Sŏn'gun (2018)

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Sŏn’gun (2018)

Flag-North-Korea

Erroneously called Songun-Ho II.

Brief History
North Korea, despite what some may think, has a surprisingly large variety of tanks and other AFVs. In particular, their indigenous variants and developments of the Soviet T-62 are incredibly interesting, and would fit nicely into the game. North Korea adopted the T-62 as their MBT in the 70s, replacing their antiquated T-34s and T-55s (although over 2000 T-55s are still in service in 2023). They obtained T-62s from 2 sources – directly importing them from the USSR, as well as producing them under license/reverse-engineering them. These were designated Ch’ŏnma (roughly meaning ‘Pegasus’) [note: some sources refer to these tanks as ‘Ch’ŏnma-Ho XYZ’ but the -Ho suffix is something made up by the US DoD].

The Ch’ŏnma went through a variety of different upgrades and modifications, ranging from glorified 1960s-era T-62s to effectively completely new vehicles in some of the later variants. The Sŏn’gun (referring to North Korea’s official ‘Military first’ policy, and again fictitiously referred to as Songun-Ho) was pretty much a completely new tank built from lessons learned from the Ch’ŏnma series, first seen in 2010. Multiple sub-variants and upgrades of the Sŏn’gun have been seen since, but this suggestion focuses on the last variant first seen in 2018.

Characteristics
The differences between the Sŏn’gun and the late Ch’ŏnma variants are apparent even at first glance. The hull remains fairly similar visually, with the 6 roadwheels first seen on the Ch’ŏnma-215, but takes a turn in multiple aspects. The driver is positioned centrally like on the T-72s, as opposed to on the left-side on the T-62/Ch’ŏnma. The hull is also wider by about 20cm, and the vehicle appears to have smaller roadwheels. The vehicle has a completely new engine, with North Korean sources claiming 1200hp (although whether this is accurate or not is another question). The upper front plate also has ERA as standard, which was a first for North Korean tanks. The UFP also likely has some composite protection inside it, probably based on the T-72 Ural the DPRK obtained in the 90s, but this is unsubstantiated by any hard proof.

The most distinct difference over the Ch’ŏnma however is the new turret. Strangely, the turret is cast, an oddity among modern vehicles and a strange change from the Ch’ŏnma’s welded turrets. The turret is also pretty big, at least compared to that of the T-62. There are a number of reasons for this change, namely:

  • Addition of a 125mm 2A46
    • This is the first North Korean tank that is proven to have this gun, and it was likely reverse-engineered from their T-72 Ural
    • This means it lacks the capability to fire GL-ATGMs
    • Likely uses some Soviet APFSDS, along with modern Chinese APFSDS
  • Removal of the autoloader, re-addition of the loader
  • Potentially better gun depression

The armour (and composite structure) of this new turret is unknown, but given the size, it is probably quite thick, possibly similar to that of the late Ch’ŏnma variants (roughly 600mm thick frontally). North Korea claims over 900mm protection, but don’t specify if this is for kinetic or chemical ammunition, and the validity is more than doubtful.

Igla MANPADS are also a standard on this vehicle, much like on the latter variants of the Ch’ŏnma-216.

However, compared to the initial Sŏn’gun (2010) variant, this one features:

  • New turret double-stacked ERA
    • North Korea claims this provides an extra 500mm of protection, making the front turret 1400mm effective, if they are to be believed (doubtful)
  • Igla moved to the rear of the turret

And compared to the Sŏn’gun (2017) variant, this one features:

  • Dual ATGM launcher
    • This is likely Bulsae-3, as is seen on the Ch’ŏnma-216 (2018) variant
    • Roughly 500mm penetration
  • Replacement of the 14.5mm KPVT with a dual 30mm grenade launcher (copy of the Soviet AGS-17)
  • Dual Iglas, instead of just a single one

This package is very similar (if not identical) to that of the Ch’ŏnma-216 (2018); the one thing it is missing are the LWRs on either side of the turret.

Conclusion
The Sŏn’gun would be a really cool and unique vehicle for a future North Korean sub-tree, taking the Ch’ŏnma and changing it to produce a mostly new design. As much of the vehicle remains unknown, it is difficult to say where it should go in the tree, but I tentatively propose a BR of 10.3-10.7, with BTA4 (125-I) and maybe even DTC10-125 APFSDS. This places it higher than the Sŏn’gun (2010) and slightly at the same level as the MBT2000, but with no thermals. If added with the Sŏn’gun (2017), the two should be foldered and act as backups for each other at the same BR.

Specifications
Armament

  • 125mm 2A46
    • Stabilised
    • BTA4 (125-I) APFSDS
    • DTC-10-125 APFSDS
    • DTP-125 HEAT-FS
    • DTB-125 HE
  • Laser rangefinder
  • NVDs/thermals
    • Thermals unconfirmed, possible

Armour

  • Hull
    • Front
      • Unknown, possibly similar to T-72 Ural
    • Sides
      • Unknown, possibly similar to T-72 Ural
    • Rear
      • Unknown, possibly similar to T-72 Ural
  • Turret
    • Front
      • Unknown, claimed up to 900mm + ERA (claimed 500mm)
    • Sides
      • Unknown
    • Rear
      • Unknown

Mobility

  • Speed
    • 70km/h (claimed)
  • Weight
    • ~44t
  • Engine power
    • 1200hp (claimed), 27hp/t

Images

Spoiler

images
UPH0kMF

Sources

Spoiler

songun-ho
Songun-Ho - Tank Encyclopedia
pokpung-ho
Ch’ŏnma - Tank Encyclopedia
Below The Turret Ring: Photographs from North Korean ATGM tests

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A North Korean tank with a Soviet cannon firing Chinese ammo. It’s a cornucopia of communist calamity! +1

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