Type 62/-I/G Light Tank
The relatively light-weight 21 ton Type 62 is a scaled-down version of the Type 59, and the two share many similar features. The cast and welded Type 62 turret is slightly smaller with nearly identical hatches and fittings. Similar in design to the Type 59 original, the wheels and tracks are smaller and lighter.
The ordnance industry of China initiated the research and development of armored vehicles in 1958, beginning with light tanks, amphibious tanks, and tracked APCs. In 1962, the No. 674 Factory began developing the Type 62 Light Tank. The research and development of the tank was completed the same year and was found very appropriate for the river areas and hills in South China.
The Type 62 has a four-man crew with the driver at the front of the hull on the left and the other three crew members in the turret. The commander and gunner are seated on the left of the turret with the loader on the right. The engine and transmission are at the rear of the hull. The Type 62 can cross a 2.55-meter trench, mount a 0.7-meter vertical step, climb a 60-percent grade or ford 1.3 meters without snorkel.
The Type 62's main armament is a 85mm gun, probably identical to that on the Type 63 light amphibious tank. The normal ammunition load for this weapon is 47 rounds. The 85mm gun can fire AP, APHE, HE, and HEAT rounds. Secondary armament consists of a 12.7mm anti-aircraft Type 54 heavy machine gun mounted at the loader's position for anti-aircraft use and a 7.62mm machine gun mounted coaxially to the right of the main armament. Another 7.62mm machine gun is mounted at the bow. A proposed upgrade package would fit an 105mm gun, common to many PLA tanks, to the Type 62 along with advanced fire control components. This variant has been referred to as Type 62G.
The original armor of the Type 62 is obsolete by modern standards, and vulnerable to advanced anti-tank munitions. A variant, referred to as Type 62-I, developed following the Sino-Vietnamese conflict, featured side armor skirts and a 360 armored suite for the anti-aircraft machine gun. An upgrade project initiated after 2000 replaced the original cast turret with an angular welded design, also featuring Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA) tiles.
The Type 62 tank was largely relegated to secondary defense and training duties by 2008, though it remained in service with the PLA in large numbers. The number of Type 62s in the PLA inventory had remained the same, 800, for the last twenty years according to IISS, however in the 2004 edition of The Military Balance the number is stated at approximately 400. No explanation is given for the revision. The IISS estimate was unchanged as of 2008.
Type 62 tanks have also been exported to and have been used in Albania, Congo, Mali, North Korea, Sudan, Tanzania and Zaire. North Korea reported received 50 Type 62 light tanks in 1971-1972, and these vehicles have been confused with the North Korean Ch'onma-Ho, a derivative of the Soviet T-62. The Ch'onma-Ho has no obvious relationship to the Type 62 light tank.
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