Of the main classes available in all game modes, the Light Tanks represent the perfect blend of firepower and mobility. While the Armored Fighting Vehicles are dedicated scouts with little protection that must rely on stealth or speed, the Light Tanks can take and – more importantly – dish out quite a bit of punishment, making them the class with the highest overall damage per minute value in the game.
The story of Light Tanks starts before the Second World War, but it was during the war that the role of the Light Tank as a fast and light scouting vehicle blossomed. However, due to the inherently heavy losses suffered by such light vehicles on the battlefield, post-war development was sporadic. The United States however, spurred on by the success of the French AMX-13, reshaped their light tank development into being air-portable fire support platforms, such as the M551 Sheridan, which was the main light tank of the US armed forces until the 1990’s. Soviet development also focused on mobility, but opted for swimming capabilities for their light tanks, such as the PT-76.
Due to the decline and end of the Cold War, a shift in doctrine became apparent, with a resurgence in the importance of light tanks due to affordability and mobility across poor terrain becoming much more important. Some early examples of this shift such as the Stingray and the VFM Mk. 5 showcased the use for mobile, heavily armed fire support platforms. In the 21st century, Light Tanks have recently begun to re-appear in the offers of the production companies, due to the affordability, mobility, and increased levels of technological protection (such as ERA and Active Protection Systems).
The Light Tanks are the ultimate flankers of Armored Warfare, able to maneuver around and targets and aim at their weak rears. Few vehicles in the game can keep up with Light Tanks off-road, and due to their excellent accuracy while on the move, this makes them incredibly dangerous hit and run machines. Furthermore, many Light Tanks focus on burst damage, minimizing their time within the cross-hairs of enemy guns with automatic loaders or ready rack systems. Light Tanks are also decent scouts: while not as stealthy as dedicated AFVs, they are excellent at rapidly scanning an area and then ducking back into cover to avoid enemy fire. When it comes to protection, however, the Light Tanks are quite fragile, despite various ERA and applique armor upgrades available.
These characteristics define the way the Light Tanks should be played – aggressively. Stationary LTs are a sitting target, so they rely on their mobility to stay alive. This means that to be Light Tank players have to actively flank the enemy. This, however, requires careful and accurate reading of the battlefield; these fragile vehicles do not forgive mistakes: running headlong into an enemy pack or an ambush will result in immediate destruction. To successfully operate a Light Tank, its commander must predict where the enemy forces are located, which requires knowledge and experience, making Light Tanks suitable for veteran players.