The ZTS63 (Chinese: ZTS63式水陆两栖坦克, industry code WZ211; known as Type 63 before 1987 nomenclature revision), originally certified in 1963 as the amphibious tank for PLANMC or PLAGF units with the need to cross the water bodies abundant in Asia, received some of the technologies used on ZTZ59A and ZTQ62 that had already been installed successfully since 1980; in the ZTS63's case, it received a laser rangefinder and better fire control system for long-range fire support. These tanks served during the Sino-Vietnamese War in the early 1980s as a supporter to troops against Vietnamese troops and militia with very few tanks in service; although having insufficient protection against cannons and RPGs, these vehicles were kept in service until the later ZTS63A and eventually ZLT05 or newer IFVs replaced its role as an amphibious tank, marking the end of the prefix ZTS in PLA service.
Introduced in Update "Sky Guardians", players of the Type 62 or Type 63-I will soon find themselves at home thanks to its identical handling and overall design. Some welcome upgrades including better FCS and the installation of a Type 54 DShK machine gun also make it a more versatile alternative to its predecessors. With both APFSDS and a laser rangefinder with automatic ballistic solutions, not only does this greatly extend the combat distance of the tank, it also greatly increases its odds to survive as this feature is extremely rare at its tier. However, players will still have to beware of its below-average protection against even HMGs and rather slow turret traverse speed, these could be fatal if players run into heated fights without the situational awareness needed.
Survivability and armour
One thing to note is that the name of ZTS63 is interchangeable with Type 63, other than the name change after 1980, HMG on turret and a LRF on the mantlet by the centerline, the overall design of these two tanks are totally identical. For the needs of amphibious operations, the protection is reduced to the bare minimum to stop rifle calibre bullets and shrapnel; other than the mantlet at 50 mm, the whole vehicle has only up to 20 mm of armour: autocannons and HMGs will tear down the vehicle with ease. So it's better to keep the vehicle from the heated battlefield and act as a supporter of the team to deliver possible final blow to enemy vehicles or disabling enemies as much as possible.
|Armour||Front (Slope angle)||Sides||Rear||Roof|
|Hull|| 10 mm (82°) UFP
15 mm (54°) LFP
| 10 mm Top
8 mm Bottom
|8 mm||8 mm|
|Turret|| 20 mm Turret front (Volumetric)
50 mm Gun mantlet
|20 mm (Volumetric)||8 mm|
The ZTS63 didn't receive any upgrades in terms of powerplant and transmission, so it shares the same 12150L-2 diesel engine found previously on Type 63-I; the very slight or even no weight change on the tank also means it can retain a sufficiently high power-to-weight ratio at around 20 hp/t. If players ever have the need to flank enemies by taking detours on water, it could also travel on water at 11 km/h, one of the fastest speed among other amphibious vehicle in game.
|Game Mode||Max Speed (km/h)||Weight (tons)||Engine power (horsepower)||Power-to-weight ratio (hp/ton)|
Modifications and economy
Still sharing the same gun as the Type 62 and 63, the Type 63 85 mm rifled cannon still handles totally identically to the Type 63-I with some changes on the ammunition available. Players will find the same exact advantages and flaws from previous vehicles - while the calibre is larger than most light tanks of its tier with a variety of ammunition and now APFSDS among them, players need extra situational awareness to use the gun as it has much slower reaction time than most light tanks at its tier as well; plan ahead and turn the turret before any close-quarter assaults.
|85 mm Type 63||Turret rotation speed (°/s)||Reloading rate (seconds)|
|Ammunition|| Type of
|Penetration @ 0° Angle of Attack (mm)|
|10 m||100 m||500 m||1,000 m||1,500 m||2,000 m|
|Type 1956 HEAT-FS||HEATFS||300||300||300||300||300||300|
|Type 56 HE||HE||11||11||11||11||11||11|
|Type 56 AP||APCBC||164||162||154||143||134||125|
|Ammunition|| Type of
| Fuse delay
| Fuse sensitivity
| Explosive mass
(TNT equivalent) (g)
|Type 1956 HEAT-FS||HEATFS||845||7||0.05||0.1||822.8||65°||72°||77°|
|Type 56 HE||HE||793||9.54||0||0.1||741||79°||80°||81°|
|Type 56 AP||APCBC||792||9.2||1.2||14||67.76||48°||63°||71°|
The ZTS63's rounds are somewhat different from the original Type 63-I. The BR-365A APHEBC shell, well known for its generous explosive content and slope modifiers, is not available anymore. The returning Type 1956 HEAT-FS is now the stock shell, which gives the ZTS63 the ability to engage heavy tanks like the IS-3 from the start. Compared to the ZBD86's PG-9 rocket propelled grenade, the HEAT-FS has the same penetration and a better muzzle velocity, which is helpful at medium and long ranges.
The stock "Type 56 HE" shell is a renamed O-365K and should be completely ignored, because the HEAT-FS has a greater explosive mass.
The only APHE shell available is the unlockable "Type 56 AP", a renamed BR-367 APCBC. Although it is not as efficient for one-shotting light targets or scoring sideshots as BR-365A, it still gets the job done with some careful aim and the enhanced flat penetration is nice to have. Enemy IFVs can be dispatched easily with a single AP shell, even from across the map, due to their thin armour and typically large profiles.
The top round is the DJW85 APFSDS, something completely new to the 85 mm caliber. Although Chinese tankers may be apprehensive about early domestic APFSDS rounds, DJW85 actually has better performance than the Type 69's Type 71 AFPSDS despite being a significantly smaller round. Although it has a a lower muzzle velocity, it does not lose as much penetration over distances. The 2.1 kg projectile mass is not able to create much spalling, but the ZTS63's decent reload speed makes follow-up shots much faster than on the Type 69. It is a useful tool for disabling shots and targeting ammo racks in long range combat.
|47||__ (+__)||__ (+__)||__ (+__)||__ (+__)||__ (+__)||__ (+__)||__|
The previous Type 63-I has no HMG installed on top; in ZTS63's case, it has a pintle Type 54 DShK installed on the commander side of turret, giving it the chance to unleash 12.7 mm bullets against light targets or aircraft/helicopters that came too close.
|12.7 mm Type 54|
|Mount||Capacity (Belt)||Fire rate||Vertical||Horizontal|
|7.62 mm SGMT|
|Mount||Capacity (Belt)||Fire rate||Vertical||Horizontal|
Usage in battles
At first glance, ZTS63 looks exactly like its pre-1980 cousin Type 63-I; this is indeed true as they are the same vehicle plus new FCS and a HMG mounted on the former, players from Type 63-I will get their hands on the tank rather quickly thanks to their totally identical handling in terms of mobility and tactical flexibility to flank enemies. Do remember that ZTS63 is still a light tank with minimal protection due to its amphibious capability (for buoyancy reasons at complicated waters), while the turret might look very similar to T-54/ Type 59's, but the thickness is at most rated for HMG fire at longer distance; anything with a caliber of over 20 mm with have no problem tearing down the tank with ease, let alone the chassis with even less protection. The design of ZTS63 is relatively large to LTs at its tier, therefore it is extremely essential to conceal the vehicle from enemy sights, going frontline means a quick death sentence to the tank as well; thus, the lightweight of the vehicle could be put into use by flanking enemies by taking detours to enemies' flanks, alternatively utilize the river network on some maps to launch sudden attacks from the rear (its 11 km/h on-water speed thanks to the water jet propulsion system certainly helps a lot). Another uncommon feature of ZTS63 from most LTs of its tier is its LRF and automatic ballistic solution, the tank might have insufficient magnification for long-range engagements, but the two aforementioned equipment will certainly helps taking out enemies showing their sides from afar; its stock HEATFS shell also helps as most LTs would have to either have to rely on APCR with subpar damage or lacking a rangefinder for long-range engagements. If HEATFS is not your cup of tea, its researchable, conventional APHE and the only 85 mm APFSDS in game will certainly give players more option to take down various enemies- APHE for hitting enemies from the sides and blowing them out with its explosive fillers, while APFSDS ensures flat trajectory and penetration to take out heavy targets up-front or at long range. Although messing with aircrafts or rotorcrafts on a ZTS63 is a rather unrecommended move, if there's one flying straight at the player, they might have to reconsider as the Type 54 DShK will give ZTS63 a chance to earn a surprise kill on aircrafts; 12.7x108 mm bullets can certainly do extensive damage to enemies.
Overall, ZTS63 is a welcomed addition to PLAGF line-up thanks to its better FCS and various ammunition options; but do remember to plan your assaults ahead or turn the turret beforehand for incoming, unaware enemies, sudden strikes from unexpected places is the key to support the team to advance for victory.
Pros and cons
- Amphibious, allowing the use of surprise tactics involving rivers
- Fast and nimble enough to get into vantage points
- Laser rangefinder and automatic ballistic solution for long-range engagement
- Access to HMG for self-defense against planes
- APFSDS with ~220 mm penetration is effective against weakly armoured tanks like Leopard 1, AMX-30
- Varieties of ammunition for different scenario
- Low survivability: unprotected with its paper-thin armour, and large size
- Cannon struggles against late war heavy tanks like Maus, IS-4
- Slow turret traverse speed
- Relatively slow reload speed
- Still lacks NVD for night battles
- No smoke grenades
As the previous Type 63 (ZTS63 after 1987) was commissioned by 1965, there were some flaws suggested by the PLA units that received the tank, thus the need for an upgrade on ZTS63 arose. There were a few major modifications for the tank including single transmission control stick, HMG gun mantle, safety locks for hatches, revised seats, new suspension springs and etc. Among these modifications, some parts from late-production ZTQ62 including its fire control system and laser rangefinder were also introduced to the ZTS63 revision by the late 1970s. These tanks rolled off the production line by the same time and likely have join the Sino-Vietnamese War where its FCS and amphibious capabilities would shine due to the rivery terrain of Vietnam, where they were sometimes used as makeshift SPGs to strike fortifications or suppressing waves of infantry.
Some of these tanks were then modified to ZTS63A in the late 1990s with upgraded firepower in view for the possible landing operations. Although the landing didn't happen, the ZTS63A also set the footsteps for the later ZLT05 assault gun which is also currently the fastest amphibious armoured vehicle in commission.
- Type 63-I: the base model
|China North Industries Corporation (中国兵器工业集团有限公司)|
|Type 62||▂Type 62* · Type 62*|
|Type 63||Type 63-I* · ZTS63*|
|Main Battle Tanks|
|WZ120||Type 59* · ZTZ59A* · ZTZ59D1|
|WZ121||Type 69* · Type 69-IIa* · T-69 II G**|
|WZ122||ZTZ88A · ZTZ96 · ZTZ96A · ZTZ96A (P)|
|WZ123||ZTZ99-II · ZTZ99-III|
|WZ1001||WZ1001(E) LCT · ZTZ99A|
|Tank Destroyers||AFT09 · PTL02 · WMA301** · PTZ89 · ZLT11|
|SPAA||ZSD63/PG87* · WZ305* · PGZ09 · PGZ04A|
|*Previously Fifth Ministry of Machine Building vehicles|
|China light tanks|
|Type 63||Type 63-I · ZTS63|
|Type 62||Type 62|
|WZ551||PTL02 · WMA301|
|ROC||M41D · M64|
|USA||␗M8 LAC · ␗M3A3 Stuart · ␗M3A3 (1st PTG) · ␗M5A1 · ␗M24 · ␗M18 GMC|
|USSR||␗T-26 · T-26 No.531 · ␗PT-76|