The Soviet hardware influence is clearly seen in the modern Chinese Army - known formally as the People's Liberation Army (PLA). Many of its current systems can be traced back directly or indirectly to Soviet-era equipment and examples such as the Type 83 Self-Propelled howitzer are no exception. The Type 83 holds origins in the Soviet 2S3 "Akatsiya" SPH tracked vehicle which entered service with the Soviet Army in 1971 and saw production end in 1993. The Type 83 carries along the same design lines and 152mm caliber main gun as well as a 12-cylinder diesel engine and torsion bar suspension system. It is crewed by four and makes up a portion of the long-range reach of Chinese armored regiments. The design has since been superseded in the Chinese inventory by the more modern PLZ-05.
Design of the Type 83 is wholly conventional by modern SPH standards. The traversing turret is set over the rear of the vehicle, placing the driver's position at front-left with the powerpack to his right. The turret showcases angled faces for some ballistics protection while its large 152mm main gun protrudes from the front panel. The gun is featured with a double-baffled muzzle brake at front and an integrated recoil system at rear. A loader typically makes up the crew of four which includes a driver, commander, and dedicated gunner. Hatches are positioned at the turret roof line for outward access and hinged rectangular access doors are seen along the side panels of the turret. The hull superstructure itself is very shallow with a well-sloped glacis plate. Power for the Type 83 is through a WR4B-12V150LB 12-cylinder liquid-cooled diesel engine of 520 horsepower providing the vehicle a road speed up to 35 miles per hour and an operational range out to 280 miles. The track-and-wheel arrangement uses six double-tired road wheels to a hull side with the frontal-most and rearward-most wheel units decidedly spaced from the inner most pairings - a design feature seen in several Soviet-era tracked vehicles. The drive sprocket is at front with the track idler at rear and three track return rollers being used over the wheel sets.
Beyond the 152mm primary armament is a 12.7mm heavy machine gun set upon a pintle mounting at the commander's hatch. This weapon serves in the local anti-aircraft role but can also prove useful in engaging light armored vehicles and infantry concentrations attempting to overtake the SPH's position. 650 x 12.7mm ammunition and 30 x 152mm shells are carried for the machine gun and main gun respectively. The crew also carries a modest collection of personal weapons including a 7.62mm machine gun and a shoulder-launched anti-tank weapon should the need arise to defend the vehicle at shorter ranges.
Development work on the Type 83 began in the latter half of the 1970s and the pilot vehicle was available for early 1980. The proven Type 66 152mm towed field howitzer was selected as the Type 83's main gun with a range out to 17,230 meters. Along with the gun and recoil system was its semi-automatic action which allowed for a rate-of-fire of four rounds-per-minute to be reached. After testing, serial production was ordered during 1983 and the vehicle was first unveiled to observers during 1984. While a serviceable battlefield component, the PLA elected to only procure some 78 Type 83s in all with production ceasing after 1990 - this due in part to ongoing development of a more modern Chinese-originated SPH system (after all, the Type 83 was based on 1960s Soviet armored warfare doctrine). The formal successor to the Type 83 eventually became the in-house PLZ-05 SPH which entered service in 2008 and is detailed elsewhere on this site.
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