World Of Warships: Main Battery Shells and When to Use Them


John Paul Santiago

Writer and Storywriter

John creates game guides and covers the latest updates and developments in Valorant, Diablo Immortal, and GTA V for PlayerAssist. He is a PC gaming enthusiast with an affinity for FPS and RPG titles, but he has recently also developed a newfound appreciation for MMORPGs.


World of Warships is a free-to-play online multiplayer online game where the legendary Naval Warfare heroes of the old war battle once more in an arena-style strategy game.

World Of Warships: Main Battery Shells and When to Use Them

In World of Warships, players can acquire and control their favorite warships. World of Warships features a huge roster of World War II ships where almost every warship from every country can be unlocked and brought into battle.

Most warships feature medium to long-range guns that only grow bigger as players move up through the tiers. These guns can be loaded with a small selection of special ammo or Shells that inflict specific types of damage to enemy warships.

If you have always wondered which shell types are the most effective against specific situations and targets, then you have come to the right place. Here are a few essential guidelines to keep in mind when choosing between the in-game Shell types.

Warship Guns and Shell Types

Guns and weapons in World of Warships depend on the type of warship and sometimes the specific Tier that the warship is in. However, in general, weapons in the game can be divided into three parts: Main Battery, Secondary Battery, and Anti-Air Guns (most commonly referred to in-game as AA).

Main Battery

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A ship’s Main Battery usually houses the biggest guns on any ship in-game. Depending on the type of ship, three different types of ammo or Shells can be loaded into a ship’s Main Battery: High Explosives (HE), Armor Piercing (AP), and Semi-armor-piercing Shells (SAP)

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  • High Explosives Shells As the name suggests, these Shells explode on impact and are capable of setting a ship on “Fire” When a warship is on “Fire,” the warship loses Hit Points gradually until the ship’s workers can extinguish the fires completely. HE Shells will never overpenetrate (shoot through a ship)
    • HE Shells will never ricochet off of ship armor
    • HE Shells can start a “Fire”
    • HE Shells are “Orange/Yellow” when fired
    • HE Shells explode upon contact with just about anything. Can cause damage to modules from the resulting blast.
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  • Armor Piercing Shells – This Shell type has a higher chance of penetrating heavily-armored ships and piercing through a ship’s most critical area (Citadel).
    • AP Shells can overpenetrate a ship and cause less damage as a result
    • AP Shells can ricochet off of ship armor depending on the angle, causing zero damage
    • AP Shells can damage enemy ship modules on direct hit
    • AP Shells will never start a fire unlike the HE Shells
    • AP Shells glow white when fired
  • Semi-armor-piercing Shells – Basically a combination of the High Explosives Shells and the Armor Piercing Shells but with some caveats. Closer to the Armor Piercing Shells in overall capability.

Secondary Battery

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A warship’s Secondary Battery is an AI-controlled weapon that fires automatically when an enemy ship is in range. A warship’s Secondary Battery is usually very effective against smaller warship types relative to the warship currently in use. (Battleship Secondary Battery is usually enough to cause significant damage to Cruisers or Destroyers)


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Like the Secondary Battery, players do not have to worry about manually aiming the Anti-Air weapons on any ship. These guns are mainly used to counter aircraft from enemy warships.

Although players cannot actively aim the Anti-air guns, they can set which sector to prioritize instead.

What Shells to Use and When to Use Them

Disclaimer: Penetration and Gun Caliber are important factors to consider when deciding what type of Shells to use against specific ships (Especially for Armor Piercing Shell Types). However, because of the complexity of the Armor Piercing Shell-Armor Thickness relationship and the various Gun Calibers in-game, Penetration will inevitably be another topic for another day. Stay tuned.

To make everything more approachable and straightforward to beginners to World of Warships, here are a few tips guidelines to follow to maximize your damage output in the game:

When to Use High-Explosives Shells

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Use High-Explosives Shells (HE) whenever enemy ships are facing towards or away from you. HE Shells can never over-penetrate a ship’s armor, which means you can deal consistent damage with every salvo (due to blast damage).

As a bonus, you might even set the target ship on fire, which can increase the overall potential damage you deal towards them.

When to Use Armor Piercing Shells

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Use Armor Piercing Shells whenever the enemy ship is fully-broadside (the ship is completely horizontal with the waterline).

Armor-piercing shells need to land at a 90-degree angle to be most effective. This is only achievable when the shells are on their way down after losing horizontal inertia from being fired from a ship’s Main Battery.

However, on their way down to their designated target, the AP Shells’ shape and the force of gravity acting upon it will give it enough penetrating power to penetrate and heavily damage enemy warships.

When to Use Semi-Armor-Piercing Shells

SAP or Semi-Armor-Piercing Shells are more akin to the AP Shell than the HE Shells. Since the Semi-Armor-Piercing Shells cannot cause fire to any ship, it behaves more like an AP Shell. As such, SAP Shells should be used similarly to how one would normally use an AP Shell.

Extemely Nuanced, Yet Addictingly Fun

Shell Type, Target Distance, Gun Caliber, Angle of Incidence, and Armor Thickness are just some of the important in-game elements when determining Shells’ overall effectiveness. These in-game elements make gameplay in World of Warships nuanced and complex and require a separate piece to explain how they affect gameplay fully.

As a beginner, these things might all feel overwhelming and confusing. After all, all we want to do in-game is score some clean hits and sink opposing warships. Right?

If you are a beginner, you probably should not worry too much about these things. More important is developing a more consistent and reliable aim and determining the ideal Shell Type to use in certain situations. These two things are the most important aspects to focus on when playing World of Warships.

After all, what is the use of knowing the specific Shell Type to use at a specific angle when you can not even hit your targets reliably?

Good luck and Fair Seas!

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