The modern Chinese Army (the People's Liberation Army = PLA) currently fields two distinct forms of self-propelled artillery - one in 122mm and another in the more standard 155mm. The 122mm caliber is a hold-over from the Soviet Cold-war era and still serves a (limited) purpose on the battlefield today. One example of this vehicle form in service is the PLZ-07, also known as the "Type 07". The vehicles were developed by China NORth INdustries COrporation (NORINCO) and made their first public appearance in October of 2009.
The PLZ-07 design is based upon the existing chassis f the ZBD-97 Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) detailed elsewhere on this site. The vehicle is very similar in form and function to the Soviet 2S1 "Gvozdika".
The PLZ-07 is intended as a direct successor to aging vehicle lines like the Type 70, Type 85 and Type 89. As such it retains a track-and-wheel form and houses its gunnery crew in a fully-enclosed, 360-degree traversing turret structure fitted over the rear of the tank. The driver takes up a position in the hull. The entire crew complement numbers five men.
Drive power is supplied by a diesel unit of 600 horsepower installed in the front-right of the hull. The running gear includes six rubber-tired roadwheels to a track side with the dive sprocket at front and the track idler at rear. Three track return rollers are used. Suspension is by way of a torsion bar arrangement. Maximum road speed is 65 kmh and range is out to 500 kilometers.
The 122mm main gun tube, based on the Soviet-era D-30 towed artillery gun, is seated in the front facing of the turret and is featured with a fume extractor and large muzzle brake as well as an integral recoil mechanism. The standard High-Explosive (HE) shell can reach out to ranges of 18 kilometers while rocket-assisted types have a range well over 25 kilometers giving the vehicle a fairly good reach.
In addition to the 122mm main armament, the vehicle sports a 12.7mm heavy machine gun for the anti-aircraft role. This weapon can also serve in suppression of enemy elements but the vehicle is largely intended for behind-frontline operations - utilizing either in-direct or direct methods of fire as needed. For self-screening, the tank is also equipped with four banks of three smoke grenade dischargers each; these are installed along the forward turret side facings.
As finalized, the PLZ-07 design sports a weight of 24.5 tons and features a length of 6.6 meters with a width of 3.28 meters and a height of 2.5 meters. This allows the combat system to traverse established road ways and bridges across China while also being capable of air transportation as well as rail transportation.
The amphibious assault form of the PLZ-07 tank is designated PLZ-07B.
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