This post is created in partnership with Gaijin Entertainment.
War is gritty, unglamorous and often a shade of olive or grey - that’s why some bright spark invented War Thunder skins: to ensure you don’t have to roll or fly into combat looking washed out and dreary. War Thunder skins work much differently to the game’s array of tank and plane camouflage patterns as they’ll only modify your vehicle’s appearance for you; other players won’t spot your diamanté-encrusted T-34 on the horizon, they’ll just see the usual blob of green.
Not sure where to start with the game’s latest batch of tanks? Check out our guide to War Thunder’s Japanese tech tree.
War Thunder skins essentially let you personalise your online armoury without ever having to pay for camouflage or rack up the huge number of kills needed to earn most of them. So in order to show you the true breadth of what’s out there, we’ve scoured the internet for the best War Thunder skins around, from historical paint schemes to pop culture nods.
How to use War Thunder skins
If you’d like to get in on the following, but don’t know how, then not to worry because downloading and applying user skins in War Thunder is a pain-free endeavour. All you have to do is go to one of the many websites that creators upload their skins to, such as Nexus Mods or War Thunder Live, find the skin that you want and download it.
You’ll then need to locate the War Thunder skin you downloaded and drop it into the UserSkins folder of the War Thunder main folder. If you’re using Steam then the directory will look something like this: C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\SteamApps\common\War Thunder\UserSkins. Make sure that you extract the download if it’s a zipped or compressed file format.
Finally, when you’re in War Thunder, head into the Research section and locate the plane or tank you downloaded a skin for and head to its customization panel. In there you just need to select the Magic Wand button from the Skins box and your downloaded skin will appear as an option.
War Thunder skins for Aviation
B-25J-20 Night Bomber
Spruce up the popular B-25J-20 Mitchell bomber with a lick of black and silver paint. The creator of this War Thunder skin has opted for aesthetics over supposed practicality or historical accuracy, painting the bottom of the aircraft in chrome - ideal for reflecting spotlights, not so much for staying hidden.
Bf 109 E-3 Swiss Air Force J-311
This War Thunder skin takes the Messerschmitt Bf 109 and repaints it as one of the Swiss-owned, neutral Messerschmitts bought from the Axis forces during the 1930s. It might be covered in neutrality stripes, but as War Thunder skins only show up for the player using them, you’re just as likely to be gunned down with this skin equipped as you would without it.
P-51 Miss America
The Miss America model of the beloved P-51 Mustang is one of the most recognisable tuned planes in the world, and this carefully crafted War Thunder skin does the stunt racer justice with an identical paint scheme, decal and calligraphy name.
Typhoon Mk 1b Late - Desert Tiger
Finally, a suitable War Thunder skin for one of the game’s most devastating fighters. Equipped with ‘shark’s mouth’ nose art, a realistic desert camo scheme and a bunch of nods to the plane’s RAF heritage - this semi-historical War Thunder skin is subtle but convincing.
Russian P-63 Premium Warhammer 40K Ork Skin
If realistic War Thunder skins aren’t your cup of the proverbial hot beverage, then the community certainly has your back. Unfortunately, there are no Warhammer 40K tech trees in the game, so this Ork-themed skin for the Russian P-63A-5 Kingcobra will have to suffice. It’s stenciled serial number and rusty, blood-red coat of paint underpin the aesthetic, but what seals the deal is the nose art - an Ork cartoon surrounded by the following onomatopoeic words: “dakka dakka dakka dakka dakka dakka dakka dakka”.
Princess Luna Themed He-162a-2
If there’s one thing that’s always been lacking in War Thunder, it's little ponies. Specifically, it’s references and acknowledgements to My Little Pony that are sorely missing from the F2P war simulator. This War Thunder skin for the Heinkel He 162 jet fighter gives the record-breaking World War II fighter a mauve lick of paint, complete with night-sky detailing and a picture of Princess Luna to watch over you.
he51c1 Red Baron
Manfred von Richthofen’s Albatros biplane isn’t in the game, so this War Thunder skin is based on the German Heinkel He 51 instead. The paint colours and detailing are faithful, and at least you’ll look like a showboat to yourself.
War Thunder skins for Ground Forces
Herbie T 80
When scholars argue about the best and most important films of a certain year, 1968 causes particular problems. There was 2001: A Space odyssey, Rosemary’s Baby, Bullitt, Planet of the Apes and of course, The Love Bug. Styled after Herbie, the sentient VW beetle run amok, this T-80 skin is both detailed and endlessly entertaining, particularly when you find yourself racing through a hail of shellfire.
KV-1 L-11 (Red and Black)
The KV-1 L-11 is a veritable beast for the tier it occupies, but it’s not much of a looker. This urban clash of red, white and black wouldn’t go amiss in a video for a 90’s dance anthem, but it does make this Russian tank look as formidable as it is on the battlefield.
M4A3 (105) Sherman Autumn Camo
The autumnal War Thunder skin for the M4A3 (105) HVSS Sherman is relatively simple, but it looks gorgeous, especially on maps like Hürtgen Forest and Eastern Europe.
Abstract Illusion Skin for German Pz.Kpfw. III Ausf. E
Taking its influence from the experimental naval camouflage patterns employed throughout the Second World War, this abstract striped skin for the Pz.Kpfw. III Ausf. E would probably make you stick out like a sore thumb on the battlefield - good thing other players can’t see it.
Raw Steel or Chrome Tanks works with all tanks
Everything's better when it's been given a chrome treatment, especially tanks. This metallic War Thunder skin pack lets you turn any tank in the game into a gaudy, shiny mass of reflective metal. It really isn’t pretty, but it does look expensive.
Scooby Doo T-34
If Scooby and the gang ever needed a tank, the T-34 wouldn’t be a bad choice. This War Thunder skin for T-34 does exactly what it says on the tin: make one of the finest war machines ever created look like the Mystery Machine from the cartoon series Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! Sod pulling the mask off the bad guy, just blow them apart and be done with it.
Seen a great War Thunder skin that we’ve missed out? Drop us a line in the comments below.