Type 54 122-mm Self-Propelled Gun-Howitzer
The Type 54-1 Self-Propelled Howitzer, one of PLA's first locally designed self-propelled artillery, carries a derivative of the Soviet M1938 (M-30) 122mm howitzer on the Type 85 Armored Personnel Carrier chassis, a lengthened YW-531 chassis developed for the Type 54-1 SPH. The APC front is retained, while the the rear is cut down to accept the gun and shield. The suspension has five roadwheels and skirts covering the top track. This rather rudimentary system, lacking a gun enclosure, overhead armor, or secondary defensive guns, was replaced by the newer and considerably improved Type 85 gun.
As the vital backbone on the battlefield, howitzers are mainly used to coordinate tank operations and provide fire support for tanks. Because of its long range, good maneuverability, strong protection, high shooting accuracy, and ability to quickly enter combat and transfer launch positions, it has become the main artillery type of ground artillery.
After the development in the 1950s, my country has initially established some industrial systems and possesses certain capabilities in the production and research and development of armored weapons. By the mid-1960s, my country began to plan to develop self-developed crawler-type self-propelled artillery to meet the needs of my country's growing tank forces for this type of weaponry.
As for the self-propelled artillery, my country only had experience in the use of Soviet equipment at the time, and lacked technical exchanges with the world's advanced level. It could only cross the river by feeling the stones and start with simple models.
At that time, our army had installed a Type 63 tracked armored transport vehicle and a Type 54-1 122 mm howitzer. Type 63 is my country's first self-designed and built crawler armored transport vehicle. It has amphibious floating capability. The combined output of various derivatives is nearly 8,000. It is a reliable armored transport chassis. As for the Type 54-1 artillery, it was improved from the Soviet M1938 towed howitzer. It was still usable in the 1960s and was not considered outdated.
The domestic self-propelled howitzer plans to use the Type 63 chassis to directly carry the Type 54-1 artillery, and the first prototype was manufactured in 1969. The structure of the prototype is very simple. The warhead is set in the rear passenger compartment of the Type 63 chassis. It is an open structure without a turret, and the 122 mm artillery is directly arranged there. In order to improve the protective power of the gun group, the artillery was equipped with a rear-bending gun shield, and the hull armor at the warhead position was also extended by 10 cm.
The prototype vehicle was quickly sent to the army for field testing. After completing a 1,000-kilometer long-distance cross-country driving and firing 386 rounds of shells, the prototype basically passed all indicators.
In 1970, the domestically-made self-propelled artillery was finalized and ready to enter mass production. Its official name was "70-type 122mm tracked self-propelled howitzer". At the end of the same year, 20 self-propelled guns entered service in the army. However, during training in Mongolia, these guns did not perform well. A series of malfunctions occurred and they were forced to be recalled urgently.
The original plan was to continue the technical research on the Type 70. Because of the lack of funds and some other reasons, the development of the Type 70 was forced to suspend and resumed after the successful development of the new chassis.
The problem with the Type 70 is that the chassis originally designed for infantry fighting vehicles cannot reliably withstand the recoil of the 122mm howitzer. In addition, the gun weighs 2.45 tons, and the Type 70 chassis has a high rate of failure in the walking part, and there is no float. ability.
The new armored chassis is not only developed for Type 70, it is also applied to Type 63 armored vehicles. The main improvement is to increase the 4 pairs of road wheels to 5 pairs, appropriately extend the car body, and install 3 cylindrical shock absorbers on each side.
In 1975, a new prototype came out. After a series of tests such as severe cold, extreme heat, and plateau, it was considered to have reached the design index. The production of Type 70 self-propelled artillery is not high, only 126 in total.