Chonma-Ho III

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Brief Summary:
Proceeding upon the modifications of the Chonma-Ho II comes the Chonma-Ho III the final of the early Chonma-Ho’s and by far the most mysterious of the models often being mistaken with the Chonma-Ho IV making it’s variant the most hard to decipher.

The Chonma-Ho III can trace it’s origins to the Chonma-Ho II with the laser rangefinder, other upgrades vary on this model in which some state it had era whilst others don’t this is usually down to misinterpretations of the tank and confusions with the Chonma-Ho IV model. An upgrade this tank received was Night Vision and thermal sleeves alongside the addition of side skirts, smoke launchers may of also appeared on this model in an attempt to keep it up to date with the Chonma-Ho IV in the early 1990’s. Most depictions of this tank add the era most commonly found of the Chonma-Ho IV model. If the tank did have era like the claims say it did it would most likely of received them on the back and sides of the turret and on the glacis.

The depiction of how the Chonma-Ho III looked like (this will be contradicted with how the early Chonma-Ho IV’s are depicted)

The most likely candidate of an image of the Chonma-Ho III although it is still unknown whether this is just another confusion of the Chonma-Ho IV.

I could not find much information on this variant of the Chonma-Ho as it seems to have been phased out very quickly and tends to get mixed in with early Chonma-Ho IV models alongside being shown during the beginning of the 1990’s and quickly phased out by the later more prolific models of the Chonma series.


Dimensions (L-W-H): 6.63m x 3.52m x 2.4m (21’8’’ x 11’5’’ x 7’9’’ ft)

Total Weight: 42 tons

Crew: 4

Propulsion: V-55 12 cylinder diesel engine, 581hp 2000rpm engine.

Transmission: 5 forward 1 reverse

clearance: 0.425

Power to Weight Ratio: 13.83hp/ton

Suspension: Torsion Bar

Top Speed: 50km/h (31 mph)

Main Armament: 115mm U5TS (40 rounds)

Vertical Guidance: -6°/16°

Secondary Armament: 1x 7.62mm PKT (turret coaxial) (2500 rounds)
1x 12.7mm DShK (AA position) (500 rounds) (later the 14.5mm KPM)
Possibility of 4 smoke launchers on each side of the turret added on this model

Stabiliser: Two Plane

Laser Rangefinder: Yes (located on top of the main gun)

Night Vision: Passive IR, IR Searchlights

Armour: 102mm frontally at 60°, 79mm upper sides, 15mm lower sides, 46mm rear (hull)
214mm frontally, turret, 153mm sides 97mm rear, 40mm roof (Turret) + spaced armour from a turret basket on the rear (possibility of era)
20mm bottom, 31mm hull roof

Production: unknown


Clearer, higher resolution photos of the parade vehicles:

Camouflage, smoke grenade positions and ERA match the photo below:

Also appears to match this photo:
Which suggests this (^^^) is a ‘III’ and not a ‘IV’

Also this image, which is really not good for detail and so I’m unsure whether it’s a III or IV, but provides a nice view of the rear turret:

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The Chonma-Ho III isn’t a real tank. It’s main feature was a thermal sleeve for the gun. There are no photos of it and later variants didn’t have the thermal sleeve, meaning it most likely never existed.

The issue is that ‘Chonma-Ho III’ refers to multiple variants and there is no clear definition.

Broadly, the development goes like this:
Ch’onma – T-62 copy
‘Ch’onma-II’ – Ch’onma with LRF, multiple different models of LRF seen
‘Ch’onma-III’ or M1992 – multiple different models

  • Most likely description is those vehicles with turret ERA and a new turret design, as well as 2 rows of 4 smoke grenades on either side and sideskirts, so the ones in the images I posted above

  • What is also referred to as Ch’onma-92 is sometimes mixed in with these, with different turret ERA and only 4 smoke grenades on either side of the turret, as well as hull ERA

  • There’s also multiple variants sometimes called ‘Ch’onma-IV’ which have a slightly different turret face more reminiscent of the later Ch’onma-98, as well as some with smoke grenades. The first image below looks like it has a completely different turret design though.

  • But sometimes these last 2 sets are merged together all under Ch’onma-92/IV. It’s worth mentioning as well that the vehicles at the bottom right (No. 216) do have a thermal sleeve, at least according to the authors of ‘The Armed Forces of North Korea: On the Path of Songun’ – here’s a better image:

  • You can also see the ‘straps’ more clearly on the left image. They also speculate that this one might actually be a prototype that instead mounted a 125mm

Ch’onma-98 is either referred to as ‘Chonma-IV or V’ online, with the -214 being V most of the time (although I’ve also seen VI). These later variants are much easier to identify though.

Whatever the ‘real’ Ch’onma-III is, I blame the US DoD lol. The confusion stems from 1) inaccurate descriptions to begin with and 2) people assigning names to blurry images that are then found out to be different tanks, so now there’s 2 or 3 different names for the same tank floating around the internet, etc.

More photos,