M1981 Shiníheung

     Notes: This a North Korean light tank (also known as the M1985 or PT-85), based on the chassis of the YW-531 armored personnel carrier.  It had been in development since the late 1970s, but first appeared in a parade in Pyongyang in 1985 (it is even now a common sight in Pyongyang parades). The North Koreans felt they needed a light tank even smaller than the Type 63, for use in the rough and mountainous terrain so prevalent in North Korea, and with greater amphibious capability.  To this end, they fitted a modified YW-531 chassis with a turret similar to the PT-76, a more powerful engine, and propellers to drive the vehicle in the water.  The result is a light vehicle with greater speed than the PT-76 or YW-531, able to pursue vehicles and maneuver on rough terrain.  This vehicle is used only by North Korea. 

     The goal of a vehicle lighter than the PT-76 was not achieved, however, as the M1981 is quite a bit heavier than the PT-76, being based on a stretched YW-531 chassis with extra armor. The entire chassis has been enlarged, with the hull being much longer and wider, but lower than a YW-531.  The rear doors for infantry access have been removed, along with the hull roof hatches. The sides have acquired sloping armor.  The M1981 is amphibious, and a hydrojet derived from those of the PT-76 has been added to the hull rear on each side.  The engine has also been moved to the rear. Two possible engines have been postulated; I have included both possible engines in the stats below. One is the same 320-horsepower turbocharged engine found on the YW-531, and the other a 6-cylinder water-cooled 240-horsepower non-turbocharged engine. (It is possible that the lower-powered engine was employed for initial tests.)

     Armament consists of a Type 62-85TC, which the North Koreans also used on their T-34/85s.  The coaxial machinegun is unknown, but likely a Chinese copy of the PKT.  By the commanderís hatch on the right turret is likely a Chinese copy of the KPV.  When initially observed in 1985, the M1981 mounted a launcher for a Maljutka ATGM launcher in between the commanderís and loaderís hatch; however, since then, they have not been observed mounted on M1981s, and they may have only been mounted on the vehicles for propaganda value.  Recently, M1981s have been observed mounting a 9K38 Igla launcher in the center rear of the turret, a mount that requires the gunner to operate the missile from outside of the vehicle. (I have included stats for the M1981 with both missile systems, as well as no missile system at all.)

Vehicle

Price

Fuel Type

Load

Veh Wt

Crew

Mnt

Night Vision

Radiological

M1981 (240 hp Engine)

$285,729

D, A

549 kg

20 tons

4

12

Active/Passive IR (D, G), IR Searchlight

Enclosed

M1981 (320 hp Engine)

$286,089

D, A

552 kg

20 tons

4

12

Active/Passive IR (D, G), IR Searchlight

Enclosed

M1981 w/AT-3 (240 hp Engine)

$311,570

D, A

540 kg

20.08 tons

4

12

Active/Passive IR (D, G), IR Searchlight

Enclosed

M1981 w/AT-3 (320 hp Engine)

$311,930

D, A

543 kg

20.08 tons

4

12

Active/Passive IR (D, G), IR Searchlight

Enclosed

M1981 w/SA-14 (240 hp Engine)

$351,678

D, A

534 kg

20.08 tons

4

12

Active/Passive IR (D, G), IR Searchlight

Enclosed

M1981 w/SA-14 (320 hp Engine)

$352,038

D, A

537 kg

20.08 tons

4

12

Active/Passive IR (D, G), IR Searchlight

Enclosed

 

Vehicle

Tr Mov

Com Mov

Fuel Cap

Fuel Cons

Config

Susp

Armor

M1981 (240 hp Engine)

97/68

27/19/4

450

88

Trtd

T4

TF10  TS7  TR6  HF12  HS6  HR4

M1981 (320 hp Engine)

120/84

33/23/6

450

118

Trtd

T4

TF10  TS7  TR6  HF12  HS6  HR4

M1981 w/AT-3 (240 hp Engine)

97/68

27/19/4

450

88

Trtd

T4

TF10  TS7  TR6  HF12  HS6  HR4

M1981 w/AT-3 (320 hp Engine)

120/84

33/23/6

450

118

Trtd

T4

TF10  TS7  TR6  HF12  HS6  HR4

M1981 w/SA-14 (240 hp Engine)

97/68

27/19/4

450

88

Trtd

T4

TF10  TS7  TR6  HF12  HS6  HR4

M1981 w/SA-14 (320 hp Engine)

120/84

33/23/6

450

118

Trtd

T4

TF10  TS7  TR6  HF12  HS6  HR4

 

Vehicle

Fire Control

Stabilization

Armament

Ammunition

M1981

+2

Fair

85mm Type 62-85TC gun, PKT, KPV (C)

47x85mm, 2200x7.62mm, 550x14.5mm

M1981 w/AT-3

+2

Fair

85mm Type 62-85TC gun, PKT, KPV (C), AT-3 Launcher

47x85mm, 2200x7.62mm, 550x14.5mm, 4xAT-3 ATGM

M1981 w/SA-14

+2

Fair

85mm Type 62-85TC gun, PKT, KPV (C), SA-14 Launcher

47x85mm, 2200x7.62mm, 550x14.5mm, 3xSA-14 SAM