War Thunder dev under fire for including Space Shuttle Challenger explosion in key art

A serious and shockingly overlooked mistake has placed the Challenger Space Shuttle explosion within the background of key art for War Thunder’s new Seek & Destroy event.

Gaijin Entertainment dropped a new War Thunder event on June 19 called Seek & Destroy, featuring three images in one in the key art. All three images showed fighter jets firing missiles, with the bottom left art containing smoke from the Challenger Space Shuttle catastrophe that took place during a 1986 launch. The shape and curvature of the smoke cloud are highly recognizable, especially for individuals like myself who watched it live from a school classroom on that dreaded day. 

Aircraft firing weapons through War Thunder MMO
The image was allegedly an honest mistake, but still an unacceptable one. Image via Gaijin Entertainment

Responding to allegations regarding the key artwork, community manager Magazine2 confirmed the art did indeed showcase smoke and debris from the Challenger explosion. 

“Hey guys, we have accidentally used the explosion from the Challenger disaster in one of our key art images,” Magazine2 said. “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.”

But the artwork, at time of writing, is still featured on the main page for the game’s event. The artwork is scheduled to be altered, according to Magazine2, with “measures to ensure that this doesn’t repeat again in the future.”

The free-to-play War Thunder cross-platform MMO has had issues in the past, usually with real-life military documents being leaked through forums. Adding the aftermath of the Challenger Space Shuttle to the key artwork for Seek & Destroy was likely an oversight or mistake, but it brings to light how many images on the internet today are often pieced together rather than being 100 percent original. 

Players can check out the new War Thunder Seek & Destroy event through platforms like Windows, Linux, Mac, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S.

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