The ZTZ88A (88A式主战坦克, coded WZ122G) is a rank VI Chinese medium tank with a battle rating of 8.7 (AB/RB/SB). It was introduced in Update "Wind of Change".
An attempt of the PLAGF to modernize from the previous masses of ZTZ59 medium tanks, the ZTZ88A offers a superior engine, slightly better hull protection thanks to a new hull, and better firepower with a long barrel 105 mm gun, making it a more mobile alternative to previous tanks while retaining decent armour and a powerful cannon. It can be considered a stepping stone between the T-69 II G and the more modern ZTZ96, having a cast turret and armament resembling the former and a chassis similar to the latter.
Survivability and armour
At first glance, the ZTZ88A still resembles a T-54 or its Chinese domestic counterpart, ZTZ59, but with a closer look at its hull, players will find that it is a new design. The UFP is more angled than the T-54's (67° vs 60°), so the base protection is slightly better than that of the T-54/T-62. Furthermore, thanks to the advancement in composite armour in China, it is also the first Chinese vehicle to be equipped with composite armour as an applique on UFP. Compared to similar hull armor seen on the Soviet T-55AM-1 and T-62M-1, the ZTZ88A has less chemical protection (around 380-420 mm) and 105 mm HEATFS may sometimes be able to damage the driver and fuel tanks towards the lower portion of the UFP. Angling the hull slightly can help mitigate this. Surprisingly, it has better kinetic protection than its Soviet contemporaries: the UFP can resist APFSDS rounds with less than around 180 mm of 60° penetration, so some US and Soviet offerings like 100 mm 3BM25, 105 mm M735, and even 125 mm 3BM15 are blocked. Unfortunately the ubiquitous 105 mm DM23/M111 round used by the Leopard A1A1 for example will penetrate with few issues, but still, the ZTZ88A has one of the most protected hulls at its tier.
The side armor was reduced to 60 mm, so do be aware of any vehicles with autocannons - at the tier, most autocannons have APDS or APFSDS at their disposal. The side skirts can help somewhat at angles.
The turret, on the other hand, is poorly protected comparing to the hull. It is very similar to previous Soviet/Chinese dome-shaped turret designs with only slightly greater thickness. Unlike the ZTZ59D1 and T-69 II G, the ZTZ88A's turret does not have any ERA coverage, leaving it extremely vulnerable to stock HEAT-FS rounds as well as ATGMs, which are all commonly found at this tier. Thus the uncovered steel armour cannot provide much protection, if any, against ammunitions like APFSDS or HEATFS. Tanks that mainly use chemical rounds are especially more threatening, such as M551 and BMP-1.
Like the previous Soviet/Chinese designs, the crew of 4 tankers is packed in a slightly bigger but still confined space. Although the ammo rack is protected by fuel tanks, the abundance of APFSDS or HEAT at the tier isn't really concerned about these improvements. Be very careful when moving on the battlefield, a penetrating shot will very likely result in a knockout of the crew or ammunition detonation.
- Rolled homogeneous armour (Hull)
- Cast homogeneous armour (Turret)
|Armour||Front (Slope angle)||Sides||Rear||Roof|
|Hull|| 100 + 20 mm (67°) Upper
80 mm (52°) Lower
| 60 mm Top
50 mm Bottom
|45 mm (3°)||30 mm (89°)|
|Turret|| 200-300 mm Turret front (Volumetric)
70-400 mm Gun mantlet (Volumetric)
|165-250 mm (Volumetric)||60-100 mm (Volumetric)||30 mm (87°)|
|Cupola||80 mm (cylindrical)||30 mm|
|Composite armour||Frontal effective protection||Sides|
|Hull|| Upper glacis:
280 mm Kinetic / 380 mm Chemical
- Tracks and suspension wheels are 20 mm thick
Thanks to improvements during the early 1980s, the ZTZ88A is equipped with a NORINCO 12150ZL engine with 730 hp, the same as the succeeding ZTZ96, and the chassis has a new suspension offering a smoother ride. The 10% increase in weight compared to the ZTZ59D1 is more than compensated by the 40% increase in engine power. This gives the ZTZ88A a vast improvement in power-weight ratio to about 19.0 hp/ton and thus better a top speed at 57 km/h compared to its predecessors. Although it is not quite as fast as NATO counterparts at similar tier, it is certainly a very welcome improvement. For comparison, the Leopard A1A1 has about 19.6 hp/ton, the T-62M-1 has about 16.4 hp/ton, and the M60A1 RISE (P) only has 14.1 hp/ton. Thanks to the improved horsepower, the ZTZ88A has a considerably faster hull traverse comparing to older tanks like the ZTZ59D1, which is helpful to angle the hull quickly or to wiggle through tight spaces.
The reverse speed however is very much unchanged. Capped at a mere -7 km/h, the ZTZ88A will not be able to reverse out of a dangerous situation unlike more agile foes (eg. Leopard 1, AMX-30, etc). This can be quite risky, meaning that the player must think carefully before peeking out of a cover/hill.
|Game Mode||Max Speed (km/h)||Weight (tons)||Engine power (horsepower)||Power-to-weight ratio (hp/ton)|
Modifications and economy
The introduction of the Royal Ordnance 105 mm L7 cannon marked the transformation of PLAGF from Warsaw Pact armaments to Western ones. The ZPL94 mounted on the ZTZ88A has one of the longest barrels in the L7 family, giving it a higher muzzle velocity over its Western counterparts. In addition, the ZPL94 reloads more quickly than the ZTZ59D1's Type 83 cannon by about 1 second. While it still doesn't reload quite as quickly as NATO tanks, the gap is significantly smaller.
|105 mm ZPL94||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|
|Ammunition|| Type of
| Fuse delay
| Fuse sensitivity
| Explosive Mass
(TNT equivalent) (g)
The ZTZ88A offers a range of shells at the player's disposal, and players who already own the T-69 II G will be very familiar with them as both tanks share the same shells.
The first option that comes stock is the Type 83 HEAT having identical performance to NATO's DM13 HEAT. At its tier, it is still sufficient to penetrate most tanks without ERA or composite armour and its explosive mass is enough to knock out lighter vehicles with overpressure on occasion. Some opponents to watch out for include the Sho't Kal Dalet, T-55AM-1/T-62M-1, and M60A1 RISE (P).
The DTB-1 is very different from most HE shells at its tier - it is a VT shell, meaning that the shell detonates when it is close to other vehicles, including aircraft; this is a trait that the ZTZ88A's NATO counterparts don't have. It has 1.66 kg of explosive mass, which can sometimes knock out lighter vehicles like SPAAs, but its real utility lies in its anti-air potential. It is suggested to use to target aircraft or helicopters which happen to be within your elevation angle - a hit from DTB-1 is very lethal to aircraft.
The Type 83 HESH is another story. It is a common HESH found on NATO vehicles - a solid hit on vehicles can trigger a lethal post-penetration effect, but the results of HESH is mixed. It generates a wide cone of shrapnel but the effects tend to be rather shallow or inconsistent. It is still possible to snipe stationary vehicles hiding behind cover with Type 83 HESH in some cases so bring some if desired - the laser rangefinder will certainly help with this.
The last round available is Type 83 APDS, which is actually an APFSDS round. Thanks to the longer barrel of the ZPL94, the overall penetration is slightly higher than M111/DM23 APFSDS at 351 mm point-blank; this is the go-to shell for the ZTZ88A. It might not have the highest penetration at its tier, especially compared to the PTL02 and PTZ89, but it can still hit enemies hard. There are a few opponents to watch out for in uptiers: the British Chieftain Mk 10 and Challenger Mk.2/Mk.3 have tough turrets, and the Soviet T-72A (when spaded), T-72AV (TURMS-T), T-64B, and T-72B have tough turret and UFP armor that the ZTZ88A cannot penetrate without aiming for weak spots.
|45||40 (+5)||23 (+22)||1 (+44)||No|
Although there are 23 shells in the ready rack, only 19 of them are protected by the fuel tanks, not the 4 shells on the left side; so it is suggested to bring only 20 shells into battle (19 in the rack + 1 preloaded in the breech).
The ZTZ88A still uses the same machine guns from the obsolete T-54s despite its introduction date in the early 1990s. The DShK is still sufficient to gun down strafing aircraft/helicopters or lighter vehicles but suffers from a small 50 round belt capacity, while the SGMT is only good for harassing enemies or sometimes targeting exposed crews.
|12.7 mm DShK|
|Mount||Capacity (Belt)||Fire rate||Vertical||Horizontal|
|7.62 mm SGMT|
|Mount||Capacity (Belt)||Fire rate||Vertical||Horizontal|
Usage in battles
For Soviet or Chinese players, the ZTZ88A would feel like a faster T-55A or ZTZ59D1, which is indeed true thanks to its 730 hp engine, giving it higher mobility over them. It might not be the fastest tank at its tier, but the ZTZ88A can still follow the main forces with its speed. For those who are playing against the ZTZ88A, the tank looks very similar to T-55s but they may be surprised when they don't penetrate its UFP thanks to the applique armour. As discussed, it might not stop all contemporary APFSDS or HEATFS, but it certainly helps stop earlier shells and it can still surprise common tanks like the XM-1 (GM) that lack good angled penetration. The turret is another story however - although it is slightly thicker than the T-55s, it will not stop any well-placed shots at its tier. Overall, the ZTZ88A's additional hull armor reduces the likelihood of being destroyed in one shot, but it should not be considered a consistently well-protected tank for advancing straight into enemy fire or peeking out of a hull-down position.
The firepower of the ZTZ88A is certainly sufficient thanks to the longer barrel ZPL94 gun with a variety of shells, faster reload, and improved gun handling over previous PRC tanks; but like many Eastern Bloc/Chinese tanks, it doesn't quite have the reaction time of NATO counterparts and the gunsight is fixed at 8x magnification, so sniping with this gun may be a problem. It also lacks thermal sights from the gunner. Thus, good situational awareness is required.
The ZTZ88A is the earliest non-premium Chinese vehicle with access to the DTB-1 HE-VT round. Players who do not own the T-69 II G or WMA301 may find it a nifty surprise, but there are some limitations to be aware of. It has a considerable explosive content for an anti-air shell but the muzzle velocity of 825 m/s is rather slow by Rank VI standards and it takes 500 m of travel distance to arm. The ZTZ88A also does not have very good vertical elevation angles. With these factors in mind, DTB-1 is best used against helicopters, particularly those that are hovering or moving in straight lines and not paying attention. The laser rangefinder helps immensely for vertical aim adjustment but it is up to the user to provide the proper lead against moving targets.
Overall, the ZTZ88A provides a more mobile and higher firepower alternative for the PLAGF compared to NATO or Soviet counterparts but still has some flaws. It is best used in a more aggressive midfielding role where its significantly better speed compared to the ZTZ59D1, M60A3 TTS, and PTZ89 can be used to rush to objective points and overwatch positions, and its heavier armor and lower profile compared to the PTL02 or WMA301 allows it to survive attacks from IFVs, aircraft, and artillery more easily. DTB-1 gives it some ability to counter early-game helicopter rushes or ATGM helicopters later on. Assess the battlefield to determine if better sniping capabilities, bigger guns, or greater speed are needed on the next spawn. But as one of the most flexible options available in the Chinese lineup at this BR, there is rarely a poor time to bring out the ZTZ88A.
Pros and cons
- Satisfactory frontal arc protection for its tier, UFP can stop some APFSDS
- Long barrel L7 with a variety of shells at its disposal
- Improved reload and gun handling compared to the ZTZ59D1
- HE-VT shell offers basic anti-air capabilities, especially against helicopters
- Improved engine with a higher output than its predecessors, leading to better agility than ZTZ59D1 and T-69 II G
- Tightly packed crew and components
- Poor gun depression and fixed zoom gunsight
- Only has composite armour on the UFP, turret is completely unprotected
- No thermal sights, disadvantaged against thermal-equipped tanks like Type 74G
- No ERA, turret is especially vulnerable to missiles and HEAT shells
- Slow reverse speed can be fatal in some scenarios
After the Damansky/Zhenbao Island (珍宝岛) incident where the PLAGF captured a T-62 from the Soviet border guards, they soon realized that the existing ZTZ59s and later WZ121 (ZTZ69) were nowhere near comparable with the masses of the latest Soviet MBTs. The Commission for Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (国防科学技术委员会, COSTIND) and Fifth Ministry of Machine Building (第五机械工业部;五机部) accelerated their project coded "Project 2-4" (二四会战; established on 1970/2/4) for a new MBT which would be known as Project 122 (122工程). The project was dropped a few years later after revisions on the development route but this trained new batches of tank designers and engineers for future projects.
Meanwhile, one of the "fail-safe" versions of the designs in Project 122, WZ1225 with the newly-imported 105 mm gun and improved engine, designed by Fang Weixian (方慰先, designer of later ZTZ85, 88, and 96) passed state evaluation and inherited the industrial code WZ122. The later revised design of WZ1225 would become the basis of the later domestically designed ZTZ80 (80式主战坦克) tanks.
The ZTZ88 series was a hybrid of the ZTZ85 (85式主战坦克) which was aimed for export with a redesigned hull and the turret from ZTZ80, aka ZTZ80-I. The ZTZ88A was the improved version with a ZPL94 105 mm gun. What was achieved in ZTZ85 and ZTZ88A would later be used in the new 2nd generation MBT of PLAGF - the ZTZ96 (ZTZ88C). Although it wasn't seen among the tanks at the 1999 National Day parade like its predecessor ZTZ88B was, the ZTZ88A could be seen in pictures from PLA media and they were last seen in large scale during the ongoing Sino-Indo Border Conflicts where numbers of them were deployed near the LAC.
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|China North Industries Corporation (中国兵器工业集团有限公司)|
|Light Tanks/IFV||▂Type 62* · Type 62* · Type 63-I* · ZBD86|
|Main Battle Tanks|
|WZ120||Type 59* · ZTZ59A* · ZTZ59D1|
|WZ121||Type 69* · T-69 II G**|
|WZ122||ZTZ88A · ZTZ96 · ZTZ96A · ZTZ96A (P)|
|WZ123||ZTZ99-II · ZTZ99-III|
|SPAA||ZSD63* · WZ305* · PGZ09 · PGZ04A|
|Tank Destroyers||PTL02 · WMA301** · PTZ89 · ZLT11|
|*Previously Fifth Ministry of Machine Building vehicles|
|China medium tanks|
|Type 59/69||Type 59 · ZTZ59A · ZTZ59D1 · Type 69 · T-69 II G|
|ZTZ96||ZTZ96 · ZTZ96A · ZTZ96A (P)|
|ZTZ99||ZTZ99-II · ZTZ99-III · ZTZ99A|
|Japan||␗Chi-Ha · ␗Chi-Ha Kai|
|USA||␗M4A4 · ␗M4A4 (1st PTG) · ␗M4A1 (75) W · ␗M48A1 · ␗M60A3 TTS|
|USSR||␗T-34 (1943) · ␗Т-34-85 (S-53) · T-34-85 No.215 · Т-62 №545|