The Type 59 Main Battle Tank is and possibly will remain the most wide-spread Chinese MBT ever built, and although it’s likely not in service anymore in frontline units, its variants are still in use nearly 60 years after the first vehicles of this type rolled off the assembly lines.
The Type 59 started as a license-produced variant of the Soviet T-54A medium tank. Before their relations deteriorated, the Soviet Union and China were closely cooperating on reviving and improving the Chinese heavy industry in the 1950s. One of the results of this cooperation was the start of the Chinese production of first the T-34 medium tank (designated Type 58 in Chinese service) and later on the Type 59.
The Type 59 was first introduced to the public during the great Chinese national parade in 1959 and the mass production ran until the 1980s, with an estimated 10 thousand vehicles with various modifications produced. The Type 59 was also heavily exported to third world countries and saw several conflicts, including the Iran-Iraq war and the Gulf War. It did not perform all too well (just like the other obsolete Soviet equipment such as the T-54/55 variants) but in low intensity conflicts it is still completely capable of turning the tide of any battle, especially against irregular forces not equipped with specialized anti-tank weaponry.
The Chinese continued to develop the Type 59 for several decades and only the most modern of People’s Republic of China Main battle Tanks do not have their roots in the venerable Type 59.
In Armored Warfare, the Type 59 will be a Tier 3 Main Battle Tank. While the firepower (provided by a clone of the 100mm D-10T rifled gun) can only be described as “sufficient”, the 100mm frontal sloped armor and the thick turret will offer excellent protection against incoming fire. The mobility will be adequate for its tier, with a 580hp top engine being available to drive its 36-ton weight.
The Type 59 will be available in the recently unveiled third dealer tree in the Chinese Main Battle Tank branch, after the introduction of Tier 9 vehicles. Currently it is in a very early stage of development called “blockout”, when the very basic layout of the model is prepared for the addition of fine details and texturing work. The production of a single vehicle in Armored Warfare takes up to three months of work by a dedicated team of historians, artists and modelers, who work tirelessly to introduce new vehicles to the game.
More about the third dealer will be revealed in the future – stay tuned and see you on the battlefield!