need to turn quickly to deal with both corners and tanks attempting to flank.
Low hull traverse speeds render casemated TDs vulnerable to flanking moves by more agile tanks. The practical traverse speed of a TD is dependent on its engine power as well as terrain resistance, and not simply the stated value.
This is a more difficult element to break down, because the raw numbers themselves are not particularly instructive. The in-game armor values tend to list only the most heavily armored parts of the tank, and do not account for angling, armor, and exposure.
Let us look at the tank armor schemes one by one. Please note that I did all the calculations myself, so I may be off by a few points here and there if my estimates of angles are incorrect.
Without a doubt, the T95 is the most heavily armored Tier 9 TD. It is extremely difficult to penetrate frontally, to the point where it is often the better idea to simply go around it.
In the above diagram, all unmarked areas are effectively impenetrable to everything but the very highest penetrating guns (Tier 10 TD gold), with the mantlet itself being completely immune to any shell in the game. The LFP is penetrable, but is small and very low to the ground, and difficult to hit unless shooting up at the T95. Frontally, the hatches are the best bet.
The T30 follows the standard American tank model – A tough turret with a weak hull.
The T30’s hull is the bread and butter American hull, bread UFP, butter LFP, do note, the upper hull can pose problems for tier 7s with poor penetration, certainly better than nothing. The turret, as usual, is the main source of practical, usable armor, a 279 mm mantlet backed by 178 mm of armor at the edges. There is a large hole around the gun behind the mantlet, pennable with a good roll with a T10 TD gun, but this is unreliable at best. Mantlet aside, a slightly turned turret presents one the opportunity to shoot through the turret cheeks, which are less well protected than the rest of the turret,
The cupola is a well-known weak spot, but difficult to hit at all but close range. The bigger vulnerability of the T30 is the turret roof, which is vulnerable to being overmatched by high caliber shells of 120mm and over.
The Tortoise advertises itself as having great armor, but that doesn’t seem to be the case on closer examination.
The area around the gun is indeed impenetrable with a 102 mm mantlet backed by 406 mm of armor, decreasing to 229 mm of sloped armor behind that. There is also a frontal autobounce plate below the gun, and the lower front plate is 229 mm, but rounded in a way that it bounces shots with uncanny frequency.
However, you shouldn’t have to shoot the lower front plate since the Tortoise’s cheeks are poorly armored for a tier 9. The right side of the tank (left when facing it) is only 217 mm before normalization—Tier 8 guns should go through with ease. The secondary machine gun is 229 mm of flat armor, and the commander’s cupola, as with all British TDs, is large and very poorly armored, susceptible to tier 7 guns.
The JagdTiger is built on a Tiger II chassis, and has similar armor. The lower front plate is your standard German weak spot, with 175 mm of effective armor. The upper front plate gives 214 mm of armor straight-on, which would be a formidable challenge at tier 8, but serves mostly as a check against lower tiers at tier 9, nonetheless, this can increase dramatically with angling. The superstructure, at 250mm, is thick but poorly sloped, and most tier 10 guns will reliably punch through, especially with HEAT, tier 9 guns may still struggle if they roll low on penetration.
Waffentrager Auf Panzer IV
I am including the picture above more for completeness than anything else. The WT auf. Pz 4 has negligible armor for its tier, with two 80 mm flat strips along the front, a 20 mm sloped upper front plate, and 10 mm on the gun shield.
AMX 50 Foch
The Foch has an interesting armor scheme. Many would consider it the second-best armored Tier 9 TD; compared to the T95, the armor relies on angles more than sheer thickness.
The UFP is heavily sloped at 55°, giving it 314 mm protection vs HEAT rounds, 280 vs AP, and 299 vs APCR. Of course, this is assuming the tank is flat on and there are no elevation differences. Since the Foch is a pancake tank, shells from taller tanks drop down on it eliminating some of the slope. In practice, it is semi-impervious frontally to tier 9 and 10 heavies with AP, but can easily be punched through with all tier 9 and 10 TDs, although the Tortoise or another Foch might struggle.
Most worryingly is the fact that attempting to angle or even wiggle the Foch exposes even greater weaknesses – the side armor is only 50 mm thick, and thus vulnerable to 2x overmatch bonus by 120mm caliber guns and 3x overmatch to any 150mm gun. The rangefinder bar is a weak point, but only the middle portion, and the machine gun turret is also very weak.
The 122-54 is not terribly well armored. The mantlet is still very tough, and the “shoulders” are at near-autobounce angles, giving 300 mm+ of protection, but the UFP/superstructure is 100 mm of moderately sloped armor, giving ~141 mm of armor pre-normalization.
The Object 704 is probably one of the biggest contenders for the title of “trolliest armor”. The majority of the upper front plate is soft, only 120 mm at 45-50° giving ~180 mm armor, enough to stop a stray shot from a tier 7 and some tier 8s, but nothing more.
The main feature of the 704’s armor is the gigantic mantlet which is effectively impenetrable due to thick spaced armor. The “shoulders” have spaced armor with no hitbox, and areas of near-autobounce due to the extreme angling. The lower front plate is surprisingly, a little tougher than the upper plate due to a steeper angle. As a result, while the frontal armor is relatively mediocre, the Object 704 is capable of bouncing a surprising number of hits. A classic Object 704 move is to try to bait shots into the mantlet by covering half the tank at a corner and heavy angling to minimize exposure.
Of course, these are tank destroyers, and tank destroyers can also utilize camouflage as an element of protection. Camo values are not directly available from the data, but have to be tested individually, and various websites seem to have slightly differing values. Here is a comparison of the camouflage values of the tier 9 tank destroyers, based on the most reliable information I could find. Source: Camouflage Overview 8.9
Detailed explanation of what these numbers mean is at the link above. All of these assume that the tank is in the open, without any foliage, no camo skill, no camo paint, and no camo net. In practice, all of these factors will increase the camo value of the tank.
Tank by Tank Analysis
The T30 has many drawbacks: worst-in-class DPM, terrain resistance, and dispersion values. The hull armor ranges from mediocre to nonexistent, and its camo values are the second-worst-in-class. The gun hits hard with excellent penetration values, but this comes with the worst accuracy and aim time together with the 704. Unlike the 704, the T30 has extremely poor gun handling with a dispersion value of 0.24 to the 704’s 0.09, this means that that T30 is much less capable of pulling off snapshots and has a much longer aiming time in practice.
All this is the price the T30 pays for having a tough, well-armored turret with great gun depression. The T30 follows the same playstyle it shared with the other American heavies when it was a tier 10: go hull down and hit things hard. A hull-down T30 can be a difficult and intimidating opponent to dislodge, and it is often advisable to try to pry him out of cover and flank him to exploit his poor gun handling. Needless to say, a T30 in the open or with his hull exposed often dies very quickly.
The T95 is extremely slow—the slowest tank in the game– with terrible top speed and turning. This leaves it extremely vulnerable to flanking, and it has difficulty finding its way to good tactical positions. If another flank falls, this tank can flex about as well as the Hoover Dam. However, few other tanks excel at locking down a flank as much as the T95—it is often better to go elsewhere and deal with the T95 later. Its gun is fast firing, accurate, and has 750 alpha damage, and it has surprisingly good camo values. When fighting a T95, flanking is always advisable. The rear of the tank has a large engine hit box, and rear shots on the T95 can often set it on fire. If playing with a T95 on your team, let him lock down a lane, protect his flanks, and watch the enemy break upon him.
While the Tortoise has lowest-in-class alpha and the second-worst penetration, it makes up for this with absolute monstrous DPM and amazing gun handling. With the highest DPM of any tank in game, a Tortoise can melt an entire flank in short order. It also has excellent gun handling, with great aim time and accuracy and low dispersion on gun traverse. The great gun arc means that the Tortoise can get away with not moving the hull as much to reposition the gun, and also affords the tortoise some ability to angle its otherwise average armor. This tank will get seen easily, and will take damage when hit. Luckily, it has an amazing hitpoint pool comparable to tier 10 tanks, and combined with the outrageous DPM, it can chew through almost any enemy while trading hit points.
The JagdTiger is a classic Fascist Box Tank: Thick but poorly sloped armor on its superstructure, a decent UFP and weak LFP. It has decent HP, mediocre camouflage, and mediocre mobility. It makes up for these drawbacks with great firepower, excellent accuracy, aim time, penetration and DPM.
It also has an amazing APCR round with one of the highest shell velocities in the game, making aiming and handling the gun a very comfortable task. This tank also comes with acceptable gun depression, a hull-down JagdTiger can be a rather nasty customer. Despite its middling mobility, it can nonetheless be used aggressively as an assault gun. Its armor is capable of taking a few hits while it utilizes its relatively good HP pool and excellent DPM, making it a solid support tank for a push by heavies.
Waffentrager auf Panzer IV
The Wft auf Pz IV is the glass cannon of the tier. It has a 360° turret, and a gun with great accuracy, aim time and DPM. It also has decent camo values, which it desperately needs with the complete lack of armor; tier 6 scouts can rip it to shreds and HE absolutely destroys it. It also has minimal gun depression frontally—the listed 5° of gun depression is only applicable to sides and rear. The rear mounted gun makes for a tricky style of play, where the tank is often seen driving backwards. The key to this tank, as far as possible, is not to be seen and not to be shot at. Luckily, this is a style of play that this entire line of poorly-armored tanks with gigantic guns engenders.
AMX 50 Foch
The Foch has the worst firepower in class: it has the lowest alpha, the second-worst DPM, worst accuracy and worst shell penetration with AP. Gun handling is mediocre due to high dispersion values all around. However, the tank itself is fantastically versatile, with decent camo values, excellent mobility, and nicely sloped frontal armor. The Foch can be difficult to penetrate, especially at long range, while its 50 km/h top speed and agility allows it to move up if needed. This renders it an excellent all-around TD that can snipe or push with equal ease, and can roam around the battlefield to good effect. It has extremely thin side and rear armor, though, and these should be protected at all costs.
A TD mounted on a medium tank chassis, the SU-122-54 has excellent agility with the best camo values of the lot. Gun handling is acceptable, but the alpha and DPM are a little low, as is the armor. Many compare it to an upgunned SU-122-44. The excellent camo values may suggest that it works well as a sniper, it is equally well played more aggressively, almost like a non-turreted medium tank. In such a role, it can use agility and its punishing gun to strike at enemies, often in support of medium wolfpacks.
Mounting the BL-10, this tank hits hard and reloads surprisingly quickly for a 750 alpha gun. It also has excellent camo values, and armor that can be tricky to deal with due to the large gun mantlet. It does suffer a bit from somewhat poor mobility, and the BL-10 isn’t exactly known for its accuracy or aim time.
The 704 is an excellent ambush tank, and it can hit hard from a well-camouflaged position. Mobility and armor cause it to be somewhat lacking for the assault gun role, but it can prove surprisingly durable if such a role is required of it, due to the sheer power of the BL-10 acting as a deterrent to dissuade smaller tanks from taking a corner held by the 704.