Does China have a tank

The complex history of Chinese tanks


Since our newest Top Top event is dedicated to the heavy, yet mobile WZ-111 Model 5A, we figured that putting the spotlight on our Chinese tanks, and especially their relationship with Soviet vehicles, would be a nice extra for them July would be. Immerse yourself in the machine secrets of the Middle Kingdom!

The first Chinese tanks

The first appearance of tanks in China can be dated back to the 1920s. At that time, the country's central government controlled only a few provinces in the south and most of the country was still made up of feudal states defended by military groups. One of those provincial warlords named Zhang Zuolin one day managed to acquire tanks for his troops. It was more about smuggling because the 36 Renault FT-Tanks that he received from France were supposed to be used during the Soviet Revolution. In 1919 they were taken out Vladivostok stolen and ended up in the Manchuria.

Renault FT tank during WW1

The vehicles were then sent to the Chinese People's Revolutionary Army passed on, which was also reinforced by English Carden-Loyd tracked vehicles. This was without question the start of an entire fleet, but it was still far from being strong enough to Japan to prevent them from taking Manchuria in the 1930s. After the attack on ShanghaiDeeply impressed by the dogged defense of the Chinese, the Japanese decided to purchase more tanks - including homemade Type 89 and Renault NC-27s. The starting signal for a race for the best tanks.

The search for an ally

The collision with the Japanese tanks forced the Republic of China to further accelerate the mechanization of its army. To accomplish this, the country acquired tanks from England, France, the United States and even from Germany. However, these tanks played in the Sino-Japanese War no critical role whatsoever, as their commanders simply weren't trained enough to deal with them. For this reason, the Chinese tank fleet shrank to just 48 vehicles by the end of 1937. What was worse, however, was that theSino-German military cooperation due to the alliance between Japan and the Third Reich, a foreseeable end had come to an end. China desperately needed a new ally.

The Chinese army receives T-26 tanks

At that point, the Soviet Union into the picture. With much more than “moral support” given to the country by the West, the ROC-Soviet government non-aggression agreement became the legal basis for sending weapons and military advisers to the Kingdom of Heaven. The country received 87 T-26 tanks (from 1933) and an unspecified number of armored vehicles. However, the alliance between the two countries by no means ended at that point: famous officers traveled to China to train local tank crews, and the industrial expertise of the Soviet Union was also used to the full.

A series of twists

Despite the established relationships and the good results of the T-26 tanks on the battlefield, the Soviet Union became due to the Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact slowly but surely pushed back from China. Since there are already problems with the Third Reich the Soviets could not allow themselves to go to war on two fronts. In the summer of 1941 they withdrew completely from the trade and were shortly thereafter by the American that replaced China with the Lending and Lease Act with some M3A1 reconnaissance vehicles came to the rescue.

An IS-2 with Chinese markings

The Middle Kingdom had a new ally until war broke out in its own territory. A civil war broke out in China and eventually the Soviet Union knocked on its door again for the communist leadership to support. Starting with the proclamation of the People's Republic of China in 1956, the country received approximately 1,800 T-34 and T-34-85, 60 IS-2 and SU-100, and other troop carriers. These were manned by Chinese volunteers and the vehicles that the Americans were against Korean War had to compete.

Insane production

We are now in the mid-1950s, when China had started work on various projects that were inspired by famous Soviet designs and in many places simply copied. One of these projects was, for example, the T-34-85, which was used locally as a Type 58 got known. Chinese engineers also tried to copy the Soviet T-54 before the Union simply handed over the technical documents directly to its ally. The T-54 became the actual ancestor of all Chinese tanks And the Soviet Union spared no expense in its export to China: Samples, specialists, plans and more were sent to the country to help them build a real fleet - their effort was very successful.

The Type 59

During the parade of Beijing in 1959, which celebrated the 10th anniversary of the People's Republic of China, 32 tanks were already in place. The plan was to produce a total of 1,000 tanks a year, but as relations between the two countries began to crumble, that quota was lowered a bit. By 1967, the local variant of the T-54, which had been renamed the Type 59, was already being produced at 600 units per year despite the setbacks. Ultimately, no fewer than 6,000 tanks were made in Chinese factories by the mid-1990s.

The adjustments

Although most of the equipment and guns had been borrowed directly from Soviet designs, the Chinese vehicles were not exact replicas. China had to keep an eye on its surroundings and some provinces had now become dangerous battlefields. So the Type 62, also known as the WZ-131, was finally developed, a lighter version of the Type 59 that was able to cross small bridges that could be found in the southern provinces of china often encountered.

A prototype of the WZ-111

These vehicles eventually became preferred to heavy tanks such as the WZ-111, whose development had begun in the 1950s. With the aim of being able to survive for a long time, this mastodon was equipped with a Chinese cannon that could be equipped with various ammunition such as armor-piercing, high-explosive or reinforced grenades. Towards the end of 1964, the design of the WZ-111 became somewhat redundant. The age of heavy tanks was almost over and the results that the vehicle achieved were simply no longer enough. In the end, the Type 59 had more potential and more room for improvement and modernization, increasing its usefulness to the Chinese army and more money to be exported to the Chinese government.

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