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M88 Hercules

Armored Recovery Vehicle (ARV) [ 1961 ]

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.

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 12/21/2020 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

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.©MilitaryFactory.com
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Service Year

United States national flag graphic
United States


United Defense (Ground Systems Division) - USA
(View other Vehicle-Related Manufacturers)
National flag of Australia National flag of Austria National flag of Bahrain National flag of Brazil National flag of Egypt National flag of modern Germany National flag of Greece National flag of Iraq National flag of Israel National flag of Jordan National flag of Kuwait National flag of Lebanon National flag of Morocco National flag of Pakistan National flag of Portugal National flag of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia National flag of Spain National flag of Sudan National flag of Taiwan National flag of Thailand National flag of Turkey National flag of Tunisia National flag of the United States 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
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Onboard systems provide solutions to accomplish a variety of battlefield engineering tasks.
General utility-minded design to accomplish a variety of battlefield tasks, typically in a non-direct-combat fashion.
Special Purpose
Special purpose design developed to accomplish an equally-special battlefield role or roles.

27.2 ft
8.3 m
11.2 ft
3.4 m
10.5 ft
3.2 m
154,324 lb
70,000 kg
77.2 tons
(Showcased structural values pertain to the M88A2 Hercules production variant. Length typically includes main gun in forward position if applicable to the design)
Powerplant: 1 x General Dynamics 12-cylinder AVDS-1790-8CR air-cooled diesel-fueled engine developing 1,050 horsepower driving conventional track-and-wheel arrangement.
24.9 mph
(40.0 kph)
200.1 mi
(322.0 km)
(Showcased performance specifications pertain to the M88A2 Hercules production variant. Compare this entry against any other in our database)
1 x 12.7mm Browning M2 Heavy Machine Gun (HMG).
12 x Smoke grenade dischargers.

Supported Types

Graphical image of a tank medium machine gun
Graphical image of a tank heavy machine gun
Graphical image of tank /armored vehicle smoke grenade dischargers

(Not all weapon types may be represented in the showcase above)
1,300 x 12.7mm ammunition.
12 x Smoke grenades.

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.

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Images Gallery

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Image of the M88 Hercules
Image from the United States Department of Defense imagery database.
2 / 2
Image of the M88 Hercules
Image from the United States Department of Defense imagery database.

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