War Thunder Accidentally Leaves NASA Disaster Image In Key Art

War Thunder Accidentally Leaves NASA Disaster Image In Key Art

War Thunder devs apologised over the weekend after players quickly noticed that a newly added loading screen featured imagery from the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster.

Released in 2013, War Thunder is a combat MMO on console and PC featuring real-world planes, tanks, and battleships, where players take part in large-scale conflicts using their favourite vehicles. Since its release over a decade ago, Gaijin Entertainment has continued to update and expand the online war simulator, adding more vehicles and modes. And often, Gaijin adds new loading screen artwork with each new patch. This normally doesn’t cause any problems. However, the most recent update added artwork that featured a real-world explosion that killed seven astronauts.

As spotted by Gamespot, on June 22 some players spotted that a large explosion in the background of a new piece of War Thunder artwork looked identical to the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion. Not long after fans first spotted it, Gaijin Entertainment issued an apology for the mistake.

The original War Thunder artwork featuring the shuttle’s explosion.
Image: Gaijin Entertainment / abacs21

“Hey guys, we have accidentally used the explosion from the Challenger disaster in one of our key art images,” said community manager Magazine2 on the game’s official forums. “Please accept our sincere apologies for this, the picture was part of an aerial explosion reference pack used by our artists and the context was lost.”

The community manager further explained that the developers will alter the artwork “as soon as we can.” Gaijin says it will “take measures to ensure” that this type of mistake doesn’t happen again in the future.

Over on Reddit, a different community manager for the game, Oxy, also issued a similar apology, but added that the key art would be changed on June 24.

“Sorry everyone, things like this shouldn’t happen and we’ll make sure it doesn’t repeat,” said Oxy.

The Challenger shuttle disaster happened in 1986 when, after only 73 seconds into its flight, the spacecraft exploded. All seven crew members aboard the shuttle—including a school teacher—were killed instantly in the explosion.

While this situation isn’t fun for anyone involved, it’s still not as bad as all the times people have used the War Thunder forums to share real, classified information about warships and planes as part of their arguments for balance tweaks. That happens so often that the game’s Wikipedia page has a whole section dedicated to covering all the times it’s occurred.

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