A Type 59D tank with its distinct set of ERA armor on the turret and glacis plate.
Source: www.en.valka.cz - © copyright lies with original owner
The Type 59D is a modern era main battle tank of Chinese origin. It is an affordable and effective upgrade for the 1960's Type 59 main battle tank. The Type 59D cannot compete on a one-to-one basis with contemporary high end main battle tanks. Yet, is well suited for second line units.
The Type 59D is an overhaul and upgrade of existing Type 59 series tanks. Likely the Type 59-IIA was used as a donor vehicle since it is already equipped with the long barrel Type 83A 105mm rifled gun.
The 105mm Type 83A rifled gun is the main armament. This is derived from the British L7 and fires dimensionally similar ammunition, but has a longer barrel. It is stabilized in both axis and is loaded manually. A digital fire computer with thermal gun sight and laser range finder is present. Reportedly it is also able to fire a guided missile.
Protection against HEAT warheads has been improved by adding sections of FY-I ERA onto the turret and hull front. Some grenade launchers are added to either side of the turret. Stowage bins doubling as slat armor are fitted to the turret rear. Rubber side skirts are added as well.
Mobility is the one area in which the Type 59D performs less than before the upgrade. The added weight is not compensated for by improved automotive components. The original 520 hp diesel engine is retained. Off road performance is not impaired, but the maximum speed, accelleration and fuel efficiency are reduced.
The Type 59D was adopted by China in the mid 1990’s. At least 550 were converted from existing Type 59 series tanks. This number has been reduced, but it remains in active service. Upgrade sets and/or ex-PLA Rtype 59D were exported to Myanmar and Sudan.
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