The Type 79 Tank is the PLA designation of the Type 69-III, an improved model of the earlier Type 69 Tank featuring Western technology.
The original Type 69 and Type 69-I prototype tanks had not been accepted into Chinese PLA (Peoples Liberation Army) service, nor the upgraded Type 69-II, which was exported to 7 other countries.
Type 79 Tank Development
The improving relations between China and Western countries such as America and Britain following the Sino-Soviet Split allowed China to import new technology. This included the Marconi fire-control system and image-enhancement night vision.
The first Type 79 mock-up was completed in 1981 followed by 2 prototypes in 1983. The finalised design was ready for production in 1984.
The vehicle has a standard four man crew. The drive sits in the front left of hull with ammunition storage to his right.The driver’s hatch has three periscope vision blocks and the centre vision block can be removed and replaced with a low-light periscope with a 50m range.
Centrally mounted in the hull is the turret, which has a full 360 degree traverse. The Commander and Gunner sit in tandem on the left side of the hull, with the commander in an elevated position behind the Gunner. To their right is the main gun and breach located in the centre of the turret with the Loader (aka Operator) standing on the right side of the turret.
Type 79 Tank Firepower
The Type 79 (aka WZ-121D) was the first of the Type 69 models to use a 105mm rifled main gun, the improved Type 83 fitted with a thermal sleeve to regulate barrel temperature for improved performance. The 105mm main gun could be identified by its fume extractor centrally located in the barrel.
It was fitted with the Marconi Fire-Control System and image-enhancement night vision, which was later replaced with a thermal imager on later manufactured vehicles.
Type 79 Tank Protection
The Type 79 is an all-steel construction of varying thickness. It has a relatively low profile relying on sloped steel armor over the hull front and an oval-shaped turret.
The later production models were equipped with sections of storage rack that ran around the turret. It is not clear if this was strong enough to act as bar armor against RPG attacks. Anything stored in the racks would have assisted HEAT ammunition penetrate the turret.
It could be fitted with Explosive Reactive Armor over the hull and turret front to protect against tank fired HEAT rounds and Anti-Tank Missiles.
Type 79 Tank Mobility
The Type 79 was fitted with metal tracks, but had the addition of rubber pads. This reduced the vibrations of the vehicle when travelling road and enabled it to go faster. The reduced vibrations lowered the level of fatigue the crew experience and any potential damage to delicate electronics in the vehicle.
The Type 79 had an improved liquid-cooled 730hp diesel engine, increasing its power to weight ratio giving an improved acceleration and slope climbing ability.
Type 79-II Tank
There isn’t a great deal of knowledge about this tank. It’s reported that it was an improved export model with a new Fire Control System and new engine.
Type 79 (69-II) Tank Specifications
|Main Gun||105mm, Rifled
|Secondary Weapons||x1 coaxial 7.62mm MG, x1 12.7mm MG|
|Top Road Speed||50 km/h|
|Road Range||420+ km|
|Fuel Capacity||935 Litres|
|Length Gun Forward||8.58m|
||3.307m (incl side-skirts)|
|Height||2.8m (mount 12.7mm MG)|
|Weight||36,700kg aka 36.7 tonne combat|
|Armor Type||Steel/Explosive Reactive (ERA)|
|Active Protection Systems||No|