|This page is about the premium Chinese medium tank ZTZ59A. For other versions, see ZTZ59 (Family).|
The ZTZ59A (Chinese: [ZTZ]59A式中型坦克 or 59-I式中型坦克; industry code WZ120A) was the first major revision for the Type 59 in PLAGF service. The plans for this revision was based on the suggestions gathered from the armored corps during the Sino-Vietnamese War to upgrading the existing fleet with new FCS and suspensions before the later 59-II (59B) with 105 mm gun could enter service; the upgrades included IR searchlight, LRF and new FCS with automatic ballistic solutions for faster acquisition, side fences and smoke grenade launchers by the turret, as well as new APFSDS for better penetration. The upgraded tank was certified in 1984 and became the placeholder upgrades during the modernization of PLA.
Introduced in Update "Ground Breaking" as a GE premium for PLAGF, the ZTZ59A is based on the long-existing Type 59 and upgraded with some technologies from Type 69. Although the Type 59 chassis is rather outdated compared to later MBTs, or indeed many of its contemporaries in War Thunder, the ZTZ59A has some improvements that extend its lease on life somewhat. A laser rangefinder allows it to stay away from the heated battlefield and strike enemies from further away and a pair of barrel-type smoke grenades are available, enhancing its survivability and offering a straight upgrade to the tech tree Type 59.
Survivability and armour
The ZTZ59A's armour layout is nearly identical to the Type 59, which itself had virtually the same armour layout as the T-54 (1951). It is well protected against typical autocannons and most conventional full-calibre rounds, but falls short against HEAT, APDS, and APFSDS. The only real differences from the Type 59 are the side skirts, familiar to players who have used the ZTZ59D1 or T-69 II G. They do almost nothing against kinetic projectiles but can be helpful against HEAT warheads with some angling, acting as spaced armour. This is particularly noticeable with weaker HEATFS rounds in the 73 mm - 90 mm size range.
- Rolled homogeneous armour (hull, turret roof, cupola roof)
- Cast homogeneous armour (turret, gun mantlet, cupola)
- Rubber-fabric screens (side skirts)
|Armour||Front (Slope angle)||Sides||Rear||Roof|
|Hull|| 100 mm (60°) Front glacis
100 mm (54°) Lower glacis
| 80+3 mm Top
20 mm + 20 mm (31°) Bottom
| 45 mm (16°) Upper plate
30 mm (72°) Lower glacis
| 100 mm (30°) Front glacis |
30 mm Crew compartment
20 mm Engine compartment
5 mm Engine vents
|Turret|| 160 mm (14-39°) Turret front
150-250 mm (4-78°) Gun mantlet
| 115-155 mm (24-45°) Front and centre
100 mm (18-38°) Rear
|65 mm (14°)||30-60 mm|
|Cupola||100 mm (34-66°)||100 mm (27-66°)||100 mm (25-66°)||30-40 mm|
- Tracks and suspension wheels are 20 mm thick.
- Spare track links on the upper glacis provide an addition 20 mm of armour.
- Mudguards and storage boxes are 4 mm thick.
The ZTZ59A has exactly the same mobility characteristics as the Type 59, with the same weight and engine power. It has decent forward mobility and the wide tracks allow it to perform well on rough terrain. The poor reverse speed and lack of neutral steering are major drawbacks, but the hull traverse is quite decent. It is easily beaten by light tanks and fast MBTs such as Leopards and OF-40s, so it is safe to assume that the ZTZ59A will not be the first to arrive on the battlefield.
|Game Mode||Max Speed (km/h)||Weight (tons)||Engine power (horsepower)||Power-to-weight ratio (hp/ton)|
Modifications and economy
|100 mm Type 59||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 59 APDS||APDS||361||356||335||311||288||267|
|Type 1973 HEAT-FS||HEATFS||390||390||390||390||390||390|
|Ammunition|| Type of
| Fuse delay
| Fuse sensitivity
| Explosive mass
(TNT equivalent) (g)
|Type 59 APDS||APDS||1,432||3.18||-||-||-||75°||78°||80°|
|Type 1973 HEAT-FS||HEATFS||1,000||10.05||0.05||0.1||1,180||65°||72°||77°|
The ZTZ59A's ammo selection is mostly identical to the Type 59. As usual, the BR-412D APCBC round is highly effective against lightly armoured targets such as light tanks and Leopard 1s, successful penetrations usually resulting in instant knockouts. It also works very well for flanking shots. The Type 1959 APDS round has the highest muzzle velocity and impressive flat penetration, but the limited angled penetration can be an issue against the hull armour of heavy tanks (and even some medium tanks).The Type 1973 HEAT-FS round has the best penetration and can counter just about any vehicle with steel armour, but has a sensitive fuse and can be stopped by ERA or composite armour.
The BR-412 APHE shell is worse than BR-412D in every practical way and should be disregarded because the ZTZ59A is a premium tank with all ammo types unlocked from the start. The OF-412 HE shell is technically the best option for triggering overpressure damage against light targets, but it has no utility against targets with half-decent armour and the HEATFS is more versatile. The ZTZ59A does not have access to the Type 59's BR-412B APHEBC round, but that round is again inferior to BR-412D in practical terms and its absence will not be missed.
|34||33 (+1)||28 (+6)||24 (+10)||23 (+11)||21 (+13)||1 (+33)||No|
- Shells are modeled individually and disappear after having been shot or loaded.
- Rack 6 is a first stage ammo rack. It totals 20 shells and gets filled first when loading up the tank.
- This rack is also emptied early: the rack depletion order at full capacity is: 6 - 1 - 2 - etc. until 5.
- Full reload speed will be realized as long as shells are available in the ready rack 6. If the ready rack is empty, a penalty to reload speed will occur.
- Simply not firing when the gun is loaded will move ammo from racks 1-5 into rack 6. Firing will interrupt the restocking of the ready rack.
- If you pack 28 (+6), it will keep the turret empty of ammo.
- If you pack 21 (+13) shells, it will keep most of the hull empty of ammo.
|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
The ZTZ59A is essentially a Type 59 with a laser rangefinder and smoke grenades. Most of the tactics and advice for the Type 59 still apply, but it is more competent in long range combat and can work as a good sniper as a supplement to the Type 69. The laser rangefinder allows for precise long-range shots to be made with any ammunition type; Type 59 veterans may have relied heavily on the high-velocity APDS, but the ZTZ59A can comfortably sling APCBC and HEATFS rounds from across the map as well. The ZTZ59A can be argued to have superior armament to the Type 69, because its APDS has higher penetration than the Type 69's APFSDS under most circumstances and their HEATFS rounds are identical.
Bear in mind that the ZTZ59A does not have the Type 69's improved turret drive or engine, so it is less mobile and has a difficult time reacting to ambushes. These weakness can be mitigated if one maintains some separation from the front lines. In close range engagements, remember to utilize the hull traverse as well as the turret traverse to quickly adjust one's aim. The smoke grenades are also nice for covering retreats because the basic Type 59 has no sources of smoke whatsoever, though keep in mind that they are barrels mounted on the back of the tank and are not the best for instant concealment while reversing into cover.
The ZTZ59A does not bring anything drastically new to the table, but as a direct improvement to the Type 59, it is a good addition to the already impressive Chinese ground lineup at this BR bracket. Partnering it with the Type 69 gives one access to two MBTs with laser rangefinder, and because the Type 69 is more suited for front line work, the ZTZ59A can be preferentially used for laid back sniping.
Pros and cons
- Has a range of good ammo: explosive AP, piercing HEAT, and APDS
- 200 mm frontal effective thickness is immune to SPAA (e.g. Gepard) or low-tier tanks firing full-calibre kinetic shells
- Laser rangefinder allows it to engage distant targets easily
- Roof-mounted 12.7 mm HMG is deadly against light vehicles (e.g. AML-90, M551) and some low-flying or slow aircraft
- Has smoke grenades
- Sideskirts offer some protection against HEAT shells and explosion shrapnel
- No night vision device, fatal flaw in night battles against NVD- (or even thermal-) equipped foes like Type 74 (G)
- Slow turret traverse and elevation speed limits targeting rate. Fatal in surprise engagements
- Poor mobility overall, meaning low agility and responsiveness to changing situations
- Armour is still inadequate to stop common HEATFS or APFSDS (e.g. Leopard 1, T-55AM, OF-40)
- Limiting gun depression of -4° hinders its capacity in uneven battlefield
- Terrible reverse speed of -7 km/h prevents it from getting out of danger quickly
- Smoke grenades discharge behind the tank, can't conceal the tank very well
The Type 59 (ZTZ59, WZ120) has been the backbone of PLAGF for many decades. The chassis itself received many upgrades throughout its service and the ZTZ59A (alternatively called ZTZ59-I in the earlier naming system) is the first major upgrade over Type 59.
During the Sino-Vietnamese conflict in the late 1970s, PLAGF had found some problems with the original Type 59 and suggestions were handed to the 5th Ministry of Machine Building (第五机械工业部) for possible upgrades; meanwhile it was the era of economic reform and normalisation of relationships with Western countries. Although new tanks and refurbishment of older tanks with NATO L7 105 mm guns were planned, the mass of original Type 59s could still use some upgrades as well. In 1984, the ZTZ59A upgrade program passed state certifications: the upgrade included hydraulic steering, which provided the driver with better control and lighter force to move than the previous torsion bar steering; a Model 6610 IR searchlight mounted on the front of the chassis; FCS upgrades with Type 73 laser rangefinder from Type 69 mounted on the centre line of the tank by the mantlet, TSFCS with automatic ballistic solution; and side skirts. A new APFSDS was also developed for the gun, said to be on-par with Soviet 3BM25. Some parts of the tank were also revised from the suggestions of frontline troops, sub-systems were aimed to be more reliable and ergonomic. Some of the later ZTZ59A that had received such upgrades were also tested with different designs such as a two-plane stabiliser for the gun and welding extra fences onto the turret, while some received a smoke grenade launcher upgrade on the turret.
Although the gap between the mainstream 1980s MBTs and ZTZ59A was still huge, ZTZ59A also became the basis of more ergonomic sub-system designs of PLAGF tanks, as well as simplified maintenance; filling the gap while waiting for the newer ZTZ59-II with a brand new British FCS system and L7A3 to replace them.
Links to the articles on the War Thunder Wiki that you think will be useful for the reader, for example:
- reference to the series of the vehicles;
- links to approximate analogues of other nations and research trees.
Paste links to sources and external resources, such as:
- topic on the official game forum;
- other literature.
|China medium tanks|
|Type 59 · ZTZ59A · ZTZ59D1|
|Type 69 · Type 69-IIa · T-69 II G|
|ZTZ88A · ZTZ88B|
|ZTZ96 · ZTZ96A · ZTZ96A (P)|
|ZTZ99-II · ZTZ99-III|
|ZTZ99A · WZ1001(E) LCT|
|Other||Т-34-85 Gai · Object 122MT "MC"|
|Japan||␗Chi-Ha · ␗Chi-Ha Kai|
|USA||␗M4A4 · ␗M4A4 (1st PTG) · ␗M4A1 (75) W · ␗M48A1 · ␗M60A3 TTS|
|USSR||␗T-34 (1943) · ␗Т-34-85 (S-53) · T-34-85 No.215 · Т-62 №545|
|China premium ground vehicles|
|Light tanks||T-26 No.531 · ␗M3A3 (1st PTG) · ␗M41A3 · M64 · WMA301|
|Medium tanks||␗M4A4 (1st PTG) · T-34-85 No.215 · Т-62 №545 · ZTZ59A · Type 69-IIa · T-69 II G · ZTZ96A (P)|
|Heavy tanks||IS-2 No.402|