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Type 63 Light Amphibious Tank [LAT]
Type 63G/A Light Amphibious Tank

The Type 63 Light Amphibious Tank design is based on mounting the Type 62 turret on a Chinese copy of the hull of the Soviet PT-76 Light Amphibious Tank. The Type 63 can also reach speeds of up 64 km/h on land and 12 km/h while in water.

The tank is China's first generation of self-developed amphibious tanks. This amphibious tank was designed by the Military Engineering Institute (or MEI) and the No. 60 Research Institute. Design work began in October 1958, and between March and June 1959 two prototypes were built. In the right kind of vehicle to test modifications and improvements, based on small batch production began in 1960 and delivered troops for trials. Under trial production and testing the problems found were improved, and by May 1962 trials began on two finalized test vehicles, designed for 2500km on land and water 70 hours of motorcycle design type test. They were sent to the No. 615 Factory for continued research and eventual production in 1963. The re-trial prototypes conducted additional tests of 2650km, and in March 1963 the design was finalized. After successful testing in rivers, lakes, and sea trials, it was named Type 63 Amphibious tanks and put into mass production.

Type 63 amphibious tank was the first amphibious tank developed by China, although its chassis comes from the Soviet PT series amphibious tank. This tank combat area is mainly used by infantry groups in rice fields, rivers, lakes, and other areas in southern my country for coordinated combat. Based on the fact that Taiwan was still occupied by the Kuomintang at that time, this amphibious tank emphasized at the beginning of its design that it must be able to board landing ships, carry out beach landing operations, and have the technical and tactical indicators for crossing Taiwan’s seafood.

In mid 1958, in accordance with the requirements of the Armored Forces Command, it was necessary to develop an amphibious tank that could accompany the infantry for beach landings and fire support light tanks. The military engineering college and the 60th Research Institute of the Fifth Machinery Department jointly undertake the research and development tasks, and the internal code is 211. The first round of technical verification was carried out at the end of the same year. On the basis of the 4th series of the Kazakh military industry project, it absorbed some of the advantages of the PT series amphibious tanks equipped by the Soviet army, and was finally trial-produced by the 615 military factory.

The second Taiwan Strait crisis broke out in August 1958. Our People's Liberation Army launched a saturation artillery attack on the small and large Kinmen Islands. At the end of 1949, our People's Liberation Army launched a landing offensive against Kinmen, and ultimately failed due to the lack of suitable landing equipment and fire support weapons. It was called the Battle of Guningtou in history. The ultimate goal of the development of the Type 63 amphibious tank is to prepare for the liberation of the Great and Small Golden Gates to land in Taiwan and ultimately liberate the whole of China. During the development process, a concentrated effort was made to tackle the problems of unstable center of gravity, "heading", substandard speed on the water, inaccurate longitudinal shooting on water, and the quality of the aircraft in the water. After several revisions, demonstrations, re-modifications, and demonstrations, as well as an actual road test of 80 motorcycling hours over 2500 kilometers on land and water.

Almost 200 crossings across the Yangtze River, 2700 kilometers southwest of the supplementary test, proved the success of the development of this amphibious tank. Regardless of the speed of water navigation, the stability of the posture, and the accuracy of shooting on the water meet the original design requirements. It was officially finalized in 1963, and the 211 amphibious tank was named the 1963 amphibious tank. It will be used by the first-line troops in the Nanjing Theater and the Guangzhou Theater, which are equipped with the southern and coastal units of our army in early 1964, and are responsible for fighting against Taiwan. Since then, it has been continuously improved and refurbished, and has continued to serve with the most advanced modifications.

The upgraded amphibious Type 63A tank (sometimes referred to as the ZTS63A) has a welded turret and rifled 105mm tank gun. These tanks also have an image-stabilized fire-control system, satellite navigation system, and simple thermal imaging system. Type 63As ha ve been fielded to PLA and Marine units in southeastern China. Type 63 tanks are deployed in large numbers with PLA Navy Marine units, who are the primary user. The Type 63A also has a revised hull structure, more boat-like in appearance, with additional floation cells for increased stabilization during prolonged travel in the water. Unlike the standard Type 63, the Type 63 was designed for launch from landing ships up to 7 kilometers offshore. The Type 63A evolved from an armament upgrade to the standard Type 63, sometimes referred to as Type 63G.

The number of Type 63s in the PLA inventory remained fairly consistent for roughly 15 years at around 1,200 vehicles. In 2002 the Military Balance indicated that the number of Type 62s had declined to around 500 vehicles though the 2003 edition stated that there were some 700 tanks while the 2004 editions states there are roughly 600 in operation. No explanation for the revision have been offerred. The IISS estimate remained underchanged as of 2008.

The Type 63 has been exported to and has been used by North Korea, Pakistan, Sudan and Vietnam, among others.

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Page last modified: 01-08-2021 14:07:07 ZULU