The Chinese Type 88 Tank

Chinese Type 88 Tank
The Original Type 88 Entered Service with the Peoples Liberation Army in 1988

The Type 88 Description

The Type 88 is the Peoples Liberation Army designation for the Chinese Type 80-II Prototype, that was accepted into service in 1988 with some small modifications, namely a different bank of smoke grenade launchers and different external turret stowage racks. This was done so that ERA (FY Seriesl like that on the Type 59D) could be fitted to the turret front. It was the last tank produced for the PLA that was fitted with a 105mm calibre Main Gun. It has been upgraded several times into new Marks.

The Chinese Type 88 Tank

The Chinese Type 88 Tank
The Chinese Type 88 Tank – Click to enlarge

The Type 88 uses a 4 man crew, Driver sits front left of the hull, the Gunner is front left of the turret, the Commander sat behind him and the Loader is stationed on the right of the turret. The vehicle originally used 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.

The Type 88 & Type 88B Type 83 Main Gun
The Type 88 & Type 88B Type 83 Main Gun

The Chinese Type 88B Tank

The Chinese Type 88B Tank
The Chinese Type 88B Tank

In terms of tank upgrades, a Mark B would supersede a Mark A. However the Type 88B was implemented first in PLA service. It still retained the Type 83 Main Gun but had an improved Fire Control System (called 212) and could also be recognised by the protective shroud over the Gunners sight.

The Chinese Type 88A Tank

The Chinese Type 88A Tank
The Chinese Type 88A Tank

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 infact the Type 88C that had 12 launchers.

The Chinese Type 88C Tank

The Chinese Type 88C Tank
The Chinese Type 88C Tank

The Type 88 originated from the Type 80 prototype as did the Type 85. At some point in time all earlier Type 88 were upgraded with a new turret and hull modifications from a later model  of the Type 85 Tank. The new turret had a 125mm smoothbore main gun and autoloader reducing the crew to 3. It retained the same Fire Control System as the 88B and later recieved a 1000hp engine.

The Chinese Type 88 Tank Specifications

Crew: 4
Weight: 39.5 tonne
Engine: 730hp 12150L-7BW diesel
Transmission: Mechanical, planetary
Track: Metallic, later variants have RMSh, with rubber-tyred road wheels
Suspension: Torsion bar
Radio: Receive/transmit, telephone
Dimension: Length: 10.65m; Height: 2.3m; Width: 3.3m
Cruising range: 430km , or 600km with external tanks
Speed: Max road 57km/h
Fording depths: N/A
Main gun: 105mm Type 83 or 83-I rifled gun (48 rounds stored)
Rate of fire: 7 rounds/min
Elevation/depression: +18/-4.3 degree
Auxiliary weapon: One coaxial 7.62mm machine gun; one 12.7mm air-defence machine gun
Fire control: (Type 80/88) Type 37A light spot fire control system; or (Type 88A/B) JSFCS-212 ISFCS

Chinese Type 88 Tank Operators

Myanmar – 230+ Type-88B
People’s Republic of China – All secondary role training & reserve units

Type 88 Picture Gallery