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Type 69-II Main Battle Tank

The tests of the Type 69-I with its rifled 100mm gun beginning in 1981 showed that the rifled gun was more accurate and had greater armor penetration characteristics over the previous smoothbore weapon. In 1982, mass production began of the Type 69-II, at the No. 617 Factory. The newly improved tank, designed primarily for export, included a simple fire control system, laser rangefinder, rubber shielding skirt, turret grid shield, and a hydraulic booster system for improved steering. The new variant also had an automatic fire extinguishing system; anti-thermal smoke generating capability, a 889-type radio, an alarm to indicate loss of engine oil pressure,, quick opening hatches. The Type 69-II also included a double-pin rubber track plate, and protection from NBC weapons. The Type 69-II 100mm rifled gun allowed it to fire armor-piercing discarding sabot rounds with tungsten penetrators, high-explosive anti-tank, and high explosive rounds similar to those used by the Soviet T-55 tank. Late production Type 69-II tanks featured additional improvements, including a new gunner's sight with integral laser rangefinder, smoke grenade launchers on the turret sides, and an expanded bustle rack on the turret.

Type 69-II tanks were fitted with laser rangefinder and an automatic fire control system allowing for the determination of ballistic trajectories from 300 to 3000 meters for the main gun (and for the co-axial machine gun from 300 to 800 meters). The system was capable of accuracy of not more than 0.05 mils, and the time for the system to generate the firing solution was less than 1 second.

The Type 69-II was equipped with a hydraulic booster pump gearbox and AK-150 air compressor. The fan drive had been adjusted to improve the cooling fan speed. The main clutch and steering featured an improved friction plate, with a side planetary gear reducer. The tank's anti-thermal smoke system could generate a screen 200 meters long, for 2-4 minutes.

The NBC protection system automatically controlled the closed passenger compartment and the filtered ventilation system to establish a collective overpressure protection linked to personal protective equipment for the vehicle occupants. The tank also had an 8 millimeter thick rubber sheet shielding cloth apron on both sides. The tank also had a fire extinguisher system capable of automatic and semi-automatic modes, capable of detecting fire within 3 to 5 seconds. The system featured 3 fire extinguisher bottles and could extinguish an onboard fire requiring only one bottle with 10-15 seconds and one requiring all 3 in 30-35 seconds.

The Type 69-II variant also featured 3 command tank subvariants (Type 69-IIB, Type 69-IIC, and Type 69-IIC1) and the chassis was used as a foundation for other kinds of tanks and armored vehicles in the PLA, including bridge layers and armored recovery vehicles. The bridge laying tanks were capable of creating bridges over trenches, cliffs, canals, and rivers. The Type 84 Armored Vehicle Launched Bridge was essentially a Type 69 tank with its turret replaced with a bridge launching mechanism. The bridge launched over the front of the vehicle and when fully opened could span a gap of up to 16 meters and support tracked and wheeled vehicles weighing up to 40 tons.

The recovery vehicles were capable of hauling 70 tons and lifting 10 tons, which helped in the recovery of damaged tanks. The Type 69 Armored Recovery Vehicle (also known by its industrial designator WZ-653) was designed to, along with recovery of damaged vehicles, undertake major repairs such as changing powerpacks, clearing obstacles, and preparing fire positions. Type 69 Armored Recovery Vehicle standard equipment included a front-mounted hydraulically-operated dozer blade, a hydraulic crane on the right side, a main winch with a capacity of 70 tons, an auxiliary winch, tools, tow bars and cables. A small quantity were sold to Thailand.

The improved Type 69-II also helped lay the foundation of the Type 79 MBT, which was essentially an upgraded Type 69-II and was initially designated as Type 69-III. The Type 69-II Command Tank Type B (Type 69-IIB) was fitted with additional radio sets for the command and control function at Regimental level. An export only version with a common radio aerial for the additional radios was called Type 69-IIC.




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