Most light tanks sacrifice armor protection for speed and maneuverability. This makes light tanks the fastest class of vehicles in the game, but also the most fragile. They lack the armor necessary to protect them from most guns in the game and are especially vulnerable to ramming. Light tanks usually feature smaller, rapid fire guns and typically fall just short of medium tanks with regards to firepower (though this disparity becomes smaller in the higher tiers). In return for their lack of firepower and protection, light tanks get superb view ranges and also benefit from great camo values which stay the same regardless of whether the tank is stationary or moving (a feature unique to light tanks).
Because of their physical frailty and their strong spotting and concealment abilities, light tanks are usually best played as scouts. Light tanks are well equipped to spot enemy targets in order for their more heavily armed teammates to safely take shots at them, all while staying safe from enemy fire themselves. Light tanks become especially dangerous later in the game when the map is less populated. With more room to move around, light tanks are capable of aggressively spotting or flanking unsuspecting targets and escaping just as quickly. Light tanks can easily circle tank destroyers and slow moving heavy tanks when caught without support.
Variety and Examples
As with all classes in the game, while most light tanks share similar characteristics there are those which deviate from these norms. This is most true at the lower tiers, where most of the early historical light tanks are. Many of these older light tanks were designed as more general-purpose vehicles, and thus many of their in-game representations are more well-rounded than the dedicated scout lights of the middle to upper tiers. Tanks such as the Valentine and T-26 reflect this more general-purpose performance, whereas others such as the AMX 40 buck the trend completely and behave like pocket heavy tanks.