The Tank Commander’s Guide for Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad – Part 1
Congratulations, you are inside a tank.Your very own Panzer IV or a T-34. Now you can drive through the ruins of Stalingrad and bring about the destruction of your enemies, main gun and machine guns blazing! You will run over enemy positions, forcing entire companies to flee from you, allowing your team to advance to victory, or hold back the Red/Fascist horde thanks to your indestructible steel plating and precise gun. Now, that we are done with this Fantasy, let us jump to the facts.
When a crew member is dead on the Tank UI you will be able to see which positions are unmanned (there will be a red x over the slot). When you sit in a specific position you can shift to that slot leaving your old position unmanned but now a different position will be occupied. Whenever the Loader dies a random crew member will take him place (most often the Radio Man or Driver). In order to restore your crew members, or repair the tank you have to drive up to an ammo dump. Just like Infantry you will get back all of your ammunition as well as any damage done to the tank will be repaired. There is a recharge timer which does not allow you to use the Ammo Dump constantly, and often the Ammo Dump positions are open for flanking by enemy tanks or ambushes by enemy Tank Hunters.
With the basics discussed let us move on to discuss each specific slot within the tank, and how to use it effectively, or at least on the basic level.
The Tank Slots
The Driver always occupies the area to the front and left of the tank. From the outside perspective you can easily tell where the driver is sitting due to the vision slot present in the hull. In both the T-34 and the Panzer IV the Driver operates on the same principles. You use the WSAD buttons to drive the tank forward, back and turn left or right. You have the option to drive the tank in two ways. One which I call the “Throttle” setting, and one which I call the “Car” setting. The Car Setting is what you start of automatically. When you hold down W you drive forward, steadily speeding up and the moment you let go of it the tank will steadily slow down. The Throttle setup means that when you press W or A you increase the amount of power to the engine. I personally prefer the Throttle Setting as it allows you to keep a more or less constant speed, both when the driver or on any other positions since the AI will follow the same principle. This also means you do not have to be bothered with holding down the W key all the time, and whenever you want to halt or set the Throttle to zero you press the space bar.
As the driver your job is to quickly or cautiously drive your tank to enemy positions, most often through difficult terrain and obstacles. When you are starting off you will very often hit against walls because you did not take into account the width of the tank, or you will fall into pits which you did not notice. Take into account when driving that it is very had to fire from the gun while the tank is moving. Very often even when the Gunner has taken aim he will lose it the moment you drive into a hole or over an obstacle. Stay in contact with the Commander/Gunner as they might suddenly spot a target and you will have to quickly position the tank and angle it in order to commence effective firing (more on Combat later).
Lastly, remember, some types of obstacles can be crushed by your tank. Lamp Posts, trees and other tanks can be pushed aside with enough speed. Stone walls and buildings cannot be smashed into, and there will be plenty of obstacles that you will not be able to cross over. With time you will learn what these are in full.
Historically the Hull Gunner in RO2 is the Radioman. When you will look around the cockpit in this position you will often see the radio facing you. Your role is much more limited in RO2 however and you will be forced to pepper away at enemy infantry with your machine gun. There is a difference between the Panzer IV and T-34 however. In the Panzer IV you have many more vision slits and even a top hatch which allows you to be an effective additional spotter, whether against infantry or enemy tanks. The Panzer IV also has a handy scope in their machine gun which allows you to focus fully on what you see. The T-34 lacks either one of these benefits. Your only vision is provided by that small hole above your machine gun. Although you can zoom in with your Shift key (much like infantry) you will still be greatly impaired due to the hull of the tank blocking your sight.