What is the exact, or a typical process, to aim the main gun on a modern battle tank? What are the individual steps and who does the work (a gunner? loader? computer? commander?)? How does the actual aiming (deciding on elevation etc.) happen, is this done by computer? If so, what is the role of the tank gunner? What influence does the tank crew have on hitting, or not?

Assume the target is visible.

An answer could look like a step by step - what is done, by whom, what could go wrong, repeat for each step.

The background of my question is this: Many pen&paper rpgs model operation of such weapons the same way as for smallarms: There's the skill of the gunner, the gun may provide some modifiers. But basically there's a check against the gunners skill. My gut feelign is that this is simply the wrong way to think about such weapons.


closed as off-topic by elemtilas, kingledion, Gryphon, Clay Deitas, RonJohn Sep 18 '18 at 18:36

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "This question does not appear to be about worldbuilding, within the scope defined in the help center." – elemtilas, kingledion, Gryphon, Clay Deitas, RonJohn
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • $\begingroup$ I don't know the details, but a modern tank gun is a marvel of engineering. And it is computer controlled; look for Fire Control System or Fire Control Computer (FCC). It has to be. (And, AFAIK tanks don't do indirect fire.) For a somewhat better description of the fire control system see the Wikipedia article for the Ariete Italian main battle tank. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Sep 18 '18 at 17:14
  • $\begingroup$ Worldbuilding is not the right place to ask this question. This site is about building worlds and elements within worlds for the purpose of writing. If you want to ask how a modern tank would be relevant in the future or how a tank would fare against medevil sorcerers, go ahead. Real world questions, however, are outside of this site's scope. If you are looking for somewhere to ask this, go to the area 51 page, I have heard there is a proposal for a weapons.se. $\endgroup$ – John Locke Sep 21 '18 at 11:34

Are you sure this is a worldbuilding question?

  • Usually the commander detects the target, either by sticking the head out, or using simple optical periscopes, or with a thermal or light-amplification sight. On modern tanks, the commander often has an "independent viewer."
  • The commander passes the target to the gunner.
  • The gunner confirms the target with his more narrow sensors.
  • The loader loads a round, if there is no autoloader.
  • The gunner uses a laser rangefinder and the targeting computer to calculate an aimpoint and fires.
  • The commander confirms that the target is destroyed.

Read the US Army FM 17-15.


The only thing I would add to o.m's answer is usually the commander will select the round and verbally pass the order to the gunner and loader (in a British tank, you might hear the order "HESH, Tank-ON!", alerting the gunner to select HESH (High Explosive Squash Head) on the fire control computer, or use the HESH range reticle on the optical sight.

At the same time, the loader pulls a HESH round out of the ammunition stowage and begin the loading process. The loader finishes loading and calls "Loaded". The Gunner replies "Ready" to alert the crew to stand clear of the gun, then "Firing-Now!" as he uses the trigger mechanism to fire the weapon.

The last stage is the commander observes the shot and if required provides corrections (i.e. "Left and Add!" for a shot which fell slightly short and to the right). American crews use slightly different terminology (i.e "On the Way!" as opposed to "Firing-Now!", but the process is similar.


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