During most of EVE’s history, hull tanking has been a common joke—“Real men hull tank”. This has often been called “hero tanking” or “structure tanking”. It was a joke because it was generally a very bad idea and didn’t work. Ever since Kronos however, that has changed. Nowadays hull tanking is a smart strategy if you’re flying solo and in small gangs without logi. Guess where that happens a lot? That’s right: lowsec.
Hull tanking may have been a joke, but when solo 191,000 EHP Brutix Navy Issues started showing up ripping entire fleets to shreds, people stopped laughing. It was no coincidence that hull tanking went from farce to serious business in lowsec, especially in areas where Gallente ships are common.
Within the Gallente Militia for instance, creative individuals who are used to thinking outside the box began experimenting with hull tanks and ended up with ships with not only superior EHP, but also improved maneuverability. Solo pilots, such as the well known streamer Fintarue, put together a hull tanked Vigilant during the summer of 2014 and noticed that it not only had all the hitpoints of a heavily armour-tanked Vigilant, but also moved faster and was able to get on top of targets more efficiently.
Still the old stigma remains somewhat, and it’s only amongst the more forward thinking that hull tanking has gained a real foothold.
The way it works, is that you increase the buffer of the ship’s structure hitpoints using Reinforced Bulkhead modules and Transverse Bulkhead rigs, and then apply a Damage Control with its flat 60% resist profile on that buffer.
Hull tanking is only useful when flying without logi, and that’s commonly reserved for fleets numbering two squads or less. The reason for this is of course that there are no hull logistics ships (yet, make it happen CCP).
Intending to take damage in structure also means that it becomes a form of inherent bait tanking. After all, most people think the fight is all but won when armour drops to zero. With some skill, this can be used to great advantage as people move in to maintain point or come close to whore on the kill. We’ll explore this further with the fits below.
Something to consider when fitting for hull tank however, is that the window of GTFO becomes relatively narrow because the main EHP is at the very end of total EHP. Whilst shield and armour ships have some time to react when their main tank is depleted, hull tanks are dead at that point.
Let’s get what you really came here for: some nice fits and how to fly them!
In the domain of frigates you’ll be hard pressed to find a more competent ship than the Comet. With bonuses to both damage and tracking, a balanced slot layout and good speed, it is well suited for both in-your-face brawling and kiting with railguns. The whole package is nicely rounded off with a trio of light drones which allow the ship more flexibility in engagements.
The Comet is already known in Factional Warfare to be an excellent plex fighter, especially when defending as a blaster boat. Now let’s improve that with some hull:
You will notice we’re only using the rigs for hull tank in this fit. You can of course change some things out and get one or even two Reinforced Bulkhead II’s in there, but I have found that this is the most practical balance between staying power and DPS.
The Ancillary Armour Repairer is a very nice compliment to the hull tank and also functions as a ruse. Your opponent will often think they have you on the ropes when your active reps can’t keep up with the incoming DPS, perhaps getting reckless because they think this is your primary tank and they have the fight in the bag—an excellent opportunity to overheat your guns and change the complexion of the fight.
The nosferatu can be taken off in order to fit a microwarpdrive (MWD), something that is perhaps more useful when flying in a fleet in order to apply DPS quickly or for slingshotting kiters. However, it leaves the ship susceptible to neuting and scram kiting.
Brutix for days
The standard Brutix has always been well suited for solo and small gang with its repairer bonus, as active tanking allows you to absorb a moderate amount of DPS over a long period of time while decimating the enemy. The Brutix Navy Issue (BNI) is another beast however. While it is well suited for fleets with logi because of its many low slots, as well as a very handy tracking bonus, it’s true strength is solo with a hull tank. A well fit and flown BNI can wipe out an entire fleet of frigates, destroyers, or even a handful of cruisers.
With an EHP that puts even some 1600mm-plated battleships to shame, as well as a very respectable 728 DPS (using small drones, mind you), this is a beast.
As with all Gallente ships the BNI has ample amounts of structure hitpoints and CPU. This, combined with a whopping seven low slots, makes for a hull tank with immense staying power. The tracking bonus and full tackle simply deletes frigates that come within range like they were toys.This fit uses one low slot for a damage mod, but that can be replaced with yet another Reinforced Bulkhead II, producing a ridiculous 191,000 EHP.
The microjumpdrive (MJD) is there to make sure that the ship fights within its optimal envelope: scram/web range. The idea is to demolish anything within this range, thus removing any applied scrams, and simply moonwalk out with the MJD when only kiters remain. I have seen this monster eat frigate and destroyer fleets alive, and then MJD out like it was nothing.
It is a bit pricy however, costing more than any standard T1 battleship. It also moves around slowly and is susceptible to being intercepted. Consider having an alt scout with you and keep tabs on as many intel channels as possible when you’re flying this ship. A fleet sporting ECM or heavy tackle with neuts could spell your doom.
Real men hull tank
Although there are some nifty non-Gallente hull fits out there, the Gallente ships rule supreme in this area. The fits above are just two examples of what you can do with hull tanking, but there are plenty of applications for it—from cheap attrition fits to expensive powerhouses. Fire up EFT and stick some hull rigs and modules into a Gallente hull and see what you come up with!
PS: Don’t forget to turn on your damage control unit (DCU)! Without it on, you’re toast!