Original article by @rocketbrainsurgeon
A lot of players ask: What is gun depression and how do you use it? I'll show you!
WHAT IS GUN DEPRESSION
Gun depression is the amount a tank can lower its' barrel, usually measured in degrees. Basically, how well a tank can point down. Good gun depression is usually 8 degrees or more, OK gun depression is 6-7 degrees, and bad gun depression is anything less than that.
Examples of good gun depression tanks: US mediums/heavies/turreted tank destroyers
Examples of OK gun depression tanks: T62A, Tiger II
Examples of bad gun depression tanks: Chinese tanks
GUN DEPRESSION DEPENDS ON THE LAYOUT OF THE TANK
How much gun depression is "good", "OK", or "bad" may also depend on the tank layout. For example, the 110 and IS-3 have "bad" gun depression at -5 degrees but no one mentions them first when talking about bad gun depression. That's because both of them have strong upper front plates, making hull-down play (exposing only the turret to the enemy and hiding the hull) less of a necessity.
Gun depression values also differ where the barrel is facing. If the barrel is over the rear of the tank, there are many tanks that have less gun depression than if the barrel is facing forward (Leo 1, FCM).
WHERE DO I SEE HOW MUCH GUN DEPRESSION MY TANK HAS?
HOW DO I USE GUN DEPRESSION?
Gun Depression is useful for:
- Firing at enemies lower than your tank
- Dealing with uneven terrain
- Playing "hull-down" - exposing only the turret to incoming enemy fire by hiding the hull behind a hill/rock/building/debris/tank/etc
GUN DEPRESSION AND FIRING AT ENEMIES LOWER THAN YOUR TANK
Being able to simply move the turret and not the entire tank is a large benefit. Not only is the tank ready to fire sooner, but the reticle will bloom less since it's only the turret and not the entire tank moving.
DEALING WITH UNEVEN TERRAIN
Ever stop on a small hill and realize your gun won't aim down at the enemy? We all have this issue from time to time. Gun depression allows the hull of the tank to be at weird angles while the turret trains onto the enemy. Good gun depression is able to deal with incredibly uneven terrain while bad gun depression makes even the smallest bumps difficult.
This is probably the best use for gun depression!
"Hull-down", as stated before, is playing with the hull of the tank hidden, allowing only the turret to be exposed to the enemy. This has a few advantages:
- The turret is usually the toughest part of the tank
- A very small portion of the tank is exposed, making it harder to hit
- Moving back behind cover is very quick as so little is exposed
The World of Tanks wiki has a good image about hull-down play:
The tank on the left can fire on any part of the right tank. It's the largest possible area.
The tank on the right can only fire on the turret of the left tank. It's a small area.
Here is a T34 going hull-down behind a hill on Siegfried Line:
So the enemy can only see that reddish area and not anything below that. The T34, like most of the US heavy tanks, is great to play hull-down as the mantlet (area directly around the gun) and frontal turret armor is very strong.
This T34 is almost invincible to enemy fire! The strong frontal turret will bounce almost all incoming shots, with only the commanders' hatch on the very top of the turret able to be damaged by the enemy. Going hull-down allows the tank to live for much longer it otherwise would.
OTHER HULL DOWN APPROACHES AND USES FOR GUN DEPRESSION
The next step with gun depression is to get creative with it. Hiding the lower hull is good, but not always possible. The next best thing is to hide the lower hull rather than nothing at all:
This T54 is partially hull-down. The upper front plate on the T54 is very strong, to the point where I can't damage him when he is positioned this way! What he's doing only takes the smallest of hill, and should be attempted often.
Here's another one. I'm in a 113 on Komarin, using a rock and hill to simulate being hull-down:
The red area is where enemy fire will come from. The blue areas are being used to cut off angles from incoming fire. The arrow indicates that I'm backing up, which will peek the turret over the rock at the enemy while hiding the majority of the tank behind the rock! In this way, I'm nearly invincible to incoming fire from the enemy.
Hull-down play is something that's incredibly useful for every tank. It points the strongest part of the tank at the enemy as well as presents a tiny target to fire on. Mastering hull-down play can greatly increase survival rates, and turn lost games into wins.