The Type 88 Tank entered service with the Chinese Peoples Liberation Army in 1988. It was the last of the Chinese tanks fitted with a 105mm main gun and a four man crew to be produced for the PLA.
Type 88 Tank Development
The Type 88 Tank evolved from the Type 80 Tank, namely the Type 80-II prototype. Modifications the prototype included a different bank of smoke grenade launchers and different external turret stowage racks. This was done so that ERA (FY Series like that on the Type 59D) could be fitted to the turret front. Since entering service it has been upgraded to the Type 88A and Type 88B.
Type 88 Tank Description
The Type 88 Tank has a 4 man crew. The Drivers station is located in the front left of the hull, the Gunners station is in the front left of the turret, with the Commander located behind the Gunner. The Loader is stationed on the right side of the turret.
The Type 88 was originally equipped with the 105mm rifled Type 83 main gun. It could be identified by counting the sections of the thermal sleeve. The Type 83 gun has 2 sections in front of the fume extractor and a further 2 after it.
The tank was also fitted by some form of composite armour across its hull front. Additional protection is reportedly provided by added ERA across the turret front and hull.
Type 88B Tank Upgrade
In terms of tank upgrades, a Mark B would supersede a Mark A. However the Type 88B upgrade was implemented first. It retained the Type 83 Main Gun but had an improved Fire Control System (called 212). It could also be recognised by the protective shroud over the Gunners sight.
Type 88A Tank Upgrade
The Type 88A was the third upgrade for the vehicle and was most recognisable by its longer 105mm rifled main gun, the Type 83-I aka Type 83 Improved. It could be spotted by the front of the thermal sleeve having 3 sections between the bore and fume extractor.
The increased barrel length, aka calibre Length meant great range and round penetration over the old model as the round had a long distance to travel allowing the energy from the case charge to build up and push the round out harder.
A number of online publications wrongly state that the Type 88A has 12 smoke grenade launchers (6 either side of the turret). All images show that it retains the 2 pairs of banks each with x2 launchers either side of the turret. It was in fact the Type 88C that had 12 launchers.
Type 88C Tank Upgrade
The Type 88 originated from the Type 80 prototype series, as did the Type 85. At some point in time the Type 88 was upgraded with a new turret and hull modifications from a later model of the Type 85 Tank series. First seen in 1999, some publications state the Type 88C as the PLA designation of the Type 85-IIM Tank.
The new turret has a 125mm smoothbore main gun and autoloader reducing the crew to 3. It retained the same Fire Control System as the 88B and later received a 1000hp engine.
Type 88 Tank Specifications (Type 80-II)
|Main Gun||Rifled 105mm Type 83, Elevation -4 to +18|
|Secondary Weapons||Coaxial 7.62mm MG, x1 12.7mm MG|
|Ammunition Storage||x44 105mm, x500 12.7mm, x2,250 7.62mm rounds|
|Engine||730hp VR36 series Diesel|
|Top Road Speed||65 Km/h|
|Road Range||430 km (600 km added fuel tanks)|
|Fuel Capacity||1000 Litres (+ x2 200 Litre fuel tanks)|
|Water Capability||1.4m (Snorkel 5m)|
|Length Gun Forward||9.32m|
|Width||3.37m (including skirts)|
|Weight||38,000kg aka 38 tonne combat|
|Armor Type||Steel, Sloped, Composite|
|Active Protection Systems||None|