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War Thunder
Cover art for the PlayStation 4
Developer(s)Gaijin Entertainment
Publisher(s)Gaijin Entertainment
August 15, 2013
  • Windows
    • WW: August 15, 2013[1]
  • PlayStation 4
  • OS X
    • WW: April 17, 2014[4]
  • Linux
    • WW: November 6, 2014[5]
  • Android
    • WW: June 2, 2015[6]
  • Official release
    • WW: December 21, 2016[7]
  • Xbox One
Genre(s)Action, vehicular combat, combat flight simulator
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

War Thunder is a free-to-play vehicular combat multiplayer video game developed and published by Gaijin Entertainment. Announced in 2011, it was first released in November 2012 as an open beta with a worldwide release in January 2013; it had its official release on December 21, 2016.[11][7] It has a cross-platform format for Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, Oculus, and Vive. A spinoff game called War Thunder Mobile (also known as War Thunder Edge[12]) was released in May 2023 for Android, with an iOS version released in August 2023.

Developed as a "flying simulation game", it was previously named War Thunder: World of Planes,[13] but due to its similarity with Wargaming's World of Warplanes, it was changed to its present name in 2012.[14][15] Initially, Gaijin claimed after the game was announced that it was an April Fools joke before confirming its existence in June that same year.[16]

War Thunder won several awards following its release, winning Best Simulation Game at the Gamescom 2013 Awards as well as winning Best Game, Best Developer, Best Technology and Best Sound at the KRI 2013 Awards.[17][18] In 2019, War Thunder was among the most played games on Steam with over 25,000 concurrent players on Steam only.[19] In 2023, the number of people playing War Thunder simultaneously on Steam only, was over 75,000 on average and peaked at 114,806 on Nov 05, 2023.[20] These numbers do not include console players or PC players using the Gaijin.net service.

As of November 1, 2022, War Thunder had over 70 million registered players on all platforms combined, out of which 160,000 play concurrently.[21] In February 2024, War Thunder set a new record of over 250,000 concurrent players.[22]


War Thunder is based around combined arms battles on air, land, and sea.[23] Vehicles range from pre-World War I (ships only)[24] to modern day,[25] with an emphasis on World War II,[26][27] the Vietnam War, and the Cold War.[28] Players can control aircraft, ground vehicles, and warships from ten nations with a set of technology trees attached to them: United States, Germany, Russia, Britain, France, Japan, Italy, China, Sweden and Israel. The game also incorporates other nations, including Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belarus,[29] Canada, Czechoslovakia, Finland, Hungary, India, Kazakhstan,[29] North Korea, Norway, Oman, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Syria, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Vietnam and Saudi Arabia. These nations are included either as "sub-trees" (parts of the research trees of bigger nations being dedicated to a smaller nation) or premium vehicles, purchasable with real money or in-game currency.

Vehicles are divided into three main categories: aviation, ground, and fleet, while game modes are divided between arcade, realistic, and simulator.[30] Aviation is divided between fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, fleet is divided between "Bluewater", ships from the size of destroyers to battlecruisers and battleships and "Coastal", smaller ships and boats such as motor torpedo boats, motor gunboats, submarine chasers, and frigates.[31] A single-player mode that focuses on historical battles, and a co-op wave survival mode for battling AI ground vehicles and aircraft, are also available.[30]


Events in War Thunder provide custom missions, usually based on one of the three main game modes, but with alternative settings regarding allowed vehicles, mission specifics, etc. Examples are the recreation of historical battles by restricting available vehicles (e.g., Battle of Britain).

Traditionally, the developers prepare unconventional events for April Fools' Day. These events are used to test planned game mechanics before their broader release to the player base.[citation needed]

  • For 2015, a new game mode called "Unrealistic Battles" featured inflatable rubber tanks firing potatoes and carrots.[32] The "tanks" also had overall hitpoints instead of the usual separate modules, parodying the gameplay of World of Tanks, a competitor to War Thunder.
  • For 2016, ahead of the announcement of the naval forces update, War Thunder offered playable 18th-century sailing ships fighting in the Caribbean.[33]
  • For 2017, War Thunder made playable rank IX main battle tanks and attack helicopters. Available vehicles were the Leopard 2A5, AH-64 Apache (Designated as GM-64 and operated by Germany in-game), Gepard, T-90A, Mi-35 Hind-E and ZSU-23-4 Shilka.[34]
  • The 2018 event, named "Silent Thunder", was based underwater, with submarines.
  • The 2019 event, named "Earth Thunder", took place in a fictional American city named "Green Hills" and had players use UFOs.[35]
  • In 2020, Gaijin changed the name of the game to "Space Thunder", featuring space battles.[36]
  • In 2021, Gaijin held 2 events, "Tailspin" and "Warfare 2077". Tailspin was a game mode that took place on a map called "Cape Somerset Bay" that had a cartoon art style. Players took control of new planes belonging to the "Republic of Air Pirates" faction.[37] Warfare 2077 was a futuristic game mode that took place on the "Launch Facility" map and allowed the players to take control of futuristic tanks and unmanned aerial vehicles, teasing the September 2022 addition of drones to the game.[38]
  • In 2022, Gaijin introduced a Dune-inspired game mode called "Worm Thunder: Children of Arachis" which involved two factions fighting over cinnamon in the desert while also avoiding being eaten by a giant sandworm.[39]
  • In 2023, Gaijin introduced "Mobile Infantry", an event involving battles involving infantry wearing combat exoskeletons, main battle tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and attack helicopters. Two nations were playable in the conflict, being the United States and Russia. There were several types of playable exoskeletons, which included: Assault exoskeletons (Fitted with a high-caliber machinegun and 2 ATGM launchers), Sniper exoskeletons (Fitted with a 30mm anti-material sniper rifle and 2 disposable rocket launchers), ATGM operator exoskeletons (Fitted wth 2 ATGM launchers and an 8.6mm caliber machine gun) and MANPADS operator exoskeletons (Fitted with a MANPADS launcher system and high-caliber machinegun). The other playable vehicles were the M1A2 SEP Abrams/T-80BVM, M3A3 Bradley/BMP-3, and AH-64D Apache Longbow/Mi-28N Havoc. The event was the first time fire-and-forget ATGMs were featured in the game, as the ATGM operator for the US side was fitted with Spike missiles. Fire-and-forget ATGMs were later added to the main game with the Chinese QN506 IFV, released as part of an accompanying event.[40][41]

Other notable examples include "March to Victory", introducing playable mecha composed of tank parts;[42] "The Pony Nation", introducing the world of My Little Pony, Equestria, as a sixth playable faction (2013);[43] and "Gaijilla", featuring a battle against a giant Godzilla-like snail (2014).[44]

In August 2020, the game had a tank biathlon-style event featuring select Russian and Chinese tanks performing tasks on a tank range map, with the objective to finish in 1st place after navigating obstacles and destroying targets. The event was partnered with the Information Systems Department of the Russian Ministry of Defense.[45] Logos advertising the game also appeared during the event, notably painted on the side of the tanks during the real biathlon. The event was teased on August 17 with a YouTube video posted to the game's official YouTube Channel, as well as on the official website.[46]


War Thunder at IgroMir 2013
War Thunder at Gamescom 2014

Early development and closed beta

The development of the game, then under the name World of Planes, began in 2009. Gaijin Entertainment used its experience with its previous combat flight simulator games, such as IL-2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey, Apache: Air Assault, and Birds of Steel, in the development. The title was changed to War Thunder during the closed beta due to confusion with competitor World of Warplanes.[47]

Open beta and release

Promotion of War Thunder: Knights of the Sea at Gamescom 2016

Open beta testing started on November 1, 2012 (for users from the Russian Federation; the global beta launched January 28, 2013) for Windows PC with about 200 aircraft and 600,000 players. On May 15, 2014, at 6 million registered players, the first ground forces for Germany and the Soviet Union were introduced.[48] Later added were the American,[49] British,[50] and Japanese ground forces.[51]

In 2017, Italy was added as a playable faction.[52][53] At Gamescom 2018, the planned addition of helicopters into the game was announced, and by late 2018, helicopters were fully implemented.[54][55]

In 2022, Tencent announced that the Chinese version of the game published by Tencent would be discontinued on October 17.[56]

Accusations of financing Russian Army

In January of 2021 the publisher of War Thunder was accused[57] in indirect financing of pro-russian separatists during Donbass war through fact, that game logotypes appeared in a video on a separatists-supporting (pro-russian) Youtube channel High Caliber Mayhem. The video with the War Thunder add was deleted during the following days. The channel itself got deleted and recreated after some time.

In response to the dispute, the publisher stated: «We do not provide political support to anyone anywhere. We know nothing about politics and prefer not to get involved in it. Our agency, which commissioned the advertisement in the mentioned video, removed it when it became clear that they could drag us into a political discussion».

Review bombing

Following an in-game economic change in May 2023, a large amount of War Thunder players began revolting against the developers by review bombing the game on multiple platforms, such as Steam and Google.[58] Since the changes have been announced, there have been over 65,000 negative reviews on Steam, dropping the overall rating from "Mostly Positive" to "Mixed" and the recent rating from "Mostly Positive" to "Overwhelmingly Negative", as of May 22.[59][60] In response, Gaijin has since reverted the planned economic change, posted statements regarding the issue and player progression,[61][62] announced a revision of the economy for mid-summer 2023[63] and issued an apology for the initial controversial changes.[64] Both overall and recent ratings on Steam got back to "Mostly Positive", as of April 2024.[65]

Military training tool

In 2020, Task & Purpose reported[66] that the US 1st Cavalry Division tankers were using War Thunder for training during COVID-19 quarantine. After looking at several games including World of Tanks, the soldiers found that War Thunder best met their needs. In 2022 and 2024, the National Military College of Argentina have published photos and videos showing their cadets using a "military simulator" that turned out to be War Thunder.[67][68][69] In 2021, a video of Republic of Korea's 3rd Armored Brigade using War Thunder for the Command & Control training session was made public.[70]

In January 2024, a Ukrainian M2 Bradley IFV gunner Serhii of the 47th Brigade took down a heavily armored Russian T-90M tank by hitting the weak spots and claimed that videogames taught him where to shoot exactly.[71] According to media,[72][73] War Thunder is the only game that matches this description. Task & Purpose said:[74] "People know War Thunder for leaking classified documents, but now it might actually be known as the game that has the first confirmed kill."

Classified Document leaks

On several occasions, users on the War Thunder forum have shared restricted and/or classified documents during discussions about the accuracy of the vehicles depicted. In all cases, offending posts are removed by the moderators, and users are warned against sharing such documents. Anton Yudintsev, founder of Gaijin Entertainment, has stated that the development team is never exposed to the contents, reminding users that "it's both illegal and pointless, so they should never do that".[75] In January 2023, Raytheon denied media reports that security clearance background checks for jobs at the defense contractor investigate whether applicants play War Thunder.[76][77]

Date Vehicle Restriction level Topic of interest Description
July 14, 2021 Challenger 2 tank Classified In-game modelling A forum member claiming to be a Challenger 2 tank commander posted images of classified documents pertaining to the tank on the official War Thunder forums. The documents, which contained information about the armor structure of the vehicle, were edited to make them appear declassified under the UK Freedom of Information Act. The post was taken down because the UK Ministry of Defence had previously told Gaijin Entertainment that the documents were classified, so moderators knew about their status by the time of the leak. The user was given an official warning by forum officials, and the post was removed.[78]
October 2021 Leclerc tank Uncertain Turret rotation speed A user leaked classified documents of the Leclerc to win an argument about turret rotation speed. Gaijin forum moderators removed the material within hours, repeating their strict policy against posting restricted documents.[79]
June 2022 ZTZ-99 tank Classified Tungsten penetrator A user posted an image of a Chinese DTC10-125 tungsten penetrator on the War Thunder forums, sitting atop a document outlining the projectile's specifications. Similar to previous instances, the post was quickly removed by forum moderators, with them citing the fact that the materials in question are classified in China.[80]
Late 2022 UHT-665 Eurocopter Tiger helicopter Export restricted Armour layout A forum member posted parts of the armor layout of the UHT-665 Eurocopter Tiger, which is still in service. The user was banned and the content was swiftly removed.[81]
January 16, 2023 F-16 fighter jet Export restricted[note 1] AIM-120 air-to-air missile A flight manual for the F-16 fighter jet was posted by a user discussing the use of the AIM-120 AMRAAM. Although the classified status of the document had expired, it contained export-restricted data and thus was illegal to publish under US law. The document was quickly deleted by moderators.[75][82]
January 18, 2023 F-15E fighter jet Export restricted Multiple core functions Two days after the previous leak, thirteen documents pertaining to the McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle fighter jet were posted and swiftly removed. The documents were of similar classification as the documents about the F-16.[83]
Late January 2023 Sukhoi Su-57 fighter jet Radar cross-section Between January 19 and January 22, a document was published on the forums detailing the Su-57's radar cross-section, as well as details on its airframe. The leak also included information about other Russian aircraft.[84][85]
Late January 2023 Mikoyan MiG-29 fighter jet Radar cross-section, armament The leak revealing details on the Sukhoi Su-57 also revealed information regarding the MiG-29 and its armament capabilities. The leak shared information regarding the MiG-29's radar properties, claiming as its source a MiG-29 manual. Both posts were subsequently deleted by the War Thunder forum moderation team.[85][84]
August 31, 2023 Eurofighter Typhoon DA7 fighter jet Export restricted Flight manual A user on the War Thunder forum posted a flight manual which contained information about the Eurofighter Typhoon's systems, weaponry, flight data, etc. The user leaked the documents in a effort to have the Eurofighter DA7 added to the game. The post was later deleted.[86][87]
September 12, 2023 Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk stealth attack aircraft Export restricted Flight manual A user posted restricted pages of a flight manual which contained information about the Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk's engine specifications, firing angles, sensor locations, etc, on the War Thunder forum. The post was deleted shortly after by the site's moderators.[88]
September 15, 2023 Boeing AH-64D Apache helicopter Export restricted Technical manual A user posted a flight manual which contained technical information about the Boeing AH-64D Apache. While the document was fully unclassified, the nature of the export-restricted data meant it was quickly removed.[89]
December 11, 2023 Norinco VT-4 tank Unclassified Technical documentation A user posted training material for an export variant of the VT-4 tank, focused on the tank's autoloader system. Although the data was available elsewhere, it was removed in the same way as earlier incidents.[90]
December 12, 2023 M2A2 Bradley IFV Export restricted Technical manual A user posted two pages out of a technical manual involving the turret assembly of the M2A2 Bradley. While the document is unclassified, the fact that this document is export controlled resulted in it being quickly removed.[91]


At release, War Thunder was well-received with generally positive reviews. GameSpot praised it for its variety of airplanes and visuals,[96] whereas IGN criticized the user interface for being "overly abundant and cumbersome" in contrast to the "sparse in-battle HUD".[97]

See also



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  1. ^ Formerly classified, but has since expired

External links