Historically the T1 HT was very much a prototype tank, to give the USA an initial experience in heavy tanks. As such it had all sorts of shortcomings. In essence it was something of an enlarged M4 Sherman. In World of Tanks both the shortcomings and the similarity to its medium cousin are very much display. However, implemented as it is I have found it a rather solid tank, if played within its role. Of course, in some matches one has no choice but to make do, but most of the time it is possible to utilise this tank’s strengths.
The stock tank requires you to upgrade the suspension immediately. The improved gun can be researched on the M4 Sherman – in fact is the Sherman’s top AP gun – but it is locked behind the turret upgrade. The upgraded turret itself basically only gives you an extra 10m view range – and access to the top gun. While it is possible to grind out the M6 without upgrading the engine to its top variant, you will need that engine on the M6 anyway, and the better engine radically improves this tank’s effectiveness. Finally there is the upgraded radio, which is nice improvement but should definitely be the final module to be upgraded – again it carries over to the M6.
Physically the T1 Heavy is quite a large tank, and it was designed very much with American hull-down tactics in mind. Practically speaking this means all the armour is on the front, and more of the front part of the turret than on the frontal hull. That said the frontal hull armour is pretty reasonable for its tier, and if one can mostly peek over cover or terrain with the turret one can expect a fair few bounces. The rest of the turret armour is ok too, though not as strong as the front – but the side armour on the hull is very thin indeed – basically everything you come across can penetrate it – the Tier V derp guns included which can mean a lot of hp lost and injured crew members. This makes angling tricky – angle too much and you expose those vulnerable sides making the entire exercise irrelevant. In the top generally it is best just to keep the front forward facing and do one’s best to avoid getting flanked. In built up areas it can be possible to angle using cover to hide the sides. The best way to angle this tank though is make use of the gun depression.
There are tanks with better gun depression, but the T1 HT has enough that, on a slope, effectively increase the angle on the front of your armour. It is not always possible to pull off, but is always something to keep an eye out for. The T1 Heavy also is quite a tall tank, and the combination of height and angling creates some interesting tactical potentials – I have not yet found an easier to tank to fire between the train carriages and the tracks from the town side on the Prokhorovka map, for example. Other times it means it can use a steep slope effectively as cover whereas another tank, even one with better gun depression, would expose too much hull before being able to take a shot.
The first gun for the T1 Heavy isn’t precisely bad for the tier – it has reasonable penetration and a high rate of fire, if distinctly average damage. The upgraded weapon only moderately increases the damage, boosts the penetration by a quarter or so, and increases the rate of fire by nearly three rounds/minute. It can let off a shot every 3.5 seconds or so with a well-trained crew. This means you have the potential to make 2 or 3 shots to an opponent’s one. However to really take advantage of this rate of fire you need the top engine. Even with the second engine the tank feels sluggish, and while even the top engine will not help it win any races the tank becomes a lot more responsive and agile. It means it becomes much easier to emerge from cover or up a slope, take one or more shots at the enemy, and retreat and reposition with relative ease. It also makes it easier to relocate if one suddenly realises one is about to get over-run.
In a Tier V match this tank has the ability to rule the battlefield – but it cannot do so unsupported. By itself the T1 Heavy is always at risk to being flanked. With support however it has the firepower to ruin the day of any other tank it encounters. Only the front of the AT 2 can reliably shrug it off – but no Tier V tank should be going head to head with that particular TD. Lower-tier tanks particularly can be easy pickings as the high-rate of fire allow almost everything at Tier III or IV to be killed in two or three shots. At Tier VI the frontal armour starts to become less reliable, but it is not entirely useless – especially if you can get the enemy to shoot at your turret. Generally the upgraded gun retains its effectiveness pretty well at the higher tier, though it will bounce more often. With Tier VII tanks this tank is obviously overmatched, but if it can get into a flanking position that high rate of fire again will make a mess.
The T1 HT also has that one great advantage of often being under-estimated. I must admit I did this a bit when I first started playing too. The KV-1 has the better general reputation, and to be fair it is a tank with fewer weaknesses. The difference is that while the T1 HT does have weaknesses (size, poor side armour) it has some considerable strengths as compensation, whereas the KV-1 is “just” a generally good all-round tank with no major flaws, but perhaps also a corresponding lack in a singular strength. Plenty of players do not always appreciate this point however, especially perhaps a lot of newer players, which one still encounters in some numbers at Tier V.
I have very much enjoyed my spell in the T1 Heavy. It has helped teach me a lot about the hull-down tactics of the American tanks. My own record it in it also very flattering – 57 games played with 36 victories and 70 kills, and I have accrued 7 Snipers, 2 Steel Walls, and 1 Top Gun medal. I also attained the Ace Tanker badge. The one low-point is I only survived in just 15 matches, but this perhaps says something about the weakness of the tank. That thin side armour makes it an easy tank to kill, given the opportunity – but as the Steel Walls also show it is sometimes possible to soak up a fair bit of damage.
I am now selling this tank on and putting the crew into the M6, as I take my second step on the US heavy line.