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North Korean battle tanks

Well A lot of my comrades down here in Bacolod are asking me what in a world does the Battle tanks of North korea look like, well this question interested me well I did some digging around the net and with the help with a few websites

Although not much is known about the North Korean military after the Korean War, it is known that they have many different types of tanks. These include the Type 59 and Type 62, as well as the T-54, T-62 and possibly the T-72. The T-54 was probably sold to North Korea between 1960 and 1970, while the T-62 was reportedly sold in the mid 1980s. Unconfirmed reports indicate a few T-72s may have been provided to North Korea in the early 1990s. It is known that the North Koreans still make limited use of vintage Second World War T-34s as well as well as the Soviet era PT-76/85 amphibious tanks. Up to 3,800 tanks are coupled with at least 12,000 self-propelled artillery pieces and thousands of other towed artillery pieces of unknown type and number. The North Koreans also have at least nine different types ofarmoured personnel carriers, including the BMP-1.

 I got some pictures which may help ease their whereabouts of the North korean tank program, well, the tank development of North korea is very poor, and mostly the because Comrade Kim wants mostly to make nukes and missiles which has badly deterred the country's ground capability, well the north  may just be using infantry and artillery which for me is not a good combination; anyways, lets see some north korean tanks...

Yes Probably one of the worlds most best tank in terms of Production the T-34 is still in active reserve; well there are speculations and rumors that north korea is still operating this tanks is actually confirmed,

few details about the T-34:

The T 34 tank was the mainstay of the Soviet tank armies throughout the Second World War and the most important tank produced during that conflict.

Created in 1939, the T 34 design aimed at mechanical simplicity and an ease of manufacture in large quantities. Production began in June 1940. Between 1941 and 1945, 39,698 were built which comprised 68% of Soviet tank output. The new tank was fast, with a top speed of 32 mph, strongly-armed and benefited from well-sloped protective armour which had a maximum thickness of 3.5 inches (100mm).Its diesel engine gave it greater range than its German counterparts, a vital factor in the vastness of Russia.

In action from the end of 1941, the T 34 played crucial roles in the encirclement of the German 6th Army at Stalingrad in 1942-3 and the Battle of Kursk in 1943, eventually coming to dominate the war on the Eastern Front. From the end of 1943 onwards, the T 34 was re-armed with an 85mm gun mounted in a redesigned turret, thicker armour and an extra crew member (commander, gunner, loader, driver & hull gunner).

Production of the T 34/85, of which this is an example, continued until 1964 and totalled 12,000, with many being supplied to Warsaw Pact countries and their allies.

we don't know yet what is the confirmed combat role of the T-34 it might be it will be used as APC and IFV Killers; North Korean T34's are the T-34-85 variant, although it cannot pack that much punch against more modern tanks, The T-34-85's 85mm Gun is still lethal to Modern APC's .


The PT-76 amphibious light tank entered service with Soviet Army in 1951. It was designed as a reconnaissance vehicle. Production continued until the late 1960s and around 7 000 of these tanks were built. Despite it's age this vehicle is still in service with at least 25 countries.

The PT-76 has an ideal design for amphibious capability, but both has a number of limitations as a fighting vehicle. It's amphibious design with a boat-like hull and limitations in weight allowed less armor protection. Tank's thin hull is vulnerable to 12.7-mm machine guns and artillery fragments. Later production vehicle were fitted with an automatic fire suppression and NBC protection systems.

It is armed with a 76.2-mm gun. It has a maximum effective range of fire in 1.5 km and rate of fire of 7 rounds per minute. By modern standards this gun is considered light, but is still capable of penetrating APCs and other light armored vehicles. A total of 40 rounds are carried for the main gun.

Secondary armament consists of coaxial 7.62-mm machine gun. Some tanks were fitted with a 12.7-mm anti-aircraft machine gun on top of the roof.

Vehicle has a crew of three, including commander, loader and driver.

The PT-76 is powered by a V-6B diesel engine, developing 240 horsepower. Vehicle is fully amphibious without additional preparation. It is propelled on water by two waterjets. Auxiliary fuel tanks can be installed for longer operational range.

If speculations are true, the North Korean army uses the PT-76 as a reserve unit and recon for tank divisions


The PT-85 light tank was developed and manufactured in North Korea. It was designed as a reconnaissance vehicle. It was first observed in 1985. The M1985 designation was allocated by the US Department of Defense. North Korean army operates a number of these amphibious light tanks, as well as several hundreds of Soviet PT-76 and Chinese Type 63 amphibious light tanks. North Korea is the only operator of this vehicle. It is unknown how many of these tanks are in service.

This amphibious light tank has a welded steel armor hull. It uses extended chassis of the M1973 armored personnel carrier, with extra armor. It is believed that thin armor of this light tank is vulnerable to 12.7-mm rounds.

Turret of the PT-85 light tank is similar to that, of the Soviet PT-76, but has some modifications. It is armed with a non-stabilized 85-mm rifled gun, similar to that of the Chinese Type 63 amphibious light tank. This gun is loaded manually. Maximum rate of fire is up to 8 rounds per minute.

This amphibious light tank is also fitted with an anti-tank missile launcher, possibly a locally manufactured version of the Malyutka (NATO designation AT-3 Sagger). This wire-guided missile has a maximum range of 3 000 m.

There is also a coaxial 7.62-mm machine gun. Another roof-mounted 12.7-mm machine gun can be installed.

The M1985 light tank has a crew of three, including commander, loader and driver.

Vehicle uses a more powerful engine, than the M1973 armored personnel carrier. This light tank is fully amphibious with minimal preparation. On water this light tank is powered by two waterjets.


The Type 53 was derived from reverse engineering the Soviet PT-76 light tank which the chinese acquired in the 50;s and 60's this is one of the main tanks still under use by north korean ground forces,

This light amphibious tank was intended for reconnaissance, patrol, river-crossing operations and amphibious landing. It can also support infantry and engage lightly armored targets. It took part in a number of military conflicts, including Sri Lanka civil war, Vietnam War and Sino-Vietnam border conflict.

The Type 63 has a very thin armor and a bulky hull shape to keep it afloat. It's maximum armor thickness is 14 mm which is only sufficient against small arms. Weak armored protection of this tank has caused heavy losses and casualties during military conflicts. First production vehicles lacked NBC protection system.

The Type 63 has a complete turret of the Type 62 light tank. It has a more powerful armament comparing with the PT-76. The Type 63 is fitted with a Type 62-85TC 85-mm non-stabilized gun. This gun is loaded manually and has a rate of fire in 8 rounds per minute. Secondary armament consists of coaxial 7.62-mm machine gun and 12.7-mm anti-aircraft machine gun.

Vehicle is powered by 12150-L diesel engine, developing 400 horsepower. It is significantly more powerful comparing with 240 hp engine on the PT-76. Subsequently it's mobility and cross-country performance improved. It uses a number of automotive components of the Type 77 series APC. The Type 63 is fully amphibious and is propelled on water by two waterjets. It has a maximum amphibious speed of 12 km/h. Additional fuel tanks can be installed at the rear of the hull for longer range.

Later production model of the Type 63 became the Type 63-I, fitted with a 105-mm rifled gun. This model was also fitted with a simple fire control system. Type 63 light amphibious tanks were replaced with the Type 63A, however a small number of the Type 63 tanks are still operational. It is also in service with North Korea and Vietnam.

Choma-ho (T-62)

The Ch'ŏnma-ho or spelled as Chonma-ho (Chosŏn'gŭl: 천마호; Hanja: 天馬號), which means "Sky Horse" or Pegasus, is one of North Korea's secretive indigenous main battle tank designs. The tank is also known by the name of 천리마 전차 (千里馬, or the "ChollimaTank". The original Ch'ŏnma-ho is based on the Soviet T-62. There are at least five different operational versions of the Ch'ŏnma-ho. Since its inception, the Ch'ŏnma-ho has been upgraded various times. Not much is known about it, and its most recent public appearance was the 60th Anniversary Parade held in Pyongyang, North Korea, on 25 April 1992, celebrating the 60th anniversary of North Korea's ruling party.

The Ch'ŏnma-ho has been issued to North Korea's premier armored formations, and would lead the initial attempts to break through South Korean defences. Other armour is relegated to a secondary role in this corps or to North Korea's four mechanized corps. To underscore North Korea's concept of combined arms and the importance of armour, and therefore the importance of the Ch'ŏnma-ho, North Korea's sole armour corps is directly grouped with two mechanized corps and a single artillery corps. However, this forms the second echelon of North Korea's deployment to the DMZ, with the first echelon composed of four infantry corps, and the rest in strategic reserve. This may also play a part in a defensive strategy, as the North Korean army is arrayed in depth, and the armour might be strategically placed to both provide offensive power and a second echelon composed of mobile defences to plug a South Korean breakthrough along the DMZ.

Soviet T-62. The Ch'ŏnma-ho is a direct copy of the T-62 with several upgrades.
The Ch'ŏnma-ho is a product of North Korea's approach of juche, or self-reliance, which also includes several indigenous self-propelled artillery pieces. The idea of juche comes from a North Korean sentiment of abandonment by their allies, China and Soviet Union/Russia. This accounts for their drive towards overproduction and for recent North Korean nuclear developments, as well as the production of long-range missiles which provide North Korea with its longer range striking power. This all manifests itself within the 'triangle' of North Korean military development - armour, artillery and missiles. In fact, this seems reminiscent from Soviet military theory, including the application of overwhelming artillery support and the use of large amounts of armour to create a breakthrough after the initial artillery disruption. In that sense, North Korean military strategy is very mobile, and the large amounts of tanks underscores this. The Ch'ŏnma-ho is an attempt to partially address the technology gap between its current dated tank forces and South Korean K1A1 and the US M1A2 Abrams tank.

There might be two versions of the Ch'ŏnma-ho 1: the copy of the Syrian T-62 in the late 1970s, and an original copy exported by the Soviet Union which may be the T-62D.The Ch'ŏnma-ho is not related to the Chinese Type 62. Despite its relation to the T-62, the original version of the Ch'ŏnma-ho had thinner armour and was consequently lighter. This version of the tank has two distinctive bolts on the bottom portion of the upper glacis plate. The Ch'ŏnma-ho I name was also given (at least by the West and South Korean white papers) to the imported T-62, which was later slightly upgraded to the IM version. Although no dates are available, the Ch'ŏnma-ho I was later upgraded to the II version with a laser rangefinder above the mantlet. According to online sources this Ch'ŏnma-ho was upgraded once again, probably in the mid-1980s, with a 'boom shield'. The Ch'ŏnma-ho III might have also seen an armour upgrade with the addition of full-hull skirting and a new thermal shroud for the original 115 mm main gun.

The most modern Ch'ŏnma-ho tanks seem to be the IV and V versions. The Ch'ŏnma-ho IV is fitted with what resemble EDZ light explosive reactive armour bricks. Judging by photographs, these are mounted specifically on the turret side, with at least eight bricks per side. The Ch'ŏnma-ho IV is reported to be upgraded with new side-mounted smoke launchers. North Korea is rumored to have received a few examples of the T-72s after 1992, and possibly a single T-90S main battle tank in August 2001. Any conclusion regarding whether the Ch'ŏnma-ho has been upgraded to the standards of either the T-72 or the T-90S would be highly speculative at this point.

It is unknown which units of the Korean People's Army might be outfitted with the Ch'ŏnma-ho. It is clear that the Ch'ŏnma-ho is a general replacement for previously employed tanks, including the T-62, T-34 and Type 59 medium tanks. It is very possible that the Ch'ŏnma-ho will equip the spearhead and elite of North Korea's armoured forces. They are apparently deployed in sufficient numbers to be strategically significant. There might be as many as 800 T-62s in the North Korean army, of which any number could be one of the five Ch'ŏnma-ho variants.


- Ch'ŏnma-ho I (Ga) - Lightened copy of the T-62 with thinner armour.
- Ch'ŏnma-ho II (Na) - Upgrade of the Ch'ŏnma-ho I with an external laser rangefinder fitted above the gun mantlet.
- Ch'ŏnma-ho IV (Ra) - Upgrade fitted with storage trunk and tools in the rear, three banks of 4 smoke grenade launchers and ERA fitted to the sides of the turret.
- Ch'ŏnma-ho V (Ma) - Upgrade with explosive reactive armour bricks, more turret storage volume, smoke grenade launchers, a 125 mm gun, an autoloader and a new engine. However the inclusion of the 125mm smoothbore gun and autoloader is not confirmed. The box over the gun mantlet houses now not only the laser range finder but also a night vision camera.
- Ch'ŏnma-ho III (Da) - Upgrade fitted with 'boom shield' armour around the turret
- Ch'ŏnma-ho II - Designation for imported T-62.
- Ch'ŏnma-ho IM - Improved imported T-62.


- Ch'ŏnma-ho ARV - Armoured recovery vehicle with a casemate superstructure
- Ch'ŏnma-ho Command - Command variant of the tank with a fake main gun
- Juche-Po - Self-propelled artillery gun on a modified Ch'ŏnma-ho chassis. The Juche-Po is an improvement over the Tok-Ch'ŏn artillery piece, which was mounted on an ATS-59 chassis. There are at least four M1991 versions of the Juche-Po, each mounting a different gun; the D-30 122 mm, D-74 122 mm, the M-46 130 mm and the ML-20 152 mm howitzer. A fifth M1992 version is armed with the SM-4-1 130 mm howitzer. These artillery pieces can be identified by their six road wheels, as compared to the Tok-Ch'ŏn's five, and a prominent recoil cylinder which protrudes from the turret. Another major difference is the fact that the Juche-Po has a fully encased rounded turret, as opposed to the older open-topped self-propelled artillery pieces used previously.

Pokpong'ho (M2002)

The P'okpong (Storm) is the latest North Korean main battle tank. It is also popularly known as the M2002. Previously it was reported that the new North Korean main battle tank is a derivative of the Soviet T-72. However it seems that the M2002 is likely a further development of the T-62, which was license-produced in North Korea. The M2002 was developed in the late 1990s to replace the previous Ch'onma (Flying Horse) series of medium tanks, based on the Soviet T-62. It was first observed during performance trials in 2002, hence the designation. Actual production numbers of the new MBT are unknown, however it is believed that only few of these new tanks are operational. It is unlikely, that this new tank will be produced in large numbers, considering the current economical situation of North Korea.

It is clear, that considerable modification were made to original design of the T-62. It uses a stretched hull with one road wheel added on each side. It is believed that some of it's components and subsystems are imported from China, Russia and possible Belarus.

Vehicle has a welded hull and turret. Turret has a large wedge-shaped armor module, bolted onto the front for improved protection. A large turret bustle is built at the rear, which possibly contains crew gear or additional ammunition. This MBT possibly might be fitted with explosive reactive armor kit. However this tank looses in term of protection to most current MBTs.

The M2002 is possibly armed with a 115-mm smoothbore gun, similar to that of the T-62. It is capable of firing a wide range of ammunition, including HE, HEAT, HE-FRAG and APFSDS rounds. Despite that it is inferior to modern 120-mm and 125-mm tank guns. This tank might carry over 40 rounds of ammunition. It is believed that this gun is loaded manually. The P'okpong uses a relatively modern computerized fire control system.

Secondary armament consists of coaxial 7.62-mm machine gun and another manually-operated 14.5-mm heavy machine gun, mounted on top of the roof. It might be used to engage ground and low-flying air targets.

It is believed that this tank has a crew of 4, including commander, gunner, loader and driver.

This tank is powered by a turbocharged diesel engine, developing ~ 750 hp. The road wheels and drive sprockets appears to be T-62 components. Vehicle can be fitted with additional fuel tanks for expended range.

well I hope you've learned something today about OPFOR research this post is a reply to my comrades who have been asking me.. Udachi!

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