thats right where I started! Backward escapes in low tier tanks with no upgrades are tough, especially if the engine or tracks have been damaged!
Some of the delay in turning could be performance lag depending on your system specs. If you haven't already, use the auto detect feature in display tab settings just to make sure that isn't the problem. Other than that it should just be tank related. Better tracks and more powerful engines will help you turn faster as well as reduce speed bleed while turning. The type of ground you are on matters too.
I think one of the camera positions turns the turret in its current orientation with the tank but am not 100%. The key will be to check your mini map to see where your cone of vision is pointing relative to the arrow that shows which way your hull faces. Use your scroll wheel in and out to see which one it might be (I know it isn't in snipe mode).
There is a practice mode, look at spot right below red battle button up top to change types. I tried it the other day and people were angry I was shooting when it was a ramming only game, had no clue when I picked it!
You can tell what direction a shot came from at impact and for a split second after, look for a red arc.
For tactics in these low tier games I would recommend finding a good spot in some bushes, even better if bushes are next to a solid object you can back up behind. In general using reverse gets you killed if you are too far out in the open...and going forward does too unless you are in a fast tank
. Once one enemy finds you his teammates within radio range and view range to you can pop shots your way even if the shooter is outside your view range (but not theirs). Later on when SPGs come into play you will want to be hiding behind solid tall objects because once an SPG gets the info from their buddy they will rain down shells, probably on stationary targets in the open first. Shoot and scoot is the motto but i often find myself ignoring this which results in my death.
Other tactics can depend on the tank but typically you want to position yourself at an angle to increase the effective thickness of your armor as well as increase the chance a shell will bounce. Shooting at the drive/idler wheels to detrack a tank is always a good option if you want to pin them to a certain spot (maybe to loop around an object to land a shot on their rear. I personally use the cruise control forward (actually set to my mouse on a 4th button) 90% of the time, that way I can focus on traversing as well as use the space bar to stop where it will then get you going again automatically after shooting.
The key to getting research points is staying alive as long as possible because even if you don't directly damage an enemy you can get points for spotting and teammates damaging enemies you spotted/detected. I have had a few 600-800 xp rounds just from finding a good bush in my M5 Stuart and not shooting. Keep in mind that any enemy within 50 meters is sure to spot you, anything farther depends on distance, your camo rating, crew skill (later on) or a camo net (equipment).
If you don't already have a 5 button mouse and like the game, I would recommend the investment. They don't cost much these days and the extra 2 buttons come in handy, for example on my mouse:
MMB: Command menu
RMB: Give target command (hold to free look without moving turret)
"Forward" button: Lock hull (for SPGs - will change as hitting a key is fine for as much as I play SPGs)
"Back" button: Cruise control forward - just like having quick access to getting the hell out of dodge.