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M88 Recovery Vehicle

M88 Recovery Vehicle
An original baseline M88 (Bergepanzer 1) ARV of the German Army on static display at the German Tank Museum outside Munster, Germany.
Type Armored recovery vehicle
Place of origin United States of America
Service history
In service 1961 – present
Used by See operators
Wars Arab-Israeli conflict, Vietnam War, Persian Gulf War, Kosovo War, Iraq War, Global War on Terrorism, War in Afghanistan
Production history
Designer Bowen McLaughlin York (BMY)
Designed 1959
Manufacturer BMY (1961–1994)
United Defense & Anniston Army Depot (1994-2005)
BAE Systems Land and Armaments (since 2005)
Unit cost US$2,050,000
Produced 1961 – present
Variants See variants
Weight M88/M88A1: 50.8 t (112,000 lb)
M88A2: 63.5 t (140,000 lb)
Length 27.13 ft (8.27 m)
Width 11.25 ft (3.43 m)
Height 10.25 ft (3.12 m)
Crew 3

Armor Hull and cab armored to protect against small-arms fire up to 30mm direct fire weapons
M2 .50 cal heavy MG with 1,300 rounds

M88/M88A1: Continental (now General Dynamics) AVDS-1790-2DR V12, air-cooled Twin-turbo diesel engine

M88A2: Continental AVDS-1790-8CR, V12 air-cooled Twin-turbo diesel engine
M88/M88A1: 750 hp (560 kW)
M88A2: 1,050 hp (780 kW)
Transmission Twin Disc XT-1410-5A cross-drive (3 speed forward, 1 speed reverse)
Suspension Torsion bar suspension
Ground clearance 17 in (0.43 m)
M88/M88A1: 450 km (280 mi)
M88A2: 322 km (200 mi)
Speed M88/M88A1: 42 km/h (26 mph)
M88A2: 48 km/h (30 mph)

The M88 Recovery Vehicle is one of the largest armored recovery vehicles (ARV) currently in use by United States Armed Forces. There are currently three variants, the M88, M88A1 and M88A2 HERCULES (Heavy Equipment Recovery Combat Utility Lifting Extraction System). The M88 series has seen action most noticeably in the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War, the Iraq War, and the War in Afghanistan, and to a lesser extent during the Kosovo War, where they were deployed to help recover heavy armored vehicles of the Allied ground units. The current M88A2 replacement cost is around US$2,050,000.[1]


  • History 1
    • Design 1.1
    • Development 1.2
    • Role 1.3
  • Variants 2
  • Criticism 3
  • Operators 4
    • Current operators 4.1
  • See also 5
  • Notes 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8



In Operation Iraqi Freedom, the M88 saw great use lifting and placing heavy concrete barriers during Combat engineering missions.

The design of this vehicle was based on the chassis and parts of the automotive component of the M48 Patton and M60 Patton tanks. The original M88 was introduced in 1961, M88A1 in 1977, with the current M88A2 introduced in 1997.[1]


Originally manufactured by Bowen McLaughlin York (later the BMY division of Harsco Corporation) in 1961, the company would later merge with FMC Corp. to form the United Defense Industries in 1994, which was in turn acquired by BAE Systems in 2005 to become BAE Systems Land and Armaments. In February 2008 the company was awarded a $185 million contract modification from the U.S. Army to manufacture 90 Army-configured M88A2s, four United States Marine Corps-configured M88A2s and authorized spares list parts.[2]


The M88's primary role is to repair or replace damaged parts in fighting vehicles while under fire, as well as extricate vehicles that have become bogged down or entangled. The main winch on the M88A2 is capable of a 70-ton, single line recovery, and a 140-ton 2:1 recovery when used with the 140 ton pulley. The A-frame boom of the A2 can lift 35 tons when used in conjunction with the spade down. The spade can be used for light earth moving, and can be used to anchor the vehicle when using the main winch. The M88 employs an Auxiliary power unit (APU) to provide auxiliary electrical and hydraulic power when the main engine is not in operation. It can also be used to slave start other vehicles, provide power for the hydraulic impact wrench, as well as the means to refuel or de-fuel vehicles as required. The M88 series of vehicles can refuel M1 tanks from its own fuel tanks, but this is a last resort due to the possibility of clogging the AGT-1500's fuel filters. The fuel pump draws fuel from the bottom of the fuel cell, and with it, all of the sediment that has accumulated with time.[1]


  • M88 - 1961
  • M88A1 - 1977
  • M88A2 Hercules - 1991

The original M88 produced from 1960 to 1964 used the Continental AVSI-1790-6A gasoline engine rated at 980 HP at 2800 rpm, as well as a 10 HP gasoline auxiliary power unit. The M88A1 was powered by the Continental AVDS-1790-2DR Diesel engine and had a 10 HP Diesel auxiliary power unit. While the original M88 and M88A1 are designated as a "Medium Recovery Vehicle", the M88A2 (original designation being M88A1E1) is designated as "Heavy Recovery Vehicle". They are all similar in many fundamental ways however, the later version is distinctly heavier (70 tons, compared to the original 56 tons) and uses a different engine (AVDS 1790-8CR with 1050 hp, compared to a Continental AVDS-1790-2DR, with 750 hp).[1]

U.S. Marines use an M88A1 to load a Honeywell AGT1500 gas turbine engine back into an M1A1 Abrams at Camp Coyote, Kuwait, in February 2003.

The M88A2 is slightly larger than its predecessors (8.6 x 3.7 x 3.2 m compared to 8.3 x 3.4 x 3.2 m) thus retains a lower top speed (40 km/h) and a significantly lower road range (322 km compared to 450 km). There have also been improvements in braking and steering. Additionally, the M88A2 has upgraded armor protection including armored track skirts and applique armor panels, which both previous models lack. The M88 is also lacking in Nuclear, Biological, Chemical (NBC) defenses and a smoke screen generator, which the later M88A1 and M88A2 models are equipped with. Furthermore, the crew number has decreased from 5, to 3-4, to 3 through the series.[1]

However, all variants retain an M2 Browning .50 caliber machine gun, 432 mm ground clearance, 2.6 m fording depth, 1.1 m wall climb and 2.6 m trench crossing capabilities. There has been no major deviation in battlefield role through the M88 series, the later models are merely able to lift heavier loads. The M88A1 was designed around the now obsolete M60 Patton tanks, so it was in light of the fact that two M88A1's were required to tow the new M1 Abrams tank that the decision was made to upgrade to the M88A2 in 1991.[1]


An American M88A1 out on a mission in March 2007, during the Iraq War.

One of the main issues afflicting the current M88A2 is the high rate of winch failures, which is mainly caused by continued winch operation after the cable has wrapped around the drum incorrectly, leading to damaged hub bearings. There is also concern with loss of tractive force when an M88A2 tows a heavy M1 Abrams on a slope in wet, muddy conditions. The M88A2 was extensively tested at the Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland and on August 10, 1998 was officially approved for the towing of 70-ton combat vehicles such as the M1 Abrams.[1]


Map of M88 operators in blue
A U.S. Army M88A2 Hercules at Fort Polk, Louisiana in June 2006.

Current operators

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "M88's info and specs".  
  2. ^ "BAE Systems Awarded $185 Million Contract for M88A2 HERCULES Recovery Vehicles" (Press release). BAE Systems. 2008-03-04. Retrieved 2008-09-11. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t "SIPRI arms transfer database".  
  4. ^ "Australia – M88A2 Hercules Heavy Recovery Vehicles" (Press release). Washington, D.C. Defense Security Cooperation Agency. 26 January 2015. Retrieved 4 April 2015. 
  5. ^ Recovery Vehicles for Iraq -, October 8, 2012
  6. ^
  7. ^


  • Military Vehicles from World War I to the Present - Hans Halberstadt, 1998
  • Patton, A History of the American Medium Battle Tank, Vol. 1 - R.P. Hunnicutt, Presidio Press, 1984

External links

  • M88A2 Factsheet on BAE Systems website
  • M88 data on Global Security website
  • M88 Recovery Vehicle
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