It should be noted that the Chinese military met with tanks before the formation of the PRC. The first armored vehicles of this class appeared in China during the so-called. The era of militarists. In the mid-twenties, the Fentean clique, led by Zhang Zolin, bought the X-NUMX light tanks FT-36 from France, which became the first Chinese technology of this class. Later, after the unification of China, the new government began to buy small batches of tanks of different models from the UK and Italy. In total, only a few dozen tanks were acquired. The reason for this was both the insufficient financial capacity of the country and the lack of understanding of the role of tanks in the war. A similar attitude towards tanks persisted until the end of the thirties. In 17, China acquired less than a hundred T-1938 tanks from the Soviet Union, most of which were lost in battles with Japan.
Until the mid-fifties, Chinese tank forces exploited foreign-made equipment. At the same time, armored vehicles of Soviet, American and even Japanese production were encountered in different parts. Only in the fifties, official Beijing decided to start building tanks independently at its own production facilities.
In the fifties, the Soviet Union delivered a number of medium-sized T-54 tanks to China. Shortly after the start of operation of these machines, the Chinese leadership acquired a license from the USSR to build them. In 1957, Plant No.617 (Baotou City), having received Soviet documentation, assembled the first batch of Chinese-made tanks. T-54, slightly modified in accordance with the capabilities of the Chinese industry, was named "Type 59" (also found the designation WZ-120).
Being a licensed copy of the T-54 tank, the “59 Type” retained its main features: its design, layout, and various units. At the same time the power plant, weapons and other equipment changed their name. Thus, the X-NUMX-mm rifled gun D-100T was produced in China under the name "Type 10T". The same designation was given to SGMT machine guns, one of which was paired with a gun, and the second was placed in the front hull plate. The aiming devices and communications equipment, like the other units of the tank, were produced under license and differed from the Soviet ones only with new names. In this case, the Chinese tank did not receive night vision devices. The 59L diesel engine was also copied from the Soviet one used on the T-12150. Engine power 54 HP provided the Chinese tank "Type 540" mobility at the level of the Soviet T-59.
Production of the tank "Type 59" continued from 1957 to 1961 year, after which the Chinese factories began to build armored vehicles of the new version "Type 59-I". It differed from the base model with an updated 69-II Type 100 mm gun, night vision devices and a ballistic computer with manual data entry. Over time, all tanks "Type 59" were refitted to the state "Type 59-II." In the future, the upgraded cars were equipped with a laser rangefinder, onboard screens and new ballistic computers.
From 1982 to 1985, the Chinese defense industry built 59-I type tanks. Their main difference from the previous tanks of this family was the 105-mm rifled gun “Type 81” with an ejector and heat shield, which is a copy of the English L7 gun. On the basis of this modification was created tank "Type 59-IIA". Combined armor was limited in its design.
Serial production of tanks "Type 59" ended in 1987 year. Over 30 years, over 10 thousand combat vehicles of seven modifications were built. The bulk of the tanks built in the eighties, was exported. Currently, tanks "Type 59" remain in service with 17 countries. Some of them carried out an independent modernization of this technology, and also developed other types of equipment on a tank chassis.
In the mid-fifties, the Soviet Union handed over to the People's Republic of China several light amphibious tanks PT-76. The Chinese military studied this technique and expressed a desire to get such tanks of their own production. Already in the 1959 year began testing a floating tank "Type 60". The design of this car had several major flaws, because of which the customer refused to develop a new one. In this regard, the Chinese tank builders began a new project, during which it was supposed to get rid of existing problems.
The resulting “63 Type” tank is in general terms similar to the Soviet PT-76. However, there are several major differences. Thus, the workplace of the driver was shifted to the port side, and the crew was increased to four people. The Chinese amphibious tank was armed with an 85-mm rifled 62-85 type gun, a rifle-caliber machine gun and a large-caliber anti-aircraft machine gun paired with it.
For movement on water, the 63 Type amphibious tank, like the Soviet PT-76, used two water cannons in the stern. However, in addition to such propulsion, the Chinese war machine could float, rewinding the tracks.
Type 63 in the exposition of the Military Museum in Beijing
For several years of production, a series of modifications of the “Type 63” was created. All of them differed from each other by small changes in the composition of equipment, etc. The most interesting modification is “Type 63HG”. This amphibious tank had higher seaworthiness compared to the base machine. In addition, he received a 105-mm rifled gun, which greatly increased the combat potential.
On the basis of the tank "Type 63" was created several armored vehicles of various classes. Over the years, more than 1500 of such tanks were built, some of which were supplied by China to third countries. Currently, the Chinese army uses about 500 such tanks. Also, a certain number of machines "Type 63" remains in service with North Korea, Pakistan, Sudan, Vietnam and other countries.
"Type 69" and "Type 79"
The first Chinese tank of its own design is considered "Type 69", created in the seventies. Initially, this project meant a deep modernization of one of the modifications of the tank "Type 59", but the military abandoned the armored vehicle thus created. In 1969, the Chinese army succeeded in capturing a Soviet T-62 tank. Chinese experts have carefully studied the captured car and took into account some of the nuances of its design and equipment. The project "Type 69" finalized in accordance with the information received. Soon began the mass construction of a new tank.
The tank "Type 69" had a fighting mass of 36,7 tons and was equipped with a diesel engine with an output of 580 hp. The hull and tower of the car were similar to the corresponding units of the “Type 59”, but at the same time they differed in thickness of some elements. As the main weapons "Type 69" got a rifled gun "Type-69-II". Additional armament was similar to armored vehicles of the previous model. It was supposed to equip the tank with modern sighting devices, communication systems, laser range finder and ballistic computer.
According to some sources, the tank “Type 69” in its serial form did not quite suit the customer in the person of the Chinese armed forces. In this regard, the latest combat vehicle for several years was in trial operation, and the adoption of the weapons took place only in 1982 year. At the same time, the new tank was first demonstrated to the general public. Probably the cause of claims by the military were insufficient characteristics of the tank. In terms of its firepower, it was slightly superior to the “Type 59” of later modifications and significantly inferior to modern foreign tanks.
Nevertheless, the tanks "Type 69" interested foreign customers. The first export contract was signed in 1983 year with Iraq. Following the Iraqi military, other third-world countries, primarily Asian, showed their interest in the new Chinese design. Only the countries of the Middle East in total acquired more than two thousand tanks "Type 69". In addition, contracts with Pakistan and Sudan included the assembly of tanks in local enterprises. Some units were made by countries independently, some were purchased from China.
During the modernization of the project "Type 69" appeared a modification "Type 69-III." Due to significant changes in the design, weapons and equipment, Chinese tank builders decided to give this development the status of a separate project called “Type 79”. This tank was equipped with an 105-mm gun "Type 83" with a casing, hp 730 diesel engine. and a number of special equipment made in England. Marconi provided a laser range finder, a ballistic computer and sights to Chinese tank builders. "Type 79" became the first Chinese tank with an automatic anti-nuclear defense system. In addition, for the first time in Chinese practice, the tank received a system for dynamic protection of frontal projection.
Tank "Type 79", in contrast to the "Type 69", complied with the requirements of the Chinese military. However, against the background of foreign success, the future of this armored vehicle looked ambiguous. In this regard, work began on updating the project "Type 79" in order to improve the characteristics of the promising tank. The new model of armored vehicles was named "Type 80".
The tank "Type 80" was created based on the experience gained in previous projects, but there were many innovations in its design. As the basis for this tank they took a modified chassis of the machine "Type 79". The armored hull was slightly lengthened, due to which the chassis had to be equipped with six track rollers on each side. First time in stories Chinese tank building armored "Type 80" received a fully welded turret, which significantly increased the level of protection. The basis of the power plant was a diesel engine 1215OL-7BW, produced under the German license. With power 730 hp he provided the 38-ton tank with a maximum speed of 56 km / h.
In the turret of the tank "Type 80" installed 105-mm rifled gun "Type 83", stabilized in two planes, already used on previous Chinese armored vehicles. For fire control, Chinese experts have developed a number of special systems, but the laser rangefinder was manufactured under an English license. Additional armament "Type 80" consisted of large-caliber anti-aircraft and paired with a gun 7,62-mm machine guns.
Shortly after the "Type 80" tank, its advanced version "Type 80-II" appeared. She was distinguished by the presence of new equipment. It was a Chinese laser rangefinder, a system for testing equipment, enhanced protection for sighting devices, and an upgraded system of protection against weapons of mass destruction.
In the mid-eighties, the Chinese defense industry upgraded the 80 Type tank. It was assumed that the slightly modified "Type 80" will be adopted by the Chinese army, but its combat characteristics did not suit the potential customer. It was decided to focus on the creation of the next generation of main tanks. This took into account the need to improve the fleet of existing equipment. The project "Type 85" was developed to improve the performance of already built tanks "Type 80".
The first two versions of the “Type 85” project implied the installation of new equipment on the “Type 80” tanks or the use of combined armor. Significant innovations followed in the project "Type 85-II". Instead of a 105-mm rifled gun, this tank was to receive an 125-mm smooth-bore gun, copied from the Soviet 2-46. In addition, the “Type 85-II” was supposed to be equipped with an automatic loader, which allowed the crew to be reduced to three people. According to available information, the Middle East wars contributed to the creation of an updated tank with an 125-mm gun, as a result of which a certain number of Soviet-made T-72 tanks went into China through third countries.
In the mid-nineties, the tank was shown "Type 85-MMB". He was a machine model "Type 85-II" with a reinforced combined armor, a new fire control system and sights with a night channel.
To date, about 600 tanks "Type 80" in the Chinese armed forces converted to the state "Type 85". Another 300 machine modification "Type 85-II" with a caliber 125 mm was built in Pakistan under a Chinese license. Pakistan was also offered a modification of the “Type 85-III” with a more powerful engine and new equipment, but a potential customer rejected the possibility of purchasing this equipment.
The project "Type 88", as well as "Type 85", was intended to improve the existing technology of previous models. The basis for the new tank was the "Type 80". The main changes regarding the base armored vehicle were in the updated elements of the armored hull and some new devices. Part of the hull and turret changes were made to install the dynamic protection system blocks. To increase the rate of fire, the new tank received loading mechanisms to facilitate the work of the crew. Tank "Type 88" was adopted by the Chinese army in the late eighties.
Specifically for the modification "Type 88" was updated tool "Type 83". In the new version, this 105-mm gun had a barrel of greater length, which significantly increased its capabilities. Minor changes have been made to the propelling mechanisms. On the case and the tower of the combat vehicle installed blocks of the dynamic protection system of a new type.
Simultaneously with the "Type 88A" was developed "Type 88B". This modification of the main tank received an improved automatic loading, as well as a new fire control system. To simplify the subsequent serial production, the tanks “Type 88A” and “Type 88B” were maximally unified.
Unlike previous versions, the tank "Type 88C" was created on the basis of the model "Type 85-II." Initially, the “Type 88C” was a basic machine equipped with a 125-mm smoothbore weapon with an automatic loader and a new fire control system. In the future, the tank of this model received a new 1000 hp engine. Shortly after the tests of the “Type 88C” tank were completed, the new fire control system was integrated into previous projects of the “88” family.
Currently, the Chinese armed forces have no more than 450-500 tanks "Type 88" of all modifications. Over 200 tanks "Type 88B" were delivered to Burma. Other countries showed interest in the new Chinese tank, but did not express a desire to acquire it.
In the nineties, Chinese tank builders created several new main tanks, which were a deep modernization of the 85 Type combat vehicle. The first version of the project "Type 90" had the same composition of weapons and equipment as the basic combat vehicle. All improvements related to the tower and armored corps. "Type 90" became the first Chinese tank with a modular architecture of armor. This means that some elements of the hull could be replaced during repair or conversion. In particular, in the future, it was intended to re-equip the 90 Type tanks with new combined armor with higher protection characteristics. Several prototypes of such a tank were built, but they did not suit the Chinese army.
The failure to supply its own armed forces pushed the authors of the project to continue working on new modifications. Thus, the tank "Type 90-I" was designed specifically for supplying Pakistan. At the request of the customer, it was equipped with an English-made Perkins Shrewsbury CV12 diesel engine and a SESM ESM 500 French transmission. By that time, these units were already used on the Challenger 2 and Leclerc tanks, respectively. In the late nineties, Pakistan conducted nuclear tests, one of the results of which was an arms embargo on this country. Due to the absence of engines and transmissions, the project “Type 90-I” was closed.
The embargo forced Chinese tank builders to find a way to fulfill the Pakistani order. So there was a project "Type 90-II". It was supposed to replace foreign-made components with Chinese counterparts. Tests have shown that the available engines and transmission systems can not be compared with units of English and French production. Because of this, the project “Type 90-II” was also closed due to the lack of prospects.
The problem of the power plant was solved at the beginning of the two thousandth, when Chinese designers created a tank "Type 90-MMB", equipped with a Ukrainian-made 6TD-2 diesel engine. This engine was able to provide the necessary power density and the work on the project continued. The result of the joint work of the PRC and Pakistan was the creation of the main tank Al-Khalid, currently used by Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Moroccan military. Production of tanks is carried out at the enterprises of China and Pakistan.
In the mid-nineties, the Chinese defense industry created a new tank, combining all the advanced developments of the “Type 83” and “Type 90” projects. The resulting main tank "Type 96" received a modular combined armor, diesel engine with a power 1000 hp, gun caliber 125 mm and modern electronics. Roughly in 1997, the “Type 96” went into series, replacing the “Type 88”, the production of which stopped.
From the previous machines "Type 96" significantly different design of some elements of the hull and tower. In this case, the maximum differences were observed in electronic equipment. The new automated fire control system was paired with a laser rangefinder and sights with a thermal imaging channel. It was argued that tanks "Type 96" equipped with a laser system of optical-electronic countermeasures.
According to reports, the tank "Type 96" is currently the most massive machine of its class in the composition of the Chinese ground forces. According to various sources, from the end of the nineties, 2000-2500 of such tanks were built. 200 armored vehicles of this type were purchased by Sudan.
Back in the eighties, Chinese tank builders began work on a promising tank, able to stand on an equal footing with foreign combat vehicles. The first version of this tank was the "Type 98". A characteristic feature of this project was the wide use of new ideas that had not previously been encountered in the tank building industry of China. In particular, the “Type 98” received a welded turret with a developed feeding niche, in which the ammunition was placed. Earlier, the ammunition of Chinese tanks was placed inside the hull. Such a "know-how", peeped from Western designers, had specific consequences: the loader returned to the crew.
During the development of the project "Type 98" had to return to the idea of using the automatic carousel loader type, used on some previous tanks. Thanks to this, the crew of the new Type 98G combat vehicle was again reduced to three people. In addition, the updated tank received a Chinese-made 150HB engine with an HP 1200 power.
According to reports, only a few dozen tanks "Type 98" and "Type 98G" were built. These combat vehicles were not widely used, but they became the basis for the newest Chinese tank.
The most advanced and modern tank in the Chinese army is the "Type 99" and its modifications. This combat vehicle was created taking into account both Chinese and global experience in tank building. The armored hull and turret are equipped with a combination armor that increases the level of protection. To protect the tank from guided weapons also applies a laser countermeasure system. Accurate data on the use of dynamic protection systems is missing.
The tank "Type 99" is equipped with an engine power 1500 HP, which is a copy of the German diesel MB871ka501. Despite the combat weight of about 54 tons, the tank "Type 99" is able to move on the highway at speeds up to 80 km / h. In addition, the engine provides a fairly high speed over rough terrain.
The tank armament complex “Type 99” is reminiscent of that used on modern Russian tanks. A smooth-bore gun stabilized in two planes of the 125-mm is associated with a carousel-type automatic loader. In the styling of the combat vehicle 41 is placed separately-cartridge shot, 22 of which are in the cells of the automatic loader. Ammunition includes shells of various types. In addition, there is information about the creation in China of a guided missile suitable for use with an existing tank gun.
The tank "Type 99", according to available data, has a set of equipment, typical of all modern combat vehicles. The commander and gunner have stabilized sights with a thermal imaging channel. There is also a laser range finder, a ballistic computer and a target tracking machine. It is alleged that the tank fire control system “Type 99” allows you to accurately determine the location of the combat vehicle and, if necessary, fire from closed positions.
A few years ago, an updated tank was shown called “Type 99A1”. From the original car, it differed in some changes in the shape of the tower. They were probably due to some technological reasons.
Further development of the newest Chinese tank was the machine "Type 99A2". Great changes undergone fire control system and sighting devices. In addition, new tanks are supposed to be equipped with a system to display information about the battlefield. Instead of a laser defense system against anti-tank systems, it is proposed to use an active protection complex.
Over the past few years, about 500 tanks "Type 99" of all modifications were built. According to some reports, the bulk of these tanks built in accordance with the project "Type 99". Due to their complexity, the updated versions are produced in relatively small batches and have not yet gained widespread use in armored forces.
Past, present and future
As you can see, for several decades, the tankers of the PRC were able to go through a difficult path from assembling combat vehicles under license to designing armored vehicles themselves. It should be noted that part of the Chinese tank projects are directly connected with each other. Each subsequent of these projects is a development of the previous one. In the end, this “family tree” goes back to the tank “Type 59” and, as a result, to the Soviet T-54. From this fact we can draw several conclusions, both about the modernization potential of the T-54 tank, and about the cautious approach of the Chinese designers to the creation of new technology. The latter conclusion is confirmed by the fact that for a long time China’s tanks were built on the principle of upgrading equipment and weapons. Noticeable changes at once in all elements of the appearance of combat vehicles began to appear only with the creation of the "eightieth" series. Finally, the latest Chinese tanks show that a similar approach to the design of technology has been established and is being actively used.
For obvious reasons, Chinese tank building has always been forced to catch up with world leaders, at the same time mastering new technologies and technical solutions. The lag was particularly vivid in the seventies and eighties. Because of the limited capabilities of the defense industry in the hypothetical armed conflict of this time, the Chinese ground forces would have to deal with a deliberately superior enemy. Potential opponents of China by that time already had full-fledged main tanks with combined armor and 120 or 125 mm caliber guns. It is unlikely that tanks like the "Type 69" could cope with similar equipment of the enemy.
In the nineties, the situation began to change rapidly. Tanks with homogeneous armor and 100- or 105-millimeter guns have been replaced by newer and more advanced machines. At the moment, the newest and best Chinese tank is the "Type 99". By its appearance, this combat vehicle corresponds to modern foreign models. However, according to some estimates, the “Type 99” and even its latest modifications cannot be fully considered a modern tank. There is some reason to believe that the lag of Chinese tank building still lasts and the “Type 99” corresponds to foreign machines created no later than the end of the eighties.
It is worth noting that the comparison of the latest Chinese tanks with the latest foreign ones is difficult for some reasons. After the end of the Cold War, the leaders of the world tank-building industry - Russia, the USA, Great Britain, Germany and France - slowed down the pace of development of new cars. In recent decades, these countries are mainly engaged in the modernization of existing tanks. China, in turn, did not stop its work in the direction of the development of heavy armored vehicles. Thus, the comparison of Chinese and foreign tanks turns into a difficult task, since lately China could catch up with competitors, at least in certain directions.
For all the complexity of comparing modern tanks, you can make one simple conclusion regarding Chinese armored vehicles. Over the past few decades, Chinese engineers have done a lot for the development of tank building. To date, China is able to produce armored vehicles, which in a number of parameters can be compared with the developments of leading countries. This means that Chinese designers are already working on new projects, and the “premiere” of a promising combat vehicle can take place as soon as possible. It is not known what its characteristics will be, but it cannot be excluded that this time the Chinese tank builders will succeed in creating a fully modern tank.
On the materials of the sites: