The PTL02 (Simplified Chinese: PTL02 轮式突击炮; lit. wheeled assault gun) is the first wheeled assault gun in PLAGF service as part of the modernization and mechanization of PLAGF by the late 1990s. The plans for a wheeled assault gun sprung up after seeing the performance of Coalition forces during the game-changing Gulf War when French AMX-10RC utilized the road network to assault Iraqi forces; before the Gulf War, PLAGF was testing the possibility to built such vehicles with the new WZ551 chassis based on Sino-German product from NORINCO Factory 256, two such vehicles were built under different caliber (smoothbore 100 mm and rifled 105 mm respectively); while the duo didn't make it into official development, the advances in technology in national defense industry and possible landing operations gave the second chance for the 100 mm prototype to utilize the extensive road network of enemies. The result of the 1997 version assault gun became what is now known as the PTL02 certified in October 2001 and was first publicly shown during National Day parade in 2009 as part a fire-support platform for artillery troops, while another prototype with 105 mm gun might likely been developed into the export-only WMA301.
Introduced in Update "Ixwa Strike" as Chinese's first wheeled assault gun in-game, the PTL02 is based on the WZ551 6x6 chassis developed in early 1990s shared with the ZSL92 armoured personnel carrier. Having subpar speed compared to contemporary wheeled vehicles (at 85 km/h on road) and paper-thin protection, it might not be a first rate flanker like the Centauro or Rooikat Mk.1D. It is still significantly faster than most other PLAGF/ROCA tracked vehicles. Armed with a high velocity 100 mm smoothbore anti-tank gun, its stock APFSDS can penetrate 220 mm of flat RHA at point-blank range and its unlockable DYW PT-86-100 APFSDS boasts up to 381 mm of penetration. This vehicle has thermal sights with acceptable resolution in addition to a laser rangefinder, which can be precious at its BR since they significantly speed up the seek and destroy process. The PTL02 is less forgiving than other wheeled light tanks, but despite its shortcomings in armour, it still offers valuable scouting and flanking abilities that complement other Chinese vehicles well.
Survivability and armour
One of the major drawbacks of this vehicle is the poor protection against any calibre bigger than 12.7 mm since only the turret has more than 20 mm of armour to stop heavy machine gun rounds from some range. Other than that, it's 5 to 10 mm of armour all around. Avoid anything with a HMG or any autocannon vehicles (including aircraft) at all costs, because it is very likely you will not have a second chance to return fire and knock the enemy out.
The PTL02's large profile (it is taller than a Leopard 2) does it no favours when it comes to avoiding fire, but the combination of thin armour and large, empty volume will occasionally frustrate enemies firing subcalibre rounds. Penetration is essentially guaranteed, but minimal spalling is created and a hastily aimed shot may not catch many crew members or important modules in the line of fire. On the other hand, HE shells with a high explosive mass will often transmit shockwaves into the vehicle's interior and knock out the crew with pressure damage. Other chemical rounds like HEAT and HESH might inflict overpressure damage but with a much lower probability. Bombs, rockets, and artillery shells are similarly dangerous.
There is a large empty area below the turret ring which may absorb quite some shells. Unfortunately, most of the times said space will have ammunition placed vertically on the sides. Such placement of shells greatly increase their profile and thus will be more likely to get hit and detonate. If there is no ammo there, the empty space will be safer.
- Rolled homogeneous armour
- Cast homogeneous armour
|Armour||Front (Slope angle)||Sides||Rear||Roof|
|Hull|| 10 mm (33°) Driver viewport glacis
10 mm (78°) Upper Glacis
10 mm (40°) Lower Glacis
| 8 mm (25°) Top
10 mm (6°) Bottom
8 mm (27°)Wheelwells
| 6 mm (4°) Upper plate
6 mm (48°) Lower glacis
| 10 mm (12°) Front glacis |
6 mm Driver hatch
6 mm Centre
|Turret|| 30 mm (31°) Turret front
20 mm (29°) Turret Cheeks
30 mm (0°) Gun mantlet
| 20 mm (23°) Frontal
20 mm (9°) Rear
|15 mm (14°)|| 10 mm (12°) |
10 mm (13°) Centre
|Cupola||10 mm (cylindrical)||10 mm|
- 5 mm structural steel storage boxes covering the turret rear
- Gun mantlet consists of cast homogeneous armour
- Wheels are 10 mm thick
|Game Mode||Max Speed (km/h)||Weight (tons)||Engine power (horsepower)||Power-to-weight ratio (hp/ton)|
Powered by a licensed BF8L413F 325 hp diesel engine from Germany, the PTL02 can reach up to 85 km/h (and -8 km/h in reverse) on roads. This vehicle still lags behind almost all wheeled assault guns in the game (only the M1128 has a worse power-to-weight ratio). This exacerbates the common problem of wheeled vehicles performing worse on soft terrain. Another negative aspect of the PTL02's mobility is the absurdly slow reverse speed of only -7 km/h, meaning it lacks the agility wheeled vehicles should have and will not be able to quickly back out from danger. The PTL02 will not be able to match the Centauro for example in terms of zipping in and out of cover and climbing to unusual vantage points.
To make the most out of the good top speed, it will need to navigate on hard terrain (roads, urban surfaces) for best results. If the PTL02 must be used on hilly and soft terrain maps, try your best not to get stuck since the lack of mobility will absolutely be the death sentence of this vehicle.
Modifications and economy
The 100 mm PTP-86 smoothbore gun found on this vehicle was a improvement on the earlier Soviet based PTP-73 (Type 73) AT gun with the same calibre with NATO alloy technologies (which came from L7A3 then domesticated as ZPT-79). The PTP-86 has similar performance as the Type 69's gun and players can get used to it fairly quickly. Bear in mind the poor gun depression. It has a significantly faster turret rotation than the Type 69, which is a plus.
|100 mm PTP86||Turret rotation speed (°/s)||Reloading rate (seconds)|
|Ammunition|| Type of
|Penetration @ 0° Angle of Attack (mm)|
|10 m||100 m||500 m||1,000 m||1,500 m||2,000 m|
|Type 71 APDS-FS||APFSDS||219||213||194||170||147||126|
|Type 71 HE||HE||26||26||23||19||17||17|
|Type 1973 HEAT-FS||HEATFS||390||390||390||390||390||390|
|Ammunition|| Type of
| Fuse delay
| Fuse sensitivity
| Explosive mass
(TNT equivalent) (kg)
|Type 71 APDS-FS||APFSDS||1,505||3.05||-||-||-||72°||76°||78°|
|Type 71 HE||HE||900||15||0.2||0.1||1.3||79°||80°||81°|
|Type 1973 HEAT-FS||HEATFS||1,000||10.05||0.05||0.1||1.18||65°||72°||77°|
The PTL02 has a similar ammunition selection as the Type 69, with the exception of the DYW PT86-100 APFSDS round. The stock Type 71 APFSDS with 219 mm of flat penetration at 10 m is worse than many AP/APHE rounds. The low penetration will not impact gameplay a lot if you are in a downtier or facing opponents of equal battle-rating. Common Cold War vehicles such as the Leopard 1, OF-40, Centauro, etc. are all weakly armoured and will easily get penetrated. However against heavy tanks like the Maus, M103, T-10, etc. this APFSDS will struggle even when hitting their weak spots. It also suffers noticeable drop-off at long distances. Type 71 APDS-FS does have a few good qualities: it has a good muzzle velocity of 1,505 m/s and the angled penetration is decent considering the flat penetration, topping out at 127 mm @ 60 degrees. For comparison, the T-55A's 3BM25 APFSDS round has far superior flat penetration (up to 335 mm) but only has slightly higher angled penetration (up to 129 mm @ 60 degrees). Type 71 APDS-FS penetrates sloped armour more effectively than flat armour, rather like long rod APFSDS rounds. The post-penetration damage is nothing to write home about but still workable. Spalling is poor, but the round tends to stay intact after penetration and is quite good at detonating ammo racks and knocking out crew members if they are in the line of fire. Memorize the module layouts of enemy tanks to efficiently cripple and destroy them as the PTL02 cannot withstand return fire.
The Type 71 HE shell is weak and should be ignored. It has a low explosive content and might be able to cause pressure damage to light targets, but not consistently. Any vehicle with more than paper-thin armour will be immune to it.
The unlockable Type 1973 HEAT-FS is a Tier III modification. Familiar to Type 59 or Type 69 users, it has the same penetration performance as the T-55A's 3BK17M HEATFS with a lower TNT equivalent and a slightly lower muzzle velocity. 390 mm of flat penetration at any distance is impressive and will slice through almost all tanks lacking special armour types (spaced, reactive, composite). While it lacks the extra high velocity of the APFSDS and can be detonated by bushes or fences, the HEATFS is still good for dealing with heavy targets that the APFSDS can't penetrate. The explosive content is rather low but it might trigger overpressure damage occasionally against light targets. Post-penetration damage is somewhat inconsistent, so again, aim for crew members and ammo racks.
The DYW PT86-100 APFSDS round, introduced in Update "Red Skies", is the best option overall and comes as a tier IV researchable modification. With an even higher velocity at 1,610 m/s than Type 71 APDS-FS, it has wonderful penetration for the PTL02's rank and battle rating: 381 mm of flat penetration and 220 mm of 60-degree penetration at point-blank is on the level of the M774 and M833 rounds used by the IPM1 Abrams! Very few opponents that the PTL02 faces can possibly resist this round, and even if used in lineups higher than 8.0, it fares well against relatively tough opponents like the T-72A. Once this round is unlocked, the PTL02's cannon becomes significantly more competitive and easy to use. Together with the linkage of rangefinder and gun sight, this round can prove its capabilities in the battlefield without having to worry about where to aim at its BR. Keep in mind that it costs 210 Silver Lions per shot, so firing it excessively can get expensive; make the shots count.
|30||26 (+4)||24 (+6)||19 (+11)||17 (+13)||12 (+18)||10 (+20)||7 (+23)||1 (+29)||No|
The turret-mounted 12.7 mm QJC88A HMG has already become the standardized HMG for most PLAGF vehicles after the 1990s. The main usage of the HMG is to deal with lightly protected vehicles and low-flying aircraft including helicopters. It can also effectively damage gun barrels, tracks, optics, MG, and ERA to assist teammates in destroying enemies, though this may require a lot of fire. Players who dealt with the paltry 50-round belt capacity of the 12.7 mm DShK machine guns of previous PLA vehicles will be happy to know that the QJC88A has a much more generous 150-round belt capacity.
The 7.62 mm MG, on the other hand, is only useful in clearing obstacles such as fences, marking out enemy positions on the minimap, or knocking out exposed crew on certain vehicles (e.g. M113 TOW). It lacks the penetration to pierce through even lightly-armoured vehicles.
|12.7 mm QJC88A|
|Mount||Capacity (Belt)||Fire rate||Vertical||Horizontal|
|7.62 mm Type 86|
|Mount||Capacity (Belt)||Fire rate||Vertical||Horizontal|
Usage in battles
Being a wheeled vehicle and the very first wheeled assault gun of the Chinese tech tree, the PTL02's main advantages lie in its mobility and gun sight.
With its 85 km/h speed, flanking is the key to avoid any direct fire from pretty much any vehicle armed with at least a heavy machine gun. Because of the negligible protection found on this vehicle, take all precautions and avoid rushing into direct fire at all costs, you will not have the luxury of having the second chance to return fire. Being one of the slowest wheeled assault guns in the game, taking vantage points might not be possible considering the inferior top speed that only gets worse in off-road situations. The thin armour and poor reverse speed punish poor positioning, so think carefully about what spots allow the PTL02 to spot and engage enemies without being overly exposed to incoming fire. Complicated terrains are problematic for this vehicle and it tends to do better in urban combat. Any aircraft is a lethal threat, with either guns or rockets, so keep away from their sight. Use smoke grenades to mask your position if there are no buildings or other forms of large cover to hide behind. Helicopters in particular will have an easy time spotting and destroying the PTL02, so do not attract their attention and only make use of the heavy machine gun if they get very close.
The Type 71 APDS-FS comes stock, although it is enough to deal with earlier Cold War MBTs like Leopard 1 and AMX-30, this stock round might meet American tanks with rounded hull like M48A1 and the tougher M103 which cause some trouble; in this case, bring some HEATFS to help deal with such vehicles. Otherwise, memorize the weak spots of enemy tanks and try to flank. Contemporary MBTs tend to have poor side armour and even a half decent angle of attack may be enough for the APFSDS to penetrate where typical APDS rounds could not. Once the better DYW PT86-100 APFSDS round has been researched, you are more likely to take down your enemies without too much concern on their protection with a whopping 381 mm penetration at point-blank. As discussed previously, aim for ammo racks and important crew members. If an injured enemy is still capable of returning fire, be very cautious and consider leaving them for teammates to clean up. Since the PTL02 is a relatively modern vehicle, dating from 2002, it has second generation thermal sights for the gunner with sufficient resolution to help players find targets at a good distance. With the automatic ballistic solution of the FCS, the PTL02 is a mobile sniper that cause severe damage to the enemy team. Caution and planning are still needed to compensate for its faults, but once the PTL02 is in a good position, its thermal sights and railgun-like top APFSDS allow it to send enemies to hangar efficiently.
One phenomenon to notice is that the PTL02 suffers from severe hull wobbling. This will not impact the gun handling as it is equipped with a two-plane stabiliser, however scouting will be negatively affected. The commander's binoculars is not stabilised in any way and will therefore shake around. The wobbles will be especially noticeable when the PTL starts breaking and reaches a halt due to the bouncy suspension. The binoculars will greatly wobble up and down and will only be completely stable after stopping for ~4 seconds, throwing off the crosshair which may cause the scout to fail and you will have to wait for the long cool-down time.
You might want to grind out critical modifications (e.g. thermal optics, HEATFS, engine) of the PTL02 in Assault before joining PvP matches, but note that a fully stock PTL02 behaves very poorly even in Arcade mode, as it lacks everything for a light vehicle: poor armour, weak mobility, bad reverse, and even disappointing firepower. The PTL02's acceleration is quite sluggish on most terrains, often needing ~7 seconds to reach around 40 km/h. The reverse speed is also painfully slow for a wheeled vehicle. But usually the PTL02 is able to get to a position quickly before the AI waves spawn. Its armour does not offer any means of protection, the AI tanks' cannons, roof-mounted .50 cals, and the AI planes' rockets and bombs can all easily knock out the PTL02 instantly. Its spacious interior, however, may lead to some shells dealing minimal damage, lengthening the PTL's surviving time to a limited extent. The firepower is also a huge drawback. The slow reload of 9 seconds means that you must make every shell count, but the absurdly large spread of the stock Type 71 APDS-FS is something one cannot control. Beyond ~400 m, the dart can land anywhere around the crosshair which significantly reduces the PTL's ability to defend AI waves from a distance. The post-penetration effect is poor too, a taking out targets in one shot usually takes an ammo detonation or a lined-up crew shot. Perhaps the only advantages of the PTL02 in assault is the nice gunsight zoom and its BR, allowing it to always downtier and fight vehicles from earlier times.
At the start of an Assault match, quickly rush to a good position. It is better to familiarise yourself with spots that allow you to face enemies from one direction only, as with any other tank in Assault. Make the most out of the early waves where light and medium tanks are present. While you reload, fire off some shots from your roof-mounted HMG at the AI's tracks and gun barrel. This may not destroy the module effectively but can at least damage them, granting you assists when teammates finish them off. Hard targets to destroy are post-war heavy tanks such as IS-3 and T32. The accuracy of its PTP86 gun is sufficient to snipe enemies at longer ranges, but make sure to pick the most suitable shell for you need (HEAT-FS or APFSDS depending on your research progress); in most cases of its battle rating, the gun can make sure your shot lands on your intended position thanks to the automatic ballistic solution.
Although being sluggish when stock, the PTL02 can still drive faster than some other stock teammates on hard surfaces or downhills, allowing it to quickly reposition itself. This can be advantageous when a wave of AI is about to break through friendly defence and cap the point, as the PTL02 can get to a supportive position in time to destroy some AI. However, being the first to face a swarm of AI, you usually will be targetted first and the thin armour will not provide any significant protection. Now you can try reversing out of a cover to expose only the back half of the hull, hiding the engine in cover. The empty space below the turret will absorb quite some shells. Do not forget to rush to a nearest repair point to instantly repair and rearm your damaged PTL02.
- Enemies worth noting
- Rooikat Mk.1D, Centauro, M1128: these wheeled vehicles perform a similar flanking role on the battlefield. Therefore you will often encounter them while flanking or on your way to flank. These vehicles are generally faster, both forwards and backwards, have better gun depression or better optics/ammo, so they may already be at a cap point before you. If this is the case, ambush around their location and passively hunt them down, as the PTL02's rather slow acceleration and bad reverse prevents it from being offensive in terms of mobility. The Rooikat lacks thermal sights, making it easier to spot and destroy preemptively. The Centauro has stronger armour and a more spaced out crew layout. The M1128 can only be encountered in a full uptier and has an unmanned turret, good thermal sights for all crew members, and slat armour that occasionally interferes with HEATFS rounds.
- AMX-10RC: a contemporary French 6x6 wheeled light tank armed with a 105 mm gun, APFSDS rounds, and thermal sights for the gunner. The AMX-10RC has a rather low profile compared to other wheeled tanks and can be a dangerous sniper. Unlike the other wheeled vehicles mentioned previously, the AMX-10RC does not have any sort of gun stabilizer. Try to attack it when it is on the move and cannot shoot accurately.
- M60A1 RISE (P), Centurion Mk.5 AVRE, Sho't Kal Dalet: these three medium tanks have good frontal armour and are equipped with ERA, so the HEATFS and stock Type 71 APDS-FS will have some difficulty in direct engagements. All three have hull side armour of at most 50 mm, so the best option is usually to get a slight flank and overmatch their side armour using the APFSDS. In a last resort frontal engagement, all of them can be targeted in the turret ring area, though that is a difficult shot. The Sho't Kal can be ammo-racked through the lower glacis and the AVRE has some ERA gaps around the gun mantlet. Shooting the AVRE in the lower glacis is possible but somewhat annoying due to the obscuring plow attachment, and it is also hard to hit the ammo racks below the turret basket. These problems disappear once the top APFSDS is unlocked, as it has more than enough power to penetrate the three tanks anywhere and at any distance.
- Gepard, Type 87, M3 Bradley, BMP-2, etc.: these vehicles are fast and armed with fully-stabilized autocannons that will very easily rip through the PTL02. Keep a safe distance and try to ambush them.
Overall, the PTL02 can be put to good use by players who are skilled with using APFSDS and HEATFS rounds, perhaps from prior experience on the Type 69, and are willing to trade any semblance of armour for increased scouting abilities, better mobility, and a very powerful top APFSDS round. The combination of thermals, a stabilized gun, and HEATFS + both APFSDS can prove useful in many situations and is good training for the fast-paced combat seen at higher ranks.
Pros and cons
- High speed and agility on hard and even terrain
- Hard-hitting 100 mm cannon capable of firing powerful rounds
- Powerful DYW PT-86-100 APFSDS shell with 381 mm penetration which is very effective at its BR, still highly potent in uptiers
- Gunner thermal optics significantly boost its fighting capability, especially at night
- Fast turret traverse
- Laser rangefinder with automatic ballistic solution
- Two-plane stabiliser allows better targeting
- Roof-mounted 12.7 mm HMG is lethal against helicopters and light vehicles
- Very thin armour, can be mowed down by common .50 cal MG frontally as well as knocked out by HE shells through overpressure
- Tall profile with prominent antenna
- Extremely slow reverse speed for a wheeled vehicle
- Suspension is soft and bouncy, hull wobbles severely when breaking to a stop
- As with other wheeled vehicles, poor mobility on soft or uneven terrain
- Poor gun depression (-4 degrees) renders it useless in hilly battlefields
- No thermal sight for commander
- Stock shell will struggle to penetrate many enemies
- Top APFSDS round is a tier IV modification
- Rear-mounted turret restricts overextending tactic
In the early 1980s, Factory 256 (now known as NORINCO Chongqing Tiema Industrial Cooperation) started their version of a domestic wheeled APC program coded WZ551. The factory decided to build the APC based on the Mercedes-Benz 2026 off-road truck which has just been introduced into Mainland China, the program didn't go well as they decided later on to make major changes to the propulsion system and therefore the WZ551 was delayed. This delay caused the withdrawal of funding from the 7th 5-year project and Factory 256 needed to export this APC in order to recoup their investment. However, in 1986, the prototype of the WZ551 was approved by the PLAGF and was selected as their future wheeled APC. The WZ551's appearance resembled the French VAB APC, which may have influenced the former's design. It was approved for production in 1988 and designated as ZSL90 and later ZSL92 with improved propulsion. The WZ551A chassis was then designed to mount different weaponry ranging from riot-suppression equipment, mortar, IFV turret and anti-tank weaponry.
Just a few years prior to the official introduction of WZ551 and its variant, PLAGF kept their eyes on the development of wheeled assault guns from NATO countries, and Factory 256 was also among one of the factories that was asked to design a new domestic wheeled assault gun; they then opted for Type 86 100 mm AT gun as the main gun of their prototype Type 87 wheeled assault gun. While it didn't make it through state certifications, the PLAGF did saw how the extensive use of wheeled assault guns during the Gulf War helped the Coalition as a light, mobile gun platform while remaining less expensive to operate than conventional MBTs. Later, when the tension between Mainland China and the Taiwanese Government got more intense (the 2nd Taiwan Strait Crisis), PLAGF also found the potential of using a wheeled assault gun with the extensive and well-developed road network of Taiwan in view of the possible landing operations; thus WZ551A got a second chance. After some rapid development, PTL97 with 100 mm AT gun passed field tests, it was then further upgraded with a new image-stabilized FCS and some redesign of the main gun. The newly designed PTL02 finally passed state certification in October 2001 and was first publicly shown in the 50th Anniversary of the Establishment of PRC parade, as the 12th phalanx of the vehicle column in the parade. It serves as a quick response mobile gun platform for the artillery troops.
In the late 1980s, the NORINCO corporation successfully tested the Type 87 armoured vehicle. The prototype featured a 6x6 chassis of a prospective Type 90 armoured personnel carrier with a 100 mm anti-tank gun. The prototype vehicle successfully passed the tests, but was not put into service.
The army authorities returned to the project in the early 90s, when, in the course of modernization, the PLA began to form mobile motorized infantry formations. This was where the Type 87 researches came in handy: by 2003, on the same 6x6 chassis of the new Chinese armoured vehicles ZSL92 and ZSL92A, a PTL02 infantry support vehicle appeared with a 100 mm smooth-bore cannon in the turret. The 19-ton infantry fire support vehicle possessed significant mobility and a weapon capable of effectively destroying fortifications and armoured vehicles, except for modern MBTs.
Mass production of the PTL02 has been going on since 2004, the SPG is widely used by the Chinese army and is produced for export in a version with a 105 mm gun, unified for the use of Western-style ammunition.
Related development- WZ551
- WMA301- export version on the same chassis with NATO 105 mm gun and revised turret.
- AFT09- ATGM carrier based on the 4x4 WZ550 chassis
- Other vehicles of similar configuration and role
|China North Industries Corporation (中国兵器工业集团有限公司)|
|Type 62||▂Type 62 · Type 62|
|Type 63||Type 63 · ZTS63|
|Main Battle Tanks|
|WZ120||Type 59 · ZTZ59A · ZTZ59D1|
|WZ121||Type 69 · Type 69-IIa** · T-69 II G**|
|WZ122||ZTZ88B · ZTZ88A · ZTZ96 · ZTZ96A · ZTZ96A (P)|
|WZ123||ZTZ99-II · ZTZ99-III|
|WZ1001||WZ1001(E) LCT · ZTZ99A|
|Tank Destroyers||AFT09 · PTL02 · WMA301** · PTZ89 · ZLT11|
|SPAA||ZSD63/PG87* · WZ305** · PGZ09 · PGZ04A|
|China light tanks|
|Object 211 · Type 63 · ZTS63|
|WZ551||PTL02 · WMA301|
|ROC||M41D · M64|
|USA||␗M8 LAC · ␗M3A3 Stuart · ␗M3A3 (1st PTG) · ␗M5A1 · ␗M24 · ␗M18 GMC · ␗M41A3|
|USSR||␗T-26 · T-26 No.531 · ␗PT-76|