Anti-tank is one of the best counters to armour, if you’re just looking at armour vs AT. However, AT is vulnerable to pretty much everything else, and can be fairly vulnerable to armour unless it’s used properly. When using AT, make sure it’s backed up by recon (so it gets its full range) and, if possible, let your enemy come to you – this is particularly important if you’re using AT which can’t fire when moving (most of them). AT is, however, plenty cheap, and packs a hefty punch against tanks (most advanced tank destroyers do the same anti-armour damage as a King Tiger, and generally for less than half the cost). Also, static (towed) AT (with the exception of the Italian Breda and German 88mm) can be hidden in forests.
I’ll organise this by nation this time. Some things to look out for when checking out AT is range (AT does 400m, 450m, 500m and 600m – if the tanks your attacking out-range your AT, then it won’t last long. Most medium tanks (all bar the Panther) are less than 400m range (although watch out for the SAU40’s assault gun, with it’s 650m range), so if you’re facing an early tank rush, the bargain-basement static AT will out-range anything coming at you. But most advanced heavy tanks have 500m range (except the IS-2, Carro P-26 and Churchill), which means a late-game tank attack will be a much tenser affair.
There are four different levels of damage AT guns do:
<UL TYPE=SQUARE><LI> Level 1 – 31 vs 15mm armour, 7 vs 75mm armour.
<LI> Level 2 – 50 vs 15mm armour, 8 vs 75mm armour.
<LI> Level 3 – 100 vs 15mm armour, 12 vs 75mm armour.
<LI> Level 4 – 121 vs 15mm armour, 15 vs 75mm armour.[/list]
*Note that even the weakest anti-armour fighter bombers (Guppy, Sparviero) do 18 damage vs level 5 armour, so if their tanks don’t have air cover, this is the best way to smash ‘em. However, planes take far longer to re-arm and re-fire than AT guns.
Without further ado:
The US has some pretty solid static (towed) AT options in the game – both of its towed-AT options cost $10, with the 157mm doing level 2 damage at 450m range, and the M5 76mm, doing level 3 damage at 500m range (but costing $50 to upgrade).
It’s mobile (self-propelled) AT options (also known as Tank Destroyers, or TDs) aren’t too shabby either – the Wolverine only does level 2 damage at 400m range, but requires no research, only costs $15/pop, and has a turret so can fire while moving. The Jackson does level 4 damage at 500m, costs $20/pop (cheapest advanced TD) – although requires $50 research – and also has a turret so can fire while moving. The only real weakness here are the thin armour on it’s TD’s – 15mm on the Wolverine and 30mm on the Jackson. Both are relatively quick, motoring along at 31km/hr.
Germany’s PAK 36, while cheap ($5), only does level 1 damage at 400m. It’s PAK 40 only costs $25 to upgrade, costs $15/pop and does level 3 damage at 500m. Germany also gets the multirole and very-long range Flak 88m from its Arty and AA base, which as well as shooting up planes, does level 3 damage at 600m for $40/pop – although it can’t be hidden in forests, which means it’s vulnerable to artillery once it’s in action (or all the time, if you’re not using radio silence).
It’s in mobile AT that Germany punches above its weight. The Marder, at $15/pop after only 25 research, does level 3 damage over 500m, although can’t fire while moving, and only has 15mm armour. The Jagdpanther, for a heftier $30/pop after 75 (cumulative) research, does level 4 damage over 500m, also can’t fire while moving but has tough 60mm armour. Both motor along at 31 km/hr.
The UK’s static (towed) AT are exactly the same as the US in terms of damage (the US used UK guns) – it’s first-level AT options cost $10, with the 4pdr doing level 2 damage at 450m range. Strangely enough, the UK charges the US less than it charges itself for its top-tier AT, with the $15/pop 17pdr, doing level 3 damage at 500m range (and costing $50 to upgrade).
The UK has some pretty handy mobile AT options as well – the Archer only costs $25 to research and $10/pop thereafter, has 30mm armour and does level 3 damage at 400m, but lacks a turret. The Firefly, while expensive (100 cumulative research, 75 if you already have the Archer) and $25/pop, has 45mm armour and does level 4 damage at 500m, and comes with a bonus turret for all your shooting-while-moving needs. Both travel at around 31 km/hr.
France has, without doubt, the best static AT in the game, as both are available at the start of the game for no research. The low-end ($5) AT 25mm does level 1 damage at 400m, while the high-end ($10) AT 47mm does level 3 damage at 500m.
France’s mobile AT options are more mixed, however – it’s Laffly W15 is available with no research, and does level 3 damage at 500m for $10/pop, but with vehicle armour, it’d want to stop those tanks before they get in range. The Lorraine, on the other hand, costs $25 after $50 research, has 30mm armour and does level 4 damage at 500m, so isn’t too shabby, but is outclassed by the similarly-priced Jackson and Firefly. Both travel at around 31 km/hr, and neither have turrets.
Italy’s base AT is the $10 AT 47mm, which does level 2 damage at 450m. However, Italy also gets (from its AT base, despite its name) the AA 90mm, which as well as shooting up planes, does level 3 damage at 600m for $40/pop – although it can’t be hidden in forests, which means it’s vulnerable to artillery once it’s in action (or all the time, if you’re not using radio silence).
Italy’s mobile AT is (like its armour) a bit of a mixed bag. From the AT base, it only gets the $20/pop after $25 research (turretless, so no moving and shooting) Semovente. This does an impressive level 4 damage over 500m, and is the quickest of the mobile AT options (35km/hr) but only has 15mm armour. It also has, however (from its prototype base), the Breda 90/53, which is essentially an AA 90mm on the back of at truck – so level 3 AT at 600m range, but only vehicle armour.
The USSR has the ‘standard’ two static AT options – the $10 AT 45mm, that’ll do level 2 damage over 450m, and the $10 (after $50 research) AT 76mm, that’ll do level 3 damage over 500m.
On the mobile AT side, the USSR has the SU-85, which for $15/pop after only $25 research will do level 2 damage over 400m, and has 45mm armour. If you’re fighting the big boys though, you’ll want the SU-100, which for $25/pop after a cumulative $75 research does level 4 damage over 500m, with 60mm armour. No turrets on either, so let the enemy tanks come to you. For some reason, the USSR lucked out on speed with their AT, which unlike the rest of the world’s, only plod along at 27km/hr (slightly slower than the USSRs generally 30km/hr later-era tanks).
So, what to make of all of that?
Other than Italy, every faction has its ‘two tiers’ of static AT, for varying (but generally reasonable) price, and these are good deterrents to early tank rushes (and can be useful in a combined defence against late tank rushes – I played a silver league in a 1v1 ranked yesterday that kept running his Super Pershings into my M5 76mms, although don’t always expect to be this lucky!). Note that AT also generally dispose of armoured recon in one shot.
If you’re facing enemy arty with recon, though, you’ll want something with armour, and preferably 45mm or better, and that’s where the factions start to differentiate themselves. There are only four 45mm+ armoured AT units in the game (Germany’s Jagdpanther, UK’s Firefly, and the USSR’s SU-85 and SU-100). At a pinch you can make do with the 30mm armoured US Jackson of French Lorraine, but poor ‘ole Italy can find itself particularly vulnerable to an armoured column supported by concentrated arty.