The AT-15A is the first British Tank Destroyer in World of Tanks, released in 8.2 as a Tier VII Premium vehicle. In the following review we'll look at this 65 ton beasts pro's and con's and if its worth the asking price of 6500 Gold.
For those who wish to know whether I'm talking out my behind or not, my in game name on the EU servers is 'mondog', my average Tier is 6.7, Efficiency is 1538, GWR is 54% and I'm in the EFE/EFE-X Clan family.
Credit earning potential?
So lets cut to the chase, often the first question that's asked about any Premium tank is how many credits does it earn? Sadly the AT-15A doesn't really do well in this category. Credits and XP are not directly related, but can be be compared to other tanks to get an idea of relative earning power. In this case, a game which earned 1865 experience only yielded about 60,000 credits. That's roughly what a Type 59 can earn on a fairly average game, so credit potential seems low. If you want a credit earning Premium Tank Destroyer, the Tier VIII Jagdtiger 88 is a much better option. On the upside, the tank is cheap to run, with low repair costs and standard ammo costing a mere 100 per round, so you get to keep most of what you earn.
A little known fact is some Premium tanks have an experience modifier. For example the Churchill III, the old Lend Lease Soviet version, has a modifier of 1.3, meaning it earns experience far in excess of what might be expected for a tank of its tier. Unfortunately it appears the AT-15A doesn't have a similar perk. Looking at my own statistics I'm currently averaging 750 XP per game in my AT-15A where as my Churchill III is just shy of 900! While it's possible that I'm just bad with the tank, 900 / 1.3 = 692, roughly in line with my earnings in the AT-15A, which is further evidence for the lack of such a bonus.
The stand out feature of this Tank Destroyer is its armour. The frontal armour weighs in at 228mm, massive for a Tier VII tank. The side and rear isn't to bad either at 152mm and 101mm respectively. That 228mm is not a flat plate too, but full of slopes and rounds. Just look at those curves! Between the raw amount of armour and it's shape, the tank is practically impervious to anything other Tier VII tanks can throw at its front, and will stand up well to fire from Tier VIII and even some Tier IX tanks.
This tank is a factory for battle awards like 'Steel Wall' and the new 'Cool-Headed' and 'Spartan' and certainly the best armoured tank of its Tier. However, it does have a few notable weakspots. The machine gun port and turret are both easy to penetrate but extremely small. The centre of gun mantlet is also unusually weak. I've also noticed that the tank seems to get tracked very easily, which is odd given it has a double set of road wheels on each track and a protective skirt. And of course, it is a casemate style TD, making it vulnerable to flanking.
The AT-15A is armed with the venerable Quick Firing 17-pdr Mk VII Anti Tank gun.
It behaves like many other British guns; fast firing, accurate, low damage and mediocre penetration. In this case it's one of the most accurate guns on any tank available and it spits out a round every four seconds. Both factors should help make up for the weak penetration. The accuracy lets you pick out other tank's weak spots, while the rate of fire easily allows for alternating shots on tracks and now-stationary weak spots. It has the surgical precision that would put an E50M to shame.
While the alpha damage is very low, as is to be expected, the DPM is very good. When all is said and done, when playing to its strengths this gun is very effective. Unfortunately, you will occasionally meet Tier IX tanks which even the best aimed fire will struggle to damage.
It's worth mentioning view range at this juncture. Its only 350m, so modules or crew skills will be needed to increase it to make this tank effective at distances.
Gun depression and traverse angle
These are stats which can make or break a turretless tank. The need to move the hull between shots just to stay on target is the most obvious downside to the assualt gun concept. In this regard, the AT-15A is superb and features a very wide casemate.
This tank can truely go hull down behind a ridge and the wide arc of the guns traverse means it can sit in place without movement, which is vital to maintaining camouflage without penalties and your view range at maximum if you're using binoculars.
Plenty of armor and a nice gun with a wide traverse and excellent depression. So far, this rolling bunker is shaping up pretty well.
With all that armour comes weight, and weight means loss of mobility.
The tank weighs 65 tons and comes with a 650HP engine, much like the Tier VIII Tiger II. Unlike the Tiger II, the AT-15A does not get to upgrade that engine, and so is quite slow. As discussed earlier, there is the ever-present danger of being flanked. To make matters worse, the tank's 24 degree/second traverse is one of the worst in the game for a Tier VII TD. As a result, choice of starting position will be paramount, as you won't get to move, and cover from friendly tanks will be highly desirable to protect your flank.
The crew required for this tank is 6, which means if you want to have a crew with 100% skills from the outset it's going to cost you an additional 1200 Gold for the privilege.
That, combined with the original purchase prices is pushing the Gold cost into the same realms as a cheap Tier VIII Premium tank like the Super Pershing.
Two loaders means two loader specific perks can be obtained earlier on. However as we all know, loader's perks are pretty meaningless.
A big question about all Premium tanks is the matchmaking. Many Premiums have unique characteristics which means that they require some special attention when it comes to what other Tiers they can face. For example, the Churchill III gets a special matchmaking weight in addition to its XP bonus, and so will rarely see Tier VI tanks and never face Tier VII. Sadly, the AT-15A sadly doesn't get the same treatment. While you'll get battles where you'll be able to sit dishing out damage and bouncing everything people shoot at you as top tier, you'll also find yourself in Tier IX matches where you're badly outmatched.
Wargaming has not published camo values so we don't know what the base camo stat is. At this time my own personal crew does not have 6th Sense so I can't give an exact impression on when I've been spotted or not. However, I've stuck to the basic premise of the camoflage mechanics e.g. the 15m rule, and judging from the incoming fire (which usually bounces) the base camo rating may not be too bad. And that's without a camo net or camo skill on the crew. Of course, that's purely subjective and based on anecdotal evidence, so take it or leave it.
The AT-15A is like the bastard love child of a Churchill and a T95. The armour is simply awesome, while the gun makes up for low damage and penetration with high RoF and accuracy. Add to that the ludicrously good gun depression and traverse and you've got something unique. The mobility is a problem but it can't all be good. Credit earning potential definitely needs to be increased and the matchmaking weight needs adjustment, although that's my opinion... whether Wargaming agrees is another matter! Of course, lets not forget that a full lineup of British Tank Destroyers is coming in 2013, so if you want to get a crew prepared then it's just one more reason to get this tank.
Overall, my opinion is that the tank is worth the 6500G. Despite the flaws, it's a relatively well balanced Tier VII tank destroyer, and is usually quite fun to play.