An armoured recovery vehicle (ARV) is an armoured vehicle used during combat for recovery or repair of battle-damaged and inoperable armoured fighting vehicles. The term "Armoured Repair and Recovery Vehicle" (ARRV) is also used.
During World War I, some British Mark IV heavy tanks were fitted with jibs to produce "Salvage Tanks", but the majority of their work was at the tank parks in aid of maintaining and repairing damaged tanks.
Second World War
The first true ARVs were introduced in World War II, often by converting obsolete or damaged tanks, usually by removing the turret and installing a heavy-duty winch to free stuck vehicles, plus a variety of vehicle repair tools. Some were also purpose-built in factories, using an existing tank chassis with a hull superstructure to accommodate repair and recovery equipment. Many of the latter type of ARV had an A-frame or crane to allow the vehicle's crew to perform heavy lifting tasks, such as removing the engine from a disabled tank.
After World War II, most countries' MBT models also had corresponding ARV variants. Many ARVs are also equipped with a bulldozer blade that can be used as an anchor when winching or as a stabiliser when lifting, a pump to transfer fuel to another vehicle, and more. Some can even carry a spare engine for field replacement, such as the GermanLeopard 1 ARV.
ARVs are normally built on the chassis of a main battle tank (MBT), but some are also constructed on the basis of other armoured fighting vehicles, mostly armoured personnel carriers (APCs). ARVs are usually built on the basis of a vehicle in the same class as they are supposed to recover; a tank-based ARV is used to recover tanks, while an APC-based one recovers APCs (it does not have the power to tow a much heavier tank).
Bergepanzer Wisent - Bergepanzer 2 chassis. Modified and upgraded by Flensburger Fahrzeugbau to support the demands of the future battlefield. Optimised to support the Leopard 1 and 2 main battle tanks.
Bergepanzer Wisent 2 - Leopard 2 chassis. Successor of the Wisent. Build by Flensburger Fahrzeugbau.
A Trail Blazer, Yad La-Shiryon Museum, Israel
Trail Blazer (Gordon) (Sherman chassis) - An IDF recovery/engineering vehicle based on HVSS equipped M4A1s Sherman tanks, it featured a large single boom crane (as opposed to the A-Frame of the M32) and large spades at the front and rear of the vehicle to assist in lifting. It could also tow up to 72 tons.
"Technical" and "Fitter" - ARVs based on the M-113 with crane attached
Nemera - modern recovery vehicle based on Merkava tank chassis. Several prototypes have been built, but it never fielded in large number in the IDF.
M32 Chenca (Sherman chassis) - In 1998, Napco International of the USA upgraded M32B1 TRV M4 Sherman-chassis armoured recovery vehicles with Detroit Diesel 8V-92-T diesel engines (see M32 entry under United States).
The British tested their first ARV designs in early 1942. The decision at the time was to focus on the Churchill infantry tank as the basis, but cruiser tank based ARVs were also produced. When the UK received supplies of US medium tanks - first the M3, then M4 Sherman, conversions were made of these to operate alongside and so simplify support.
The BARV is a British military support vehicle, the name coming from "Beach Armoured Recovery Vehicle", for working in shallow water. Various models were based on the M4A2 Sherman, Centurion and Leopard 1A5 ("Hippo")tank chassis. Australia converted a M3A5 Grant to a BARV configuration.
A US Marine Corps M88A2 Hercules in 2014
M31 Tank Recovery Vehicle - based on M3 Lee chassis. (sometimes called a T2 tank retriever)
M32 Tank Recovery Vehicle, or M32 TRV, based on the Sherman tank chassis with turret replaced by fixed superstructure, 60,000 lb (27,000 kg) winch and an 18 feet (5.5 m) long pivoting A-frame jib installed. An 81 mm mortar was also added into the hull, primarily for screening purposes.
M32A1B1 - M32B1s with HVSS, later removing the 81 mm mortar and incorporating crane improvements.
M32B2 - M32s converted from M4A2s.
M32B3 - M32s converted from M4A3s.
M32A1B3 - M32B3s brought up to M32A1B1 standard.
M32B4 - M32s converted from M4A4s.
M74 Tank Recovery Vehicle - Upgrade of the M32 to provide the same capability with regards to heavier post-war tanks, converted from M4A3 HVSS tanks. In appearance, the M74 is very similar to the M32, fitted with an A-Frame crane, a main towing winch, an auxiliary winch, and a manual utility winch. The M74 also has a front-mounted spade that can be used as a support or as a dozer blade.
M74B1 - Same as the M74, but converted from M32B3s.