Type 88 (tank)

Type 88 (tank)

Infobox Weapon
name=Type 88

caption=Type 80 variant depicted
type=Main battle tank
origin=People's Republic of China
designer= Fang Weixian (方慰先)
manufacturer=First Inner Mongolia Machinery Factory
weight=38-39.5 tonnes
length=6.325 m
width=3.372 m
height=2.29 m
primary_armament=105 mm Type 83 rifled gun with automatic loader
secondary_armament=7.62 mm coaxial machine gun 12.7 mm air-defence machine gun
engine=12150L-7BV diesel
engine_power=730 hp (544 kW)
transmission=Mechanical, planetary
pw_ratio=18.5-19 hp/tonne
suspension=torsion bar
vehicle_range=430 km, 600 km with external fuel
speed=57 km/h

The Type 88 (also as YW-531H) is a series of medium second-generation main battle tanks (MBTs) from China. Based on the Type 79 design, the Type 88 entered service with the People's Liberation Army (PLA) in the 1980s. As of 2003, an estimated 500 Type 88 MBTs are currently in service with the PLA. The tank was followed by the Type 96 MBT.


After the Sino-Soviet split in 1960s, relations between China and the Soviet Union gradually worsened, leading to border clashes in 1969. By 1970s, over 1.5 million troops from both sides were stationed along the Sino-Soviet border. At the time the best Chinese tanks were copies of Soviet T-54/55 MBT's, which were hopelessly out-matched by new Soviet designs like the T-62, T-64, and T-72.

The People's Liberation Army requested new tanks that could match the Soviets, which led to the development of Type 69 by 617 Factory (now [http://www.nmgyj.com Inner-Mongolia First Machinery Group Company Ltd] ), incorporating some technologies from a captured Soviet T-62 tank. [http://www.sinodefence.com/army/tank/type69.asp] However the T-69 failed to satisfy PLA requirements, and was more of an export success (over 2,000 sold) than domestic use. As a result, new tank development was commenced and a new family of tanks that included many sub-families was the result.

Type 80

Type 80 is first of the second generation tanks of China.

Type 80

Prototype design based on Type 79 hull, with following improvements:
* New chassis incorporating a wheel/track system with 6 small wheels, 3 track rollers, and rubber track skirt
* First Chinese tank to have an all welded turret, increasing protection level
* 730 hp 1215OL-7BW diesel engine licensed from Germany
* Type 37A dual-axis stabilised light spot fire control system (FCS) with external laser rangefinder, licensed from UK
* Type 83 105mm rifled gun, NATO-standard, licensed from Austria

Type 80-II

Type 80 with following improvements:
* Laser range-finder integrated with FCS
* Built-in test system to identify malfunction
* Lens protection system for sights
* NBC protection with overpressure system
* Turret surrounded by storage racks for extra protection
* First Chinese tank to feature a collective NBC protection system so that crew need not to wear individual NBC protection gear inside the tank.

Type 85

It is unclear if the different factories were in competition, or jointly developing the new second generation tank. What is known is that China's North Industries Group Corporation (Norinco), most likely in association with 201 Institute (now [http://www.noveri.com.cn China North Vehicle Research Institute] ), unveiled their own version, the T-85 MBT in 1988. The PLA did not initially accept the T-85 MBT, and it was further developed for export to Pakistan (Type 85-IIAP and Type 85-III.) This was drastically changed later on when China obtained Russian T-72 samples in late 1980s (reportedly from Iran with captured Iraqi samples.) South Africa had discovered along with the the Chinese that not only could the western origin 105 mm guns of Type 80 defeat the armor of a T-72 tank but that the main gun of T-72 could also easily defeat the armor of not only the Type 80 but all armor of Chinese tanks as well. Improvement of the current tanks in PLA inventory was needed and this was later further illustrated during the 1991 Gulf War, when the PLA observed that their current (1991-era) tanks were vastly inferior to Western MBTs. Priorities were given to develop a third-generation tank, and as well as improving the existing second-generation design. As a result, Type 85 is a direct development of Type 80, and over 600 are in Chinese service, while an additional 300+ are in Pakistani service.

Type 85

Prototype with Type 80 chassis, welded turret, and 105mm rifled main gun (Type 83?). Since the project was intended to be an export model and the Chinese government did not fund the project originally, this prototype was reportedly borrowed from a museum and when tests were completed, the vehicle was returned to the museum without the main gun, and a photo of this vehicle was circulated on the internet in the early 2000s.

Type 85-I

Improved Type 85 with heat sleeve for main gun. The turret incorporated composite armor.

Type 85-II

Improved Type 85-I with upgraded fire-control system. The fire control system incorporates the laser rangefinder, the onboard computer, and the wind sensor. The automatic loader is reportedly derived from that of T-72 obtained from Middle East (Possibly from Iraq or captured Iraqi samples from Iran). Various solid-state electronic upgrades.

Type 85-IIA

Type 85-II with a domestic 125 mm smoothbore gun replacing the original 105 mm rifled gun. The auto-loader for 125mm rounds based on the Soviet 2A46 design

Type 85-IIM

Introduced in mid 1990s with following upgrades:
* Enhanced armor protection
* Introduced the ISFCS (Image Stablized Fire Control System) with improved FCS and night vision.Served as the prototype of Type 88C.

Type 85-IIAP

License-built T-85-IIA in Pakistan by Taxila Heavy Industries, but with the 125 mm gun and associated auto loader. Some are installed with Weston Simfire 2 training equipment. Over 300 are in service in Pakistan, and all of them are upgraded to the Type 85-III level. [http://www.defence.pk/t-85_iiap_mbt.html]

Type 85-III

This was an export version intended for Pakistan with 1,000 hp diesel engine, and the 125 mm smoothbore gun. However, domestic Chinese engine technology was inadequate and during the demonstration in Pakistani desert, the engine failed and black smoke produced covered the entire tank, and thus was rejected by Pakistan. When the problem was finally solved, Norinco also incorporated additional features in 1995 such as ERA upgrade, but by then more advanced models already existed and thus the new tank did not enter mass production. However, Type-85-III had since become the standard for all other earlier Type-85 MBT to upgrade to, including those Type 85-IIAP exported to Pakistan.

Type 88

In the late 1970s, China's 617 Factory (main contractor), 616 Factory, 477 Factory, and 201 Institute (now China North Vehicle Research Institute) were ordered to develop China's new second-generation tank. The project benefitted from imported Western Technologies in the 1980s. The first Type 80 MBT was based on the older Type 79 MBT hull, but equipped with new Chinese-made wheels/tracks, German-designed 730hp diesel engine, British-designed dual-axis stabilized fire-control with laser range-finder, and NATO-standard 105mm gun licensed from Austria. The improved version of this tank later entered service in 1988 under the PLA designation of Type 88. The Type 88 tank is unique in that unlike the rest series of Chinese tanks, this series actually includes versions from different families of earlier tanks.

Type 88

First Chinese tank to have explosive reactive armor and was accepted into PLA service in 1988, based on T-80II design. Front storage racks on turret removed to fit explosive reactive armor (ERA) plates.

Type 88B

Improved Type 88 with new auto-loading system for domestic 105mm ammunition. FCS system was later replaced by new ISFCS-212 ISFCS.

Type 88A

Introduced after Type 88B, the main gun was replaced by improved 105mm Type 83-I with longer tube and better performance. Fitted with FY-series double ERA plates for better protection against APFSDS and HEAT-FRAG rounds.

Type 88C

Developed from Type 85-IIM which had a more powerful 125mm smoothbore gun, and the ISFCS-212 fire control system of this tank was later retrofited on Type 88A and Type 88B. The engine was originally the same as Type 80 and earlier Type 85, but once the problem of 1000 hp engine solved, it replaced the original engine.

Production of Type 88-series MBT's were stopped in 1995. About 400 to 500 Type 88-series tanks are in service with the PLA today.


* - 400~500
* (built under license)
* (built under license)

ee also

Type 59/62 -
Type 69/79 -
Type 80/85/88 -
Type 90/96 -
MBT 2000 -
Type 98/99 -
T-72 -
M-84 -
M-95 -
PT-91 -
M-2001 -
T-80 -
T-84 -
T-90 -


External links

* [http://www.china-defense.com/armor/type88c/88C01.html Type 88C Main Battle Tank: A Photo Essay] - China-Defense.com
* [http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/china/type-80.htm Type 80/88 Main Battle Tank] - GlobalSecurity.org
* [http://www.sinodefence.com/army/tank/type88.asp Type 88 Main Battle Tank] - Chinese Defense Today

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