The Type 59 is a rank V Chinese medium tank with a battle rating of 8.0 (AB/RB/SB). It was introduced in Update 1.91 "Night Vision".
The Type 59 holds the distinction of being the first tank to be domestically manufactured by the People's Republic of China. It is a famous part of the PLA's Cold War tank inventory, saw service with many countries, and set the stage for many later developments.
A somewhat simplified, licensed produced version of the Soviet T-54A, the Type 59 looks very much like the T-54 (1951). The most noticeable differences are the fume extractor on the tip of the gun barrel and the different roadwheels, similar to the T-55A. Internally, the Type 59 differs from the T-54 by having a single-plane stabilizer and a different ammunition selection. It helps to get accustomed to this tank, as the later Type 69, ZTZ59D1, and T-69 II G are its descendants and handle similarly.
Survivability and armour
The armor layout of the Type 59 is identical to the T-54 (1951), having a rounded, egg-shaped turret with a highly sloped upper glacis. The armor is not bad per se, but most of its opponents use powerful APDS, APFSDS, or HEAT-FS rounds that can go right through it, an issue made worse by the fact that the Type 59 currently has a higher battle rating than the T-54. While it is mostly immune to APHE rounds from the front, few vehicles use them at its rank, and those that do are typically from the Soviet Union and unlikely to face the Type 59 in Realistic Battles.
Post-penetration survivability is questionable. Ammunition is scattered around the tank and none of the ammo racks are protected. The interior of the tank is cramped and penetrating hits are likely to take out multiple crew members. When the gun is pointed forward, the driver, gunner, and commander are all lined up for an easy one-shot kill.
- Rolled homogeneous armour (Hull, Turret roof)
- Cast homogeneous armour (Turret, Gun mantlet)
|Hull||100 mm (60°) Front glacis
100 mm (54°) Lower glacis
|80 mm||45 mm (16°) Upper
30 mm (72°) Lower
|30 mm Front|
20 mm Back
|Turret||160 mm (14-39°) Turret front
200 mm (4-78°) Gun mantlet
|115 mm (45-50°) Upper
155 mm (10-30°) Lower
|65 mm (9-35°)||30 mm|
- Suspensions wheels and tracks are 20 mm thick
|Game Mode||Max Speed (km/h)||Weight (tons)||Engine power (horsepower)||Power-to-weight ratio (hp/ton)|
The mobility of the Type 59 is the same as the T-54, decent to good but not the best. The top speed will only be reached on paved surfaces. The wide tracks make for fairly good off-road capability. The tank cannot turn in place and the reverse speed of -7 km/h leaves much to be desired. Speedy MBTs like the Leopard I will easily outrun the Type 59, though it can keep up with the M60 and is still faster than the Centurion Mk 10.
|100 mm Type 59|
|Turret rotation speed (°/s)|
|Mode||Stock||Upgraded||Prior + Full crew||Prior + Expert qualif.||Prior + Ace qualif.|
|Reloading rate (seconds)|
|Stock||Prior + Full crew||Prior + Expert qualif.||Prior + Ace qualif.|
|Ammunition|| Type of
|Penetration in mm @ 0° Angle of Attack|
|Ammunition|| Type of
Mass in kg
| Fuse delay
| Fuse sensitivity
| Explosive Mass in g
| Normalization At 30°
The Type 59 has many ammunition types to choose from. The stock round is the BR-412 APHE. An uncapped shell, its performance is rather substandard for its rank and it might have difficulties against angled armor or at long distances. The BR-412B APHEBC round is slightly better at a distance and the BR-412D APCBC round is the best of the AP shells overall. These shells are best used against lightly armored tanks like the Leopard I and AMX-30. Note that the turrets of the OF-40 and STB-1 are more resistant to APHE rounds from the front. Against US tanks like the M60, try to aim for the gun mantlet or just flank instead.
The BR-412P APCR shell is currently modeled as having less penetration than the BR-412D round, so it is completely useless and should not be taken.
The Type 1959 APDS has identical penetration to the Soviet 3BM-8 APDS round with minor differences in the weight and muzzle velocity. The performance is generally comparable to the DM13 APDS. It has a high muzzle velocity and is thus the easiest to use at long distance, but the post-penetration damage is rather anemic.
The Type 1973 HEAT-FS has the same penetration as the T-55A's 3BK-5M HEAT-FS round. The muzzle velocity and weight are between the 3BK-5M and 3BK-5, but it has about 260 fewer grams of TNT equivalent due to the different filler. In practice, there is not a significant difference, and the HEAT-FS boasts the highest penetration out of all of the Type 59's rounds, going clean through almost any tank not equipped with composite armor or ERA. It is also capable of causing hull-breaks on light tanks and SPAAs. Unfortunately, the fuse is very sensitive and will trigger on bushes and fences.
The OF-412 HE shell only has 26 mm of penetration and is of limited utility. It is not large enough to cause any notable damage to MBTs, and while it can cause hull-breaks, so can the HEAT-FS.
Note that the Type 59 does not have access to the 3D3 smoke shell from the T-54 (1951).
The primary choice of ammunition for the Type 59 should be the BR-412D shell. It can penetrate most opponents at its rank and has enough explosive filler to cause instant knockouts, which is very valuable considering that the Type 59 reloads rather slowly and may not have enough time for follow-up shots. A few rounds of Type 1959 APDS and Type 1973 HEAT-FS should be carried, the former for use at long distances and the latter for use against heavily armored or hull-breakable targets.
|34||33 (+1)||28 (+6)||23 (+10)||22 (+11)||21 (+13)||1 (+33)||No|
Turret empty: 28 (+6)
One rack only: 21 (+13)
The ammunition storage of the Type 59 is not exactly safe, but to be fair, this applies to many contemporary tanks. Spare rounds are littered around the turret and fighting compartment, and there is a large rack next to the driver. It's best to take fewer rounds to at least clear out the turret. Carrying 21 rounds or less will completely empty the fighting compartment, which helps to prevent side-aspect shots from being instantly fatal.
|12.7 mm DShK|
|Capacity (Belt capacity)|| Fire rate
| Horizontal |
|7.62 mm SGMT|
|Capacity (Belt capacity)|| Fire rate
| Horizontal |
Usage in battles
The Type 59 is best used similarly to the original T-54. The mobility is decent, but the turret rotation speed is quite agonizing and the gun lacks a two-plane stabilizer. For those not used to this vehicle, it is better not to rush straight into the combat zone. Instead, stay behind other teammates, keep an eye on the surroundings, and anticipate where enemies may appear. The vertical stabilizer, an oddity for a high-tier vehicle, does not really allow for firing on the move but is an advantage when fighting unstabilized tanks since the gun does not need to fully settle before an accurate shot. Enemies with two-plane stabilizers like the Centauro will be tough customers. If dealing with them, keep a safe distance and drive slowly while aiming down the sights. If the gun needs to be pointed in a different direction quickly, rotate the hull simultaneously with the turret.
This basic version of the Type 59 omitted the night vision systems from the T-54A, so it's essentially blind in night battles. In these situations, stick with the Type 69 and perhaps the M48A1 instead.
Stay close to teammates if possible. The slow reload and poor gun handling make dealing with multiple enemies or flankers a difficult task without backup. A fast light tank, SPAA, or armored car can circle around the Type 59 faster than it can react. It helps to bind the cupola mounted heavy machine gun to a separate key in case this happens; the DShK rotates fairly quickly and will rip through the sides of the AUBL/74 HVG with ease.
Overall, the Type 59 faces many challenges at its current battle rating, often being uptiered and having to deal with tanks far more advanced than it. It is definitely not a "meta" vehicle and the Type 59 will often meet its demise at the hand of APFSDS rounds fired from across the map. Still, it is satisfying and amusing to destroy a thermal-equipped, APFSDS-slinging MBT from the late 1980s with a tank first produced in 1958, using an APCBC round introduced in 1951.
|II||Suspension||Brake System||FPE||Adjustment of Fire|
|III||Filters||Crew Replenishment||BR-412D||Elevation Mechanism||BR-412P|
|IV||Transmission||Engine||Artillery Support||Type 1959 APDS||Type 1973 HEAT-FS|
The Type 59 does not have the Smoke Grenade upgrade that the T-54 (1951) does.
Pros and cons
- Powerful 100 mm gun with a wide selection of ammunition, including strong HEAT-FS
- Good frontal armor
- Has a top-mounted heavy machine gun for use against soft targets
- Gun has a vertical stabilizer
- Decent mobility
- Long reload
- Does not have a two-plane stabilizer
- Sluggish turret traverse
- Armour does not hold up very well at its rank
- No sources of smoke available
- No night vision
During the early 1950s, the People's Republic of China purchased numerous tanks from the Soviet Union, such as the T-34-85 and the IS-2. Domestic industrial and engineering capabilities were quite limited at the time and the USSR agreed to assist in setting up a factory manufacturing the T-54A in China. The Chinese copies were designated Type 59 and featured several differences from the original T-54A, such as the deletion of the night vision and possibly stabilizer systems, at least initially.
The Type 59 was produced for a long period of time in several versions, finally appearing in large numbers to completely replace the highly obsolete T-34-85 after a few decades. Though it started out as a competitive design, it became apparent that the Type 59 was in need of some upgrades after a few years. An effort to create a replacement resulted in the Type 69, but this model was not very popular with the PLA, only seeing limited domestic service. As a result the Type 59 remained the premier tank of the PLA for most of the Cold War, seeing some usage in the Sino-Vietnamese War of 1979 and at Tiananmen Square in 1989 and receiving limited domestic upgrades to the fire-control, automotive, and fire suppression systems. The reason for PLA's continued use of this first generation MBT was largely due to the political turmoils that was happening in China during the late 60s and early 70s. Efforts to produce domestic second generation MBTs to replace the Type 59, such as the WZ-122, were usually blocked as political ideology took hold of these projects attempted by skilled Chinese engineers.
When relations with the Western world began to normalize during the early 1980s, foreign technologies were available for integration, resulting in numerous upgraded variants like the Type-59-II, Type 59 D1, Type 59D, Jaguar, and VT-3. Soon afterwards domestic tank development accelerated and the Type 59 was superseded by more modern tanks such as the Type 80/88 series. Currently, the Type 59 is still present in the PLA's inventory in sizable quantities, but has been gradually relegated to reserve and training purposes, with more and more units being equipped with far superior Type 96 and Type 99 main battle tanks.
Like the original T-54/55 series, the Type 59 was a popular export item. It was used by the North Vietnamese Army during the Vietnam War alongside its Soviet counterpart. It remains in use with countries such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Iran, often in heavily upgraded form. Chinese companies still offer comprehensive upgrades and conversions of the Type 59 for export customers. An estimated 10,000 tanks were produced between 1959 to the 1980s.
The tank was also shown in the famous photo of "Tank Man" on Tiananmen square.
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;
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Paste links to sources and external resources, such as:
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|China medium tanks|
|Type 59 · ZTZ59D1 · Type 69 · T-69 II G · ZTZ96 · ZTZ96A · ZTZ99|
|American||␗M4A4 · M4A4 (1st PTG) · ␗M4A1 (75) W · ␗M48A1 · M60A3 TTS · CM11|
|Soviet||␗T-34 (1943) · ␗Т-34-85 (S-53) · Т-34-85 Gai · T-34-85 No.215 · Т-62 №545|
|Japanese||␗Chi-Ha · ␗Chi-Ha Kai|