Land Weapons

NORINCO

Type 63 (YW531)

The Type 63 (YW 531) is China's first tracked APC design, and also the first indigenous military vehicle to be developed without Soviet assistance or reverse-engineered. Structurally it is similar to contemporary mid-Cold War APC designs, notably the M113. The hull is constructed of all-welded steel and features a conventional layout with the crew compartment at the front, behind which is the engine, and a troop compartment to the rear. It can carry a total of 13 fully-loaded troops, which dismount through an outward-hinging door in the rear (a single firing port is provided on each side of the hull). The Type 63 is fully amphibious and is propelled through the water by its tracks. However, there is no NBC protection system, or night vision equipment. The Type 63 has been used in numerous conflicts, notably the Vietnam War, Sino-Vietnamese War, Iran-Iraq War, and the Gulf War. It also featured prominently during the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests. Export customers include most of China's typical clients including Albania, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Zaire among others. It remains in widespread PLA service.

The initial YW 531 (Type 63) was followed in production by the improved YW 531A with a heater and a smaller caliber machine gun (a command version was known as the WZ 701. Two further upgraded variants were known as the YW 531B with a stronger suspension, extra firing ports and escape hatches; and the YW 531C the latter with a more powerful engine and numerous mechanical improvements. The YW 531D and YW 531E also have different radio and intercom systems, as well as firing port layouts. Other non-APC versions include the YW 750 ambulance, WZ 302 (Type 70-1) self-propelled howitzer, WZ 303 (Type 70) MLRS (the last two with a longer and wider chassis), YW 304 82-mm and TW 381 120-mm self-propelled mortars, YD 801 fire fighting vehicle, and ZZM-88 cryptography vehicle. A follow up version designed for export is known as the YW 531H (Type 85) and is described separately.

Preceded by:

None

Related:

Type 85 (YW531H) (1990)

Succeeded by:

Type 77 (WZ511) (1978)

Datafile

DesignType 63-III
OrdnanceYW-531C
TypeAPC
Year1981
Crew2 + 13
Dimensions
Length (w/Gun)5.48 m
Width2.98 m
Height1.90 m
Weight
Empty11,100 kg
Loaded12,600 kg
Ground Pressure0.57 kg/cm²
SuspensionTorsion bar
Performance
Speed (Off-Road)66 km/h
Range (Off-Road)500 km
AmphibiousYes (6 km/h)
Vertical Obstacle0.60 m
Trench2 m
Gradient60%
Powerplant
Engine1 x 320-hp
BF8L413F
FuelDiesel
Power/Weight25.40 hp/t
Armament
Main1 x 12.7-mm
Type 54
Machine Gun (1120)
↑ 90° / ↓ 0° / ↔ 360°

Secondary-
Armor
TypeSteel
Thickness-
Max Effective-
Production
Built?
Total2,800