Section 3A: The Long Range Weapon
Password: 6590870
(This will start you at the P.O.W. camp of Section 2A, follow the train tracks)

OK, Iron Tank, get ready to do your duty. Let's destroy the enemy's long-range weapon!

As we enter this area, we get a repeated radio message. Incoming transmission!

Yeah, thanks for the tip.

In truth, though, this is the game's way of telling you you're on the right path.

This section may be on train tracks, but it starts out more cramped than the last train section, and there's less J-Types to start. Instead, you'll be pestered mostly by Gustafu and Becks Haus tanks, as well as a whole infantry unit who'll pepper you with gunfire. Flick the B switch on to deal with Becks Haus and any J-Types that happen to appear (you won't always encounter one in this short segment) and, when the path narrows to the point where only the train track can fit down the path, get ready for a violent train battle...

This is the enemy's secret weapon, its legendary long range firing turret...

Oh, and it's called Fritz, if you ask the manual.

It's an easy battle, as long as you know what you're doing, but I hope you've been keeping your energy bar full, because this one packs one hell of a wallop. In addition to infantry chipping away at you with gunfire and grenades, the long-range weapon launches very powerful shells that veer to whichever side of the screen you're on. Shortly after it appears, it'll launch a shell, so avoid it, then get to the upper left or right corner, your choice. Once there, turn your turret around to aim at it and start pelting it with cannon fire- the machine can't fire behind itself, and once it launches its opening salvo, it'll lurch forward, so from our position we should be safe. Feel free to flick any other optional weapon switches to make this easier- I suggest a combo of V and B- and it'll explode rather dramatically soon. If it survives, it'll pull back and fire another shell, so keep hitting it and it'll blow up soon enough.

It'll drop some energy for you, and there's some infantry to run over for a health boost, so we should be looking at a nice, nearly-full energy meter, which is good because mini boss-fight, comin' up. After a short path, you'll find a closed area similar to where we fought the Fritz, but this time it's a gold version of the F-Type. It'll move down the track to where you are, fire some bullets aimed at you, then move back up, fire more bullets straight down, then it repeats, alternating between the two positions. This shouldn't be too hard- hit it with your B-cannon and four shells should be enough to take it down with another eye-destroying explosion. If you're fast enough, you can get behind it and, since the scrolling isn't locked like in most boss battles, just keep going and skip it... That's not recommended, the F-Type is faster than you, and if it reverses into you, it'll rip into your health meter viciously. Just gun it down instead.

This violent train battle isn't over yet, Colonel! Incoming transmission!

Uh, yeah, we know. We got this message already, chief.

Anyway, after another bunch of infantry to trample for extra health, there's this covered area to pass through. Your best bet here? Run. There's a fair number of tanks here, including more of those brutal Becks Haus units, but they're placed in such a way that you can evade most of them and avoid their bullets. If you want to be extra-sure, feel free to switch B shots on and take out any troublesome enemies, but really you're able to rush through here...

... Until you receive a call, that is. Incoming transmission!

Wait, didn't we just destroy it? About five minutes ago?

As soon as you get this message, make sure B is definitely switched on, and get ready, because the J-Types are back! These ones shoot both sides, so approach them head-on and don't let them run you over. There's only a handful, as soon afterwards we'll enter a small paved area. Destroy the tanks on your way in, past the sandbags, and you'll discover the most important pick-up of the game- R, the Reserve Fuel icon. Once you pick it up here, it becomes a permanent part of your inventory, and as long as you remember to select it, your energy meter will automatically refill should it empty. Collecting E icons when your energy meter is full will refill it a bit, and grabbing another R tops it up completely. So, essentially, this means you'll have at least two bars worth of energy upon starting a new life before you have to go back to a checkpoint. Handy, that.

... Oh, and watch out for the mini-turrets that try to pump you full of lead- they can only be destroyed with F-powered cannon shots.

I see. There's another one.

This one's actually easier, as it's possible to get next to it at the top of the screen, meaning it can't hit you with anything.

Same tactic as last time- stay behind it and pummel it with everything you've got!

You might not notice the radio message that appears a second or so after this boss appears... Incoming transmission!

Yeah, thanks for the heads-up, really useful

... But you're still not getting a break. There's one more boss to fight.

Just a little further down this path, we encounter the first fort on this route. Had you taken a right at the beginning, you would've fought this one earlier, so let's go over the basics- each fort has those cylinder turrets that pump bullets at you, but the rest changes. Dealing with the turrets here is easy- flick on L and F and your cannon should take them out easily from a distance... But once you destroy them, the giant mega-cannon on top springs to life! It'll move erratically from side-to-side and shoot the same giant shells the Fritz did from one of its two cannons- it'll alternate between them, if it helps dodging it. Get as close as you can, switch on V (and if you've got some to spare, B too) and try to keep central to its movements. In case you can't tell, the weakspot is the giant red 'HIT ME HERE' light, so if you have V switched on, you'll be launching so many shots it'll probably move into them to take damage... But it's important to keep central so those massive shells don't get you. Keep up with it, and eventually it'll explode. Blast the door open and let's keep going.

Once you're in the next area, we'll get a congratulatory message. Incoming transmission!

... And shortly afterwards, you'll get another one. Incoming transmission!

We'll be meeting Ichiban in a minute.

First, we've got a forest to trundle through, and while the road itself isn't anything special- if winding and slightly cramped in parts- it's stuffed with Gustafu tanks and, near the end, heavy-duty Becks Haus tanks. That cannon fire won't do you much good, and there's nowhere to really take cover. Later on down this route you'll be getting a big boost to your Explosive cannon supply, so feel free to switch B on and take the Becks Haus out quickly. You might also find switching V on to be useful, especially as the Gustafus like to attack in packs of three. Aside from that, just keep on down this path, and you'll eventually reach...

Ah, here we go, the bridge.

Had you taken the other route earlier on... This'd be a right nasty section!

The bridge can still be nasty, though, unless you take care. First, you're constantly pestered by Louis and Gustafu tanks, usually from the rear. Second, there's plenty of Becks Haus tanks to make it tough. Finally, you'll become better acquainted with the most lethal hazards in all of Iron Tank- the mines. They're the red flashing circles with odd symbols on them that make a beeping noise whenever one's in spitting distance, You might've seen these if you'd tried to cross the wrong bridge earlier in the game, and some appear on the train tracks, but this is the first time you encounter them in a really confined space. Touch them- even brush against them lightly- and your tank loses a full energy bar. However, even though it's easy to die here because of sloppy play, you have an advantage- this route gives you the Reserve fuel item early, giving you double the amount of health, so you get a little leeway... But don't let it get to your head. Even with two bars worth of energy, you can be destroyed here. Take it slowly!

Halfway through, you'll find our contact, Ichiban:

I'm pretty sure Ichiban's talking about the Think Tank we'll be fighting shortly...

You'll also find your first ? item here. Take it and save if for when you really need it.

Once you're past the bridge, you'll get another message. Incoming transmission!

Spoiler: it's no bigger than the last gigantic enemy object we encountered. Smaller, actually.

Just keep rolling down this path, grabbing a few pick-ups along the way, and...

Boss fight! Boss fight!... Well, really, this isn't much of a fight, if you know what you're doing. Get ready to flick on all your upgrades again, as the Puma- a heavy armoured tank with three turrets, if you ask the instruction manual- is another joke, if you get the first shot in. Its only attack is to launch three cannon shots, but they'll actually home in on you, and this can do a lot of damage. However, if you pummel it with everything you've got, it'll go down in seconds. Apparently the enemy is unaware that we call it the Iron Tank for a reason, 'cause it's the strongest tank in the world! For the record, this is the last giveaway boss fight you get- from here on out, the giant enemy battleships tanks you'll encounter will not go down so easily.

Once you beat the Puma, you get some infantry units to run over for extra health, before the next area.

We now enter the town, and this is a bit breezier than what you've just come through. Unlike the bridge, you're not confined, and you've actually got places to hide. There are still plenty of Beck Haus tanks to give you grief, and it's not like the enemy numbers dwindle, but you've got more options for taking cover and avoiding cannon fire this time. There's also less mines, so that's a plus. The only other thing of note here is there's two more ? items- one to the left of the start, and one right further on- so be sure to grab them. Aside from that, just take cover when necessary and edge your way out of town.

Once you hit the forest, you'll get a message. Incoming transmission!

Before we find out what they're blabbering about, there's a small gauntlet of Waltars to take out...

On the plus side, there's a few E and F items along the way, so stock up.

Ah, here we go. The secret base, I presume?

You fought the mega cannon earlier, right? This is a more basic fort type, as it only has the standard four turrets that track you, although tanks will sometimes appear from the sides of the screen to take a potshot and then scarper- be careful not to crash into these guys. If you've got some of your L meter left, switch it on along with F and scroll the turrets into view, then hang back and take them out from a safe distance. If you're out of L, then move left or right to get a turret in your line of fire, shoot it then circle back and keep moving like this to stay away from their bullets. Once they're destroyed, blow the door open to enter the fort.

So, this short section is a little prelude to your first real boss fight. As you enter, take out the tanks that appear and keep an eye on the left, as a bullet train will zoom down the tracks and try to fill you with cannon fire. Either shoot it with a B-powered cannon shot or make a beeline for the boxes in the right to avoid the shots. After that, make your way to the end of this short area, and you'll find two round turrets on top of a door. You don't need to hit the turrets, just blow the doors off and you're set. Blowing them up reveals a few items, including another R icon in case you already used up your Reserve Fuel icon.

Enter the door, to face...

Finally, a challenge. This is Think Tank (F-Type), one of the enemy's strongest weapons.

The F in F-Type apparently stands for fire, as this Think Tank model is armed with a massive flamethrower. Its pattern is pretty easy to learn- it'll slide from one side of the screen to the other, firing flame shots off as it does so, then lurch to the bottom of the screen before reversing, then travelling across the screen again. The thing to watch out for here is that touching this thing will murder your energy meter, so you need to watch out when it changes direction- you don't want it to trample all over you when it moves across the screen. The strategy here is to try and stay on the opposite side of the screen of the hulking tank so it doesn't crush you when it rolls forward, and fire at it diagonally. You might also want to switch your available weapons off if you want to make this quick. Just stay the hell out of its way!

Well done, Iron Tank! We've completed the first half of the game.

Still, we're not finished yet. We now move on to Section 4A: The Ruined Highway.