A tank's turret is a heavily armored, dome-like structure on a tank connecting the gun to the hull. The turret rotates independently of the tank's hull, allowing the gun to be traversed from left to right; usually but not always, through a full 360°. The turret also permits the main gun to swivel vertically and elevate or depress its aim. Rotating the turret or elevating the gun while keeping the vehicle's hull stationary in a sniper position does not normally reduce the vehicle's camouflage properties and reveal its position to the enemy.
Most tanks have turrets. Some vehicles, most notably certain TDs and SPGs, are "turretless" and do not have turrets at all. In turretless vehicles the gun is mounted directly onto the superstructure of the hull. Turretless vehicles can still traverse their main gun, but only through a very limited range of a few degrees left and right of the hull centerline. Further traverse of the gun to the left or right beyond these limits requires engaging the tracks and turning the entire hull of the vehicle. Moving the hull may reduce the vehicle's camouflage properties and reveal it to the enemy.
There are two radically different turret designs, in-game and in real life:
- The Conventional Turret is the most common and successful turret design. In its simplest form, it incorporates a single cast or welded part connected to the vehicle's hull via a turret ring. Conventional Turrets are larger than Oscillating Turrets in order to provide a space large enough to accommodate at least a gunner and a commander plus room enough to load heavy rounds by hand into the breach of the main gun. It must also be large enough to permit travel of the gun's breech block within the turret as the main gun is elevated or depressed during aiming. In tanks, larger means more steel and hence more weight.
- The Oscillating Turret is formed of two parts, an upper and a lower half joined by a swinging hinge. The main gun is rigidly fixed to the upper part of the turret and the elevation or depression of the gun is accomplished by the movement of the entire upper turret half moving on the hinge. This arrangement had two distinct advantages. It eliminates the need for interior turret space for breech movement, and it also permits the installation of auto-loaders reducing the need for crew space in the turret. Consequently, Oscillating Turrets can be much smaller (ie lighter) than Conventional Turrets. Gun traverse is achieved by the lower turret part rotating on its ring mount against the hull. Gun recoil is absorbed by oleo-pneumatic rams mounted between the upper and lower turret halves rather than coaxial with the breech. The complexity of the autoloaders, and the long reload time of the magazine was the Achilles Heel of the Oscillating Turret design. The French AMX-13 light tank was the most successful of the Oscillating Turret vehicles, with over 7,700 units produced between 1953 to 1985. However, the AMX-13 carried only 12 rounds loaded in two 6-round drums. It could fire these in short order, but then had to retreat to safety where the crew was required to reload the autoloader drums from outside the vehicle.
The characteristics and specifications of each individual turret available on a particular vehicle will affect the vehicle's in-game performance and handling characteristics.
- Armor - Armor refers to the average thickness of the armor plate from which the turret is constructed. As presented in the tables below, armor is expressed as numbers in the format #/#/#, which refers to the turret's front/sides/rear armor thickness, measured in millimeters. There is a trade-off between thicker versus thinner turret armor. Thicker may mean better turret hit points but added weight and, consequently, reduced turret traverse speed and vehicle speed/agility. Thin turret armor may increase turret traverse speed and vehicle speed/agility due to lighter weight but at the sacrifice of turret hit points and armor protection.
- Turret Traverse Speed - Turret Traverse Speed, measured in degrees per second, refers to how fast the turret rotates around its axis and thereby traverses the main gun to the left or right. The faster the better.
- View Range - The type of turret installed on the tank affects its View Range. View Range is the maximum radius distance, measured in meters from the turret, that the commander can see out of the turret's view ports in all directions. The greater the better.