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The ZTZ96 is a Rank VI Chinese medium tank with a battle rating of 9.7. It was introduced in Update 1.93 "Shark Attack".

The first Chinese MBT in the game not directly based on or modified from a foreign design, the ZTZ96 has a more distinctive appearance and introduces several features not seen in previous Chinese medium tanks. The general layout is reminiscent of the Soviet T-72, but upon inspection, major differences are apparent in the design of the turret and hull. Most obviously, the welded turret is quite flat and angular compared to the dome shape traditionally favored by the Soviet Union and China. The hull is also a departure from the traditional T-54 chassis, featuring smaller and more numerous roadwheels, a more steeply sloped upper glacis, and a more prominent lower glacis. Composite armor is present in the turret cheeks and on the upper glacis.

The ZTZ96 features a 125mm smoothbore cannon with an autoloader similar to the T-72, making it well armed. Its shell selection is somewhat limited but the APFSDS and HE shells should be sufficient for dealing with most ground targets.

General info

Survivability and armour

The ZTZ96's armor is a significant improvement over previous Chinese tanks like the CM11 and ZTZ59D1 but is not very competitive for its rank. It has a significant amount of chemical protection in the cheeks and upper glacis (580-600mm). After the reduction of 120mm HEAT-FS penetration in 1.93, this amount generally sufficient for resisting HEAT-FS rounds from enemy MBTs but remains vulnerable to certain ATGMs. Kinetic protection is less adequate, ranging from 350-380mm. This is marginal against early APFSDS rounds, but most enemies at its rank can punch through it with their top rounds, not even mentioning the rounds of the Rank VII MBTs that the ZTZ96 will commonly face in battle.

As with other modern MBTs, the gun mantlet is highly susceptible to incoming fire, which can knock out the breech or hurt the crew. The lower glacis is also a weak point and should be hidden from enemy view when possible.

The survivability leaves much to be desired. The autoloader uses a layout similar to the T-72A; a penetrating shot to the lower glacis or hull side has a high likelihood of detonating the ammunition and instantly destroying the tank. Granted, this is slightly less likely to happen than in the T-64/80 since the propellant charges are stacked horizontally instead of vertically. In addition, with 3 only crew members, it is easier to knock out the tank with a good shot, particularly since the driver and gunner are lined up when the turret is facing forwards.


The mobility of the ZTZ96 is generally unimpressive. It has 17.8 hp/ton when fully upgraded, which is about the same as the T-64B and less than the Challenger Mk.2; these two tanks are already considered quite immobile for their rank. The reverse speed of -9 km/h is painful but better than the agonizing 4 km/h of the Soviet T-64/72; do not count on being able to retreat from danger rapidly. In general the ZTZ96 will be among the last to arrive on the battlefield in top rank battles, and one should plan accordingly.


Main armament

Main article: Type 88C (125 mm)

Give the reader information about the characteristics of the main gun. Assess its effectiveness in a battle based on the reloading speed, ballistics and the power of shells. Do not forget about the flexibility of the fire, that is how quickly the cannon can be aimed at the target, open fire on it and aim at another enemy. Add a link to the main article on the gun: {{main|Name of the weapon}}. Describe in general terms the ammunition available for the main gun. Give advice on how to use them and how to fill the ammunition storage.

Machine guns

Offensive and anti-aircraft machine guns not only allow you to fight some aircraft but also are effective against lightly armoured vehicles. Evaluate machine guns and give recommendations on its use.

Usage in battles

Describe the tactics of playing in the vehicle, the features of using vehicles in the team and advice on tactics. Refrain from creating a "guide" - do not impose a single point of view but instead give the reader food for thought. Describe the most dangerous enemies and give recommendations on fighting them. If necessary, note the specifics of the game in different modes (AB, RB, SB).

Pros and cons

Summarise and briefly evaluate the vehicle in terms of its characteristics and combat effectiveness. Mark its pros and cons in a bulleted list. Try not to use more than 6 points for each of the characteristics. Avoid using categorical definitions such as "bad", "good" and the like - use substitutions with softer forms such as "inadequate" and "effective".


  • Powerful gun with access to high-penetrating APFSDS
  • Autoloader reloads the cannon even when putting out fires or replacing crew members
  • HE shell is currently the most powerful available to any high-rank MBT, can cripple or outright destroy enemies with a good shot
  • Low profile
  • First Chinese tank equipped with composite armor, quite resistant to chemical munitions
  • Roof mounted heavy machine gun is useful against aircraft and light targets


  • Mobility is below average at its rank
  • Composite armor's kinetic protection leaves some to be desired
  • Has a larger lower front plate than Soviet MBTs, no composite armor there
  • Autoloader carousel is a giant ammo rack
  • Slightly slower reload speed than the T-72A
  • No thermal sights, unlike the preceding ZTZ59D1
  • Poor reverse speed
  • Below average gun depression (-6°)
  • Only 3 crew members


The People's Liberation Army relied on the Type 59 as its primary main battle tank for most of the Cold War. While cheap, reliable, and quite upgradeable, its design began to shows its age over the decades. The Type 69 series differed little from the Type 59 in terms of appearance and was not used in quantity by the PLA. After relations with the Western world improved at the start of the 1980s, foreign technology was purchased and used to upgrade the PLA's stock of existing tanks. However, there was only so much that could be done to bring the Type 59 up to a competitive level and more efforts were devoted to domestic tank development.

The new Type 80/88 tank retained the general appearance of the Type 59, but its chassis was heavily redesigned, featuring a new suspension, a licensed German engine, and other changes. The turret retained the cast dome design but a 105mm gun was installed.

As with other PRC tank models, development continued for a long time and a large number of variants were made. The Type 85 branch featured welded turrets; the initial Type 85-1 "Storm" was intended for export and was otherwise similar to the original series, but no orders were placed from the PLA or export customers. A more radical development was the Type 85-IIM, which featured a welded turret equipped with an autoloading 125mm gun derived from the T-72. It also featured composite armor. This variant was exported to Pakistan under the designation of Type 85-IIAP.

The Type 85-IIM was later procured for domestic use, with some changes, as the Type 88C or Type 96, spurred by the poor performance of the Iraqi Army's Type 79 tanks (which featured roughly the same protection as the 80/88) in the Gulf War. As can be expected, this was further developed into the Type 96A and 96B variants. The 96A introduced applique "arrowhead" armor on the front turret face and ERA mounts on the upper glacis, improving protection significantly, and the electronics were improved to a standard approaching to the top-line Type 99 tank, including a gunner's thermal sight and FCS upgrades. The 96A has participated in Tank Biathlons, where it scored well in gunnery but was let down by its underpowered engine. The ultimate 96B variant appeared in 2016 and features comprehensive all-round upgrades with a much more powerful 1130 hp engine. Finally, an export variant called the VT-2 has been showcased by Norinco, generally similar to the Type 96A.

At present the Type 96 series can be considered the backbone of the PLA's tank forces, featuring good protection and firepower with a relatively low weight and cost, comparable in role to the Russian T-90. Elite units are issued the more advanced and heavier Type 99, but cost and terrain reasons have limited its deployment. Outside of China, the Type 96 has been exported to Sudan; reportedly these tanks have destroyed several South Sudanese T-72s in combat.

Devblog Description

Work on the ZTZ96 began in the early 1990s, as new Chinese MBT with larger 125mm smoothbore cannon supported by an autoloading mechanism and new composite armor protection. The first prototype was built in May 1991 and underwent successful testing until January of the following year. Having received the official designation ZTZ85-IIAP, production of the vehicle commenced, with the Pakistani army receiving its first units shortly afterwards.

Several years later, the decision was made to adopt the ZTZ85-IIAP for domestic use as a stopgap measure to equip the PLA with a capable combat vehicle. In 1996, the vehicles destined for PLA use were formally redesignated into ZTZ96 and production of the type began in 1998.

- From Devblog


Excellent additions to the article would be video guides, screenshots from the game, and photos.

See also

Links to the articles on the War Thunder Wiki that you think will be useful for the reader, for example:

  • reference to the series of the vehicles;
  • links to approximate analogues of other nations and research trees.

External links

China medium tanks
  Type 59 · ZTZ59D1 · Type 69 · T-69 II G · ZTZ96 · ZTZ96A · ZTZ99
American  ␗M4A4 · M4A4 (1st PTG) · ␗M4A1 (75) W · ␗M48A1 · M60A3 TTS · CM11
Soviet  ␗T-34 (1943) · ␗Т-34-85 (S-53) · Т-34-85 Gai · T-34-85 No.215 · Т-62 №545
Japanese  ␗Chi-Ha · ␗Chi-Ha Kai