It may not look like the Type 59, (I know you are like WTF, I found this variant very interesting). It is called the Jaguar (literal Chinese translation). This variant was developed on the chassis of the Type 59 with a slight extension in length done with American cooperation, featuring a Detroit 8V－92TA engine (8 cylinders) making it 14 hp/ton better road performance better than Type 59 but further upgrades were made. Since it was still not much better than they had hoped, it was fitted with the British Royal Ordinance L7 series or the gun on the M68 or the Chinese 105mm gun, depending on the buyers. However, it was never exported due to the poor price compared to the M60s and only just better than the Type 59 so no one would buy something that didn’t have the best performance nor had the cheap price.
During the 1990′s, after the failure of the Jaguar, China came up with a cheaper upgrade for the Type 59s. Shown in this picture, it is the Type 59D with reactive armour (google it if you don’t know what thing, but it is the brick shaped thing), better gun stabilisation, thermography to improve its capability to shoot at moving targets while being stationary. And giving it better night tank capabilities.
Note: China have better tanks by this time, however the huge stock pile of Type 59s cannot be easily replaced so cheap upgrades were done.
In my opinion, this is a really cool variant. The 59D was the last production model to enter PLA service. In the 1990′s China experimented with a small tank with big gun proposal, fitting a 120mm gun that can fire Western NATO 120mm rounds. It is to prove the idea of that Type 59 can fit a massive gun. Designated as 59-120.
China’s 3rd Gen Main Battle Tank have already entered service at this time and the 125mm gun on the Type 99 and 96 proved to be even better than the one on the T-72 and T-90 (in fact a test was conducted side by side and the Chinese 125mm had better performance by a large margin). With a good economy, China’s technology was once again up to international standards (as in competitive with NATO and Russian tanks). It obviously attracted some interests among low income countries to have a cheap but powerful tank.
As shown in the pictures, there were 4 different Type 59s developed in 15 years (so all 4 were improvements of each other done in a 15 year time period), as you can see each one was a significant improvement from the previous one, which really illustrated the growth of the tank development in China. They are designated as 59-125.
Note: China does not have any 59-125, they are for export purposes because purchasing MBT-2000 (Chinese Type 96) would be too expensive for many nations so they would rather have modified Type 59s).
This is a Pakistani Type 59 with some local upgrades to enhance its firepower, mobility and armour. Done from the basis of the 59-2.
Pakistani versions has a redesigned shaped turret to withstand HEAT rounds more effectively. Here it shows an Al-Zarrar (Pakistani name for Type 59) surviving multiple hits from RPGs. The crews did manage to survive!
This is the biggest LOL.
Does it even look like a Type 59? Believe it or not, China sold these Type 59s with 3rd Gen tank technologies to Tanzania (funnily enough known as the African PLA- People’s Liberation Army) because China had too many Type 59s laying around, and African countries wanted cheaper but good 3rd Gen tanks so China sold them this variant of the Type 59. The tank had changed so much both in the inside and on the outside that only the exhaust remained the same as the original Type 59. (In Chinese, it is also called the devil variant due to how much of a visual change it is from the type).
It is known as the VT-3 but it is not a fixed variant as the buyers could order what they want on it e.g. an auto loading system, a fire control system…
Can it get even more crazy that the VT-3?
Yes it can! China is now selling what is shown in this picture, a model of the Type 59 with the Type 96a turret. So basically, the only thing remains of the original Type 59 is the chassis and nothing else.
Type 59s are often used as targets due to the abundance of them. And some Type 59s are modified to represent the American M1A2SEP, they form the tanks used in the blue army (it is an American or NATO standard PLA troop that would replicate the tactics US forces would use, so the blue army would fight ordinary Chinese troops). As you can clearly see the tank in the top right corner is part of the blue army.
Currently, all early variants of the Type 59s have been replaced by the Type-96A and more elite tank corps would have got Type 99s. Top left image is the newest version of the Type-99. Bottom left image: China’s new light tank which will replace Type 62s.
If you thought previous variants had big guns, check out what the North Koreans did to the Type 59s they received as aid. A whooping 170mm naval gun fitted on the chassis of the Type 59.
There are the civilian use variants that were converted for firefighting purposes. They have water hoses and sometimes even a turbojet. (Now, I am not sure how it works but the bottom left image is apparently fitted with what could be a turbojet engine. Used on early Chinese Mig fighters). Note that the turbojet engined firefighting tank has the words written on it Top in the World and Best in China, referring to the fact that the technology used is very advanced.
I will just leave this as the newest and most advanced tank built in China to date right here.
The Type 59 was produced in such vast quantities that it would be a long time for China to retire all Type 59s from service. However it probably won’t see front line action with the PLA anymore. However, there is a chance that Type 59 export variants might see actual combat one day. Although a Soviet licensed copy, it was transformed in the hands of early Chinese engineers making the Type 59, which most would say is a very good tank.
I would like to thank SS for all the work he has done for everyone reading this blog, because after writing this article, I realised how dedicated and time consuming it is for SS to maintain the standards for readers.
Video from the Beijing museum:
And I have some Wot or tank related contents here on my channel
Written by chickentikka_EU with the help of Farmeh_EU.