The Type 63-I is a rank IV Chinese light tank with a battle rating of 6.3 (AB/RB/SB). It was introduced in Update 1.91 "Night Vision".
The Type 63 can be considered a domestic Chinese counterpart to the Soviet-produced PT-76 amphibious light tank, its predecessor in the tech tree. It is far from a copy, however. It features a similar cast turret to the Type 62 equipped with the same 85 mm gun, and the hull has larger dimensions and a different position for the driver. This 63-I variant has a more powerful engine as well. While the protection and gun handling are poor, the firepower and speed much improved from the PT-76. Few tanks at its battle rating can boast a HEAT-FS round with 300 mm of penetration, a nasty surprise for enemy heavy tanks. The Type 63 offers a taste of what's to come in the succeeding Type 62, which has similar firepower while improving in practically every aspect aside from the ability to swim.
Survivability and armour
- Rolled homogeneous armour
- Cast homogeneous armour (Turret front/sides, Gun mantlet)
|Hull|| 11 mm (82°) Upper glacis
14 mm (42°) Lower glacis
| 13 mm Top
10 mm Bottom
| 10 mm (1°) Top
10 mm (62°) Bottom
|Turret|| 11 mm (15-58°) Turret front
15 mm (10-69°) Gun mantlet
|11 mm (17-58°)||11 mm (10-48°)||10 mm|
|Cupola||10 mm||10 mm|
- Suspension wheels are 10 mm thick.
- Tracks are 15 mm thick.
The Type 63-I's armour is no better than the PT-76 and should not be relied upon against any incoming fire. Even heavy machine guns and autocannons pose a serious threat to this vehicle; the turret has only 11 mm of cast steel for example and can be penetrated by the M2 Browning commonly mounted on US tanks. SPAAs and aircraft will rip the tank to shreds. In general, avoid being spotted and stay close to cover. Placing bushes on the front and top of the tank to delay recognition by enemies, even for a second or two, can help considerably.
The Type 63-I is vulnerable to hull-break. Chemical shells (HEAT, HEAT-FS, HE) of at least decent size will trigger it consistently. Large full-calibre rounds that hit important parts like the engine, transmission, or gun breech can also cause it, but such rounds might also pass through the tank with little damage due to the thin armour. Generally speaking, APHE rounds will only fuse if fired through the lower glacis, which has exactly enough armor to trigger the common 14 mm fuse sensitivity. The thinly armored turret will not fuse many APHE rounds and it is possible for a Tiger II's fearsome PzGr 39/42 to pass through a turret cheek and only take one to two crew members with it.
The crew of 4 is better than the 3 in the PT-76, but the additional crew member resides in the turret, clustered with the turret crew, and the benefits to survivability are marginal.
|Game Mode||Max Speed (km/h)||Weight (tons)||Engine power (horsepower)||Power-to-weight ratio (hp/ton)|
The Type 63-I sees a decent improvement in mobility compared to the preceding PT-76, thus making this tank more attractive for flanking, or early game rushing. The Type 63-I is also good for hillclimbing and can reach some nifty positions on some maps. The mobility lags slightly behind some contemporary tanks like the M41 Walker Bulldog and wheeled Italian vehicles are much faster on roads. It will still handily outrun medium and heavy tanks. The reverse speed of about 10 km/h is a slight improvement over the T-34-85 but by no means lightning-quick. If using shoot-and-scoot tactics, start backing into cover as soon as possible after firing a shot.
As an amphibious vehicle, the Type 63-I will not drown in water and can swim across rivers or lakes slowly but steadily. However, the lack of a gun stabilizer makes firing while on water very difficult. Avoid driving on water for more than short crossings if enemies are likely to see you, as it will be nearly impossible to defend yourself.
Modifications and economy
The Type 63-I's stock grind is less painful than the PT-76 since it has a decent gun with usable ammunition from the start. But the tank does not have much going for it over a T-34-85 until the Type 1956 HEAT-FS, a Tier IV modification, is researched. Try focusing on the firepower modifications after Parts are unlocked, as the vehicle's stock mobility is not bad. Adjustment of Fire is very important since the Type 63-I's long reload does not give it much leeway if one's shot misses. FPE can be put off until later since shots to the engine or fuel tanks that would normally set a tank on fire have a high chance of hull-breaking the Type 63-I instead. Once the HEAT-FS is unlocked, the grind becomes significantly easier since the tank is now capable of harming enemies frontally from any distance, making assists much easier to come by and reducing its reliance on flanking.
The Type-62-85-TC cannon is also used by the Type 62, but the reload is about two seconds longer on the Type 63 for some reason. This means that it has the same sluggish reload as the PT-76 despite having a dedicated loader. The gun handling is poor all-round, with the gun rotation, elevation, and depression speeds all being lower than the PT-76. This can be a pain when using the Type 63-I aggressively; it is unfortunate that the gun handling cannot keep up with the good mobility.
|85 mm Type-62-85-TC||Turret rotation speed (°/s)||Reloading rate (seconds)|
Two APHE shells are available. The stock BR-365A APHEBC round has rather low penetration for its rank, but this is compensated by its excellent slope modifiers and high explosive mass. It penetrates other light tanks easily and is the best round to use when flanking. The BR-367 APCBC round has about 30 mm of extra penetration with less than half the TNT equivalent; while this is not a bad tradeoff, in practice it does not frontally penetrate many vehicles that the BR-365A round cannot, and when flanking the lower post-penetration damage is a big drawback. Using one or the other is mostly up to personal taste, though it does not hurt to bring some of both.
The BR-367P APCR shell has high velocity and better flat penetration than the APHE rounds, but as with other shells of its class, the angled performance and post-penetration damage are awful. It is best used as an interim shell before the HEAT-FS is unlocked; in emergency situations it can penetrate the turret face of the Tiger II (H) at close range.
The Type 1956 HEAT-FS shell is the most powerful option available to the Type 63-I and is very strong for its rank. 300 mm of flat penetration at any distance with good velocity and angled performance is no joke, capable of nullifying the armour of many heavy tanks. The main rival at the battle rating of 6.3 is the ST-A1's 90 mm HEAT-FS with 305 mm of flat penetration. It boasts more TNT equivalent than the HE shell, making it dangerous to hull-breakable targets like the common M18 Hellcat. The main drawbacks are the mediocre post-penetration damage and the tendency to bounce against heavily sloped armour, so aim carefully for important crew members, modules, and ammo racks.
The stock O-365K HE shell is very weak and should be avoided. It is not large enough to reliably trigger hull-breaks on anything more armoured than a SPAA truck and the HEAT-FS is better in all aspects.
|Ammunition|| Type of
|Penetration @ 0° Angle of Attack (mm)|
|10 m||100 m||500 m||1,000 m||1,500 m||2,000 m|
|Ammunition|| Type of
| Fuse delay
| Fuse sensitivity
| Explosive Mass
(TNT equivalent) (g)
|47||42 (+5)||36 (+11)||30 (+17)||24 (+23)||15 (+32)||11 (+36)||7 (+40)||1 (+46)||Yes|
Note: ammo rack #1 is in the back of the turret basket and will rotate with the turret.
The poor protection of the Type 63-I means that taking less ammunition will not improve post-penetration survivability by much. Taking 30 rounds or less will empty the ammo racks in the back of the fighting compartment and turret basket, so solid projectiles entering the front right of the vehicle might pass through and hit only the loader. This is mildly helpful against British tanks and M41s. In the event that 30 rounds is not enough, a rare occurrence, it's fine to take more.
The Type 63-I has a coaxial 7.62 SGMT machine gun. It is useful for spotting targets on the map but little else. The SGMT does enjoy a much larger magazine and better rate of fire than the typical WWII-era DT machine gun, which helps to clear fences and bushes that might prematurely detonate the HEAT-FS round. The lack of a pintle mounted heavy machine gun makes it difficult to ward off aircraft or gun down light vehicles like armoured cars.
|7.62 mm SGMT|
|Mount||Capacity (Belt)||Fire rate||Vertical||Horizontal|
Usage in battles
The Type 63-I is best used in a way that avoids direct exposure to enemy fire and gives you time to set up shots and ambushes. Running straight into battle or rushing cap points may not end well. Flanking is definitely a recommended method as this gives you the time you desperately need due to slow turret rotation and reload. It also gives you chances to shoot at enemy side armour, which is the only way to penetrate heavier enemies if you use the conventional shells. When flanking, avoid driving in the open if possible and keep an eye out for other light vehicles. Some of them, like armoured cars and Hellcats, can be hull broken with the HEAT-FS round, while others like the M41 Walker Bulldog used by several nations cannot and are best dispatched with the APHE rounds. Once a good position is reached, stay close to cover and be sure to hide when reloading.
The long reload makes selecting the right ammunition type for the situation very important. Otherwise, switching to the correct round could take up to 11 seconds, enough for an enemy to retreat or return fire. It is better to keep HEAT-FS loaded when entering an engagement if enemy types are unknown; any target that the HEAT-FS cannot hull-break can still be disabled with a careful shot to the gunner/driver/gun breech, and APHE can be used to finish cripped targets off. On the other hand, the first speedy enemies to appear at the start of a match are probably soft enough to destroy with APHE. Try to reload while in cover.
Like many domestic PRC tanks, the Type 63-I's gun handling is quite awful, so predict where enemies are likely to appear and always be on the lookout for potential ambushes or flankers. If your aim must be shifted rapidly, turn the hull as well as the turret. Though it lacks neutral steering, the hull traverse is quite good. Avoid trying to take down or harass aircraft unless they are bold enough to fly directly at you and escaping to cover is impossible.
Ground targets to watch out for include the infamous R3 T20 FA-HS, whose extreme mobility and fully stabilized autocannon are the bane of the Type 63-I's bad gun handling and armour, and the Ru 251, which also has incredible speed and can hull-break the Type 63-I easily with its chemical rounds. Thankfully, these two targets can be hull-broken in return. Try to spot them first and stay out of sight until they are not looking in your direction, then introduce them to the HEAT-FS. Be sure not to miss, you may not get a second chance.
Besides flanking, another tactic is to use the HEAT-FS shells for long range sniping. The HEAT-FS does not lose accuracy nor penetration at range, giving you the full 300 mm penetration on each hit. Keep in mind that the tank's optics are not great, having 4x zoom like the PT-76. Shooting and relocating is advisable due to the fact that if an enemy manages to be within range of you, they will only need one shot to take you out. Stay hidden or retreat if an enemy is looking in your direction and ready to fire, as the Type 63-I does not have the gun handling or armor necessary to peek effectively. Keep an eye on the sky and switch positions after a few kills, as it is very likely that planes and artillery will be on their way to seek revenge. Virtually any aircraft can dispatch the Type 63-I, even those lacking bombs or rockets.
Remember to constantly mark enemies with scouting. Besides helping your team and gaining assists for yourself, it allows teammates to mop up targets that you have crippled but are unwilling or unable to finish off. The reduction in aircraft spawn cost is also valuable due to the Type 63-I's fragility. If a good early-game run with the tank is terminated, it should be easy to pull out a suitable CAS aircraft like the Tu-2 or counter-CAS aircraft like the La-9 to exact revenge while leaving points in reserve for later spawns.
Pros and cons
- Same 85 mm gun as the Type 62, more powerful and much less frustrating to use than the preceding PT-76
- HEAT-FS penetrates up to 300 mm of armor, excellent for the battle rating
- 4 crew members
- Improved mobility from the PT-76
- Can scout and assist with repairs
- No stabilizer, firing on the move or on water is difficult
- Very thin armour
- Poor gun handling
- Slow reload, especially for a light tank
- No night vision devices
- No sources of smoke
- Larger profile than the PT-76
The Soviet Union delivered PT-76 tanks to the People's Republic of China in the 1950s. Their lightweight and amphibious capability were appreciated by the PLA, and in 1958 an order was placed for the development of an indigenous vehicle in the same vein. Initially a copy of the PT-76 called the Type 60 was made, but unsatisfactory performance and reliability issues prompted a redesign. The new design was finalized in 1963 and entered service as the Type 63 light tank, not to be confused with the Type 63 armoured personnel carrier that served as a basis for the ZSD63. While resembling the PT-76, the Type 63 tanks featured notable differences, such as a new engine, a relocated driver's station, and a new turret with an 85 mm gun. Overall dimensions were slightly enlarged for extra flotation. The Type 63 was intended for use in the wet and muddy terrain of southern China and also for seaborne assaults - many were stationed in the southern coast, across the strait from Taiwan.
The improved Type 63-I variant replaced the original 240 hp V6 engine derived from the PT-76 with a more powerful V12 12150-L2 engine developing about 400 hp. Additional upgrades were developed over the years. The 63-II variant from the 1970s added laser rangefinder and night vision equipment. The 63HG variant from the 1990s had a boat-like hull with a rounded nose and a modified turret with a 105 mm gun. In the late 1990s, the ultimate Type 63A variant entered service. It featured a new welded turret with improved protection, a 105 mm gun, modern fire control systems, and a further redesigned hull.
The Type 63 was exported to several countries, including Myanmar, Albania, and Vietnam. It remains in use with several of them today. The Type 63A, which is a modification of the Type 63 with 105mm gun and improved armor, still serves with the PLA today, however it is being gradually replaced by the larger and more advanced ZTD-05 amphibious assault vehicle.
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|China light tanks|
|Type 63||Type 63-I|
|Type 62||Type 62|
|WZ551||PTL02 · WMA301|
|USA||␗M8 LAC · ␗M3A3 Stuart · ␗M5A1 · ␗M24 · ␗M18|
|USSR||␗T-26 · T-26 No.531 · ␗PT-76|