The T-150 was introduced in the 0.7.3 patch of May 8, 2012, replacing the KV-3 as a Soviet Tier 6 heavy. Many view the tank as unremarkable, as other tanks have higher frontal armor values, higher armor piercing, more alpha damage, or higher DPS1. What makes the T-150 an effective tank is the balance of these elements. As a Heavy tank, the T-150 is average in many respects and uninspired in others, but it also lacks any glaring flaws. Being average makes it a forgiving platform for learning how higher tier heavy tanks operate in general, as well as a reliable credit earning platform if the earlier model KV-1 proves inadequate.
The continual addition of new tank trees and rebalances with each patch makes comparing core stats a difficult endeavor. Rather than focusing on this by the numbers, one can say the T-150 is in general well-armored, has average to low maneuverability, and an effective mid-range primary armament. View range is unexceptional, but is not lower than comparable tanks. It is still adviseable to employ a spotter whenever possible. The T-150 compares favorably with the KV-2 in mobility but is still not an agile tank. This tank works best when driven by a tactician who considers the optimal application of the tanks balanced armor layout and striking power of the 107mm ZiS-6.
Primary Armament: 107mm ZiS-6
The ZiS-6 is the clear winner in terms of weapon selection. While some tanks give a choice of standard cannon or howitzer, the 107mm has proven to be the superior selection. Any time the primary armament is a higher tier than the tank it is mounted on you’re in for good times - your damage output should be superior. The ZiS-6 remains a good option on the KV-3 until access is granted to the D-T model guns. Given a choice between the T-150 and the KV-2 as a ZiS-6 platform, the T-150 is clearly the better option as noted in the original documentation. The other Tier 6 standard heavy tanks offer weapons with various performance capabilities similar to the ZiS-6, but the ZiS-6 is a very well-rounded weapon suffering only in accuracy at range. As such, the T-150 operates far better as a brawler and breakthrough tank than as a sniper. The ZiS-6 reload and aim time lends itself nicely to fire and maneuver cycles avoiding the temptation to sit still and wait for the loader except when dueling an inferior opposing tank.
Given the choice between the T-150 and the KV-1S, most choose the more maneuverable, harder hitting KV-1S, but those features come at a price. While alpha strike damage is a prime consideration, the inferior reload time and armor layout on the KV-1S are unforgiving. The ZiS-6 has a relatively fast reload even before crew skill and equipment come into effect allowing one to fire and begin pushing other tanks back into cover a few seconds later. Because few tankers utilize the T-150 under normal circumstances, most opponents aren’t used to the reload time with the ZiS-6 and behave as though they’re never certain when it's ready to fire again. The penetration on the ZiS-6 also means you need not worry much about flanking, but if a side shot presents itself few will forget the experience. While it will not penetrate everything head on, when facing a tough opponent the penetration and damage the gun provides should at least ensure one can “blow the wheels right off” the target in a single shot providing an opportunity for the vultures to circle and finish the job.
As with any heavy tank, always remember to ensure you're supported by friendlies in your advance.
The T-150 is faster than some of the heaviest tanks but certainly not agile enough to dodge incoming fire. Its defense is purely based on positioning and armor thickness. Positioning is a matter for a different document but thickening the effective armor is slightly different for each tank based on the angles present. Anything based on a Kliment Voroshilov chassis involves many flat armor plates welded together so hull angling is a simple matter. It is also worth noting the side armor is just as thick as the front which is somewhat unusual. When in a holding action with a mechanically skilled crew, the tracks actually provide a huge pool of constantly regenerating HP2 that the hull does not. Due to the shape of the tank, the “sidescraper maneuver” also becomes a viable tactic if the flank is well covered. When faced with a similar tank in a narrow pass, a great deal of damage may be dissipated using the tracks.
The most important defensive point is never drive straight toward the target if possible. A Tier 4 T-28 can attain frontal armor penetration at 0' with the 57mm ZiS-4 VS the T-150 at a moderate range. Turn a corner to it and that penetration becomes impossible. The preferred method for movement involves approaching the target at angles in a zigzag pattern instead of head on. Plot the course to minimize exposure when turning the front across the target as any tank firing from the front then must penetrate only 90mm of armor. Nominally at a 45’ angle will cause some shots to ricochet but those that hit must penetrate nearly 180mm of effective armor thickness minus shell impact angle normalization. Some commanders choose to approach targets at a 33’ angle as it speeds the approach, and exposes just enough track to induce most commanders to aim for that, which is the intent as noted above.
The biggest threats to the T-150 come from specialty ammunition and artillery strikes to the engine deck. Little can be done to mitigate specialty ammunition strikes but commanders should make every effort to shield the tank from artillery fire. Even if equipped with a Spall Liner a direct hit on the large, flat top of the engine compartment from any SPG3 can cause catastrophic damage. Polling artillery commanders indicates such direct hits are not uncommon when aimed for. Commanders should maneuver to protect the rear third of the tank from artillery strikes at all costs, as artillerists are trained to aim for it.
If the T-150 is "high tier" in the battle it can do spearheading assaults provided the team assists the advance. The 150 can absorb an incredible amount of damage from similar tanks and even out in the open, if angled properly, will be difficult to damage. Securing the best armor angle with the 150 is turning a simple 45’ to the enemy due to the matched front and side armor. Instead of trying to guess the best level of exposure between the front and side armor like other tanks, just point the corner at it and focus on other things. When facing two opponents in the open, perfect angles are unlikely to be maintainable, but if the tank is positioned so that the front corners of the hull trace a ray from the turret to the targets, both targets will be facing near maximum effective thickness from the 150 denying them optimal firing solutions. If the commander can encourage allies to use the 150's hull as cover, a surprisingly quick advance is possible - provided others resist the urge to pull ahead.
Despite the ~50 ton mass, the T-150 is not an exceptional ram tank due to its low mobility. It is worth noting, though, that rams to its sides are not as effective as rams to other tanks due to the thick side armor. A typical ram response is to stop moving to remove the attackers controlled impact bonus and brace for collision. If the T-150 is fitted with a Spall Liner, rams are even less effective against it.
Offer the enemy only oblique angles and maneuver so the target is between the T-150 and their own support tanks whenever possible. Like any tank, the more angles covered by impenetrable obstacles, the fewer angles there are to defend, and the simpler optimal performance becomes. The 150 has thick armor, but one should only rely on it when intentionally drawing fire away from softer friendly forces. If support is far back, there is no need to expose the tank any more than necessary to fire. The T-150 is slower than most tanks, but has enough horsepower to keep up with most advances and to easily turn a tougher armor facing to the enemy. Combat maneuvering with this tank is less about driving around than it is about shifting stances and maintaining the "Mighty Glacier" mindset. Among the Tier 6 standard Heavy tanks only the Churchill VII has thicker armor but the price it pays in mobility for that armor puts it at a further disadvantage VS the T-150 in flexibility. Despite all this it is still inadvisable, even when "top tier", to mount a solo assault due to the likelihood of encountering superior firepower that will wear the tanks armor down over time.
Crew Skills and Equipment
The 150 is crewed by a fairly standard complement of five: Commander, Gunner, Driver, Radio Operator, and Loader.
Repair skill is recommended as a first or second skill for most heavy tank crew members, and especially the T-150, due to the problems inherent in track damage. When a light or medium tank does not have the ability to brawl with it they will sometimes attempt to keep the 150 at bay shooting the outside track repeatedly while around a corner from this tanks main armament, preventing return fire. This will occupy the enemy and is not a considerable threat unless a second tank appears but with sufficient repair skill and a Toolbox it is often possible to get the track repaired and move before they can damage it again. Since the tracks perform well as a free HP buffer, anything that repairs them faster keeps that much more HP between shells and the hull.
Since the T-150 often operates as a breakthrough tank, anything that increases module HP or mitigates module damage effects is also welcome. Most scouts are not a significant threat to the hull but will knock out periscopes, damage tracks, and attempt to injure crew members. Artillery and HE4 firing opponents will further seek to degrade the tanks performance and bring it down through sheer weight of fire. While it may not sustain much hull damage via these attacks, given the sheer volume of fire the T-150 attracts equipment damage is inevitable. Defensive crew skills include:
- Safe Stowage for the Loader.
- Preventive Maintenance for the Driver.
- Armorer for the Gunner.
- Recon for the Commander.
Beyond these there are certain skills popular with heavy tank crews to mitigate their weak points dealing with fast, light tanks and make them more effective in close combat. Consider traveling with support to make it difficult to carousel the tank, thus mitigating most of that risk. Popular crew training for close combat includes:
- Snap Shot.
- Clutch Breaking.
- Sixth Sense.
- Adrenaline Rush.
Typical equipment modules consist of:
- Spall Liner.
- Large-Caliber Tank Gun Rammer.
- Enhanced Gun Laying Drive.
- Improved Ventilation Class 3.
This commander's T-150 is equipped with Improved Ventilation, a Gun Rammer, and a Spall Liner. As the ZiS-6 optimal engagement range is short, this commander has chosen against the Enhanced Gun Laying Drive.
Improved Ventilation assists in clearing noxious fumes from the interior of the tank allowing all crew easier focus. The Large-Caliber Tank Gun Rammer improves fire rate and keeps opponents uncertain of when the next shot will come. Guessing incorrectly is costly. The Spall Liner is a contentious piece of equipment but the concern for mitigating the effects of HE shells from both Self Propelled Guns and Howitzer equipped tanks is paramount. In borderline penetration cases involving HE shells, collisions, and poor driving conditions, the Spall Liner seems a safer choice than a Toolbox.
Even with the slight proliferation of specialty ammunition, the T-150 remains a reliable war machine that will frequently earn Steel Wall awards. Few T-150 are encountered today, as commanders frequently choose the maneuverability and higher alpha strike of the KV-1S over the balanced gun and heavy armor of the T-150. In comparing the 150 to the 1S however, one must consider tactics. Alpha strike is a primary concern for many and the D-2-5T certainly gives the 1S better damage and penetration per hit, but leaves it vulnerable much longer during reloads and does not provide better accuracy. At ranges close enough to guarantee hits in a duel the 150 can outperform the 1S as it can afford to take hits the 1S cannot, but tank combat is rarely a one on one affair.
When low tier the T-150 should be driven conservatively like a slow medium, following the main advance by higher tier tanks. Even when acting as the tip of the spear, support must follow or the T-150's advances cannot be exploited.
While most conditions won’t be this ideal, this example match shows how all this can come together nicely.
Note excluded from the record commentary.
- "When the ELC AMX pulled up next to me in the bushes I knew it was time to advance since their high powered gun would bring a second world of hurt to anything I encountered while I would absorb the damage for them. Teamwork." [Sic]
This example "low tier" match demonstrates that cautious driving can still contribute significantly to the battles outcome.
1 DPS: Damage Per Second
2 HP: Hit Points
3 SPG: Self Propelled Gun
4 HE: High Explosive - referring both to High Explosive shells for standard tank guns and Howitzers.