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The WZ1224 was a reactivation of the whole WZ122 project after the end of Chinese Cultural Revolution. Started by plant 617 in April 1978, the WZ1224 was actually an attempt to imitate the German Leopard 2, aiming to fight against Soviet T-72. The WZ1224 had a very fashionable welded, but still uses the “old” 120mm gun that was installed on the first 122 “triple-hydro”. Undoubtedly, 1224 was never really at the same level of Leopard 2, but it is also undoubtedly unique by that time, as it looks like a mythical hybrid between Soviet tanks and Western tanks. Regardless of the “western” appearance, the 1224 is still as compact as typical Soviet tanks. The Chinese army leader got a chance to visit the factory of Krauss-Maffei in mid 1970s, to have a glimpse of the Leopard 2 that not even enter service yet. They were greatly astonished by the mobility of this German tank. Both German and Chinese wished that Chinese could import or produce Leopard 2 with license, however China could not afford that in late 1970s. The limiting condition is not just the financial budget, but also the facilities and the training level of workers, which are also critical to the industrialization process that Chinese eventually caught up in 1990s. Although the welded turret is adopted, the 1224 never really has composite armor installed. Unlike conventional thinking on it, the focus and priority of the 1224 tank is never the firepower or protection but the mobility. In fact, it is a brand-new testbed for future weapon platform – new engines, new weapons and new armor. The extra-large engine compartment was designed for MTU MB-8V331 TC 41 engine, a German product. The engine basically suits the technical requirements with the hydraulic torque converter developed by Plant 617 and 2-plate planetary gear, but its only defects are the size and cooling. To over come it, 2 gigantic fans are installed above the engine, which greatly obstacle the backward depression angle of the gun. The evaluation on 1224 ended with the feedback of “acceptable but not satisfying”. Then the following one, or ones, are more radical again. The 1226 and 1226F2 are no different except the engines. Very few pictures of them are leaked and it is also another highly classified item even until now. The 1226 uses the 8V165 diesel engine from Plant 636, and the 1226F2 adopted the 12150ZL diesel engine from Plant 616. Both of these 2 engines could deliver a power at 986HP. Both 1226 and 1226F2 use the 5-gear hydraulic automatic gearbox developed by Plant 617. Another “retrospective” design of 1226 and 1226F2 is the return of hydropneumatic suspension. An unknown type of semi-autoloader is used, but the gun barrels are fake and the guns on 1226 and 1226F2 are never tested with real projectiles.This time, the 1226 series are considered satisfying in the trials, but not reliable. The researches of the whole Project 122 became the foundation of later Chinese tanks, while the final fruition of this project is the WZ-122, AKA Type 80, which is the 5th edition and the most conservative one, named in November 1980. Interestingly, it is never named as “1225”.

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Page last modified: 01-08-2021 14:07:13 ZULU