War Thunder

New Aircraft Gun Sounds: A Critically Informed Critique

warthunder 6 - New Aircraft Gun Sounds: A Critically Informed Critique

Firstly as a sound modder I appreciate Gaijin's departure from a loop track to a single-shot sound rendering system. It allows for precise rendering of a single gunshot when the fire button is tapped, compared to before where a tap elicited a short burst of several shots. I look forward to working with this new system whilst sound modding.

Now for the gritty stuff: Firstly, it makes sense that realistic gunfire does not have the near-orchestral range that video games often portray. After all, gunfire from the pistol to a howitzer is acoustically a muzzle flow action from a shock tube. However the new airplane gun sounds are currently a victim of a combination of poor base shot design and the new single-shot rendering system. A loop soundtrack (as per the older system) allows for freer design control on the overall sound. But a single-shot rendering system means your hands are taken off the wheel once you set the gunshot to play at the gun's fire rate. A bit of a double-edged sword.

If a single-shot rendering system is to be used, it places a high importance on getting the base shot design correct. An example of this is the new M61 Vulcan sound. A well-designed base gunshot is needed for a satisfying "BRRRT" when that singular gunshot is rendered at 6000 rounds per minute.

If we are indeed going to homogenise gunfire so all aircraft guns are loosely connected by a common acoustic action, the "reference" gunshot and its components/layers have to sound satisfying/convincing on these points:

  • translatable between a single-shot and automatic gunfire basis

  • it must be scalable from a rifle-calibre to a large cannon

  • accommodate the subtle tonal differences in muzzle blast between different gun design specifications


Currently the gun sounds between rifle-calibre and 30mm feel too mechanical-based; especially 7mm and 12.7mm calibres. This criticism is based on the context that only the muzzle is exposed from the aircraft in the 3rd person view many of us experience our aircraft's gunfire from. This works poorly when single gunshots are rendered at a gun's fire rate. When played at high rates the mechanical action of the gun makes the overall sound very busy. This takes the sound in a direction contrary to what we would experience in real life (e.g. the new M61 Vulcan). Gunfire at altitude is extremely dry and staccato/popping, like shooting in a padded anechoic chamber. You can almost hear the silence between each shot unless it is a gun with extremely high fire rate (e.g. BRRRT!).

To end on a more positive note, as the calibre increases larger than 37mm, the sound is more acceptable. The focus shifts away from the mechanical action and toward the muzzle report. In an aerial context, the large calibre gunshots are quite accurately portrayed, free of hard echoes and a quite short reverberation decay time. It makes sense to exclude the hard echoes from an aerial context. By the time someone fires their cannon at even 200m above the ground, it will take more than a second for a hard echo to return, let alone be still arguably audible over the engine and other immediate surrounding sounds.

The intentions of these new sounds are good and reasonable, but the manner of the design went in the wrong direction when approaching what constituted a robustly designed singular gunshot.

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