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WZ-551 Wheeled Armored Personnel Carrier
ZSL-92 / Type 92/90

China’s WZ551 (PLA designated Type 90) is a wheeled armored vehicle launched by China North Industries Corporation (NORINCO). The mature design of WZ-551 was born in 1984, and its chassis basically got rid of the truck configuration structure and became the first fully modernized wheeled chariot chassis in China. Its driving mode is 6x6, except there are also 4x4 and 8x8 types. Early Type-90 models used a 256-horsepower diesel engine. In the latest product, the Type-92, the engine is more powerful. The main variants vehicles are 120mm self-propelled mortars , armored vehicles with 25mm machine guns and armored with 90mm 105mm guns. The appearance of the China North Industries Corporation WZ 551 (6x6) armored personnel carrier is similar to the French VAB wheeled armored carrier (4x4 and 6x6) series that appeared in the mid-1980s.

The Type WZ 551 first appeared in 1986. This new family of vehicles was capable of being used for a wide range of roles, including 82-mm and 120-mm mortar carriers, and be armed with a wide range of weapons, including a 12.7-mm machine gun, 25-mm cannon, 90-mm or 105-mm guns. The vehicle is similar in appearance to the French VAB (6 x 6) but has a number of important differences as well as being longer, wider and heavier.

The vehicle has a total combat weight of 15 tons and a crew of 2 people with 9 people on board. The length of the vehicle is 6.65 meters, the width of the car is 2.8 meters, and the height of 2.89 meters. There are three prevention systems, thermal smoke screen devices and fire extinguishing systems. Standard equipment includes driver night vision devices, run flat tires, and a fire detection and suppression systems.

The ZSL90 wheeled armored vehicle (also referred to as the 90 type) is a prototype of the WZ551 series. Its overall design concept fully embodies the principles of versatility and economy. The Type 90 wheeled armored vehicle adopts the power, transmission and control systems of the Iron Horse SC2030 car; it is equipped with a 25mm cannon that is common to the Type 89 tracked armored transport vehicle, and uses the more mature overpressure semi-automatic collective on the Type 86 infantry fighting vehicle.

The Type WZ 551 has an all-welded armored hull. The vehicle body is assembled by welding 77 pieces of armor plates. With a box-shaped body, the front of the body is wedge-shaped, the lower armor plate is inclined inward to the front wheels of the bottom of the car, the decks on both sides of the body are inclined, there are two windows with baffles at the front, the roof is horizontal, and there is one at the rear. Larger back door. The upper decks on both sides of the car body slope inward, and the left side deck is equipped with exhaust pipes. The commander and driver are located at the front of the car body, the engine compartment is behind the driver, and the crew compartment is at the rear of the car. The top of the engine cabin has a roof hatch, perforations and a large door that opens to the right.

The commander and driver sit at the front of the vehicle with the commander at the right, driver to the left and the gunner behind the commander, and the commander and driver’s cabin are separated from the crew room by doors. The commander's and driver's windscreen are to the front, which would be covered in combat by an armored shutter hinged at the top. When the shutter is lowered, forward observation is conducted with three roof-mounted periscopes, the center one of which can be replaced by an infrared night vision device. There is a rear-opening circular roof hatch and a forward-opening side door for both the commander and driver in the upper part of which is an armored shutter.

The troop compartment is at the rear where troops enter and exit through a large door that is hinged on the right and has a firing port and a vision block. There are four oblong roof hatches, two on each side, above the troop compartment; they are hinged on the outside and can be locked vertical if required.

The engine compartment is at the rear of the car body and is separated from the crew room by a door. The Type WZ 551 has air inlet and outlet louvers in the roof on the engine compartment with the exhaust pipe running along the upper left side of the hull. The WZ551 uses a diesel engine with a maximum power of 256 horsepower, a maximum speed of 85 kilometers per hour, and a maximum range of 600 kilometers. In the latest product, the Type-92, the engine is more powerful. The tires are resistant to guns and bullets. If hit, it can travel 100 kilometers at a speed of 40 kilometers per hour. The Type WZ 551 can cross a 1.2-meter trench, mount a 0.5-meter vertical step, climb a 60-percent grade, climb a 30-percent side slope and can ford amphibiously.

The car can be used for both land and water. The WZ 551 is amphibious, propelled by two concealed propellers installed at the rear of the car body in the water. There are three larger rubber wheels on each side of the car body, and two propellers on each side of the rear. The vehicle is fully amphibious, being propelled through the water by two shrouded propellers mounted one each side under the rear of the vehicle. These are swung backwards when in the water. When the vehicle is running on land, it is erected, and when it is launched, it needs to be rotated 180 degrees.

The WZ-551 has four firing ports in each side of the troop compartment, with a periscope mounted above in the roof of the vehicle. The first firing port in each side is for a 7.62-mm machine gun with the remaining three being for assault rifles. There is a gas extractor for each firing port. The fuel tanks are located on each side of the troop compartment. There is a trim vane that is erected at the front of the hull before entering the water. On at least one prototype, a door in the lower half of the hull between the first and second wheels is used for vehicle maintenance.

It is equipped with a 25mm cannon and a 7.62mm in a single turret on the top of the car body with parallel machine guns. The turret can be rotated 360°, and the weapon pitch range is -8°~+55°. The magazine, located in a small rotatable turret, has a base number of 400 rounds. There are 4 smoke bomb launchers on each side of the artillery. There are 4 firing ports on each side of the car body.

The Type-90 wheeled armored vehicle has the characteristics of low cost, convenient use and maintenance, and high mobility. However, its unit power is relatively small. When the F8L413F non-supercharged engine is used, the unit power of the car is only 11.7 kilowatts/ton, and its adaptability in plateau areas is poor. Therefore, after the completion of the design and finalization of the car, the Type 90 did not equip troops. China maintained roughly 100 WZ-523's and 600 plus Type-92s in operation.

The first model of the WZ-551 series is a Type 90 armored vehicle, weighing about 10 tons, and a weapon station equipped with a 25mm machine gun and a 7.62mm machine gun is installed on the top of the car body.

After the 90-type improved type 92-type was finalized, the WZ-551 chassis was selected as China's first wheeled chariot general chassis. In 1997, China launched the PTL-97 wheeled assault gun equipped with 100mm smoothbore gun on the basis of WZ-551. This is also China's first modern wheeled artillery fighting vehicle officially installed. Subsequently, the WZ-551 series developed luxuriantly. The PTL-02 wheeled 100mm self-propelled assault gun, the PLL-05 wheeled 120mm self-propelled mortar and the 08-type armed police anti-riot vehicle were successively launched. The lightweight version of the WZ-550 type 4x4 chassis also developed the Hongjian-9 anti-tank missile launch vehicle.

Although the finalization of the WZ-551 successfully solved the urgent need for a lack of new wheeled combat vehicles, its smaller size and lighter carrying capacity could not fully meet the needs of the People's Liberation Army, and the "big eight wheels" came into being. China's "big eight wheels" is enlarged on the basis of WZ-551, and many improvements have been made according to the characteristics of heavy wheeled vehicles. In addition to the basic ZBL-08 infantry fighting vehicle, there are also a PTL-09 wheeled assault vehicle equipped with a 105mm anti-tank gun and a PLL-09 wheeled fire support vehicle equipped with a 122mm howitzer. China's "Big Eight Wheels" not only equips the People's Liberation Army, but also successfully exported to Venezuela, and obtained intentional orders from Argentina and Thailand.

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Page last modified: 01-08-2021 14:07:04 ZULU