Reviewing this as someone who has extensively played the Japanese heavy line since their release in 2015, and 3 marked every single Japanese heavy tank. Over 1700 games of experience with the Type 5 Heavy.
Review is based on patch 1.17.1.
- 2nd best HP pool in the game (2900)
- 14 cm gun has 600 alpha, effective overmatching capacities and deceptively good gun handling for its damage
- 10 degrees of gun depression
- Its weird, unique armor layout grants it a near immunity against certain targets, namely tier 8s and most tanks firing standard ammo
- Huge size and mass grants the Type 5 some unique strengths, like ability to shield any ally, shoot over tall cover, easily hit weak roof armor of most tanks, and great resistance to ramming/pushing
- Largest tier 10 in the game (noticeably longer and taller than even the Maus). Very easy to hit from anywhere and can be a pain to hide. There are spots where the Type 5 can get shot, where any other tank would be safe.
- Terrible overall mobility. The top speed can be somewhat fixed with Turbocharger and Field Modifications, but you'll never go much past 30 km/h, which is still very slow.
- The armor is extremely flat and tricky to use because of pre-angled hull cheeks and surprisingly bad turret armor (its only 280, completely flat, and that meaty gun mantlet is fake, as its also only 280). Because of this, the armor GREATLY loses its value against premium ammo.
- Abysmal DPM. Both E 100 and 60TP, despite having 150 more alpha, have noticeably higher DPM, making these tanks notoriously hard to fight against.
- The 14 cm gun also has some of the worst premium shells out of tier 10 heavies. AP with 290 mm pen just isn't enough against many tanks the Type 5 has to commonly deal with.
- Poor accuracy, shell velocity, and disproportionately high penetration drop-off at long distances - the penetration drops as much as 227 mm at 500 meters. This makes the 14 cm gun laughably bad outside of close range engagements.
- The 15.2 cm derp gun is f*cking worthless. It's so awful that it's not worth it even as a bad meme. Seriously, if you REALLY want to use that gun, just stick with the Type 4 Heavy - at tier 9, that gun is at least half usable. DON'T USE THE DERP GUN.
- Gigantic ammo rack that is quite literally bigger than some tanks. It will be broken very frequently. In addition, the Type 5 also has frontal transmission, making it possible to damage the engine through lower glacis plate.
Equipment: Improved Hardening / Turbocharger / Gun Rammer as main loadout. Improved Hardening / Modified Configuration or Vertical Stabilizer / Gun Rammer as a secondary loadout for small, closed maps like Ensk and Ruinberg.
Dropping Hardening or Turbo for Vertical Stabilizer is always an option, though with Type 5's gun handling and slow speed, its one of the few tanks that gets pretty easily away by not running Vertical Stabilizer. Modified Configuration is also an option over either the Turbo or Hardening as a main loadout, though generally those two tend to be better.
The review itself:
Let's get straight to the point. The Japanese heavy line is, unfortunately, possibly the worst line in the game. Fittingly, as the top tier of such line, the Type 5 Heavy is a strong contender for the worst tier 10 heavy tank in the game. The Type 5 is a far cry what it used to be back in 2017-2019 with it's pre-nerf derp gun. Previously a very feared (and controversial) monster firing absurd HE shells that was very frequently seen in randoms and even had a solid niche in competitive, the Type 5 Heavy is now one of the least played tier 10s in the game, often treated as nothing but a joke and a HP pinata. It's a bad version of the E 100 in almost every way - unless you're a Japanese tank specialist, a masochist, or me (who's both), don't play the Type 5 over the E 100. The E 100 does its job much better most of the time.
That being said, contrary to popular belief, the Type 5 isn't COMPLETELY worthless. Don't get me wrong - it's a really sh*t vehicle and a strong contender for the worst tier 10 heavy in the game for a good reason, but that doesn't mean the tank has absolutely zero redeeming features. For starters, having 2900 HP is an extremely good trait to have. It gets even better with Improved Hardening and Field Modifications, which effectively gives the Type 5 3350 HP, or if you're an absolutely crazy madman like me who runs Bond Hardening, the Type 5 can have whopping 3430 HP! A tank with this much health alone is almost never going to be completely useless. Even if your armor doesn't work (and trust me, it often doesn't, but we'll get there later), the Type 5 can be pretty resilient with its health pool alone.
Other than the HP pool, the Type 5 does have some other really valuable features. The 14 cm gun has 600 alpha, which is obviously very nice and when combined with the HP pool, one of the best traits of the Type 5 is its ability to trade blows. The 14 cm does come with one more redeeming, fairly unique feature, and that is its gun handling. With 2.5 second aim time and 0.16/0.16/0.12 dispersion values (made even better by the fact that the Type 5 is really slow), the gun doesn't bloom very much and lets you snapshot very effectively. The Type 5 without Vertical Stabilizer actually has better dispersion values than the E 100 using a 150 mm gun WITH Vertical Stabilizer, and the E 100 doesn't exactly have a bad gun handling for something with so much alpha damage. Another advantage the Type 5 has over the E 100 is its 10 degrees of gun depression. While the Type 5 is complete ass at hulldown play because of its huge size and ironically enough, one of the worst turret armors at tier 10, having 10 degrees of gun depression is very useful. Type 5's massive size and height lets it shield any other tank behind it, shoot over hills and obstacles that no other tanks are able to, and lets it easily hit weak, overmatchable engine decks of opposing tanks at close range.
Lastly, Type 5's armor is infamous for being extremely flawed and polarizing, but it has some very valuable traits. The lack of real lower plate weakspot, alongside the great raw thickness, means that the Type 5 is basically invincible against anything with less than 270 mm penetration. This makes the Type 5's armor notoriously great against tier 8s and most tier 9s and 10s firing standard ammo. In a situation where you find a poor soul who just got his first tier 10 and only fires standard ammo, the Type 5 genuinely feels like a very, very powerful machine.
Unfortunately, the Type 5 Heavy is terrible for a very good reason. Its huge and massive - its the biggest tier 10 and one of the biggest tanks in the entire game. It gets spotted from other galaxies, arties can hit it extremely consistently, ANYTHING can hit it consistently, and its very hard to hide. It also has terrible mobility; it's the 3rd slowest tier 10 in the game, with only the T110E3 and Maus being slower. Its strong armor layout suddenly becomes a joke once it's being shot at by premium ammo. Considering you don't face tier 8s that often, tier 10 premium ammo is unfortunately the most common ammunition that flies at you. And your armor really does NOT work against 340 mm HEAT. The Type 5 also suffers from awful module damage, with its ammorack being absolutely humongous, being basically everywhere.
While the 14 cm gun has some valuable traits, it's generally considered to be a bad gun. It has one of the worst DPM values at tier 10. This alone is already a significant disadvantage, but it doesn't end there. It also has very bad premium ammo, with only 290 mm penetration. The premium ammo is pretty unique in that it's AP, so its normalization can somewhat mitigate the low penetration; however, the raw penetration value is so low that its really not enough. Even the flat turret face of the E 100 is 50/50 AT BEST, and this is at face-hug distance. Its kinda depressing. Not just that, the 14 cm has absolutely godawful penetration dropoff over long distances. Its quite literally tier 10 light tank levels of bad. Your standard penetration drops to 227 mm at 500 meters, while your premium ammo drops to laughable ~250 mm. So your already mediocre 257/290 mm penetration often isn't even true - if you're firing at anything thats more than 50 meters away from you, its considerably LESS than that. And finally, while 0.38 accuracy isn't the worst accuracy around, it's still sub par. And shell velocity is poor. If the 14 cm gun is bad, how about the 15.2 cm derp gun? NO. Just don't. Worst accuracy of all non-arty tier 10s, mega bad DPM, your only non-HE shell is a poor AP shell with only 252 mm penetration (this is the highest penetration you get), the standard HE is a joke, the HESH has the worst ammo cost/damage ratio in the game by a huge margin (seriously, +6k credits for 900 alpha HESH? Really WG?). 680 alpha is good, but it actually feels very wimpy when you sacrifice so much, and you have the SAME reload as the E 100 with 70 less alpha. The HESH is memey, but its just not even close good enough to justify using the derp gun as a (bad) meme. If you want to use this gun, stick with the Type 4 Heavy, or play the O-I or KV-2 at tier 6. The Type 5 is already very limited as it is - using the derp gun makes you an actual detriment to your team 9/10 of the time. Please don't. This is easily the worst non-stock gun out of all tier 10 heavies.
The best way to describe the Type 5 Heavy is like this: Imagine yourself being a huge, obese guy in a "bad guy fighting club". You're generally too fat and dumb to have a chance against the other big bad guys (tier 10s that fire premium ammo at you), so what you do instead, is to go bully someone who's either smaller than you (tier 8s) or poor (people who fires pure standard ammo at you). The Type 5 is very matchup dependent for this reason. If you find yourself in a good map, like Ruinberg, in a game with tier 8s and the opposing tier 10 heavy is 13 year Timmy in his shiny, new IS-7 and only AP shells loaded, then the Type 5 Heavy is, no joke, like a slower, Japanese Object 279e with 600 alpha and 2.9k HP. For that brief moment, you feel like driving an actual Godzilla. Unfortunately, that is 1/100 dream matchup. Most of your matches will be full tier 10s, with at least semi-comptetent people that realize to fire premium ammo at you, and then you cry. Your own armor barely works, you're slow, huge, and you don't even always have the teeth to fight back. Seriously, if you see a sidescraping E 100 with HEAT loaded, quite often you have to disengage, because you're that much on disadvantage there. He has more alpha AND DPM than you, can penetrate your armor like hot knife through butter, and you struggle to penetrate even his unangled, flat turret front. And good lord if you encounter a Object 279e. Anything that is hulldown with premium ammo loaded is a nightmare to deal with, any other heavy that outtrades you like the 60TP is also pain to fight against, tier 10 TDs autopen you with premium, etc etc. And then there's the maps - some maps are awful no matter the matchup, like Malinovka, and even a good map like Himmelsdorf doesn't matter a sh*t if the enemy team has multiple heavies that are gonna go banana line, sidescrape, laugh at your crappy gun, and murder you with premium ammo.
The Type 5 itself is pretty simple to play. In a good matchup, just go ham and roll over the enemy team like a Godzilla would rampage over Tokyo. You really don't need any brain there. The armor layout is really simple to use regardless of matchup, as you don't have a traditional lower plate weakspot. You can angle your front in corners, shoot, retreat into cover, and repeat. Simple. In a not good matchup, AKA 9/10 of the games you play, you need to think a little bit more. Your armor is very unreliable and quite often you have to pretend that it doesn't even exist. Your huge HP pool is your precious resource. What you want to do is to find an opportunity to get as close as possible while not bleeding too much HP. If you can get within 50 meters of your opponent while still having most of your HP remaining, the Type 5 can actually be a quite scary opponent. You have 2nd highest HP pool in the game with 600 alpha - you can outtrade almost any tank that isn't a 60TP or E 100. At this range, the Type 5 can actually use its strengths. For example, you can shoot the engine deck of the E 100 and overmatch it, or alternatively, you can shoot the police bar on the top fairly easily. The Object 279e can become surprisingly manageable as you're so tall that you can shoot down at it and have a pretty good chance of penning it. And your great gun handling lets you snap your shots very fast, so you don't need to expose yourself for too long. THIS is the situation you want to get the Type 5 into - get up close as possible, then use the combination of your HP and alpha damage to trade blows. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. Very often, you need to burn a lot of HP to actually get up close, as your armor is very unreliable even at longer distances, as the Type 5 is so big and fat that its flat surfaces aren't really that big of a challenge to hit even far away. And on many maps that have mindless, easy bake hulldown spots and 100-200 meter wide no-man land's that are nearly impossible to push, all you can do is cry.
Overall, the Type 5 Heavy is an unique, charismatic super-heavy tank with a lot of personality. Unfortunately, its cons heavily outweight its pros, which drains a lot of that uniqueness away, and you end up with what is effectively a poor-man's, watered down E 100. Type 5 is really slow, really huge, has sub-par firepower, and armor that more often than not, isn't even functional. There's no reason to play it in its current state. Unless you're unreasonably obsessed and dedicated to the Japanese heavies like I am, avoid the Type 5 and the entire Japanese heavy line like plague.
The Type 5 and Japanese heavies need significant buffs in order to be viable. Their guns need significant improvements (at very least, the 14 cm gun on the Type 5 needs better premium ammo and higher DPM), while their armor layout needs to be changed so that its stronger in most places to resist premium ammo better, but also has weakened weakspots that can be penetrated with standard ammo. This should make the armor layout of the Japanese heavies less polarizing, while the improved guns would greatly increase their combat capacity. There's hoping that Wargaming will eventually address the Japanese heavies that are in a very depressing state right now.