Type 59

From Academic Kids

General Characteristics
Length6.04 m
Width3.27 m
Height2.59 m
Weight37 tons
SpeedMax road: 50 km/h
Average road: 30~33 km/h
Max off-road: 25 km/h
Range440 km
600 km with external tanks
Type 59 100mm rifled gun
Type 69-II 100mm rifled gun
Type 79 105mm rifled gun
Type 81 105mm rifled gun
Type 83-I 105mm rifled gun
One 7.62mm coaxial machine gun
One 12.7mm air-defence machine gun
Fire control(On some versions)
Light spot fire control system,
one/two way stabiliser
Power plant520-hp diesel engine,
(or 580-hp diesel engine)
TransmissionMechanical, planetary
SuspensionTorsion bar
Fording depth1.4 m unprepared, 5.5 m with snorkel

The Chinese Type 59 Main Battle Tank is a copy of the ubiquitous Russian T-55/54 medium tank. The Chinese based several later designs, such as the Type 69 and Type 79, on the Type 59. Other developments included a variant sporting a 120mm gun, and the scaled-down Type 62 with an 85 mm gun.



Type 59

The basic variant, a T-54A clone. Entered production in 1957.

Type 59-I

Improved variant fitted with a Type 69-II 100 mm rifled gun, as well as a laser rangefinder, hydraulic servo-system, primitive fire control, automatic fire suppression system, and rubber track skirt. The Type 59-I includes several versions with different armour and fire control configurations.

Type 59-II

Manufacturer designation WZ-120B. Upgraded to the 105 mm Type 81 (copy of the L7) rifled gun design provided by Austria. The most distinctive feature of the Type 59-II is that its barrel fume extractor was removed from the front-end to the middle of the barrel. Other improvements include new radio and fire suppression system. The batch production began in 1982 and stopped in 1985. Used to crush the Tiananmen Demonstrations.

Type 59-IIA

Fitted with thermal sleeve for 105 mm gun and some composite armor. Referred to as M-1984 by US Army. Variants include MBT, command tank, and mine-sweeper tank.

Type 59 Gai

This is an experimental variant to test various Western technologies integrated on the Chinese-made MBT. Variants include: B59G and BW120K. The BW120K is fitted with an indigenously developed 120 mm smoothbore gun comparable in general performance to the US M-256.

Type 59D

Also known as WZ-120C. The Type 59D was developed in the 1990s. Instead of replacing all ageing Type 59s in service with newer models, the PLA decided that they should be upgraded with new technologies to meet the requirements for future land battle. The Type 59D is fitted with explosive reactive armour, new tank gun, passive night vision, and new fire control. The 12150L diesel engine was also replaced by a 580 hp 12150L7 engine. Variants include Type 59D and Type 59D1.


Other derivatives includes the Type 73 tank recovery vehicle.

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