NORINCO Type 62 Light Tank
The Chinese Type 62 light tank became a lighter-armed and armored version of the Type 59 Main Battle Tank.
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Yet another in the long line of NORINCO designs inspired by Soviet-era purchases, the Type 62 (classified as a "light tank") is nothing more than a base version of the Chinese Type 59 built for better off-road capabilities through lighter armament and armor protection. Thusly the system is ideal for both the Chinese Army and Marine units as either might find themselves having to traverse rugged terrain. The type has seen production numbers surpassing 2,000 examples with foreign use in Albania, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, North Korea, Sudan, Tanzania, Vietnam (also North Vietnam) and Zaire. The Type 62 was used in anger in the Vietnam War with poor results - nearly half of those in use were destroyed.
The four-man system is armed with a relatively small caliber 85mm gun (some have been fitted with laser rangefinders) and self-defense machine guns in the form of two pintle-mounted 7.62mm and 12.7mm machine guns (the latter for anti-aircraft defense and manned by the loader) and a fixed co-axial 7.62mm machine gun mount. Smoke screening is accomplished - like most other early Chinese tank endeavors - by injecting raw diesel fuel into the exhaust system. Later improved production models make use of smoke grenade dischargers mounted onto the turret.
The vehicle sports armor thickness from 15mm to 50mm, the latter along the turret facings. The turret (originally cast then welded plate) is rounded and oblong while the hull sports angled surfaces. The tracks run along the five road wheels to a side. Suspension is of the torsion bar variety. Primary armament is the Type 62-85TC rifled main gun of 85mm caliber. Forty-seven 85mm projectiles are afforded to the weapon. Power is supplied by a single 12150L-3 V-12 liquid-cooled diesel engine of 430 horsepower at 1,800rpm allowing for speeds of up to 60 km/h on road and 35 km/h cross country.
The NORINCO tank was produced at 674 Factory and production ran from 1963 until 1989. The Type 62 saw combat in the 1959-1975 Vietnam War and the 1979 Sino-Vietnamese War.
As with most other armor systems the world over, the Type 62 chassis has been featured in a variety of other battlefield implements including an armored recovery vehicle, an engineering vehicle and an armored personnel carrier.
Several hundred Type 62s remain in service with China, these being modernized types of their original production forms.