Land Weapons

NORINCO

Type 63 (WZ211)

Following deliveries of Soviet PT-76 amphibious tanks, the Chinese decided to develop an indigenous variant which became the Type 63. The Type 63 shares the general boat-like hull design and layout of the PT-76, albeit with a shallower glacis plate. However, the turret is completely different, being a cast rounded design reminiscent of the Type 62 light tank. Armament consists of an 85-mm rifled gun, believed to be identical to that on the Type 62. However, this was later upgraded to a more powerful 105-mm gun on later variants. Amphibious capability is provided through twin water-jets of Russian design; like many amphibious vehicles, a trim board must be erected at the front of the hull before entering the water and bilge pumps switched on. There is no NBC protection or night vision equipment although a laser-rangefinder is provided and a computerized fire-control system is fitted on later units. The Type 63 remains in PLA service, likely for the purpose of a potential invasion of Taiwan. It has been exported to numerous Chinese client states, notably Vietnam which used it in the Vietnam War and later, the Sino-Vietnamese War. Like the Type 62, it suffered due to relatively thin armor but showed great mobility in terrain that was difficult for heavier tanks.

Initial development for an amphibious tank resulted in the Type 60 which was later refined into the Type 63 (industrial designation WZ-211. A minor engine upgrade resulted in the Type 63-I followed by the Type 63-II with infrared night vision. A more significant modernization resulted in the Type 63A with superior amphibious capacity, more powerful engine, and hull extensions for increased buoyancy. Firepower has also been increased thanks to a new 105-mm gun mounted on a redesigned all welded steel turret. Further sub-variants include the Type 63-I with bow extensions and extra armor, and the Type 63-II with even further protection. The Type 77 APC is based on the Type 63 and is described separately.

Type 63A

Preceded by:

None

Succeeded by:

None

Datafile

DesignType 63
TypeAmphibious Tank
Year1963
Crew4
Dimensions
Length (w/Gun)7.15 m (8.44 m)
Width3.20 m
Height2.52 m
Weight
Loaded18,400 kg
SuspensionTorsion bar
Performance
Speed (Off-Road)64 km/h
Range (Off-Road)370 km
AmphibiousYes (12 km/h)
Vertical Obstacle0.87 m
Trench2.90 m
Gradient60%
Powerplant
Engine1 x 400-hp
Deutz
12150-L
FuelDiesel: 403 L
Power/Weight21.74 hp/t
Armament
Main1 x 85-mm
Type 62-85TC
Rifled Gun (47)
↑ 18° / ↓ -4° / ↔ 360°

Secondary1 x 12.7-mm
Type 54 (500)

1 x 7.62-mm
Type 59T (2,000)
Coaxial

Armor
TypeSteel
Thickness10 - 14 mm
Max Effective11 - 63 mm RHAe
Hull Upper Front11 mm / 80°
Hull Lower Front11 mm / 80°
Hull Upper Sides14 mm
Hull Upper Rear10 mm
Hull Lower Rear10 mm
Hull Top10 mm
Turret Front11 mm
Production
Built?
Total1,550

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