THE ARMOURED RUNDOWN - AMERICAN THUNDERBOLT VII


In this Armoured Rundown, we take a look at the Premium Tier VI American medium tank - M4A3E8 Thunderbolt VII. The goal is to give you an in-depth look at upcoming premiums, break down their strengths and weaknesses, then finally conclude if the tank is worth the value. I will objectively look at these tanks, and give my honest opinion while trying to remain as neutral as possible - but voice concerns should the need arise.

FIREPOWER

The firepower of the Thunderbolt VII is a mixed bag, while the overall soft gun stats are good, the low base penetration will give you trouble in Tier 8 games verses more heavily armoured tanks. Against German tanks like the VK 100.01 (P) the Thunderbolt will really struggle to penetrate, even if it has the side of the tank while firing APCR. The gun depression allows the Thunderbolt to use ridges effectively and go hull down, though don't rely on this too much or you will be punished.

The Thunderbolt also has low damage per shot, coming in at 115, although this is compensated somewhat by good damage per minute (DPM). The mediocre penetration makes this more of a theoretical number, however. The lack of penetration is something it has in common with the other American (T6) mediums. You will likely have to rely on firing APCR to make the most of the tank in many situations.

Pros.
   + Good damage per minuet (DPM)
   + Good dispersion stats
   + Good gun depression
Cons.
   - Low penetration
   - Low damage per shot
   - Low shell velocity with AP

ARMOUR

This is where the tank shows it's biggest improvements over the M4A3E8, the front plate is of considerable thickness. This allows the tank to take multiple hits from the same tiers without fear of penetration. The turret is also improved, with spaced armour covering the front and most the side with a strong gun mantlet. It will not make you immune to all incoming fire, but offers viable protection - especially against high explosive anti-tank (HEAT).

The tank also features some added spaced armour on the relatively weak Sherman side armour, and allows sharper angling to maximise the protection the frontal armour provides. The armour overall is quite effective against same-tier tanks. High explosive anti-tank (HEAT) ammunition will struggle more to penetrate the spaced Armour. The rest of the tank is typical M4 Sherman, weak rear armour and upper engine deck allow high explosive to do large amounts of damage.

Pros.
   + Good frontal hull armour
   + Decent turret armour
Cons.
   - Low side armour
   - Frontal weak spots
   - Weak rear and engine deck

MOBILITY

With that extra armour comes the drawbacks, the power to weight of the Thunderbolt takes a large hit. This slows down the acceleration and traverse of the tank, as well as its top speed. While you could still consider it somewhat mobile, you will feel it struggle on slopes and hard terrain. The engine also drops by 20hp/t adding to the sluggishness.

The Thunderbolts mobility is not awful, but you will feel it, if you have experience with the British Firefly then I would compare the two, both being around the same general level of mobility, although the Thunderbolt does have the higher top speed.

Pros.
   + Average mobility
   + Average traverse
Cons.
   - Low power to weight
   - Low(ish) top speed

CONCLUSION

This is a difficult conclusion to make, the tank is fun to play, but let down by low penetration and damage per shot, but that is the problem, it's only fun to play. There is not a lot new here, the Thunderbolt is a medium tank pretending to be a heavy and beyond that, it's a normal M4 Sherman. You will struggle in Tier 8 MM like most Tiers 6 tanks do, but pressing the 2 key will alleviate some of those issues, but eat into your potential credit earnings.

If you like playing the normal American M4s without having the ability to mount the 105mm howitzer, then get it, the crew it comes with is worth some gold in itself. The zero skill Brothers-In-Arms crew basically comes with a free skill. Don't expect anything new or thrilling. I will say this, the Thunderbolt looks amazing, the model is a pleasure to look at and I would seriously consider buying it just for that.

The basic package will set you back £12.29 or $17.99 in your local currency.

STATS

Firepower
Gun - 76 mm Gun M1A2 (AP/APCR/HE)
Avg. Penetration: 128 / 177 / 38 mm
Avg. Damage: 115 / 115 / 185
Reload Time: 3.45
Rate of Fire: 17.38 rounds/min
Aiming Time: 2.01s
Avg. Damage Per Minute: 1,998.81 HP/min
Accuracy:  0.36
Gun Depression/Elevation Angles: -10 / +25 deg

Mobility
Engine Power: 500 hp
Specific Power: 13.51 hp/t
Top Speed / Reverse Speed: 42 / 18 km/h
Gun Traverse Speed: 40.25 deg/s
Traverse Speed: 36.63 deg/s
Terrain Resistance: 0.86 / 0.96 / 1.44

Survivability
Hit Points: 750
Hull Armour: 123 / 38 / 38
Turret Armour: 63 / 63 / 63
View Range: 370 m
Signal Range: 594 m

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