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M8A1 Guide

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M8A1 Guide

Post  Ding760 on Sat Sep 07, 2013 9:07 pm

Don't stand there gawping! Now today we are going to do a guide and tutorial on the M8A1 also known as “the little Hellcat”. Its the first American tank destroyer with a turret one will meet going up the line of turreted tank destroyers. It is based on the M5 Stuart tank, meaning its fast and small. It has 2 great guns, a 57mm high rate of fire gun and a harder hitting 76mm with a lower rate of fire. Due to its small size and good speed, it's a great fun to play and makes the enemy's cries for there mommy when you tear them apart. Today i will instruct you over all the ins and outs this tank has and the fun it has to offer.

First of the bat, a little history lesson. Yes, you at the back, pay attention, or ill have you marching up and down the square! Right, off you go then! Now for the rest of you. The M8 is also know in the US military coding as the Howitzer Motor Carriage M8, aka M8 Scott and this is the later A1 variant of it called M8 Howitzer Motor Carriage Modified. While it was a in its start a self-propelled howitzer, there were some experiments with other guns. The M8 is carrying the a 75mm howitzer cannon. The A1 variant was to carry a 75mm M3 gun for more anti-tank related action. Tho there were multiple suggestion on how to make this happen, only the M8 with the 75mm howitzer was implemented in full force. Fighting in the later campaigns of the war in Italy, the western front and the pacific theater.

The M8A1 in its glory!

Main characteristics:
This little tank that could, has some interesting characteristics. They are summed up here.

Health points: 250 with upgraded turret 265.
Experience points to unlock: 3,350xp points on the T82.
Credit prize: 130,000 silver
View range: 370m for both turrets
Top speed: 58km/h
Pivoting: Yes

Its HP points are low, as to be expected from a tank destroyer. The view range is great and so is the speed. You can reach the speed on flat ground.

Gun selection vs turret selection
Well you lot, on to the business end; guns! Everybody and there grandma loves guns! Specially when there not pointed at you. The M8A1 has two very interesting tier V guns. Both are good, but both serve a slightly different play style. The first one is the 57mm fast firing M1L/50. The other is the 76mm M7/50 gun, which is harder hitting, but with less rate of fire, slightly less accurate and slightly less penetration. The starter 75m AT howitzer M3 gun is also a funny little gun. Its a howitzer, meaning a HE gun. It is not very big for a howitzer so don’t expect big damage, the reload time is rather good. It not that bad to use as stock guns go. The 75mm gun is a stepping stone to the 76mm. Needed to research the next turret, but spec wise its not as good as the 57mm due to a lower penetration value. Tho it is the historically M8A1 correct gun with the stock turret (See picture above).

The gun specifications are as follows:

  • 75mm AT howitzer M3. 46 rounds at 56S/4G. 175/110 Damage. 38/100 penetration. 16.22 RPM. 0.53m Accuracy. 1.9 aim time. 138Kg Weight. Price: 5,400 silver.
  • 75mm AT Gun M L/37. 46 rounds at 56S/7G/56S. 110/110/175 Damage. 92/127/38 penetration. 14.29 RPM. 0.43m Accuracy. 1.9/1.7s aim time. 1437Kg. Price: 30,000 silver.
  • 57mm Gun M1 L50. 66 rounds at 35S/5G/56S. 75/75/95 Damage. 110/180/29 penetration. 24 RPM. 0.39m Accuracy. 1.9/1.7s aim time. 400Kg Weight. Price: 33,000 silver.
  • 76mm AT Gun M7 L/50. 46 rounds at 56S/7G/56S. 110/110/175 Damage. 101/157/38 penetration. 14.29 RPM. 0.43m Accuracy. 1.7s aim time. 1450Kg. Price: 33,500 silver.

As one can see the 57 mm edges out with a high rate of fire, 9mm more pen and higher accuracy. The other plus is the 1050Kg weight difference. The 57mm also has a slightly better gun depression. The 76mm has -9/-8/-6 on the front/side/back. The 57mm has -10/-10/-6. That makes one degree on the front more depression and on the side two degrees. The the 76mm has more alpha damage but the 57mm makes up with sheer rate of fire. If one multiplies the damage with rate of fire, means that the 57mm can deliver 1800 damage in a minute, while the 76mm dishes out 1572 damage. The downside to a smaller caliber is the higher loss of pen and accuracy over greater distance. On long range shots the 76mm will hit a bit better, due to the shell keeping its straight line longer down the range.
The disadvantage is that is that the 1050KG adds a lot of weight to such a light vehicle. This added weight can be felt in the acceleration of the M8A1. The other interesting fact is that the 57mm can be used with the stock turret. This need for the upgraded turret adds to the increased weight for the using the 76mm to a total of 1400Kg compared to the 57mm with the stock turret. This weight difference also means it takes slightly longer to reach top speed and stopping as well. This provides problems for moving, stopping, shooting and moving away again. Those who prefer speed and acceleration, are better off with the 57mm+stock configuration, due to this difference. Those who enjoy static play more, are better off with the 76mm.

While talking about turrets, what else does the improved turret give? It is "improved" right? Well a bit, it provides 15 health points, a 0.2 seconds decrees of aim time (on top guns), -6 degrees depression when shooting over the back and adds a healthy 350 Kg. It doesn’t add in view range, rate of fire, armor or rotation. So on stats it doesn’t add that much. The gun depression is the same, save for over the back, where it offers -6 vs 0 on the stock. I prefer not to shoot over the back in the first place as the tank is mobile enough to turn and has pivot. The 0.2 seconds means aim time going down from 1.9 to 1.7 seconds. That is already very fast, the decrease is also very slight, i could not really tell the difference. The other interesting sight is the shape of the turret. The improved turret is higher and slightly more closed, but not closed enough to bounce incoming arty shells. The added height means slightly less camo and a slightly bigger target to be shot at. Also the shape of the turret front is a bit worse then stock. Where stock has a nice wide gun mantled the improved turret has a smaller one. It also creates a new hit zone where there is no mantled. Making hits while hull down easier. The stock turret can bounce same tier guns while in hull down, because of its small shape and gun mantled. The improved turret has added weak points. 2 sights that can be penetrated. They are small targets, yet some lucky shot can go through, what would not have happened on the stock turret.

The new hit zone. top stock, bottom improved.

This difference in turrets creates 2 play styles. One where the emphasis on mobility and stealth, focusing on the 57mm with stock turret, making a (slightly) better impromptu scout due to the lower weight and thus acceleration. The other one focuses on being more of a tank destroyer with OK alpha, that can relocate with its high top speed, with the heavier 76mm and improved turret. The 15 health points doesn’t really add that much health to make that big of a difference, nor does the aim time. If one takes the 57mm, use the stock turret, tho the upgraded is not that much worse or a sin. So try them both and decide. The 0.2 seconds aim time can help with the rate of fire to stay on target better, tho with the 57mm the reload and aim time sync up good at 100% crew.

Being built on a light tank, this isn't a heavy slug it out TD. So don't go all Leroy Jenkins on me, and well be fine! Its frontal armor and side of the hull are only 29mm. The front has a nice slope and can be angled a bit for more protection. The slope is about 48 degrees. This creates an effective armor when hit straight on of 39mm. Combined with a bit of angle, It will bounce the weaker Tier 3 shots, but one should not count on it. The back has 25mm The turret armor for both turrets is 38mm on the front. The stock turret has a wide mantled, adding spaced armor. The hull down works against same tier tanks, that don’t use HE (as the turret is open). The sides of both turrets are 25mm and the back is 25mm.

As you can see the front has a slope, but the overall armor levels are not that great, so do not expect to bounce much. Also the open top means full damage if a HE shell lands in.

Side view of the improved turret. It also shows the added weak point in the improved turret. The front gun mantled is higher, making the view port underneath a weak point. In hull down, it can also act as a minor shot trap. Both from shots on the underside of the gun mantled, as to angled shots on the upper hull. Both can ricochet into the view port on the turret.

Top view of both turrets. The improved turret is more closed off, tho a artillery shell would still penetrate, even with the improved turret.

Drive train: Tracks and engine
Getting about is as good as marching up and down the square! The mobility of this tanks is very important and so is properly equipping it! Stock tracks can be used with the 57mm, but not the 75mm. With the 57mm there will be room to fit the better engine, radio, equipment and even the upgraded turret (although not needed) without upgrading the tracks. The 75mm will not fit without the upgraded tracks due to the heavy weight the gun has. The turn rate of the stock is 35 degrees per second. The upgraded tracks add 5 degrees to 40 degrees per second. The turn rate is quite OK with the upgraded tracks. The problem is more on high speed the tank bleeds speed while turning. This can be a bit of a problem when using it as a scout, because its loses a lot of speed while turning and evading. Its acceleration is not that great compared to a real scout, its good enough to do it when needed. Specially on rough ground, it has a hard time getting up to speed. This is mostly due to its narrow tracks (And WG's secret ground resistance formula Wink ). The off road driving can alleviate this a bit.

The stock gasoline engine provides 320horse power, the upgrade will give 350 horse power. The 57mm with stock gun, fully upgraded with additional equipments weighs in at 15,58 ton. Providing 20horse power per ton on stock engine and 22,8 horse power per ton for the upgraded engine. The 76mm configuration is 16,98 Ton providing 18,84 horse power per ton with stock engine and 20,61 horse power per ton with upgraded engine. This gives the 57mm its edge in acceleration and can mean the difference between getting away or getting killed. Being both gasoline engines means a 20% chance of fire.

First radio has a range of 325m. Second radio has a range of 420m. Top radio has a range of 750m. Meaning a nice radio range for a tier 4 tank. This can be a vital asses for your team. Not only relaying the info to the rest of your team, but in higher games as a scout, the information can be used by your higher tier team mates to kill the enemy (and you for spotting them and getting xp).

Crew skills:
As with every machine it takes a skilled crew to man it. With any tank based on stealth, getting the camouflage skill is paramount and the first priority. The commander also has a very useful skill in the form of 6th sense. This provides insight into if one is spotted (and its time to double time it out of there). Yet it takes 3 seconds after being spotted to activate. So paying attention to the enemy is still very important and can be faster then 3 seconds. Other interesting skills are Recon for the commander and Situational awareness for the radio operator. These two skills increases view range. Providing a longer spotting range, means spotting before being spotted. (3% for situational awareness and 2% for Recon, but Recon has a 20% bones when a damaged observation device). Also useful skills when scouting. Both skills combined provide 5% increase in view range, going from ~370 meters to ~388,5 meters. The others are snap shot and smooth ride. These provide faster aim after moving the vehicle and moving the turret. The other that also looks very promising is the off-road driving. This provides a lesser penalty when moving over difficult terrain of 4%. It depends a bit on what style is used, so if 76mm or 57mm. Yet, a lot of crew skills are useful in this tank!

Commander: Camo, 6th sense, BIA
Gunner/loader: Camo, Snap Shot, BIA
Driver: Camo, Off-Road Driving/Smooth Ride (or Clutch Braking), BIA
Radio operator: Camo, Situational Awareness, BIA

Snap shot can be replaced with Designated target, for more sniper orientated play. As it lights the target up for 2 seconds longer. The driver can have off-road for those who like to move more. This lowers the narrow track disadvantage. Those who like to peek a boom, smooth ride. Clutch braking can also be effective, tho the vehicle has a good turning rate but it helps counter the slow turret movement. Situational awareness provides more view range then Recon (3% vs 2%). Providing a view range to ~381,1 meters. BIA improves all skills, due to lack of vents, this is a good option as it adds view range, acceleration and reload. When starting the second skill (and the 3rd) start them as repair, then when there 100% drop the skill for the one you need. Repair can help you if somebody hits your tracks.

Commander: Camo, 6th sense, Recon
Gunner/loader: Camo, Snap Shot, Designated target
Driver: Camo, Smooth Ride, Clutch braking
Radio operator: Camo, Situational Awareness, Signal Boosting/Relaying

65mm variant is more suited for long range sniping. Designated target helps to light the target up a bit longer to perhaps squeeze in another shot. For the radio operator signal boosting or relay helps with getting target information. Signal boost provides more range to the radio, tho the range of the best radio is very good. Relaying helps your team as a whole. Again, when starting the second skill (and the 3rd) start them as repair, then when there 100% drop the skill for the one you need.

The most important piece is the camo-net. Obviously. The others are a bit more style dependent. For the 65mm the gun rammer is really advised and for the 57mm advised because it raises rate of fire. Either binoculars or coated optics are for the 57mm and binoculars for 76mm as well. I prefer the binoculars, but coated optics can also be used to great effect as a scout. Gun rammer, cammonet and binoculars, that is the recommended setup for both. Gun laying drive can also be a suggestion, but the aim time of 1.7 on upgraded turret and 1.9 on stock is very fast already. A wet ammo rack can also be used due to the low armor, damage is a viable option. Yet if you get shot at, you are not playing it right! Go hide in a bush, you lubber!

Put on the large repair kit and medikit for their passive bonus. On this level using them is to expensive and not worth the money. The passive bonus provides some extra survivability (15% resistance to crew injury, 10% extra rate of repair). Total cost is 40,000 silver. Or 4 good games in this tank.

Camouflage paint:
Get it on sale, use the temperate and perhaps even the desert. Those are the 2 most frequent maps. They can give it just that bit more edge in stealth. Its also always on, so no need to wait 10 seconds for it to activate. Costs about 40,000 silver. Or 4 good games in this tank!

Ammo load out:
57mm: 64 AP rounds 2 HE rounds. No gold rounds. Because of the high rate of fire, low damage guns, using gold rounds is not that advisable as they do not deal much more damage. The penetration is good already, the accuracy is good, so there is no real use for gold. You can hit weak points with ease. Also, its Tier 4, using gold is like using a hammer on fly. 2 HE rounds are for decapping purposes only. When needed in a pinch to reset the cap. The 64 rounds are also really needed as the rate of fire tends to eat a lot of shells and also gives you the option to do so, without worrying about running out of ammo.

65mm: 38 AP, 2 HE, 2 Gold. The gold rounds improve pen a lot. Can be used if absolutely needed to get a kill or be killed situation. Most people prefer to carry a few more HE rounds, for one shotting open topped tanks (like artillery or tank destroyers), because the shell deals a lot more damage than the HE on the 57mm.

75mm Howitzer: All HE. It can carry HEAT, but the damage is not that great, pen is about that of the the 76mm and damage is as well. You can get to the 57mm fast enough on only HE.

Upgrade path:

Providing you have not done anything on previous tanks, but get to the M8A1 as earlier as one can. First grind the 57mm (costing 2,350xp points). Then engine (costs 550xp), tracks (1,100xp), second radio (1,480xp), then depending on if one wants to use the 76mm, the 75mm AT gun (2,100xp), turret T87 (1,200xp) then 76mm (2,250xp). Or when focusing on the 57mm; the third radio (9,000xp) first, then the rest and finally the T49 (10,500xp). If only passing this tank the 57mm is enough and one can grind to the T49 right away. Tho that is not advisable, as many of the equipment can be used again on the T49 to make that stock grind easier.

Now if you have played the T18 and T82. You already have the engine upgrade. The 57mm can also carry over from the T82. This makes for a quick start, just stick the engine and the gun on and you are good to go! Pick up the upgrade list from there.

Advantages and disadvantages in a nutshell:
For those who skipped it all just to read the shorts, go back and read everything, unless you have something better to do! Well then, here are the pro's and cons in a short list.

- Small
- Good cammo
- Fast
- Good acceleration
- 2 Nice top guns
- Fun to play

- Weak armor
- Open topped
- To much fun to play, other tanks are jealous in the garage

Game play tips:
There are some general tips.

  • Don't park in bushes, park behind them.
  • Try to move from bush to bush, don't camp at base if you can help your team advance.
  • When you know a possible enemy location, pre-turn the turret. So you don't have to wait on it.
  • Use your good turn rate to turn the hull of your tank to get your gun on target faster.
  • Don't be afraid to drive out of a bad situation. Better to live and fight on, then to die pointless.
  • You can be a very good passive scout. The view range is great, good radio range and having a camo-net and binoculars as normal equipment, you can light up an advancing lemming train and score a lot of spotting points.
  • Even if you are fast, do not rush forward. You die quickly. Do use your speed to dodge enemy fire.
  • Try to attack and flank targets that are busy shooting at your team. They think they can take your minor damage. Till you land a shot every ~2 seconds(57mm).
  • Use your good gun depression to make full use of terrain. Get into a good spot, fire and move away when they target you.
  • You are open topped, so watch out for artillery. They can one shot you quite easily.
  • Watch enemy turret movement. When they start turning your way, you can assume you have been spotted.

As your sergeant major, its my duty to tell you what i think of this marvel of engineering. In a tight, tight package. So i hope you all like my little plan of me telling you. As most it was just a stop gap on the way to getting the T49 and eventually the Hellcat. This sod has fallen in love with this chunky lady and i like it. If i could, i would put a ring on it. Its fast, its stealthy, it accelerates, it fires really fast. Everything i like in a tank. The rage you cause people because they cant spot you or brush away your ~75 damage in one shot, till it starts to stack up and they are near death. It's fun to watch a lemming train drive by while being shot at from afar and you know you rake in XP. Its even more fun when the train has passed you and you start shooting them in the back. Its fun to support where the action is due to the speed. Pop up, shoot and scoot out of there.

The turret choice is also mainly down to preferences. I want to minimize weight, because the acceleration is not that great and every Kg helps to keep acceleration up. Speed and acceleration are a good form of defense. If you can outmaneuver the enemy, you do not need big armor. If you can make him miss his shots, you have room to put in yours. If i could id pop the hood on the back and put a carbon fiber one on it, spoiler at the back, sport exhaust, maybe some neon on it and just drive like a bat out of hell. Acceleration is key and one can only get that from more engine power or less weight.


Originally written by Reinman

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Re: M8A1 Guide

Post  CountOfTuscany on Sat Sep 07, 2013 9:25 pm

This vehicle is great! Mobility is great, its size is good and the gun is pretty good too (used the 57mm gun, didnt really like the 75mm one). This tank is an ideal skirmisher.

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