Chonma-ho IV, V, VI

By Massimo Tessitori

Ch'ŏnma-ho IV

First version with laminated turret instead of the T-62 style cast turret.  It is unclear if the turret has spaced or composite armour, or it is a simple replica of the cast turret made with welded plates. According to Wikipedia, a ballistic computer was added to the fire control suite, and the fire control suite has been integrated into a complete system rather than being a patchwork of upgrades. Gun stabilization has been improved. Radios are improved, and the suspension beefed up. The new engine is a 750-horsepower model which can lay a thick, oily smoke screen by injecting diesel fuel into its exhaust.

chonmacam.jpgThis image seem to show the first configuration of Chonma-ho IV. The turret was describes as having an additional frontal armour, something as Soviet BDD, but this seems wrong. This turret is the first type of laminated one, still without smoke dischargers and ERA. The thing on the barrel looks a thermal sleeve improvised with plastic sheets. The tank has side skirts and a camouflage, probably sand blotches over the olive green background.
This fascinating camouflage, the smoke mortars and the ERA bricks make the angular form of the turret difficult to be recognized.
Four smoke mortars are located on each side of the front and side plates, for a total of 16.
This image seems to show 11 ERA bricks on the side of the turret, disposed in four rows of 3,4,4 elements
A stowage bin can be seen behind the turret.

Other (unclear) images showing the disposition of ERA bricks and smoke mortars, as well as the profile of the stowage bin behind the turret.

The image shows the arrangement of  some further ERA bricks (at least 5) covering a limited part of the front of the turret, apparently on the left of the gun only.

Two details, apparently depicting the same type of tank (apart for the ERA,  apparently not installed)
This tank (called Chonma-92 in NK) looks to be an evolution of the previous one:  ERA were no longer there, and the smoke mortar arrangement has changed, leaving only 4 on each side. These simplifications were made to allow to install spaced armor plates outside the turret, covering its front and sides.
This image allows to make an idea of the width of the rear of the turret with its stowage bin.

Chonma-ho V

This evolution is characterized by the increased protection of the turret, that has become slightly larger because of the increase of thickness of the plates and for the use of spaced armour on the turret sides too. Its internal systems are said to have been improved with a thermal viewer and a new ballistic computer.

This model is known as Chonma-98 in NK. The shape of the turret and its increased width are evident by comparing the space between the loader's cupola and the side plate to photos of previous models.
4 smoke mortars are installed on each side of the turret.
The main gun is always the original 115 mm one.

The successor of Chonma-98 is Chonma-214 (them both could de described as Chonma-ho 5). 

The photo below allows a direct comparison between Chonma-98 (numbered 216) and the close Chonma-214 (numbered 138).


The base shape of the turret is the same, but Chonma-214 has an added-on armour on its side plates; their lower part is closed  by thick rubber sheets to detonate explosive shells,  a method that doesn't prevent too much the emergency escape of the driver.

A pair of wide rubber sheets are installed on the lower front plate of the hull, similarly to T-80U. 

The front plate of the hull was thickened, and bears a different arrangement of the lights and eight spare track links to improve protection. Four hinged steel plates are installed on the rubber side skirts to improve ballistic protection, again inspired by Soviet tanks. An hexagonal plate strengthens the armour just in front of the driver's hatch, where spare tracks would have disturbed the view from hyposcopes.

Chonma-214 was well photographed during the parade of 2010. Here  are some images, that should be enough to trace an approximate scale drawing.

Images of North Korean tanks from the rear are very rare. These ones will help to esteem the width of the turret's rear.
Not great surprises about the rear of the hull, still similar to that of T-62.  The use of a tube instead of a trunk is interesting.

Chonma-ho VI 

The description given by the US DoD  for this type includes an improved armour and a stretched hull with 6 bearing wheels.  

The description corresponds vaguely to Chonma-215 and 216, also defined as Pokpung-ho I and II by the US DoD (but not called so by North Koreans).

go to the page on Pokpung-ho (Chonma-215 and 216)

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