In order to be battle-ready, every vehicle in the game must first be manned by a complete crew. Crew members have different roles depending on their function in operating the vehicle, and their skill levels effect how efficiently their respective part of the vehicle operates. A vehicle with a well trained crew is often far superior to the same exact vehicle with a poorly trained and inexperienced crew. Crew members' skill levels can receive bonuses from things like food consumables and ventilation equipment. Crew members who are placed in a vehicle they are not trained for will receive a large proficiency penalty, unless the vehicle is a premium tank of the same class of vehicle as the one they are trained for.
Crew members can be knocked out during battle, resulting in a severe penalty in their respective role(s). If a vehicle's entire crew is knocked out, the vehicle is considered dead (regardless of whether or not it has any remaining hitpoints) and the player who delivered the final blow is credited with the kill. Players can use consumables such as the large or small first aid kits to revive knocked out crew members, but cannot use these items to revive their tank if all its crew members were knocked out.
Training and Experience
Every crew member has a major qualification, which is what role they fill in the vehicle. There are five major qualifications: commander, gunner, driver, radio operator, and loader. Depending on the vehicle, a crew member may fill the roles of another major qualification aside from their primary one (for instance, a gunner can also be a loader as well), or there may be more than one crew member with a certain major qualification (for instance, vehicles with large guns commonly have two loaders).
Much like how a vehicle gains experience with every battle it takes place in, crew members accumulate experience which increases their skill levels. A crew member's skill in their particular major qualification is known as their proficiency, which is represented as a percentage. A crew member with an effective 100% proficiency will operate in their role with the same effectiveness as advertised in the vehicle's statistics. A crew member with an effective 0% proficiency will only operate at half capacity of what is expected for that vehicle. Crew members can have effective proficiency higher than 100% thanks to certain bonuses, and in such cases will cause the vehicle to operate more effectively than its displayed stats.
Below is a table explaining how a crew member's proficiency in his or her respective role affects the performance of the vehicle:
|| The commander is responsible for acquiring and targeting enemies as well as leading the vehicle's crew. The commander's proficiency level affects the vehicle's view range. An inexperienced or knocked out commander will reduce the vehicle's effective view range. |
The commander also provides a commanders bonus to his subordinate crew members based on 10% of his current proficiency (see Bonuses and Penalties).
||The gunner is responsible for aiming and firing the vehicle's main weapon. The gunner's proficiency level affects the vehicle's aim time, accuracy, and turret traverse rate. An inexperienced or knocked out gunner will reduce the vehicle's ability to fire accurately, aim quickly, and rotate its turret or gun.|
||The driver is responsible for driving and maneuvering the vehicle. The driver's proficiency level affects the vehicle's ability to maneuver - specifically its terrain resistance, traverse speed, and acceleration ability. An inexperienced or knocked out driver will reduce the vehicles ability to accelerate, climb inclines, and maneuver quickly.|
||The radio operator is responsible for using the vehicle's radio to communicate with other allied vehicles. The radio operator's proficiency level affects the vehicle's radio range. An inexperienced or knocked out radio operator will reduce the vehicle's radio range, and potentially leave it incapable of communicating with other vehicles with a poor radio range.|
||The loader is responsible for loading and reloading the vehicle's main weapon. The loader's proficiency level affects the vehicle's reload time. An inexperienced or knocked out loader will greatly increase the vehicle's reload time.|
Skills and Perks
Once a crew member has reached 100% proficiency, they begin to train for their first crew skills. These crew skills can be used to increase the vehicles performance even more, and can allow the vehicle to do things that vehicles with regular crews can't. The player can chose which kind of crew skill to train. If the player changes their mind on which to train, then can then drop them (sometimes with a loss of total experience, depending on the method by which they do it - see Training, Retraining, and Dropping) and change them to something else. Crew skills require more experience to increase their percentage levels as they approach 100%. A crew member can have multiple crew skills, with the amount needed to completely train the crew skills increasing with each subsequent crew skill. If a crew member is knocked out in battle, the vehicle loses the benefits of that crew member's crew skills.
Some crew skills specific to a certain major qualification, while others can be trained by any major qualification. A crew member with secondary roles aside from their major qualification can train crew skills for those other qualifications (a gunner who is also a loader can train loader-specific crew skills), but will lose the ability to use these skills if moved to a vehicle where they do not have this secondary role.
Crew skills are divided into two categories - skills and perks - which work differently. A skill is progressive - its effect is felt as soon as it is chosen on a crew member and increases as the skill reaches 100%. Perks are not progressive, and do not come into effect until fully trained to 100%. This means that training crew skills with perks selected is inefficient, and it is much more efficient to train a crew skill to 100% with a skill selected and then drop it once it reaches 100% in favor of a perk (this is commonly done with the Commander skill "Sixth Sense").
Below is a table displaying the available crew skills by their major qualification.
| The repair skill allows crew members to more quickly repair destroyed modules on a vehicle. The effects of repairs on multiple crew members is cumulative, so having more than one crew member trained for repairs increases its effect. The effect also stacks with the toolbox and large repair kit repair bonuses.
Repairs is a very general-use skill, and is therefore useful on a wide variety of vehicles. Heavy tanks and assault gun tank destroyers which are designed to soak up enemy hits will find it useful for repairing their oft-damaged modules and staying on the move by helping to repair their tracks more quickly. Medium tanks also find it useful for keeping their tracks up and staying on-the-move. Tanks which are fragile and not meant to take any hits are not greatly benefited by repairs.
| The firefighting skill allows crew members to more quickly put out a vehicle which has been set on fire. Like repairs, firefighting is cumulative among multiple crew members and is more effective if more crew members have it trained. It is important to note that firefighting does not decrease the chances of a fire happening, and only decreases the time it takes to put one out.
Because of the relative rarity of fires in most vehicles, firefighting is often skipped in favor of repairs. Firefighting can be useful as a second or third skill on vehicles which rely on their durability or are particularly prone to fires.
| The camouflage skill increases a vehicle's camo values, thereby making it more difficult to spot. Like repairs and firefighting, camouflage is cumulative among multiple crew members and stacks with the effects of camouflage nets and camouflage paint.
Camouflage is most helpful to vehicles which play at a distance and are too fragile to rely on repairs to keep them safe. Poorly armored sniping tank destroyers can use camo to stay concealed while firing, and light tanks can use camouflage to increase their inherent concealability and stay safe while spotting enemy targets.
| The brothers in arms perk (also known as BiA) increases the training levels of all crew members in a vehicle by 5%. This bonus stacks with the bonuses provided by vents and food consumables. In order for BiA to take effect, all crew members in the vehicle must have the skill fully trained. Female crews start out with a similar perk, called sisterhood of steel. This perk works the same as BiA, however it does not work with BiA, and mixed-gender crews will not gain bonuses from either perk.
Because of the inherently all-encompassing nature of crew proficiency levels, brothers in arms is a useful perk choice on almost any vehicle in the game.
| The sixth sense perk enables the commander of a vehicle to indicate when it is spotted three seconds after it has happened. When spotted, an icon of a red light bulb will appear in the middle of the HUD and then disappear after a set amount of time. Sixth sense does not tell the player when or if their vehicle has been unspotted and only indicates when the player has gone from unspotted to spotted.
Sixth sense is useful on vehicles which can react to being spotted. It is useful on light and medium tanks for testing whether an area is safe or not. It is also useful on sniping tank destroyers for knowing when they have had their cover blown and need to relocate. Sixth sense is not particularly useful on close-range brawlers which are often lit aren't greatly affected by whether or not they are spotted.
Training, Retraining, and Dropping
When training new crew members or retraining old crew members to a new vehicle, there a three different options.