Stormworks: Build and Rescue – Tank Design Tutorial

Stormworks: Build and Rescue – Tank Design Tutorial 1 -
Stormworks: Build and Rescue – Tank Design Tutorial 1 -

This is a comprehensive guide for designing a tank. I will not be showing BUILDING a tank, but rather the design process to take when building from the ground up.

Intro: So you want to make a tank?

So you’ve been scrolling the workshop or spending WAY too much time on Youtube looking at tanks, and you’ve decided you want to make your own.
Congrats! Welcome to trouble shooting hell!
JK but like with all other creations, you’ve got to be persistent on fixing a problem with your vehicle. Otherwise they’ll compound overtime as they accrue and it’ll turn into a mess you’ll never get out of.
Stormworks: Build and Rescue - Tank Design Tutorial - Intro: So you want to make a tank? - B3AAEF2
(Your project when you don’t troubleshoot as you build)
This is especially true of tanks, both in-game and in real life. With so many moving parts that at times intersect paths that activate at different times, and with logic that can be as simple as the fire button to the cannon or as complex as a full auto-loader set-up mashed with a ballistic calculator and a laser range finder simultaneously. It is imperative that you flush out the bugs in the individual systems first, then fix bugs when combining them.
With that out of the way, what do you need in your tank?

Step 1: Design Criteria

Lets start off with the most basic question: What do you want out of your tank?
Wait, what is a tank? Well in the context of this guide I’m classifying a “tank” as any Armored Fighting Vehicle (AFV) that possesses tracks and is intended to primarily engage enemy AFVs.
There are other more refined definitions for a “tank” some of which would conflict with my definition. To which I answer unless your willing to write an essay into an already lengthy guide I KNOW some people are going to skim though, about how the S-tank is a tank but how an ISU-152 is an SPG or how the Israeli MBTs are infact hybrid tank/personnel carriers and more, I’m using my definition for the layman.
To expand on this, here are the criteria I think of from first to last:
1: What role is the tank suppose to play?
This is my number one as it dictates pretty much everything else you’ll design around.
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A Chungus Heavy Tank needs thick armor and likely redundant systems as well as a large amount of space around the cockpit to prevent the crew from being erased by an HE shell. It’ll likely need heavier armament to slug it out with other heavy tanks. This means you’ll either need to compromise with a larger weight and larger size, or compromise in the engine and/or automation of your tank (ie no auto loader, extra ammunition, etc.)
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A speedy bast*rd Light Tank needs SPEED and so will likely skimp on armor and firepower in exchange for mobility and fire-rate. A stabilization system would also be heavily recommended as you’d need to be firing on the move and cannot risk stopping to fire like other tanks can.
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A bunch of bullshxt Medium Main Battle Tank combines the speed and mobility of Light or Medium Tanks with the armor and firepower of Heavy Tanks. This is the most complex of the “standard” variations of tank roles. These tanks almost always sacrifice size and/or weight in order to have massive firepower and fire-rate, heavy armor and high speed, and enough mobility to go damn near anywhere. They also rely on a heavy amount of automation and micro-controllers for their complex auto-loaders, gun stabilizers and laser range finders.
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A shxtty map clicker Self Propelled Gun (SPG) takes all the eggs and slam dunks them in the Firepower department at the cost of generally everything else. Now a days the term “SPG” generally refer to those mobile artillery vehicles like the M109 Paladin though can also refer to the next category of vehicle. To distinguish the two you can use Self Propelled Howitzer (SPH)
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A bush camper Tank Destroyer has historically also been considered an SPG, but with the advent of missiles, very few today have guns. Thus “Missile/ATGM/Rocket Tank Destroyer” has sometimes been applied to Tank Destroyers who rely on missiles. These vehicles aren’t as inflexible as the SPHs and generally still keep some mobility and armor. Obviously depending on what your going for, you may need to deal with missile systems. Something that is not my specialty, and you can go suck it if you want a missile tutorial.
Of course these are just the rough categories for a “tank” but knowing what might need to go into your design is only the first part.
2: What context is my tank going to be set in? What IRL or fictional nation is it part of?
This is number two as it can rule out a lot or include a lot of systems you’d not normally find in the tank class you think your design goes into.
Is your tank in the modern era? Then you will almost always have a dual axis stabilizer in your Heavy tanks, Main Battle Tanks, Light tanks, and Tank Destroyers. Auto loaders are also quite common but not required. Range finders and ballistic calculators are however, quite common. Automatic transmissions are also very recommended but not always present. (Like in many Russian MBTs)
What if your tank is WW2 era? Well you can forget about any sort of stabilizer. Auto loaders may rarely occur, same for range finders. Ballistic calculators still took up whole rooms at this point in time so unless your building the second coming of the Pz. 1000 then no ballistic calculators. Automatic transmissions were generally limited to Light Tanks and fast Tank Destroyers.
WW1 Era? Disregard anything more automated than turning the engine on. No stabilizers, no auto loaders, no automatic transmissions, no rangefinders, no ballistic calculators, no ‘nothing. Just a solid steel or iron shell with a tractor engine with cannons bolted onto it. And no that often wasn’t an exaggeration of early tanks…
How about future tanks? Go bananas! Add literally everything you want. I don’t know the future and I certainly don’t know the future your thinking of so do whatever you want.
3: What is a sub-category or role of your tank?
Many tanks have secondary restrictions or requirements that play a large role in design.
Russian tanks for example generally focus on the offensive with auto-loaders, cheaper construction, and lower silhouette and restricted gun angles, along with smaller ammo capacities. Western tanks focus more on the defensive with comprehensive armor and large firing arcs along with lots of ammunition compromising on size.
There are other secondary restrictions or requirements than just offense and defense.
Perhaps you want your tank to be able to ford shallow rivers. Adding a snorkel and using a diesel engine will help with that.
How about a tank able to respond quickly to threats from home base? A Turbine engine with a smaller fuel capacity might be for you.
What about a tank designed to be able to work alone for long periods of time? A fuel efficient engine, large ammo stowage, auto loader, and more will ensure longer endurance out in the field.

Step 2: Designing the Frame

So you’ve made it past the brain storming stage. Now what?
Well depending on what your tank is going for, you’ll need to start differently. A Light tank might need to be designed around it’s engine and auto loader, whereas a Heavy Tank, and Tank Destroyer are designed around the gun. A Main Battle Tank is designed around whatever is most important to it’s mission.
Of course this is a rough rule of thumb and it’s hard for me to describe so it’s probably best to just show you:
Stormworks: Build and Rescue - Tank Design Tutorial - Step 2: Designing the Frame - 69FCB9D
My Magnum Opus is my Modern Era M6A9 Main Assault Tank. A crossover between a Main Battle Tank and the design philosophy of a Heavy tank with a Western style of tank design. (If you couldn’t already tell by the designation)
This means my tank will likely need to attack and hold position and thus possess a large amount of armor and firepower. It’ll hit hard but also reload fast. Thus I’ll equip my tank with the Artillery Cannon and an auto loader.
Since already this machine is going to cost a lot, I’ll likely have very few available to me, and thus each individual tank will need to cover a wide range of ground and types of ground.
Stormworks: Build and Rescue - Tank Design Tutorial - Step 2: Designing the Frame - 9CB5EF0
In response I give it a large turret bustle to hold lots of ammo (the extension behind the turret) and a bulky hull to fit lots of fuel.
Stormworks: Build and Rescue - Tank Design Tutorial - Step 2: Designing the Frame - 1FA4B63
I want my tank to respond to threats fast, so I’ll give it an automatic transmission and a turbine engine. I’ll additionally add a Laser Range Finder and Ballistic Calculator as the tank that shoots first generally wins.
Stormworks: Build and Rescue - Tank Design Tutorial - Step 2: Designing the Frame - 06AB0F7
I’ll also give it four tracks as then it’ll have better crossing capability than two tracks. (This doesn’t really matter too much in Stormworks but it looks cool so I don’t give a fxck)
Stormworks: Build and Rescue - Tank Design Tutorial - Step 2: Designing the Frame - D9DF8D8
Of course in addition to all of this, a large amount of welders and fire extinguishers are required so if I get hit, I can repair without having to slog it back to base.
As the four tracks mean the hull will be almost certainly large enough to hold any turret designed for an artillery cannon, I’ll start with the hull.
Layout how you want the tank to be arranged and where the crew will sit. Find out where you’d like the turret ring (or gun) to be. Put in the engine and establish where the fuel tanks will be. Then layer on armor until your satisfied. Not enough power? hollow out some of the armor or move armored bulkheads until you can fit your desired engine. Not enough range? Do the same with the fuel tanks as you did with the engine.
Stormworks: Build and Rescue - Tank Design Tutorial - Step 2: Designing the Frame - ACA187E
Now for the turret. How small can you make the turret without compromising capability? Given I added a large amount of requirements for large cannons and ammo storage, I’ll need a large turret. Place the gun and the elevation mechanisms, adding the auto-loader next, covering the whole thing in sufficent armor, then making holes to place the Range Finders, Ballistic Calculators, etc.
Stormworks: Build and Rescue - Tank Design Tutorial - Step 2: Designing the Frame - D7C9603
From there, it’s onto the next part. Please keep in mind your process will be different depending on what your going for. Sometimes you’ll design the turret first, then design the hull around the turret. Other times its the gun system, then hull, then turret. It’s all up to you. This is no way a fool proof way of designing a tank.

Step 3: Getting Everything Working Together

Now that you’ve got all those systems in, it’s time to connect them!
Stormworks: Build and Rescue - Tank Design Tutorial - Step 3: Getting Everything Working Together - E55B41B
Oh… Huh…
It seems like something doesn’t want to cooperate together…
What order should I troubleshoot in?
Well, you should generally trouble shoot in this order:
1: Whatever is causing the tank to explode on spawn.
2: Whatever is causing the tank to not move.
3: Whatever is causing the tank to not move the gun.
4: Whatever is causing the tank to not shoot.
5: Whatever is causing the tank to not reload.
6: Whatever is causing the tank to not use a subsystem. (ie Ballistic Calculators/Range Finders/etc)
7: Whatever is causing the tank to be unable to resupply from an external source. (If this is even a requirement for you anyway…)
8: External detail that looks weird.
Unfortunately I do not have a good method to troubleshoot that I can share. A lot of it feels like banging rocks together and making small (or large) changes until the thing I’m working on cooperates. Sometimes that involves ripping out an entire system and replacing it with something else. In my case, I went through 15 different engine and transmission designs as the tank would either catch fire (lack of decent cooling) or accelerate way to slow and be unable to turn. If your really stuck on a problem, it might be worth it to remove it entirely if it’s not something critical to the function of the tank than to keep wasting your time trying to get it to work. (Goodbye Active Protection System and Remote Machine-Gun Turret…)

Step 4: Profit!

Tank design is something that takes a long LONG time. Especially for newcomers. But hopefully with my half arsed guide you’ve gotten a place to get your foot on.
This was never meant to be a step-by-step guide on how to build a tank, but how to get yourself started on one. What to look for in your design, how to plan it out, and how to (hopefully) fix it when it breaks.
My Stormworks M6A9 design has been in progress almost as long as I’ve had Stormworks, even before the weapons DLC. I have paper drawings of the M6A9 dating back to 2011, and I have a background in some mechanical engineering.
Stormworks: Build and Rescue - Tank Design Tutorial - Step 4: Profit! - 66E9FF6
(Back row is oldest, Right to Left is oldest to newest)
Yet only now in 2022 do I feel that it’s almost ready to be put on the workshop for all to see. Even then there are still some bugs I need to workout. Some that might require tearing the whole thing down and starting anew. If your really passionate about tanks, the work never ends. There will always be something to improve. Always something to fix.
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And hey, if things truly don’t work out in the end, you can always use it as a range target!
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Thanks for reading my bullshxt. This is my first guide so if you have any advice pertaining to how I can write this better feel free to let me know. Or you know, be petty and call me out on the smallest details without offering helpful feedback.
If you have any questions about things like “What category does my tank belong in?” with a detailed list of what they want the tank to do, I can help with that. I am also somewhat able to help with what subsystems might best be used in the build. My recommendations for workshop micro-controllers for these subsystems have changed so much over the last year that I’d rather stay away from
What I cannot help with is stuff like “my gun isn’t elevating” or “my engine won’t start”. I would greatly appreciate it if you brought those questions up with the Stormworks Discord where people far more experienced than I can help you.

Written by Reesecraft28

I hope you enjoy the Guide we share about Stormworks: Build and Rescue – Tank Design Tutorial; if you think we forget to add or we should add more information, please let us know via commenting below! See you soon!

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