Type 63 / YW-531 - Armored Personnel Carrier
The number of armored military vehicles in the army is one of the important indicators of the army's offensive power. Since 1958, my country has developed a 531 tracked armored personnel transport vehicle for transporting infantry in cooperation with tanks. In 1963, the first batch of 531 armored transport vehicles was delivered to the army, named Type 63 armored transport vehicles. In 1968, the improved A531 armored transport vehicle began mass production, and a series of models was formed during 1981-1985. In 1987, it was improved to a 531H (also known as Type 85) armored transport vehicle. In a period of more than 20 years, the Chinese troops have been mass-produced and equipped. (Strictly speaking, tanks and tracked armored vehicles belong to the military vehicle series.
Although for many years China produced copies of Russian vehicles, during the late 1960s the all-Chinese NORINCO design YW 531C was fielded. The base vehicle is simple light basic 1960's design -- an armored box with a 12.7 mm machine gun mounted on top. The vehicle has a welded steel hull, in which the driver sits at the left front with an additional crewman directly behind him, and the commander sits in the right front with the engine behind. A gunner sits in the centre of the vehicle, with the infantryman sitting on fold down seats in the troop compartment. The armor provides little protection against anything larger than an M60 machine gun, and even some 7.62mm rounds hole the armor. It is fully amphibious by its tracks it is propelled in the water and has a small trim vane on the glacis plate.
The APC, was based on the previous design of the light tank. The No. 618 Factory in cooperation with MEI and the No. 30 Research Laboratory came up with the design of the Type 63 tracked APC. The 12.8 ton Type 63 was designed to carry up to 13 troops and could reach speeds of up to 60 km/h on land and 6 km/h in water. It is also fitted with periscopes for observation.
Improvements to the Type 63 APC were made by the No. 618 Factory were made in the 1970s. The newly improved Type 63-1 Tracked APC had a heater for enhance engine performance during the winter, and changing of the 7.62 mm machine gun to a 12.7mm machine gun. The hull of the APC was also lengthened increasing the size of the crew compartment. The wheels of the APC were reduced in size and the tracks incorporated rubber track blocks.
The Type 63 and its derivatives are China's most numerous and most heavily exported armored vehicle. This vehicle is in service with a number of countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East and saw service in the Vietnam war and with Iraq in the Gulf War. Users include Albania, China, Iraq, North Korea, Sudan, Tanzania, Vietnam and Zaire.
The Type YW 531 has a torsion-bar suspension with each side having four single rubber-tired road wheels, a drive sprocket at the front, idler at the rear and no track return rollers.
The engine compartment is to the rear of the commander with the air-inlet and air-outlet louvers in the roof and the exhaust outlet in the right side of the roof.
The Type 63 has a driver's left-opening single-piece domed hatch cover in front of which are two periscopes, a commander's single-piece hatch cover that opens to the right with an integral periscope, a single-domed hatch cover for the third crew member that opens to the left with an integral periscope and a gunner's hatch to the rear of the vehicle with a 12.7-mm Type 54 heavy machine gun mounted on the forward part. There is also another gunner's single-piece hatch cover.
The troop compartment is at the rear where troops enter and exit through a large door that is hinged on the right. There is a single firing port in each side of the hull.
There is also a trim vane that is erected before the vehicle enters the water and stowed on the glacis plate when travelling.
The Type YW 531 can cross a 2.0-meter trench, mount a 0.6-meter vertical step, climb a 60-percent grade, climb a 40-percent side slope and ford amphibiously.
Its original western designation was M1967, subsequently K63 and its official Chinese Army designation is the YW 531. Traditionally Chinese weapons were given a simple 'Type' designator consisting of a two digit year of manufacture or proposal followed by the Chinese word for 'type', and the description of the weapon. More recently designations have been based on a combination of Pinyin letters and numbers that are independent of the year of manufacture. Thus, a YW represents Armored Personnel Carrier and a WZ represents Armed Vehicle.
China maintains an operation force of 2,300 Type-63's.
The Type 63 has been exported to or has been fielded in Albania, Iraq, North Korea, Sudan, Tanzania, Vietnam and Zaire.
- YW 531C (Modified). This version has a number of improvements including a shield for the 12.7-mm machine gun, new vision ports and improved ventilation.
- Type YW 701 Command Post Vehicle. This version has a similar chassis and hull to the YW 750 ambulance. The vehicle has a maximum road speed of 60 km/h, a crew of three and can carry five passengers when being used in the command role. The vehicle would normally be used by regiment and division commanders. The Type YW 701s armament comprises a 7.62-mm Type 56-1 light machine gun with 1000 rounds of ammunition. The Type YW 701A has a 12.7-mm anti-aircraft machine gun with 560 rounds of ammunition.
- Ambulance. This vehicle has the Chinese designation YW750. It has a crew of two plus two doctors and can carry four stretcher or eight seated patients.
- 122-mm SPH. This vehicle is called the Type 54-1 self-propelled howitzer by the Chinese. It is a longer and slightly wider Type YW 531. The 122-mm howitzer sits in an open-topped troop compartment.
- Rocket Launcher. This version is called the 130-mm Type 70 19-barrel multiple rocket launcher.
- Type YW 304 82-mm Self-propelled Mortar. This vehicle is fitted with a turntable-mounted 82-mm mortar with a basic load of 120 rounds. The mortar can be dismounted for ground use. A 12.7-mm machine gun is mounted on the left side of the turret roof with an ammunition load of 560 rounds. The Type YW 304 has a crew of six or eight and is identical in physical characteristic to the Type YW 531 APC.
- Type YW 381 120-mm Self-propelled Mortar. This vehicle is fitted with a W86 120-mm mortar with an ammunition load of 50 mortar bombs. A baseplate and tripod are carried externally to allow the mortar to be dismounted for use in the ground role. A 12.7-mm machine gun is fitted for anti-aircraft and local defense. The vehicle has a crew of six and although similar in appearance to the YW 304 82-mm mortar, the 120-mm self-propelled mortar has a longer and wider chassis. The Type YW 381 has a length of 6.125 meters, a width of 3.06 meters, a height of 2.593 meters, a track length on ground of 3.275 meters, a track of 2.526 meters and a ground clearance of 0.467 meters.
- Anti-tank Vehicle. It is known that a Type 531 APC has been fitted with a turret on the hull top towards the rear with four Red Arrow 8 ATGWs ready to launch. Additional missiles are carried inside for manual reloading. It is believed that this system has yet to enter service.
- Psychological Warfare. This version is fitted with roof-mounted loudspeakers.