Classified details of China’s DTC10-125 anti-tank sabot round just leaked in a game forum!
Find out what happened, and what secrets were actually leaked on the DTC10-125 sabot round!
China’s DTC10-125 Anti-Tank Ammo Leaked In Game Forum!
Fans of War Thunder are always arguing about the tanks and their weapons in that free-to-play combat vehicle simulator game.
To prove a point in a recent argument, one of them posted a picture of a classified Chinese document together with a tungsten penetrator from China’s DTC10-125 anti-tank ammunition.
The forum moderators quickly removed the post, but it was too late. As they say – the Internet never forgets.
In this screenshot, you can see part of the tungsten penetrator sitting on top of an official specification sheet for the DTC10-125 anti-tank sabot round used in China’s main battle tanks.
While some websites call this a sabot, that is not correct. That is the tungsten kinetic energy penetrator that actually hits the target.
The sabot (French for wooden shoe) is a lightweight multi-part structure that attaches to the grooves on this tungsten penetrator to fit the gun’s barrel. Without the sabot, the propelling gas would just blow past the much thinner penetrator.
The sabot drives the penetrator down the barrel and detaches on exiting the barrel, leaving the dart-like penetrator to continue to the target.
This isn’t the first time War Thunder fans leaked classified information. In July 2021, a gamer who identified himself as a UK tank commander posted excerpts from the Challenger 2 tank’s Army Equipment Support Publication (AESP).
Then in October 2021, a French army tank crewman posted a portion of the Leclerc S2 main battle tank’s classified manual, to prove that its real turret rotation speed is slower than in the game (9 seconds):
It took about 11 seconds for the turret to complete a complete rotation, so 550mil/s (31°) is correct instead of 40°.
What Does Leaked DTC10-125 Anti-Tank Ammo Document Say?
Here are the Chinese text that I can make out :
产品新称: DTC10 式 125 毫米穿甲弹
话用式餐: ZTZ96, ZTZ96A, ZTZ99, TZ99A 式主就理党
- 初速 (+15°C) : 1760m/s
- 千米立粑密集度 (+15°C, 中间误差) : 高低×方向 ≤0.25m x 0.25m 常温三组平均值
- 穿甲威力 : 常温 (+15°C), 在 2000 关距高上时 220毫米/71.12° (相当卡680毫米/0°)
Here is a rough translation of what the document says, which I refined with help from Chai and Yuh Hui. Thank you!
Product Name : DTC10 Type 125 mm armour-piercing projectile
Compatible Tanks : ZTZ96, ZTZ96A, ZTZ99, ZTZ99A
- Muzzle velocity (+15°C) : 1760m/s
- Accuracy? (+15°C, median error) : Height X Direction ≤0.25m x 0.25m (Average of three groups at room temperature)
- Armour Penetration : normal temperature (+15°C), at 2000 metres, 220mm at 71.12° (Equivalent to 680mm at 0°)
Design : The schematic diagram of the whole projectile structure is shown in Figure 1, and the schematic diagram of the projectile structure is shown in Figure 2.
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China’s DTC10-125 Anti-Tank Ammo : What We Know So Far
The DTC10-125 is a 125 mm armour-piercing fin-stabilised discarding sabot (APFSDS) projectile, used in Chinese Type 99 (ZTZ99) and Type 96 (ZTZ96) tanks.
Unlike NATO tank ammunition (which comes in one piece), the DTC10-125 comes in two pieces. The projectile is loaded into the ZPT-98 gun, followed by a separate propellant charge.
This may seem tedious, but the ZPT-98 smoothbore gun is loaded by a carousel-style autoloader, which can be filled with up to 22 rounds.
The autoloader allows for rapid firing of up to 8 rounds per minute. Manual loading is much slower at just 2 rounds per minute.
The Chinese ZPT-98 gun is based on the Ukrainian 2A46M tank gun, which is 10% lighter than the original Soviet 2A46 gun.
Even before this leaked document in the War Thunder game forum, some of the DTC10-125 ammo’s performance characteristics were known through the US TRADOC and a Norinco internal document.
It features an all-tungsten penetrator with a tungsten carbide core towards the tip, with new Taigen (太根) propellant offering a higher chamber pressure, with a higher muzzle velocity of 1760 metres per second.
The DTC10-125 is said to be capable of penetrating 960 mm of rolled homogenous armour (RHA) at 1,000 metres, and 700 mm RHA at 2,000 metres.
Chinese netizens, however, recently posted this screenshot of a CCTV news report, which claims that ZTZ99A tank is capable of defeating 680 mm RHA at 1,800 metres using DTC10-125 round.
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The leaked Chinese document appears to confirm the earlier assessment – the DTC10-125 penetrator is rated to penetrate 220 mm RHA at 71.12° angle, which is equivalent to 680 mm RHA at 2,000 metres.
This makes it significantly better than the previous DTW-125 round, which delivers a muzzle velocity of 1650 metres per second, and is rated to penetrate about 600 mm RHA at 2,000 metres.
The lower penetration reported by CCTV may be intentionally meant to obfuscate the DTC10-125 ammunition’s real capabilities to foreign observers.
On top of that, the DTC10-125 ammunition is compatible with older autoloaders designed for the 2A46 gun, and can thus be used in older Soviet-era tanks like the T-72, offering them better anti-tank penetration without modification.
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