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War Thunder player shares classified military documents because a tank design is "not quite right"

A tank sits ominously in the foreground, as an enemy tank smolder in the background
(Image credit: Gaijin Entertainment)

A War Thunder player has shared classified UK defense documents in an effort to get the development team to redesign a tank within the game.

War Thunder player Pyrophoric – who'd taken to the game's official forum in a bid to get developer Gaijin to improve the accuracy of the design of the vehicle – posted excerpts from a Challenge 2 Army Equipment Support Publication – "sort of like a user manual", according to UK Defence Journal (thanks, Eurogamer) – stating it proved the developer's version of the tank was "not quite right".

Although the accompanying images reportedly had "unclassified" stamped upon them, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence – the UK government's department responsible for implementing the UK's defense policy – allegedly told the site's moderating team that despite what the images said, the document was still classified and not for public circulation.

"We have written confirmation from MoD that this document remains classified," explained a moderator on the official War Thunder forum. "By continuing to disseminate it you are in violation of the Official Secrets Act as stated by the warning on the cover of the document, an offense which can carry up to a 14-year prison sentence if prosecuted. 

"Of this you are already aware, as a service person, you have signed a declaration that you understand the act and what actions it compels you to take. Every time you post this you place us (International representatives of Gaijin), especially any UK citizens, in hot water as the warning so helpfully states that unauthorized retention of a protected document is an offense."

In order to shut down the discussion and avoid more uncomfortable conversations with government officials, moderators have now closed and locked the 319-page-long thread, and the classified images have been removed.

This is just as well, as – astonishingly – it's not the first time something like this has happened. According to a recent post by community manager Smin1080p, the "last time such a document was shared that was claimed to be 'unclassified' it was in fact still classified and was confirmed that it should never have been shared". Yikes.

"War Thunder is a little more casual than the truly hardcore military sims out there, but if you're looking for some dogfights or tank skirmishes with some genuine depth, there's a huge degree of mastery on offer," we said in our summary of the 25 best free PC games to play today.

"Fans of ground, air, and naval combat are all catered to, with a wide roster of vehicles stretching back decades from some of the world's biggest military powers, and detailed customization means you can pick a style to suit you and really dominate your opponents. Paid DLC does offer a way to unlock new vehicles faster, but they can also be earned with in-game currency."

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Vikki Blake
Part of GR+'s news crew, Vikki is a (jumpy) survival horror survivalist with a penchant for sci-fi, shooters, thrillers, and a strong cup of Yorkshire tea. A committed Guardian and Spartan, she's terrible at FPSs, but loves 'em all the same.