The Chinese-built NORINCO (China NORth INdustries COrporation) Type 63 Light Tank drew its influence from the Soviet PT-76 Light Tank line , providing light-class protection for its crew of four, inherent amphibious capabilities, and a useful 85mm turreted main gun. Operational service began in 1963 and continues in limited form today (2015). Operators of the type were primarily Southeast Asian and African customers - from Burma to Vietnam.
The Type 63's industrial designation was "WZ211".
The crew consisted of a driver, commander, gunner, and loader. Power was served through a Model 12150L-2 12-cylinder liquid-cooled diesel-fueled engine of 402 horsepower. A torsion bar suspension system supplied needed cross-country travel support. Road speeds reached 64 kmh and ranges were out to 370 kilometers. Its amphibious qualities came from an airtight design as well as water bilge pumps and twin waterjets providing fording speeds of up to 12 kmh.
The main gun was cleared to fire a variety of ammunition types including HE (High-Explosive), HEAT (High-Explosive, Ani-Tank), and smoke rounds. The turret provided traversal through 360-degrees with a +18 / -4 elevation/depression capability of the main gun. Self-defense weaponry was 1 x 7.62mm Type 59T coaxial machine gun with 1 x 7.62mm Type 59T roof-mounted machine gun and 1 x 12.7mm heavy machine gun to be used against infantry, low-flying aerial threats, and light-armored vehicles..
Modernized variants of the line have seen their 85mm gun systems upgraded to more potent calibers (such as 105mm) and some have redesigned turrets. Several variants of the base Type 63 model have been spawned including the Type 63-I with new engine, the Tyep 63-II with laser rangefinder and night vision support, and the Type 77 Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) form.
The Type 63 Light Tank was used in combat during the Vietnam War (1955-1975), the Sino-Vietnamese War (1979), and the Sri Lankan Civil War (1983-2009).