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NORINCO Type 62 (WZ131)

Light Tank Combat Vehicle

China | 1963

"The Chinese Type 62 Light Tank became a lighter-armed and armored version of the Type 59 Main Battle Tank."

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 03/09/2020 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
The Chinese Type 62 Light Tank (industrial designation of "WZ131") was produced from 1963 until 2013 to the tune of some 2,500 examples and based in the earlier Type 59 Main Battle Tank (MBT) design. The Type 59, itself, was a locally-produced version of the very successful Soviet-era Type 54 (specifically the T-54A model) which entered Chinese service in 1959. The MBT went on to featured in a myriad of wars of the 20th Century including the Vietnam War (1955-1975), the Indo-Pak War (1971), the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988), and the Gulf War (1991). Production spanned from 1958 until 1985.

With this framework, the Type 62 was envisioned as a light weight, simplified tracked combat vehicle. This resulted in a reduction of armor protection, a smaller main gun caliber, and reduced onboard systems. In many respects, the Type 62 is essentially a dimensionally smaller form of the full-sized Type 59, retaining its crew of four (vehicle commander, driver, gunner, and loader). The lightweight nature of the revised design was intended to better contend with the rugged terrain encountered across southern China.

While the Type 62 Light Tank is no longer a frontline solution for the People's Liberation Army Ground Forces, it still features in the inventories of other global operators including Bangladesh, Cambodia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Tanzania, Vietnam, and Thailand. Former operators include Albania, China, Mali, North Korea, and Zaire.

Because of its origination from the Type 59, the Type 62 has the same four-man crew arrangement internally. The driver is seated in the front-left hull while the remaining three crewmen take their positions in the turret. The engine is seated at the rear of the hull. The vehicle is suspended atop a torsion bar suspension system which aids in cross-country travel. Power is from a 12150L-3 V-12 liquid-cooled, diesel-fueled engine of 430 horsepower driving a conventional track-and-wheel arrangement. There are five roadwheels to a hull side and the drive sprocket is featured at rear with the track idler at front. No track-return rollers are featured in the arrangement.

The Type 62 can hit road speeds of 60 kph out to ranges of 500 kilometers.

The turret is well-rounded for basic ballistics protection and the glacis plate is well-sloped for the same reason. The overall profile is low which aids in system survivability at range. Primary armament is an 85mm Type 62085TC rifled main gun firing a spectrum of typical projectile types including High-Explosive (HE), Armor-Piercing (AP), High-Explosive, Anti-Tank (HEAT) and smoke rounds. The gun can elevate within its housing from +20 to -4 degrees while the turret offers complete 360-degree traversal from centerline. As in other tanks, a co-axial machine gun (7.62mm Type 59T) is also featured at the front turret face. Beyond this is a rather anachronistic bow-mounted 7.62mm Type 59T machine gun as an added anti-infantry measure and an optional 12.7mm Type 54 Heavy Machine Gun (HMG) can be installed on a trainable mounting on the turret roof for Anti-Aircraft (AA) work. The vehicle can also produce its own screening measure by injecting raw fuel into the running engine.

Armor thickness ranges from 50mm at the turret to 12.5mm at the hull.

Overall the vehicle weighs 21 tonnes and has a running length of 7.9 meters with a beam measuring 2.9 meters and a height of 2.3 meters to the top of the turret.

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The Type 62 was eventually upgraded through the Type 62-I offering, bringing about solutions to issues encountered during active use in the Sino-Vietnamese War of 1979. An improved rangefinder and main gun were both introduced in the design as was a local shield for the roof-mounted 12.7mm machine gun position. A further revision added external stowage racks at the turret and side skirt armor to better protect the upper reaches of the hull and track run.

The Type 62G was a later improved variant that brought about better armor protection on the whole. A new, welded flat-plate turret succeeded the original's cast design and smoke grenade dischargers were added for improved screening measures. Night vision support enhanced low-light-level operations and situational awareness. The 85mm main gun was dropped in favor of a more potent 105mm form to better contend with modern threats. A vertical stabilization system added accuracy-at-range and when firing on-the-move.

The follow-up Type 70 tank were Type 62 rebuilds complete with laser rangefinder, and 85mm Type 62-85TC rifled main guns. These lacked the shields fitted at the 12.7mm machine gun position but included better gun stabilization and sighting devices for increased accuracy.

Other forms of the series became the experimental Type 79 Armored Recovery Vehicle (ARV) form, the GJT 211 armored bulldozer, and the GSL 131 (Type 82) mine-clearing vehicle.

Bangldesh operates both an Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) and Self-Propelled Gun (SPG) vehicle types based in the Type 62 Light Tank.

The Type 62 Light Tank was featured prominently in many conflicts of the 20th Century including the Vietnam War (1955-1975), the Sino-Vietnamese War (1979), and both Congo Wars (1997,1998).

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Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one land system design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the NORINCO Type 62 Light Tank Combat Vehicle.
1 x 12150L-3 V-12 liquid-cooled, diesel-fueled engine developing 430 horsepower at 1,800rpm driving a conventional track-and-wheel arrangement.
Installed Power
37 mph
60 kph
Road Speed
311 miles
500 km
The physical qualities of the NORINCO Type 62 Light Tank Combat Vehicle.
25.9 ft
7.9 meters
O/A Length
9.4 ft
2.86 meters
O/A Width
7.4 ft
2.25 meters
O/A Height
46,297 lb
21,000 kg | 23.1 tons
Armament & Ammunition
Available supported armament, ammunition, and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the NORINCO Type 62 (WZ131) Light Tank Combat Vehicle.
1 x 85mm Type 62-85TC rifled main gun in frontal turret face.
1 x 7.62mm Type 59T co-axial machine gun in turret frontal face.
1 x 7.62mm Type 59T bow-mounted machine gun (limited firing arcs).
1 x 12.7mm Type 54 Anti-Aircraft (AA) Heavy Machine Gun (HMG) on turret roof (optional)
Modern models given 8 x Smoke grenade dischargers in two banks of four launchers.
47 x 85mm projectiles.
1,750 x 7.62mm ammunition.
1,250 x 12.7mm ammunition.
8 x Smoke grenades (if equipped).
Nightvision - OPTIONAL.
Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear Protection (CBRN) - NONE.
Notable series variants as part of the NORINCO Type 62 (WZ131) family line.
Type 62 (WZ131) - Base production model.
Type 59-16 - Prototype Designation.
Type 62 (APC) - Armored Personnel Carrier conversion.
Type 62 (engineer) - Battlefield Engineering Vehicle.
Type 62 (ARV) - Armored Recovery Vehicle
Type 62 (SPG) - Self-Propelled Gun conversion.
Type 62-I (WZ131A) - Upgraded Type 62; 85mm 85TC rifled main gun; shielded 12.7mm gun installation; external laser range finder.
Type 62-I (late) - hull side skirts; turret storage racks.
Type 62G - Improved Type 62; welded flate-plate turret; inproved armor protection; 8 x smoke grenade dischargers; night vision; fire-control system.
Type 70 - Rebuilt Type 62 models; improved fire control system; subtle revisions; improvements from previous Type 62 models.
Type 79 - Proposed Armored Recovery Vehicle
GJT 211 - Bulldozer conversion model
Type 82 / GSL 131 - Mine Clearing Vechicle based on the GJT 211.
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the NORINCO Type 62 (WZ131). Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national land systems listing.

Total Production: 2,454 Units

Contractor(s): China NORth INdustries COmpany (NORINCO) - China
National flag of Albania National flag of Bangladesh National flag of China National flag of North Korea National flag of Sudan National flag of Tanzania National flag of Vietnam National flag of Zaire

[ Albania; Bangladesh; Cambodia; China; Democratic Republic of Congo; Mali; North Korea; North Vietnam; Sudan; Tanzania; Vietnam; Zaire ]
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Image of the NORINCO Type 62 (WZ131)
Front left side view of the Type 62 light tank; color
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Image of the NORINCO Type 62 (WZ131)
Front right side view of a Type 62 light tank at speed

Design Qualities
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to battlefield requirements.
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
The NORINCO Type 62 (WZ131) Light Tank Combat Vehicle appears in the following collections:
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