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Developer's Diaries: Modifications and Consumables
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War Thunder update 1.33 brings us one step closer to the final release and introduces a number of important changes to the gameplay that will give players more freedom to customize their fighting machines and prepare them for a wide range of combat missions.

Perhaps the central changes to War Thunder version 1.33 are the possibility of replacing spare airplane parts and the introduction of consumables. We want to take historical accuracy one step further in our favorite game and we are bringing in new configurations for aircraft settings to achieve this goal. As we know, during World War II the actual lifespan for aircraft often approached or even exceeded the amount of time the machines were intended to function. It was quite common for fighter planes to have worn out engines and compressors, and cracked panels. In a wing of aircraft, the only planes in “like new” condition were the ones coming directly off the conveyor belt from the factory. The rest had been battered by the harsh operating conditions of military aircraft. Keeping aircraft combat ready, replacing worn out and unusable parts in a timely manner and occasionally re-configuring aircraft in accordance with current fighting conditions were essential and highly critical tasks for mechanics and pilots. As a result, even aircraft with the same model number in the same wing may have had different flight performance characteristics and weaponry. 


New interface for modification window

Now, we have created a similar scenario in War Thunder. When players use silver credits to buy aircraft, the aircraft they receive will be somewhat worn. Of course it is still possible to fly and win with these aircraft, but in order to bring the aircraft up to the reference level of historically accurate performance and efficiency the aircraft must be serviced and improved. Reconfigurations of aircraft with spare parts can be divided into several groups: engine performance and aerodynamics, improved weapon capabilities, and enhanced armor. All of these groups will be discussed below. Thus, in order to bring the aircraft up to their capabilities in version 1.31 or below a player will have to work on improvements to the plane. Conversely, if a player thinks that a certain model of aircraft is good enough without any improvements, there is no need to spend more credits to buy an improved version or modify the original. Unmodified planes will be cheaper. Note that we have had this concept in mind since the inception of War Thunder (for example modifications such as new engines and new panels have been a part of the game for quite a while), and our vision is being realized deliberately. Finally, a good deal of work has already been done – we have added customized modules which players can collect and also added a display showing the effects of any modification on the aircraft's flight model. Players will also see quantifiable data showing how close their aircraft's performance is to the aircraft's historical reference model. 

Pilot's note for La-5 pilots

We have reduced the purchase price of aircraft which is fair because the delivered plane is not brand new after all. This concept of aircraft depreciation was already in the game, but now there are more parts that can be updated. At the same time, players have the ability to buy the modification they consider necessary to complete various missions. It is not obligatory to install all available modification, but every modification significantly improves the aircraft's combat effectiveness. By purchasing and installing every available modification, players will have even more of an advantage especially in Arcade mode fights where properly conditioned and modified aircraft will be even more effective than in the previous version in which a number of modifications were not available.

The repair costs for all aircraft have been reduced. It is important to note that the repair cost for an aircraft is now directly dependent on whether or not it has added modifications. So, newly purchased planes will be cheaper to repair than modified aircraft. Every modification installed on the aircraft will increase the cost of repair, bringing it closer to the levels seen in version 1.31. The lower the quality of spare parts and weapons, the lower the repair costs and vice versa. However, as noted above even the repair cost for a totally optimized aircraft is still lower than in previous versions.

Available modifications are divided into four ascending stages. At every stage, players will be able to improve engine performance, weaponry, and durability. Each new stage only becomes available after a certain number of modifications have been purchased at the previous level. As you might expect, the most effective modifications are in the fourth stage while basic modifications are available in the first stage – the system is quite simple.

Modification tiers - to unlock the next tier you should  get certain amount of modifications of the previous tier.

Modifications can be purchased with silver credits after accumulating a certain number of experience points. For impatient and wealthy players, any modification can be purchased with the in-game currency – Golden Eagles – immediately without the required experience. As a result, it is possible to immediately bring a newly purchased plane to the desired level of improvement and go to the battlefield fully prepared. Should you acquire modifications through experience and silver credits or instantly buy the necessary upgrade with gold? You decide!

Players who have already upgraded their aircraft in War Thunder will not lose their modifications. All previously installed aircraft modifications will automatically be purchased and installed in version 1.33.  So, for example, your previously installed engine upgrade and polished fuselage will be transferred from version 1.31. In the new version, you will discover additional modifications that will make your plane even better.

Let's talk about the types of enhancements that can significantly improve aircraft performance, increase combat effectiveness, and improve defense against enemy fire.


Engines and Aerodynamics

The first group of improvements includes fuselage and engine modifications that will bring the aircraft's flight model closer to its actual historical performance level and unlock all of the potential speed and maneuverability of your steel bird.

Before we talk about improvements to flight models, it should be noted that the improvements available in this group (as in all others) are based on actual samples and details which were installed on a particular aircraft. As you know, we in War Thunder do not use made up or experimental features to balance levels of aircraft efficiency, so any improvement to the flight model is not based on random numbers but only a desire to bring the plane up to the realistic performance level of the new, reference model for each aircraft. Specifically, a fully modified aircraft should be able to perform in every way of which it is capable. That is what the engineers and creators wanted to see. That is how things actually were in World War II.

And so, an aircraft's flight model can be improved by replacing engine components and assemblies as well as treating the exterior surface of the aircraft to reduce friction and drag. Depending on the aircraft model and engine design, you can now install a new radiator or compressor, replace the engine, install a new fuel injection system and afterburners, and use top quality high-octane jet fuel. In order to improve aerodynamics, you can treat the fuselage and wings: replace worn or damaged plating, seal any cracks, and polish the surface of the aircraft body. By doing this, you can reduce air resistance and significantly increase the speed of the plane, improve the climb rate somewhat and reduce turn time. 

Pilot's note for American bomber pilots.

The specific value of improvements will be determined fairly based on the following approximating multipliers which an aircraft achieves by obtaining the maximum level of modifications in the aircraft flight model enhancement group (the multipliers represent the mean and range values for each specific model).

Air Speed of modified aircraft relative to unmodified aircraft will be increased by 10% in Arcade battles or 5-10% in Historical and Realistic battles.

Climb Speed increases by 20-25% in Arcade mode or 10% in Historical and Realistic combats.

Turn Speed is increased by about 15% in Arcade mode and 7% in Historical or Realistic battle mode.

The differences in coefficients for various game modes are easily explained: in the Arcade battle mode of War Thunder, we use a simplified flight model while the flight model in Historical and Realistic modes is more historically accurate.


Weapons, Ammunition, Shell racks

The War Thunder 1.33 update introduces new choices for weapons and ammunition packages. The procedure for obtaining and using ammunition has been changed. We have added the long-awaited categories of offensive armament and external weapons pods. Let’s discuss them one by one.

In the new update, War Thunder pilots will have a wide range of choices and packages for offensive armament. Modifications are now available for all aircraft to replace barrels of mounted cannons and machine guns. Players can replace worn gun-barrels with new ones in order to improve firing accuracy and reduce the risk of overheating during an engagement. Gun-barrels are purchased separately for each caliber – for example for a British Spitfire Mk.II a player would buy a set of 7.7mm barrels for the Browning machine gun (4 barrels come in each set) and a set of barrels for the 20mm automatic Hispano Mk.I cannon (2 barrels in each set). All eight machine guns on the P-47 Thunderbolt are the same model and therefore the same caliber which means that players will be able to buy all eight barrels for the 12.7mm M2 Browning in one package. The same is true for turret guns. New barrels for all 13 turret guns of the formidable B-17G “Flying Fortress” can also be obtained in a single package. Additional notifications on icons for modifications will show players not only the total amount by which repair costs will increase but also the positive impact of the new parts on aircraft performance. For example, new gun-barrels will improve firing accuracy and reduce the risk of the gun overheating. 

External weapon pods have become substantially more diverse and are now allocate a separate group. Bombs, missiles, torpedoes and even externally mounted pods for additional guns can now be researched and installed. External weapon pods which are mounted on pylons must be researched like other modifications before they can be acquired. Do you want to install external pods or forgo them for better aerodynamic performance? Now you are to decide! Build your aircraft to fit your fighting style and the requirements of the mission.

New options to install offensive armament and cannon pods. Bf.109G-10 is taken as an example

Purchasing a new pylon for an external weapon pod automatically gives a player a full set of the corresponding bombs, missiles or torpedoes. That is, the player will not have to spend additional money on an external pod after purchasing the pylon. Otherwise, the cost of external weapon pods has not changed from version 1.31.
During Historical or Realistic combat modes, players can switch between external weapon pods at the airfield using the ground service technicians. Replacing offensive armament is not possible during combat as the procedure is very time consuming and can only be done in the hangar.

Now it's time to talk about shell racks for weapons that are now available in version 1.33. First of all, in order to access new ammo racks, players must purchase new barrels for some kind of weapon. Immediately after purchasing the new barrel, players will have access to all the ammo racks available to their nation in the game which can now be purchased as a bundle, but not separately. All ammo racks other than the default pack are now available for varying amounts of Silver Lions.

It should be noted that the default ammo racks are effective for a wide range of combat missions so the acquisition of specialized shell racks is a choice not a requirement. Additional ammo racks help players complete specific combat missions with maximal efficiency – eliminating ground vehicles with armor piercing shells, increasing devastation for airborne targets with incendiary or high-explosive shells, target designation tracers, or disorienting the enemy with surprise attacks using the sneak attack shell rack. 

Shell racks are expendable. Players can buy from 1 to 30 racks for mounted guns and up to 90 racks for bombers' turret guns. The racks can automatically be refilled after a fight up to the amount bought prior to the fight – this option is enabled by default on all racks. Regarding the use of shells or cartridges in battle, let's say a player flew into combat with 300 shells of a particular type and after quickly using 5 rounds fully reloads in the air. He will then have 295 rounds remaining. However, after the battle ends the spent cartridges and shells are replaced up to the capacity of the shell rack.

This is necessary to make it more convenient to purchase new ammo load equipped with shell racks. Shell racks can only be purchased with silver credits – the common non-premium currency in War Thunder – so that your stockpile of Golden Eagles is not threatened. We have reduced the repair costs for all aircraft – modified and unmodified – and so players have a new required expenditure: shell racks. The cost of shell racks is the same for each of plane's weapons. The only exception is the rack for sneak attacks, and its price is slightly higher. The price of shell racks is based on several factors including the number of cartridges in the rack, the number of barrels of each caliber on the aircraft, the caliber of the ammunition, and the aircraft's rank. Shell racks for turret guns are half the price of similar racks for mounted guns as they may be expended by the Artificial Intelligence's fire control system.

Shell racks are distributed equally between all guns of the same model installed on the aircraft. For example, a shell rack for the 12 7.7mm Browning machine guns of the British Typhoon Mk.1a fighter comes with 3600 shells which are evenly distributed among all the aircraft's guns. Shell racks for turret guns on bombers are shared the same way. As with all consumables, it is possible for the shell racks to be exhausted in a fight – even in Arcade mode. If a player flies into battle with a small amount of a particular type of shell racks (for example anti-ground vehicle shells) and uses them all in the battle it will no longer be possible to reload in the air. The player will have to return to the airfield and choose another type of shell rack (if they have purchased one) or reload with the default shell racks with are free and unlimited but somewhat less effective. If a player is running low on shell racks, before flying into battle the player will receive a system notification reminding them to buy more ammo. 


Armor and Damage Resistance 

The modifications that can significantly increase an aircraft's ability to survive in combat are divided into two groups – protections for the body of the aircraft and protections for the crew. Modifications that improve the strength of the aircraft's frame are available for all models and types of aircraft present in War Thunder. Replacing an aircraft's skin involves a large scale replacement of damaged and worn elements on the plane's exterior surface and sealing any cracks and holes thereby increasing not only the planes durability but also its aerodynamic performance – the new elements weigh less and reduce the drag. Replacements of an aircraft's frame include updating worn out components and units of the support structure with new materials which significantly increases the aircraft's durability and of course considerably increases its horizontal airspeed, turn speed, and climb rate by reducing the aircraft weight. Increasing the overall strength of the aircraft does not guarantee protection against critical hits to the most important components of the aircraft by armor-piercing shells, but it can reduce the aircraft's vulnerability to high-explosive or fragmentation shells – especially indirect fire from anti-aircraft guns – as well small caliber shells.

To protect the crew, players can install modifications such as armoured backrest, bulletproof glass, and protective vests. These modifications are not available for all aircraft in War Thunder. This is based on the actual historical availability of such modifications for a particular military aircraft. New armoured backrest and bulletproof glass will improve safety for the cockpit and provide additional protection for the pilot. Body armor will protect all members of the crew – including pilots and gunners – from enemy bullets and shrapnel from anti-aircraft artillery fire. Direct hits by armor-piercing shells and large caliber rounds will still be fatal even with armored vests, but body armor give impressive protection against shrapnel from fragmentation shells and small caliber weapons – injuries often experienced by players in battle.

The new philosophy behind modifications and consumables has actually been planned for a long time and is necessary to realize our vision for our precious game. In the future, we will continue to add new types and forms of modifications in accordance with the historical prototypes of War Thunder aircraft, tanks, and ships. We receive lots of interesting ideas from the gaming community, and efforts to incorporate many of them are already under way. The new interface modifications will greatly simplify the introduction of new gameplay elements. Our goal is to make sure that players are able to personally prepare their War Thunder fighting machines for specific combat missions and customize the aircraft for their own style of play. Modifications allow us to preserve realistic models of military equipment, detailed operations and damage impact while at the same time keeping the game truly interesting.

War Thunder Team




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