At Tier 2 you have a TD based on the chassis of the FT-17. The FT is a fun Tier 1 tank, but the tank destroyer leaves a bit to be desired since it has a weaker gun than the other 3 tier two TD's, is slow, and has low armor. However, being Tier 2 you don't have to worry about it for too long.
Then you get to the Tier 3 tank. This thing is TINY, and weighs less than 3 tons....and then has a 38 horsepower engine. That's not very much at all, and while the upgraded engine gives about 25% more horsepower, it's only mountable on THIS tank. Even with it the tank is MUCH slower than the American and Soviet tank destroyers, and a bit slower than the Marder. Nor does it have a gun that distinguishes it: the 6 Pounder compares best to the 57mm Zis-2 on the Su-76, a gun that does more damage, has slightly higher pen, shoots more accurately and aims quicker. And the Zis-2 is on a tank that is faster and has slightly more gun arc.
And compared to the guns on the T-82 (NUKE CANNON OF DEATH!) and the Marder II? Forget about it. The UE-57 only has an advantage in being the smallest thing in the game. Most bizarre is not only that the 6 Pounder is more expensive than the Tier 4 tank that comes after it in research...it's also more expensive than both guns on said tank. Still, I managed to get a Top Gun in this tank [that had less to do with the tank itself and more that I found a good spot to hammer the enemy]
Then we get to the Somua Tank Destroyer. I was kind of looking forward to this thing. Then I found that it was like a Hetzer....only slower, less armor, with a gun that is less accurate slightly with less penetration. Most annoyingly was the incredibly small amount of gun arc (-7/+8 degrees). The gun isn't very good, and while you could get a 105mm Derp it's almost faster to just go to the S-35 CA and skip that gun....
SO, ABOUT THE S-35 CA.
It weighs less than the Somua S-40, so it is more mobile (though less mobile than the other Tier 5 TD's). It also has better armor...though again, less than other tanks of its tier. The gun mantlet can bounce stuff pretty well, but you're not going to be able to take hits. The open top means that it can take epic levels of damage from artillery. I've had an M7 Priest 1-Shot me before, which I took as a sign to NEVER get hit by artillery.
The combination of slow tank, open top, and weak armor makes this feel quite vulnerable.
Still, this is the first Tank Destroyer in the line that feels like a TD. It FINALLY has guns that justify its existence. And it has enough hit-points to not die instantly sometimes. The nicest thing about it is the amount of gun sweep it gets: it's like a Marder II almost, being able to 15 degrees left and 29 degrees to the right, which is a LOT for a tank destroyer. It is small-ish as well, and I've found that even without any camo-boosting stuff I can hide in a small bush and be invisible at point blank range.
Even better? 400m view range. Combine that with an accurate gun, and you've got yourself a nice sniper...
Speaking of which, what's a tank destroyer without a gun? This is where I find the S-35 CA to be interesting, because it gets not one, but THREE viable gun choices:
Stock, it gets the 17 Pounder Mk. II, the famous British gun. Key stats for this gun are as follows:
- 135 Damage
- 144 Penetration
- 13.33 RPM (for a damage per minute of 1799)
- .35 Accuracy
- 1.7 Aim Time
- 135 Damage
- 138 Penetration
- 13.46 RPM (for a damage per minute of 1817.1)
- 0.33 Accuracy
- 1.71 Aim Time
The 105mm is the second gun available to the S-35 (it's actually parallel to the 90mm). This is the weapon most might consider to be best weapon of the gun. Here are the stats, with the comparison to the 17 pounder in brackets:
- 300 damage
- 165 Penetration
- 5.56 RPM (for a DPM of 1668)
- .41 Accuracy
- 2.9 Aim Time
Look at what you are sacrificing. You lose a large portion of rate of fire, to the point where you're looking at 11 second reloads. Worse still, you aim time is nearly 3 seconds, with an accuracy that is nothing short of terrible.
Also, consider this: how much penetration do you need at Tier 5? Most tanks get by quite nicely with 120, where 130 provides some nice wiggle room. 165 penetration is a little bit of overkill for this tank, where you only really need that much penetration against a Tier 8 tank. Most tier 7's can be hurt if you know where to aim with 140mm of pen, even frontally. In my mind, if you can penetrate with 130mm, why do you need 160mm of penetration to do the same thing?
And speaking of aiming, a 3 second aim time will get you killed in this tank. It is not durable enough to risk getting hit. And if you shoot before fully aimed? You'll never hit the target, because that 0.41 accuracy is dreadful. I had high hopes for this weapon, because I use the 105mm on the ARL-44 even over the best 90mm. But this isn't the ARL-44. The S-35 is not mobile enough, nor tough enough, to fully utilize the power fo this weapon. You run into this problem as well, when you compare it to the 107mm on the Su-85:
- Same Damage
- 2 less penetration
- 1.26 lower RPM, giving the 105 a staggering 378 lower DPM
- An astounding 0.01 better accuracy....
- Balanced out by a very slight aim time disadvantage.
That said....IF you can get over the incredibly poor accuracy, and get it out of your head that anything an S-35 with a 105 can do the Su-85 with a 107 can do better, the 105 provides incredible damage.
However, if you miss, don't kill the target, or somehow bounce the 105mm will get you killed since it has an 11 second reload and the S-35 can't run away. Numerous times I've been killed because the other tier 5's can whittle away my hitpoints entirely in 10 seconds.
[NOTE: I am well aware people will ignore this warning, and even more aware that some might do very well with this gun. I, however, am not one of those people]
This leaves us with the 90mm. It is only a little more to research than the 105, and it brings the following stats:
- 240 Damage
- 135 penetration
- 7.5 RPM (for 1800 DPM)
- 0.4 Accuracy
- 2.3 Aim Time
It has the lowest penetration of all the guns available to the S-35, BUT this goes back to the "How much do you really need?" argument. 135 is almost as much as a Stug, more than the Wolverine or T49, and still more than all the heavies and mediums at tier 5 (Except the BDR, which has this same gun).
Once you get over the lower penetration, this thing actually has a lot going for it. The damage is quite high for a Tier 5, being the second most powerful gun of its tier. In exchange for lower damage than the 105mm, you're getting a much higher rate of fire.
The accuracy in unfortunately almost the same, BUT the aim time is much higher. Maybe not the freakishly fast 1.7 seconds of the 17 Pounder, but still very nice.
Here is something else I noticed: Tier 5 tanks generally have between 320 and 450 hitpoints. What does this mean for your S-35? It means that with either the 90mm or the 105mm you will need to shoot twice to kill. So, would you rather make that second shot after 8 seconds (90mm) or 11 seconds (105mm)?
This means that with the 90mm you are getting the best damage output on the tank: you have higher alpha than the 17 pounder, AND better sustained fire capabilities than the 105mm....
The downside being that you have the lowest chance of doing damage. WIth the 105 you only have to worry about actually hitting the target. With the 90mm you not only have to actually hit the target (an easier task thanks to the aim time) but also hit it well. In a way, that can make this gun even more frustrating to use....but if you can make it work, this is easily the best weapon option for the tank.
People have different tastes in weaponry, depending on what they want to achieve. Most however look at one of two stats: penetration or damage.
All things considered though, there are other considerations to be had. For example, the 105mm may have the highest penetration, but the gun that will deliver the most consistent damage or for sniping is....the 17 pounder. It has very high penetration AND accuracy, allowing for the easiest damage output. It can also allow the S-35 to engage at longer range, helping keep it protected better. The fast aim time allows an S-35 to take a shot and jump behind cover quickly. This makes the 17 Pounder my personal weapon of choice, as I like to take longer ranged shots and use cover to protect myself. I've always liked fast and accurate guns, so the 17 pounder is my weapon of choice. It also has the fewest flaws, with the only one being the low damage-- which is the same damage that a lot of tanks its tier has (or even better).
If you're concerned with total damage output, the 90mm is the best choice. It has high alpha damage and high DPM. Together these two traits allow you to shred the enemy to pieces. It allows the S-35 to switch between offensive and defensive play easily-- when going offensive you want to be able to kill an opponent in a single hit, and not give them time to attack back. But on defensive fighting you may find yourself having to engage multple enemies who may already be close to death; if there are 3 of them, but they only have 200 hitpoints left a piece, you're better off using the weaker gun that fires faster. Alternately, if you have 1 guy left with full life left and no cover, DPM again becomes handy to kill him very quickly. Beware of the low penetration-low accuracy problems.
And, if you just want to blow things up and point and shoot, the 105mm can be excellent. The only reason I spent so much time knocking it down was because people tend to overlook the flaws and concentrate only on the damage and penetration. It may seem to be the best weapon for consistent damage, but the 17 Pounder will do a better job of that. The 105mm does the best at agressive play, when you might be at close qaurters and need to kill some NOW without having time to aim for weakspot. Match Making has thusfar been kind to me however, generally sticking me against Tier 6 tanks and maybe a Tier 7 or two, so the extra penetration is not the main draw so much as the extra damage. If you are good at using inaccurate and slow weapons, then you might love the 105mm. If this is the case, go for it and have a blast!
ONE THING TO NOTE: Unlock both the 105mm and the 90mm regardless of whether you use them or not; the 105mm will be the weapon of choice on the ARL V39 until the top weapon without a doubt (on that tank it becomes 0.02 points more accurate, aims half a second faster, and is 12% faster firing, negating all the problems with the Tier 5 version of it), while you need the 90mm unlocked before you can get the DCA45 gun. You could forgo the engine and radio, as niether transfer to this tank.