The Tank Commander’s Guide for Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad – Part 2

Driving a tank is easy. Firing a gun, is easy. Pretending that you are a good tanker, that’s also easy. Being an actual tanker is hard. Of course, you can get a hold of the basics through countless Single player games, or testing the tank on an empty server on the Gumrak map. But once you face-off against actual players all your experience gained thus far is thrown out the window, shredded before your eyes and blown back as fine dust straight back into your face. This part of the guide will focus on the advanced use of your Tank, and how to cope in Multiplayer games a bit better than otherwise.

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Lesson 1: Know your Tanks

The T-34 is not anything like the Panzer IV, et vice versa. Both are medium tanks with more or less similar caliber of guns, but their armor plating is different and as such their weak spots also greatly differ. Let us take these tanks apart and see in raw form what each one has, and does not have.

Red Orchestra 2 Tanks

Panzerkampfwagen IV vs T-34

The Panzer IV

The Workhorse of the German tank divisions. Your specific tank is the Panzer IV G, with an improved gun and slightly tougher plating compared to its previous variants. Your tank is slower than the T-34 but it feels a lot better plated, especially around the turret. Meanwhile, its body suffers from very weak flanks and rear, as well as a very boxy shape. Although you could take on a T-34 face to face you have one gigantic weak spot at your front, namely, the driver vision slot. When you glance behind your seat as the driver you will see the entire ammunition storage. An accurate or lucky shot from a T-34 will punch through the Driver vision slit, and possibly fly through the driver, reaching the ammo dump making your tank explode in an impressive manner. This also means that your left flank is one of your greatest weaknesses, since a shot to the area where you ammo is will mean an equally impressive explosion. Your engine is equally vulnerable, since it’s essentially in the open, making it a very delicious target for enemy tanks as well as anti-tank rifles. Although it does not necessarily mean that you will explode it could immobilize you, which in turn could mean your death sentence.

Use walls and natural cover to hide your body, leaving only your turret on top. Do note however that even though the front of your turret is almost impenetrable your sides are not. Be well aware of enemy positions wherever you go. Only because you do not see them does not mean they are not there.

The T-34

“That Tank”. Some would say the tank which won the war for the soviets. There is a common misconception about the T-34. Although it did “win the war” it did not really excel in any way compared to other tanks, it only lacked weaknesses. Of course, the other key factor was that they were deployed en mass, and since they were easy to produce and repair the Soviet Union could pump in more of them than the Germans could of their own tanks. I do not recall the exact variant of the specific T-34 variant available to the player in RO2 (presumably the T-34/76B or C), but it should not be mistaken with the T-34/85 which did not appear until 1944 and was a huge improvement compared to the previous T-34 models.

In game terms your T-34/76 will appear to have more weaknesses than strengths compared to the Panzer IV. Overall its armor is weaker, it’s gun will appear to lack a greater penetration, and seemingly its only strength is its speed, which is far greater than that of the Panzer IV. Despite this, the art of using the T-34 is exploiting terrain, and the weaknesses of the Panzer IV. Keep flanking the enemy, and when the enemy is too well dug in leave it for your Tank Hunters to deal with and instead go after the infantry.

Lesson 2: The Art of Angling

We all know what an angle is. What is so important about Angling then, you must ask, and what does it mean? In simple words, Angling means making your tank face the enemy in such a way that enemy shots will have a much tougher time penetrating your armor. Imagine, if you will, that you want to punch a wall. Most walls are straight, vertical. Very easy to punch and if you were the hulk, extremely easy to penetrate. Now imagine that you wanted to punch a wall which is tilted 45 degrees. Not so easy now, is it? Your fist will slide against the wall, making only partial contact, and it would take a lot of effort to punch through it with a single hit. That is exactly what you want to do with your tank.

Red Orchestra 2 Tanks

Three different Angles. The first one, is the best one you can have, since shots are most likely to recoil from your hull (assuming your turret is currently aiming at the enemy). In the other two cases your hull has a much flatter angle, making penetration much easier.

Take the example of the Panzer IV. Its body is perfectly square shaped. Any shots to the hull would mean a straight angle from the enemy turret. Now imagine that you turned your tank steadily. Now, your seemingly square boxed hull is still square boxed, but the positioning forces the shell to recoil, due to the broader angle. What is the “golden” position? From what I can tell, if you are aiming with your gun straight at the enemy either corner of the front of your tank should point toward the enemy as well. Overdo it and either your rear or front will be vulnerable. You should note however, that angling is only part of the success. It does help it deflecting enemy shots, but sitting in the open will not save you from an enemy who will simply shift a bit and fire at you from a better angle.

Lesson 3: Cover

Your tanks is big, but that does not mean you cannot hide it. Stalingrad is after all full of rubble, ruins and other destroyed tanks. Holding in mind that as a tank on most maps it will be possible for you to be attacked from multiple directions (or snuck upon) you have to learn to minimalise the directions from which shots could fall on you. The best way to do this, is cover. In Commissar’s House for example there are plenty of adequate walls which can hide a decent portion of your tank’s hull and tracks from the front and flanks. Destroyed tanks, vehicles, carriages or trams also make adequate cover, allowing you to also hide your tank and plant an ambush for incoming enemy tanks or infantry. Buildings although offering the best type of cover are a gamble at the same time, since an enemy Tank Hunter could throw a Tank Grenade from above or shoot at you from a window. Buildings also block your own line of sight, meaning that although the enemy will have a hard time hitting you, you will also not have the full view of events around the corner.

Red Orchestra 2

A T-34 hiding in a ruined warehouse. From the perspective of an infantry man you can see only the turret. For an enemy tank this would be a difficult target to spot, and hit, unless they knew beforehand the tank was hiding there. Sadly, we can see two possible problems here. The T-34 is silhouetted against the Smoke, and if the driver is a beginner he might get stuck while driving out.

Also note, and this is often the bane of beginner drivers, that although you might be hiding behind a tram or carriage you still can have crucial tank spots exposed. A destroyed carriage will cover your hull perhaps, but if you are looking at a completely different direction the entire side of your turret will be exposed.

There is also, an important lesson to be learned about visibility and cover. The wider your view, the harder it will be for you to keep an eye on all of it. If you are spotted no amount of cover will save you from incoming enemy shots, and especially if the enemy fired from a spot you were not watching. Sometimes having much more solid cover and less visibility is better than having no cover and perfect visibility. This allows you to focus on a specific direction, but when you have no such option listen to reports from fellow players or crew members. If you know there is an incoming enemy tank angle yourself to said location and wait patiently. Your Hull Gunner will still take care of incoming infantry while you deliver a deadly and unexpected shot from your superior prepared position.

Lesson 4: Tank Hunting

Once you know how to hide, and you have learned where is it best to hit the enemy tank you can fully focus on hunting enemy tanks. Knowledge of the maps helps greatly in this task, including the most common paths the defending or attacking tanks will choose and the most common hiding places. In order to effectively hunt for enemy tanks listen to reports from the Infantry. They will often be the first to meet enemy tanks, especially if they block off an advance. Ask them from the exact location of the enemy tanks and use your knowledge of the map and your tank to flank the culprit and deliver a decisive blow.

Red Orchestra 2 Tanks

You can tell this Panzer IV is fleeing. Heavily damaged, due to black smoking leaving a trail behind it. Take aim, take into account shell drop, and fire. If you calculated everything accordingly there will be only a bright flash and a burning wreck.

As a defender one of the key ways to ambush enemy tanks is to stay perfectly still and spot for enemy tanks that will be incoming toward your positions from afar. Much like an Anti-Tank gun you only fire when you have a clear shot, and if you are hidden well enough the enemy will never find out where the shot came from, allowing you to pull off a few more before they catch on. In order to do so, fire from the flank of the defending position. If you fire at the incoming tank from the front they will see where the shot came from. Meanwhile, if you fire from the side the enemy will have to stop to find you, be forced to retreat or become exposed to your team’s tank hunters.

You have the right gun to damage the enemy tanks, whether inside the Panzer IV or the T-34. You are not however a lone wolf. You have another role to fulfill, and that is supporting your infantry in anti-infantry tasks.

Lesson 5: Anti-infantry duties

Infantry, for the most part, is helpless against your tank. They certainly have Engineers and Anti-Tank rifles, however those picking said roles might not know how to use them, or nobody even bothered to pick them. This in turn could mean that you are free to harass the enemy indefinitely. When your infantry needs to advance you make a perfect support gun, thanks to your HE shells and two machine guns. If you are storming a building you can do two things. During the initial assault fire off shells at the windows or openings within the buildings and suppress any hidden infantry until your infantry reaches the walls. Then, during the second stage cut off the path for the enemy’s reinforcements, much to the anger of the enemy team. It could be considered “Spawn Camping”, however in truth you are only suppressing enemy movement, and they do have their own tools to counter you. Artillery and their own tanks, as well as Infantry Tank Hunters.

Red Orchestra 2

If that was a hostile tank I would be very worried. Sometimes, when there are no hostile tanks in the area setting yourself up in the open like that driver did is an excellent way to deny enemy infantry movement. Even when you are sitting in the turret, watching your flanks or spotting for enemy tanks the hull gunner will make short work of anything in front.

On the Defensive you will usually have to be a bit in front of your point to be fully effective, or at least in a position overlooking the Victory Point approach. You are essentially doing the second step alone, cutting off the possibility for the enemy to reach the Victory Point. Always keep an eye out for enemy tanks and Tank Hunters. Although you could be successful, and stop even sixty attackers (my own personal record) you could be so carried away that you will never see the incoming enemy tank. You must keep an eye on your flanks constantly, or ask some infantry to cover you and protect you.

Lesson 6: Surviving Damage

During Multiplayer games the chance of you suffering some form of damage is certain. In Single player games this threat is much smaller, but every present. Damage comes in many different forms, and it can effects different parts of your tank. In most situations, the most common form of damage you will suffer is damage to your plating. Your plating is divided into sections. Your hull has Front and side plating, which at first will be damaged (yellow) and can even be destroyed (red). Once a part of the hull is destroyed the next shot to that part of the tank will penetrate it for certain.

However, damage to the plating is not necessary for a shot to penetrate. The fact it is damaged means that you were lucky. If your angling was off the first shot will be able to penetrate straight through, without having to damage the plating. Aside from this type of plating there is also plating on your turret, and the most common damage will come to the front turret plating, which is essentially the entire area around the main gun. When you hide your tank it is very hard for you not to suffer damage to your turret plating since when facing an enemy tank that will be the only flat surface facing them. The T-34 has especially weak turret plating (or so it seems) so your best chance is to not engage enemy tanks directly, and instead hide.

Red Orchestra 2 Tanks

A good sign it is time to flee. Not only are your fellow tanks being destroyed left and right but you suffered damage as well. To be precise, damaged engine, ammo rack (red symbol on the left of the tank) and fuel storage (bottom right of the tank).

Then, there is damage to your Engine, which comes in two stages. Damaged, which will highlight the engine yellow, and destroyed, red. When the engine is yellow you will hear it working much more weakly, and you will suffer a penalty in engine power, but overall you can still drive ahead. If your engine is destroyed your only hope is to Scuttle (K button when the option appears). That suicides your tank, but at least you do not have to wait for somebody to destroy you.

Red Orchestra 2 Tanks

It is true, you managed to take out that tank. But not fast enough. You lost your Hull Gunner, but more importantly, you lost both of your tracks. You are now officially… a sitting duck.

There is also damage to your ammo rack (though I saw it rarely, if ever) but more commonly you could lose your tracks or brakes. If you lose your tracks you will be pretty much immobile (though you can move a bit). If you lose either one of your brakes (left or right) you cannot turn in a direction, but a smart driver will be able to still manoeuvre using only one turning direction to reach an ammo dump. You can still drive forward normally.

As a general rule, if you ever get hit, take note of where the shot came from. You should angle your tank toward the area the shot came from, to minimise further damage. If you are forced to retreat a highly useful skill is to be able to drive backwards. If you try turning around you will waste time on doing so, expose yourself and furthermore, (if able) not return fire. Of course, this calls for knowing what is behind you, but if you paid enough attention you should be able to quickly recall such information.

Lesson 7: Losing Crew

When you suffer damage it is likely you will lose members of your crew. Depending on the type of game you will be playing certain crew members are more expendable than others. The loader is always replaced without your interference. In Tank on Tank battles your Hull Gunner is unnecessary, and he should be your first choice to replace any missing slot (he will usually do so anyway). Your driver is essential in one way, and that is to allow your tank to escape when it has suffered too much damage. When things get bad however, you can leave your tank immobile for the sake of firing back at the enemy. This is a wise move when you know you will be destroyed anyway, or you have no chance of escaping, or hiding. Otherwise, that is exactly what you should do.

Red Orchestra 2 Tanks

Sometimes it is better to take out the enemy who killed off half your crew. Simple reason. If you try to escape there is a solid chance he will hit you again, and again, and since you will have no gunner you will be the only one taking any damage. Now that I destroyed the oppressor I can safely turn back to an Ammo Dump.

Often during a penetrating hit when you lose somebody you will have outside view of your tank for a moment, then snap to the driver position. This usually means you lost the position you were manning and the game kicks you into the default seat, which is always the driver. You will often not be able to occupy the gunner seat soon after since somebody would be in the process of taking his place, but you should use the occasion, as the driver to quickly shift your tank. Although you might not be able to tell where the shot came from you can at least guess, or hide your tank behind the biggest obstacle you can find.

Alex “WriterX” Bielski

Rating:9/10
Pros:Mildly Realistic
Tripwire at its finest
Very big potential with future updates!
Cons:Limited Tank section
A bit buggy
Game producer's website:Tripwire Interactive
Official website:Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad
Game available at:

About The Author

Aleksander "WriterX" Bielski
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Student of Psychology, he was identified as a Nut-Job even before he started the course. Having done some small work as a Modder for a number of titles, and worked as a Game Designer part-time, Alex now writes in third person. As Co-Owner and Editor of AlterGamer.com he aims high, while being armed only with a sling. In the future, he hopes to become a fully qualified Newspaper Editor, and purchase Google.

4 Responses to The Tank Commander’s Guide for Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad – Part 2

  1. Angryrat says:

    You are being quite unfair to the T-34… “That tank” is considered the most successful design of the war -not to mention it influenced post-war MBT design more than anything. As soon as it received the 85mm gun and the three-man turret, it became the best medium tank. (The Panther is more than 10 tons heavier – more like the IS-2.)

    • WriterX says:

      The T-34 was reliable, easy to produce and repair. I do not doubt that the T-34 was one of the best tanks of the War. The T-34, together with the KV-1 I imagine, was the reason the Germans wanted to design heavier tanks, capable of taking out both of these tanks with greater ease. The Panther tank “look” is similar to the T-34.

      What I meant in the Guide is that the T-34 was neither incredibly armored, or gunned. It certainly had a number of other strengths, but when we look at the Panzer IV it had very strong frontal plating (80mm, the Panzer IV G) and adequate gun, while lacking in side and rear armor. The T-34 had less plating, but its body was angled. In that sense, the Panzer IV had a very solid front, while the T-34 was “overall” mildly well protected.

      Thus, my statement did not come as a criticism of the T-34. It was more focused at pointing out that it does not have an equally visible strength like the Panzer IV (which at the same time has very clear penalties).

      Hope that clears that up.

      • angryrat says:

        Don’t worry I don’t take it as a criticism -after all I have no connection with T-34 production or design. :) I think “having no weaknesses” is the best you can hope for in a tank. After all a tank is a compromise between protection, armament and mobility. You can’t have something “maxed out” without suffering on others. If you add a lot of protection, you will lose mobility. If you make mobility high, you can’t use much protection. Put too big of a gun on a tank, and you have to make it big, sacrifice armor and mobility to be able to move it. So I think we both were right :) The T-34 was brilliant, precisely because of what you wrote. (Not to mention wide tracks, ability to function in cold/hot/dusty conditions made it better than the German models. Koshkin drove 1200 miles with one to demonstrate the capabilities of his design; Tigers often broke down after 50 miles…

  2. TacoTuesday says:

    Is the coaxial able to be fired? If so what key is it?

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