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M88 Hercules Armored Recovery Vehicle (1961)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 9/12/2008

The M88A2 Hercules is approved for the towing of the M1 Abrams MBT, a task previously requiring two M88A1 systems to do.

The M88 Hercules series began in the 1960s and had since run through three major conversions. The Hercules is designed as an armored recovery vehicle and is therefore intended to be used under fire for the repair and replacement of damaged vehicles. Additionally, the Hercules is called upon to tow vehicles that have become stopped by the environment or put out of action permanently by enemy fire.

The Hercules series appeared as the M88 in 1961 with the classification of "medium recovery vehicle", seeing action in the Vietnam War. The M88 was followed by the improved M88A1 which was now classified as a "heavy recovery vehicle" and appeared in 1977, based on the M60 Patton chassis. The current (and much larger) Hercules model is the 1991 M88A2 which features a host of improvements - at a cost of decreased operational range - and brings the standard crew complement down to three from the original five. The M88A2 model is cleared to tow the M1 Abrams main battle tank, a task that originally required two M88A1 models to accomplish.

The Hercules crew are protected by small arms and shrapnel fire. Self-defense is afforded through a single 12.7mm (.50 caliber) heavy machine gun. 1,300 rounds of ammunition are carried aboard.

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Specifications for the
M88 Hercules
Armored Recovery Vehicle


Country of Origin: United States
Manufacturer: United Defense, Ground Systems Div. - USA
Initial Year of Service: 1961
Production: Not Available


Focus Model: M88A2 Hercules
Crew: 3


Overall Length: 27.23ft (8.30m)
Width: 11.15ft (3.40m)
Height: 10.50ft (3.20m)
Weight: 77.2 US Short Tons (70,000kg; 154,324lbs)


Powerplant: 1 x General Dynamics 12-cylinder AVDS-1790-8CR air-cooled diesel engine generating 1,050hp.


Maximum Speed: 25mph (40 km/h)
Maximum Range: 200 miles (322 km)


NBC Protection: None (though present on A1 and A2)
Nightvision: Not Available


Armament:
1 x 12.7mm machine gun


Ammunition:
1,300 x 12.7mm ammunition


Variants:
M88 - Medium Recovery Vehicle; appeared in 1961; crew of five; 450km operational range; 750hp Continental AVDS-1790-2DR engine.


M88A1 - Heavy Recovery Vehicle; appeared in 1977; NBC protection implemented.

M88A1E1 - Improved Recovery Vehicle based on the former M88A1.

M88A2 - Heavy Recovery Vehicle; improved towing, winching, lifting, and braking features; appeared in 1991; larger than predecessors to compensate for larger towing/lifting capacities; decreased overall range to 322km and lower top speed performance; crew of three.


Operators:
Egypt and the United States of America