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Type 85 (YW531H) Light Amphibious Tank

The North Korean PT-85 light tank can tackle amphibious operations and features a turret similar to the Soviet PT-76.

 Updated: 7/7/2017; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©

The PT-85 is a light amphibious tank system (may also be known as the "Type 82" or "Type 85") in service with the North Korean People's Army (KPA). The tracked vehicle entered service sometime in the mid-1980s and had its chassis developed from the North Korean VTT-323 armored personnel carrier - itself a license-produced copy of the Chinese NORINCO YW531 APC. The PT-85 chassis differed from the VTT-323 in that it was lengthened to an extent and mounted a powered turret system not unlike the Soviet-era PT-76 amphibious light tank.

Light tanks still serve a critical role on the modern battlefield as they showcase speed above all else - made possible by their lightweight - and backed up by a capable dose of firepower. Additionally, many are designed to be amphibious in nature, allowing the vehicle to traverse both land and water sources with relative ease and little preparation. For the modern mobile army needing to move its men and machines across distance at speed, vehicles such as the PT-85 make sense within the scope of this armored doctrine.

Externally, the PT-85 is made up of much that had already been pioneered by Soviet tank engineers throughout the Cold War. The turret is set in the middle-forward portion of the hull roof and features sloped sides tapering towards its middle. The turret roof is flat and sports two crew access hatches in a side-by-side arrangement. The forward hull features a well-sloped glacis plate meeting at a sharp point at the extreme front. The driver maintains his position at the front left of the hull and is afforded his own access hatch. The hull sides are slight angled inwards from bottom to top and the general hull roof is flat in appearance. The engine is located in a rear compartment and track systems are fitted to either hull side and operate around six rubber-tired road wheels. The PT-85 is powered by a suspected 6-cylinder inline, water-cooled diesel engine of 240 horsepower which allows for estimated road speeds of up to 60 km/h and a ranges out to 500 km. The suspension system is of the typical torsion bar variety. The PT-85 weighs in at 20 tons and features a width of 3.1 meters with a height of 2.8 meters. The vehicle is crewed by a standard operating arrangement of four personnel made up of a driver, tank commander, gunner and loader.

The powered turret system features full 360-traversal with integrated elevation to engage targets at varying ranges. Primary armament is 1 x 85mm main gun which is capable of dealing with light armored vehicles and even some main battle tanks with precision shooting. HE (High-Explosive) projectiles can help deal with infantry positions. Additionally, the tank is fitted with a launcher along the top of the barrel (near the gun mount base) to fire the potent 9M14 Malyutka (AT-3 "Sagger") anti-tank guided missile. To complement the primary armament there is a 14.5mm anti-aircraft heavy machine gun - this capable of engaging low-flying aircraft such as helicopters and lightly-armored vehicles. For anti-infantry defense, the PT-85 fits a 7.62mm general purpose machine gun.

Like the Soviet PT-76, the North Korean PT-85 is fully amphibious, capable of maintaining a top speed of 10 km/h across water sources.

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Type 85 (YW531H) Technical Specifications

Service Year: 1985
Type: Light Amphibious Tank
National Origin: North Korea
Manufacturer(s): State Factories - North Korea
Production: 500

Design (Crew Space, Dimensions, Weight, and Systems)

Operating Crew: 4
Length: 25.02 feet (7.63 meters)
Width: 10.17 feet (3.10 meters)
Height: 9.19 feet (2.80 meters)

Operating Weight: 22 tons (20,000 kg; 44,092 lb)

Nuclear / Biological / Chemical Protection: Unknown
Nightvision Equipment: Uknown

Installed Power and Standard Road Performance

Engine(s): 1 x 6-cylinder inline water-cooled diesel engine delivering 240 horsepower at 1,800rpm.

Maximum Road Speed: 37 mph (60 km/h)
Maximum Road Range: 311 miles (500 km)

Armament and Ammunition

1 x 85mm main gun (Anti-Tank Guided Missile Capable).
1 x 14.5mm anti-aircraft heavy machine gun
1 x 7.62mm general purpose machine gun

26 x 85mm projectiles (estimated)
300 x 14.5mm ammunition (estimated)
1,000 x 7.62mm ammunition

Global Operators / Customers

North Korea

Model Variants (Including Prototypes)

PT-85 - Base Series Designation
Type 82 - Alternative Designation
Type 85 - Alternative Designation