WA318 (57 mm)
The WA318, based on the Type 59 (PG59) 57 mm anti-aircraft cannon (59式57毫米高射炮) is the twin-barrel version of the PG59, sharing many similarities to its Soviet equivalent S-68 (AZP S-60).
Resulting from the attempt to build a Chinese version of the ZSU-57-2, the WA318 retains all the traits of S-68 with devastating firepower when facing lightly-armoured targets or low-flying aircraft, as well as a unique domestic VT shell which vastly boosts its capability to keep the skies clear.
Vehicles equipped with this weapon
The base gun, Type 59 (PG59) is a licensed copy of AZP S-60 (S-68 for twin-barrel version), both guns share the very same ballistic characteristics and dimensions.
- Default: · - The stock belt. Only half of the clip will be useful against tanks or planes at any one time, but with the same comprising shells as the unlockable belts, it can still serve as a versatile option until more specialised choices become available.
- BR-281: - For use against ground vehicles. With around 150 mm of penetration at point blank, this belt can go through side armour and take out lightly armoured targets. Actual MBTs can typically resist it from the front. It does not contain much explosive filler per round, but since the WZ305 has two cannons (each with a clip of 4 rounds) multiple penetrations have a high chance of knocking out the target.
- OR-281U: - For use against planes. One or two hits usually get the job done. However, heavy armoured attackers and bombers may require several hits.
- BR-281U: · - For use against ground vehicles. A solid shot projectile, it currently has the same penetration as the ordinary BR-281 APCBC and there is thus no real reason to use it.
- DKY-1: - For use against planes. The huge explosive mass will blow most aircraft out of the sky with a fairly close hit, while the 6 m trigger radius means that one can be much more lenient with aiming. However, the proximity fuse requires 500 m of arming distance and within this distance it acts only like a powerful HE round.
|Belt||Penetration @ 0° Angle of Attack (mm)|
|10 m||100 m||500 m||1,000 m||1,500 m||2,000 m|
|Belt|| Type of
| Fuse delay
| Fuse sensitivity
| Explosive Mass
(TNT equivalent) (g)
Comparison with analogues
- S-68: Soviet counterpart of the WA318, it shares most of the same performance. However, it lacks the HE-VT shell found on the Chinese cannon, making the S-68 comparatively worse at anti-aircraft operations.
Usage in battles
Both the WA318 and S-68 share most of the same performance: sufficient rate of fire to annihilate lightly-armoured targets or those who showed their sides, BR-281 APCBC also has the required explosive mass to ensure a confirmed kill to penetrated enemies; while the sheer explosive content of its HE shells is enough to blow up aircraft with ease if they land on the target.
There is one trait that makes the WA318 (and its weapon platform, WZ305) stand out among all the analogues at similar rank - DKY-1 HE-VT. Thanks to its straight ballistics and 2 shells per salvo, any aircraft that are 500 m away (to allow the fuse to arm) and within 6 m radius of either shell will meet their miserable end very quickly. This also applies to helicopters at even 5 km away, as long as it triggers the built-in radio fuse in the projectile, it can sometimes earn a long shot kill, literally.
Pros and cons
- High penetration APHE round
- Access to HE-VT shell
- Long range even at higher tiers (up to 5 km)
- Low rate of fire compared to typical smaller-calibre anti-aircraft autocannons
- HE or HMG fire can disable the gun with ease
In 1955, Mainland China purchased 64 S-60 AA guns from the Soviet Union and these were equipped to some anti-aircraft battalions of PLAGF, this gun was then licensed as Type 59 57 mm anti-aircraft gun, but it would be in commission almost 5 years later in 1965, along with variants of towed and shipborne guns. While the overall anti-aircraft capability was unknown, the twin-barrel naval variant did exceptionally well during conflicts with Nationalist forces and the South Vietnamese Navy, where the rate of fire shone over the calibre advantage of South Vietnamese destroyer escorts.
Later in the 1980s, as the Chinese acquired some ZSU-57-2s from Iraq, they decided to reverse-engineer it with a WZ321 (the chassis of PTZ89), then on a Type 69-II chassis; later known as its industrial code WZ305 (or PGZ80, if it had ever been put into commission) with VT shells available. But due to the already outdated technology of a twin 57 mm gun against supersonic jets or even later long-range weapons, this project was dropped eventually.
While the twin-barrel WA318 bit the dust, its single-barrel base model is still kept with some quantities in second-line PLAGF anti-aircraft troops or militia.
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|China anti-aircraft guns|
|12.7 mm||M2HB (USA)|
|37 mm||Type 65|
|40 mm||Dual Automatic Gun M2 (USA)|