M88A2 Hercules Recovery Vehicle: An Overview

In today’s post, I’m going to take a few minutes to educate you about the M88A2 Hercules recovery vehicle.  I spent three years in the 4th Infantry Division, a mechanized infantry division with M1 tanks and M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles.  I was fortunate to serve as a Platoon Leader in the maintenance company, part of a Forward Support Battalion, and our unit had the M88A2 Hercules.

From the first time I saw this beast, I was captivated with it.  No, I never got to do any missions with the M88A2 myself, but I was fascinated with what it could do.  Any piece of equipment that can tow a M1 Abrams tank is pretty spectacular as I see it.  Watching it utilize the A-frame boom to remove engines, transmissions, and lift equipment was pretty awesome as well.  The fact that it can travel at speeds up to 30-mph is just icing on the cake!  Throw in a 50 CAL machine gun and you are in heaven!

What I want to do in the rest of this post is share a few quick facts about the M88A2, to teach you what it is capable of.

M88A2 Facts

  • It is the largest ground recovery vehicle in the Army
  • The M88 has been in service since 1961, more than 50 years now
  • They cost just more than $2 million brand new
  • It can tow up to 70 tons
  • The variants are the M88, M88A1 and M88A2
  • The M88 was introduced in 1961, the A1 version in 1977 and the A2 version in 1997
  • It weighs 140,000 pounds
  • The dimensions are 8.27 meters long, 3.43 meters wide, and 3.12 meters high
  • It features a M2 50 CAL machine gun system for armament
  • It has a crew of 3 Soldiers
  • It can be used to refuel M1 tanks in combat
  • It features a V-12, air cooled, twin turbo engine with 750 HP
  • The ground clearance is 17 inches
  • It features a 280 foot cable and 140,000 pull winch

*** Reference Wikipedia

Featured Videos

Here are a few YouTube videos with the Hercules in action.  I thought you would enjoy them.

Final Thoughts

The bottom line is that the M88A2 Hercules is an awesome recovery vehicle, designed to recover tanks and large pieces of equipment.  They’re big, tough, and pretty fast.  You will typically find them in maintenance units that support armor and tank units. They have an important role in maintaining the readiness of the warfighters.

If you have experience working with the M88A2 Hercules, I want to hear from you.  Please leave a comment below to tell us about your experience.  I look forward to hearing from you.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)
Publisher, Part-Time-Commander.com
Email: mrchuckholmes@gmail.com

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10 thoughts on “M88A2 Hercules Recovery Vehicle: An Overview”

  1. After serving 3 years as an Infantry Paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division and a NBC NCO in the 24th Mechanized Infantry Division, I got out of the US Army. About 1982 I decided to rejoin the military and enlisted in the Georgia National Guard in Douglas, Ga., about an hour from my home town. The Guard Unit in Douglas was a Combat Engineers Company. I was in the Motor Platoon and assigned as a crewman on an M88 Recovery Vehicle. Technically I was the driver and my buddy was the “Tank Commader”. Since he outranked me, he always got to drive. LOL One afternoon we sunk an M88 in 5 feet of mud. It took a pretty decent sized operation, that lasted all night, to unstick the M88. Being a crewman on the M88 was a lot of fun. We were a crew of only 2. With just us 2 in that large M88, we had a really nice setup!

  2. This wonderful machine is a highly needed vehicle in wartime situations. We just cannot leave anything that has broke down out where the enemy could salvage parts or supplies from it.

    Yes, it was redesigned in 1997, and that may seem out of date, but the fact is: sometimes older is better. I used to hunt deer with an early 1900’s 30/30 and my buddies would laugh at me, until I shot deer they couldn’t. In many cases, the older designs were ahead of their time, and new technology just cannot match up.

    Wouldn’t it be great to have a chance to operate one of these monsters? Great post Chuck.

    1. That is certainly one impressive vehicle! With a price tag of more than $2 million, I don’t think any of us will be taking one for a spin anytime soon. Oh wait, that’s the price for a brand new model. Maybe you can get a discount if you can find one used. This thing looks like it could handle pretty much any towing job.

  3. Theresa Williams

    The M88A2 is definitely a beast! Those YouTube videos are just a glimpse. I wish I had the opportunity to see one in person. I didn’t know that it was designed in 1997. That seems a long time to go without another upgrade, especially with all of the recent advances in technology and how quickly those advances come along. Although, I suppose the old adage is true: if it’s not broke, don’t fix it! Either way, it was really great to learn more about this recovery vehicle and catch a glimpse of it in action!

  4. Unfortunately my partner and I have never gotten to witness this beauty in action, but I have heard similarly to what you were saying that it truly is a work of art. It is mind blowing to me that such a machine, with so much weight, is able to have such speed. I was able to watch the videos and I can just imagine what an experience it would be to be able to work on this kind of vehicle. Maybe some day! Thanks for the info!

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