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The ZTZ96(sometimes referred to as Type 96) is a rank VI Chinese medium tank with a battle rating of 9.3 (AB/RB/SB). 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 favoured 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 armour is present in the turret cheeks and on the upper glacis.

The ZTZ96 features a 125 mm 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 armour 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 (580-600 mm). After the reduction of 120 mm 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 350-380 mm. 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. However, due to the design of the upper glacis (which more closely resembles the T-54), there is no driver's viewport weakspot that plagues the contemporary T-64/72/80 tanks.

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.

While hull penetrations tend to be fatal, this is not necessarily the case for turret penetrations. It is possible to empty the turret of spare ammunition by taking fewer rounds (22 + 1 for a full autoloader carousel and one in the gun). If an enemy shoots a turret cheek, usually only one crew member will perish, giving the player time to retreat if the gunner is lost or retaliate if only the commander is lost. The autoloader will ensure that the gun is loaded during this time.


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 -7 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. However, the tank is still quite manoeuvrable and agile in its hull traverse, allowing it to weave through dense forests and urban areas with relative ease and react quickly to threats.

Mobility characteristics
Weight (tons) Add-on armour
weight (tons)
Max speed (km/h)
41.0 N/A 64 (AB)
57 (RB/SB)
Engine power (horsepower)
Mode Stock Upgraded
Arcade  ???  ???
Realistic/Simulator  ??? 730
Power-to-weight ratio (hp/ton)
Mode Stock Upgraded
Arcade  ??.??  ??.??
Realistic/Simulator  ??.?? 17.8


Main armament

Main article: Type 88C (125 mm)

The ZTZ96 makes up for its drawbacks in protection and mobility with a superb gun. The 125 mm Type 88C smoothbore gun is capable of firing APFSDS, HE and HEAT-FS ammunition. For its battle rating of 9.7, the 125-I shell performs very well, offering 466 mm of flat penetration at point blank and dropping only to 434 mm at 2 kilometres. It's angled performance is exceptionally good at 269 mm at 60 degrees, outperforming even the best Soviet APFSDS round, 3BM42 whose angled penetration is only 248 mm. For reference, the 125-I performs comparably to Western long-rod sabot rounds such as DM33. The HEAT-FS round is nothing special with a standard 480 mm of penetration that is only really effective at destroying lightly armoured vehicles such as SPAA. The HE round is of the Soviet-style, packing a whopping 5.4 kg of TNT equivalent that can deal devastating damage against Western tanks' weakspots of the hull and turret roof and turret ring. It's recommended to entirely ditch the HEAT-FS for HE as it arguably performs better in the anti-tank role, ironically.

125 mm Type 88C
Capacity Vertical
40 -6°/+14° ±180° Two-plane
Turret rotation speed (°/s)
Mode Stock Upgraded Prior +
Full crew
Prior +
Expert qualif.
Prior +
Ace qualif.
Arcade  ??.??  ??.??  ??.??  ??.??  ??.??
Realistic  ??.??  ??.??  ??.??  ??.??  ??.??
Reloading rate (seconds)
Stock Prior +
Full crew
Prior +
Expert qualif.
Prior +
Ace qualif.
 ??.??  ??.??  ??.??  ??.??


Penetration statistics
Ammunition Type of
Penetration @ 0° Angle of Attack (mm)
10 m 100 m 500 m 1,000 m 1,500 m 2,000 m
125-I APFSDS 466 464 458 450 442 434
DTB-125 HE 45 45 45 45 45 45
DTP-125 HEATFS 480 480 480 480 480 480
Shell details
Ammunition Type of
Mass (kg)
Fuse delay
Fuse sensitivity
Explosive Mass
(TNT equivalent) (g)
Normalisation at 30°
from horizontal
0% 50% 100%
125-I APFSDS 1,730 4.02 N/A N/A N/A  ?.?° 78° 80° 81°
DTB-125 HE 850 23.0 0.1 0.1 5,463.9 +0.0° 79° 80° 81°
DTP-125 HEATFS 905 18.0 N/A 0.1 2,188.8 +0.0° 65° 72° 75°

Ammo racks

rack empty
rack empty
rack empty
rack empty
rack empty
rack empty
40  ?? (+??)  ?? (+??)  ?? (+??)  ?? (+??)  ?? (+??)  ?? (+??)  ??


ZTZ96 Optics
Default magnification Maximum magnification
Main Gun optics X7.2 X8.0
Comparable optics  ???

Machine guns

12.7 mm QJC88A
Commander cupola mount
(Belt capacity)
Fire rate
500 (150) 700 -5°/+60° ±180°
7.62 mm Type 86
Coaxial mount
(Belt capacity)
Fire rate
2,500 (250) 700 N/A N/A

Usage in battles

Like preceding Chinese MBTs, the ZTZ96 is not suited for rapid assaults due to its substandard mobility and should be played conservatively. Let speedier teammates charge first into combat while you cover them and move to good overwatch positions. Situational awareness is key since faster opponents may arrive before you and the tank lacks thermal sights. The gun handling is a bit better than contemporary Soviet MBTs but it still has a slow vertical traverse speed.

Before the APFSDS is unlocked, you will have to rely on the stock HEAT-FS and HE. Neither of these ammo types are particularly good for sniping due to their muzzle velocity, so unless you are a crack shot it is best to stay at close to medium range. The HEAT-FS will struggle against enemies with decent composite armor (of which there are many) and in frontal engagements should be fired at weak spots like gun mantlets and turret rings. The HE has a slower muzzle velocity but can potentially be much deadlier; lightly armored vehicles like IFVs, SPAAs, and certain MBTs (e.g. Leopard A1A1) will often hull-break or explode if hit anywhere. Even the most heavily armored opponents like the mighty M1A2 Abrams and Leopard 2A5 can be instantly knocked out by hits to the gun optics or roof mounted machine guns. If this isn't possible, hits to other sensitive areas like the turret ring and tracks can still cause major damage to various crew members and modules, allowing you or your teammates to finish the target off.

Once the APFSDS is unlocked, it should be effective against the majority of the tanks seen at the ZTZ96's rank and is well suited for the ZTZ96's recommended laid-back playstyle. It is still a good idea to take some HE shells due to their utility and instant-knockout capability.


Tier Mobility Protection Firepower
I Tracks Parts Horizontal Drive
II Suspension Brake System FPE NVD Adjustment of Fire
III Filters Crew Replenishment Smoke grenade Elevation Mechanism Laser rangefinder
IV Transmission Engine ESS Artillery Support 125-I

Pros and cons


  • 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 armour, quite resistant to chemical munitions
  • Roof mounted heavy machine gun is useful against aircraft and light targets
  • Relatively-faster turret rotation speed, compared to contemporary Soviet tanks


  • Mobility is below average at its rank
  • Composite armour's kinetic protection leaves some to be desired
  • Has a larger lower front plate than Soviet MBTs, no composite armour 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 armour. 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" armour 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.


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 armour 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.


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