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M88 Hercules Armored Recovery Vehicle (ARV) (United States)

The powerful M88 Hercules Armored Recovery Vehicle is approved for the towing of the M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank, a task previously requiring two M88A1 systems to accomplish.

 Entry last updated on 8/1/2017; Authored by Staff Writer; Content ¬©

  M88 Hercules  
Picture of M88 Hercules Armored Recovery Vehicle (ARV) (United States)
Picture of M88 Hercules Armored Recovery Vehicle (ARV) (United States)

The M88 Hercules series Armored Recovery Vehicle (ARV) was introduced during the early 1960s and has since run through three major variant offerings - M88, M88A1 and M88A2. The Hercules was designed to recover heavy-class military vehicles such as the M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank while offering its own operating crew protection under fire. An ARV typically 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 originally appeared as the M88 model of 1961 with the classification of "Medium Recovery Vehicle" and went on to see combat service during the Vietnam War (1955-1975). This variant featured the automotive working so of the M48 "Patton" Medium Tank. The M88 was followed by the improved M88A1 model of 1977 and was re-classified as "Heavy Recovery Vehicle" with its automotive components now based on the chassis of the M60 "Patton" Main Battle Tank. The current form in service is the dimensionally larger M88A2 "Hercules" of 1991 which showcases 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 from small arms and artillery spray in-the-field. Self-defense is through a single 12.7mm (0.50 caliber) heavy machine gun with 1,300 rounds of ammunition are typically carried. 12 x Smoke grenade dischargers provide a self-screening technique.

The M88 Hercules is used by a host of global powers and American allies including Brazil, Egypt, Germany, Greece, Pakistan and Turkey. Nearly 1,600 of the type have been produced since 1961 with combat exposure seen in a myriad of 20th and 21st Century conflicts. The United States Army procured some 629 examples while the U.S. Marine Corps followed with 69 of their own.

M88 Hercules

Service Year: 1961
Type: Armored Recovery Vehicle (ARV)
National Origin: United States
Manufacturer(s): United Defense (Ground Systems Division) - USA
Total Production: 1,575

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

Operating Crew: 3
Length: 27.23 feet (8.30 meters)
Width: 11.15 feet (3.40 meters)
Height: 10.50 feet (3.20 meters)

Operating Weight: 77 tons (70,000 kg; 154,324 lb)

Nuclear-Biological-Chemical (NBC) Protection: Yes.
Nightvision (NV) Equipment: Yes.

Installed Power and Standard Road Performance

Engine: 1 x General Dynamics 12-cylinder AVDS-1790-8CR air-cooled diesel engine developing 1,050 horsepower.

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

Armament and Ammunition

1 x 12.7mm Browning M2 Heavy Machine Gun (HMG)
12 x Smoke grenade dischargers

1,300 x 12.7mm ammunition
12 x Smoke grenades

Global Operators / Customers / Users

Australia; Austria; Bahrain; Brazil; Egypt; Germany; Greece; Iraq; Israel; Jordan; Lebanon; Kuwait; Morocco; Pakistan; Portugal; Saudi Arabia; Spain; Sudan; Taiwan; Thailand; Tunisia; Turkey; United States

Model Variants (Including Prototypes)

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.

M88 Hercules Images