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Automatic Loader

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Autoloaders, Semi-Automatic Guns, Autocannons and Autoreloaders

Most vehicles in-game use a traditional single-shot, breech-loaded cannon as the main gun. Rounds are loaded by human hands, aimed, and fired one at a time. However, there are certain guns and vehicles deployed in-game that have a variation on this single-shot concept, all of which involve automating the gun loading process. The terms used in-game to describe these three variations areas follows.

  • Autoloaders are robot-like, mechanical devices that are part of the tank, not the gun, and automatically reload the main gun after a shot, without intervention of human hands.
    • Drumloaders autoloaders that can only reload the entire magazine at once.
    • Autoreloaders autoloaders that reload round-by-round instead of replacing the entire magazine at once.
  • Semi-Automatic Guns, as the term is used in-game, refer to certain guns which are designed to be reloaded from a stick-type magazine, which is integrated onto the gun at its breech.
  • Autocannons are weapons that rapid-fire a burst of multiple rounds with a single click of the trigger.

Autoloaders

Autoloaders are mechanical devices built into the tank, not into the gun. Early generation Autoloaders were most often installed on tanks with Oscillating Turrets. In an Oscillating Turret design, the main gun is fixed to the upper turret half, and elevation and depression of the gun is accomplished by movement of the entire upper turret half on its hinge with the lower turret half. This means the gun's breech does not move up and down inside the turret as it does in a Conventional Turret. Therefore, the Autoloader can be fixed in the proper position adjacent to the gun's breech and move up or down with the breech inside the upper turret half. It is possible to mount an Autoloader in a Conventional Turret, but in such cases it must be mounted on or near the breech of the gun and independently move up and down in sync with the breech, making elevation and depression unwieldy.

The Autoloader retrieves new rounds from a magazine, which typically in-game holds 3 to 6 large calibre (75mm to 155mm) rounds. Using an Autoloader, rounds from the magazine can be loaded and fired one at a time, but in quick succession with only a 2 or 3 seconds delay between shots. However, when the Autoloader's magazine is empty, it must be reloaded by human hands. This process takes 15 to 85 seconds in-game, depending upon the vehicle, and leaves the vehicle defenceless and vulnerable. It's possible to reload the gun from a partially refilled magazine.

The Autoloader's magazine is often referred to in-game as a "drum." In-game Autoloader magazines are modeled on real life equivalents that originally used a drum shaped carousel, resembling the cylinder on a revolver. Modern day Autoloaders on Main Battle Tanks are much more sophisticated than these early generation models. Some modern autoloaders draw ammunition directly from the ammo rack, eliminating the need for a drum, and human hands, entirely.

Historically, the most successful real life Autoloader tank of the era equivalent to the in-game vehicles, was the French AMX-13, produced between 1953 to 1985. It sported two 6-round drum magazines, aligned on either side of the breech block, permitting a gunner to select a HE round from one drum or an AP from the other. The big drawback of this system was that these two drum magazines could only be reloaded and replaced by the crew from outside the safety of the tank.

Autoloaders in the game are subdivided into two types: those that can only reload by the drum-load, and those capable of firing from a partially reloaded drum. Both are autoloaders. The difference is whether the human loader has access to reload the drum in place, or if it's necessary to remove the entire drum and replace it with a full drum, etc. In real life, the latter would in time become the norm for all autoloaders. In the game, these are differentiated by the community as drumloaders and autoreloaders. Just note that these two terms do not exist in real life.

Autoreloaders

Autoreloaders can be considered an hybrid between conventional manual reloading guns and autoloaders that require reloading the entire drum at a time (aka "drumloaders"). The human loader refills the magazine by hand, one round at a time. In this way, the difficulty of manually remounting an entire drum is eliminated, while retaining the possibility of rapid firing.

  • The ammo count is shown in a similar fashion to autoloaders.
  • The loader will automatically refill the magazine until it's full, as normal, but the refilling process can be interrupted to fire the weapon, and reinitiated upon feeding a round into the gun breech.
  • Like on autoloaders, switching ammo types will clear the current drum, and the loader will start to refill anew.
  • The involvement of manual refilling enables the usage of gun rammers.

Currently, autoreloaders are only available in certain high tier Italian medium tanks. The manual reloading process adds considerable flexibility to the autoloader playstyle, being able to restore rapid-fire potential quickly, or to remain engaged in spite of the drum being depleted. However, to counter-balance their capability of both single-firing and rapid-firing, it's important to note that the reload speed decreases as the drum empties. There are also other compromises as well: even when single firing with an almost full drum, most conventional single-shot guns of comparable calibre still reload faster. Autoreloaders have a smaller drum size than drumloaders, and thus cannot produce as much rapid-fire damage.

Autoloader Equipped Vehicles In-Game


In-Game Use and Performance of Autoloaders

An Autoloader as shown in-game. 4 out of 6 shells are left in the drum.
  • Playing vehicles equipped with Autoloaders requires substantial adjustment to play-style from the hand loaded tanks in order to accommodate the long magazine reload time.
  • Autoloader tanks excel at hit and run tactics and can quickly finish off wounded tanks or exposed lower tier enemies with their quick firepower, but the Commander must always be on the lookout for a good escape route to a safe reloading place and this attitude must become second nature.
  • Autoloader tanks instill fear in many opponents, and they will be cautious about rounding a corner into your line of fire if they don't know whether you have a round ready or not. Take advantage of these moments to bluff, feint, and stall for reload time
  • Pressing the keyboard's C key in-game will cause the Autoloader's magazine to reload even though it may only be partially empty. This is handy when the tank is in a safe position and can take the time to top up the magazine for the next assault.
  • Remaining available ammo in the Autoloader's magazine is displayed on the battle interface in 2 places. The total rounds remaining in the magazine appears in the lower right corner of the "ammo type" and total amount of ammo remaining in the vehicle box at bottom center on most screens. The number of "drums" of ammo remaining in the magazine are graphically displayed as bullet shaped icons in the reticle area. These are referred to as "containers" in the settings/reticle panel.

Semi-Automatic Cannons

In-game, Semi-Automatic Guns contain 3 to 6 rounds per magazine, and fire only one shot with each trigger click. Semi-Autos are restricted to smaller (37mm to 40mm) calibre cannons. Rounds in the magazine can be fired every 0.25 seconds or so until the magazine is empty. A longer time period of from 4 to 10 seconds is required to restock the magazine. This is a much shorter restock time than that required to reload the magazine of an Autoloader.


Graffiti_stickers_usa_A.png American Guns
Tier Gun Name Ammo Mag. Size Used in
I 37 mm Semiautomatic M1924 100-110 5 T1 Cunningham, T2 Medium Tank
II 37 mm Browning Semiautomatic 100-110 5 T1 Cunningham, T2 Medium Tank
IV 37 mm Gun T16 120-145 5 M5 Stuart


Graffiti_stickers_uk.png British Guns
Tier Gun Name Ammo Mag. Size Used in
IV 40 mm Pom Pom
(SA Version)
120-160 4 Cruiser Mk. I, Cruiser Mk. III


China.png Chinese Guns
Tier Gun Name Ammo Mag. Size Used in
IV 40 mm Pom Pom
(SA Version)
160 4 Vickers Mk. E Type B


Czech.png Czechoslovakian Guns
Tier Gun Name Ammo Mag. Size Used in
III 37 mm Škoda A23 90 3 LT vz. 38

In-Game Use and Performance of Semi-Auto Guns

  • In game, Semi-Auto guns are options on smaller calibre guns for certain vehicles from Tier-1 through Tier-4.
  • The accuracy of Semi-Auto Guns is on a par with the game's breech-loaded guns and far superior to that of the Autocannons often encountered at the same tiers.
  • The principle advantage of Semi-Auto guns is the ability to get a few shots off very quickly.
  • Pressing the keyboard's C key in-game will cause the gun's magazine to reload even though it may only be partially empty. This is handy, when the tank is in a safe position and can take the time to top up the magazine for the next assault.
  • Remaining available ammo in the Semi-Auto magazine is displayed on the battle interface in 2 places. The total rounds remaining in the mag appear as a number in the lower right corner of the active "ammo type" box at bottom center on most screens. The larger number there is the amount of rounds remaining in the vehicle. The number of Semi-Auto shots remaining in the mag are also graphically displayed as bullet shaped icons in the reticle area. Each bullet shaped icon represents a round in the mag. These are referred to as "containers" in the settings/reticle panel.

Autocannons

As used in-game, the term Autocannon refers to a rapid-fire gun, ranging from 8mm up to 40mm calibre, which fires multiple projectiles in a single burst of 2 to 50-shots upon a single click of the trigger. The number of bursts that can be fired before reloading the magazine is dependent upon the magazine capacity. As long as the magazine still holds rounds, these guns fire bursts almost as fast as you can click the trigger.

In real life, these weapons are capable of fully automatic fire, with rounds fed to the Autocannon continuously from a magazine, consisting of a belt, a spring-driven box or drum, or are gravity fed, depending upon the gun's design. By historical convention, the term "machine gun" is applied to fully automatic guns that fire solid bullets and typically have a calibre smaller than 20mm. The term "autocannon" is used to describe fully automatic guns that fire shells, typically 20mm or larger, which can be armour-piercing, filled with high-explosive, or variations thereof (APCR, API, etc.). Since there is no difference in the way these two weapon types function in the game, they are lumped together here.

Machine guns can be further subdivided into Heavy Machine Guns and Light Machine Guns. The difference is HMGs are intended for sustained fire, mounted on wheel carriages, tripods or vehicles while LMGs fires in short bursts and is light enough to be operated by a single man and one or two assistants. There is only 1 LMG in the game, the 7.92 mm mauser e.w. 141, as fitted to the pz.1ausf.c


In-Game Use and Performance of Autocannons

An Autocannon as shown in-game. 2 bursts of 5 shells each are left in the magazine.
  • In game Autocannons are available as smaller calibre guns for certain vehicles from Tier-1 through Tier-5.
  • The accuracy of Autocannons is poor compared to other guns in the game. The first shot may impact the aim point but the following shots in a single burst may disperse widely.
  • Autocannons are generally small calibre weapons and are best utilized at short range where the multiple hits effect offsets a single round's poor damage and penetration characteristics. Up close their firepower can be devastating on tanks of their own Tier or below.
  • Pressing the keyboard's C key in-game will cause the Autocannon's magazine to reload even though it may only be partially empty. This is handy when the tank is in a safe position and can take the time to top up the magazine for the next assault.
  • Remaining available ammo in the Autocannon's magazine is displayed on the battle interface in 2 places. The total rounds remaining in the magazine appears in the lower right corner of the "ammo type" and total amount of ammo remaining in the vehicle box at bottom center on most screens. The number of "bursts" of ammo remaining in the magazine are graphically displayed as bullet shaped icons in the reticle area. These are referred to as "containers" in the settings/reticle panel.