A user of the War Thunder forums had posted classified documents on the Challenger 2, hoping to make the tank more accurate in-game.
Players had gone to great lengths to prove the specifications of their favorite tanks needed to be more accurate in the past, including interviewing engineers who worked on them. One player recently took this too far.
User Pyrophoric took to the War Thunder forums to discuss the Challenger 2, and how the trunnions was not right. The rotor used in the game’s model was only barely thick enough to reach the rotor, “nevermind cover them.” The rotor would therefore have to support a lot of weight, while the TISH floats.
So to prove how it should look, the user posted an image of the Challenger 2 to prove what it should look like. The only downside is that it was from the classified Army Equipment Support Publication (AESP) for the Challenger 2 (thanks Eurogamer).
This is essentially a user manual for a tank still in use by the British and Oman army. Elements of design specifications would therefore need to remain classified; to prevent use for designing weapons, equipment, and tactics to counter the tank. The images posted by the user were later removed.
While other users proposed the document had been unclassified Community Manager Smin1080p reminded users that document declassification needed to be proven before any discussion or bug reports could be made. “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.”
“We make it very clear that we will not handle any source material unless it is publically [sic] available and fully declassified with the rights to prove that.” Based on Smin’s comments, it would later come to pass this was at least the second time a classified document had been submitted to the forums.
Senior Technical Moderator Templar_ confirmed that via a message from DE&S (Defence Equipment and Support), MoD Abbey Wood.
“I can confirm that it does appear to be a genuine extract… It certainly has not been released under FOI previously by DE&S or considered for redacting. We also do not recognise the ‘Unclassified’ stamp as something that has been used in DE&S.”
Pyrophoric had not only shared a classified document, but at best believed it to be unclassified thanks to an “unclassified” stamp that had been falsely; added either edited onto the digital image, or applied to a physical version or copy of the AESP. Novelty stamps can be bought online, along with images of the stamp’s imprint widely found on the internet.
Worse still, Templar_’s later post would indicate that Pyrophoric was a service person who would have signed documents vowing them to secrecy. The moderator was quick to note that disseminating classified documents could see the user face a 14 year prison sentence, as well as place Gaijin Entertainment and UK citizens reading the thread in “hot water,” as retention of protected documents are an offence.
“Well, I hope that, despite the sources having been removed and rejected for legal purposes, the mantlet will still be fixed” user SPANISH_AVENGER posted. Smin1080p replied, with his post added to the top of ever page on the now locked 319 page thread.
“There is no valid source material that can be used. Therefore no change will take place. We have made it very clear our stance on source material.”
War Thunder is available on Windows PC, Linux, Mac (all via Steam), PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S.