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North Vietnamese Armor

1 Armored Cars, APC's and Light Tanks

 

A three view drawing of a BTR-40

 
Name:BTR-40
Type:APC/Scout Car
Vehicle Range:285 km
Crew:2 + 8 passengers
Max. Speed:80 km/h
Fording:.9 m
Vertical Obstacle:.47 m
Gap Crossing:.7 m (with channels)
Armament:1 x 7.62mm SGMB MMG
Armour:8mm (Max)
Notes:Modeled on the WWII M3 Scout Car, the BTR-40 saw limited service in Indochina. Apart from the basic APC, the main variant seen was the SPAA version mounting 2 x 14.5mm KPV HMG's in a fully rotating turret.

Image of a BTR-40-ZP APC

BTR-40-ZPU in use with Pathet Lao troops (source: Zaloga 1987)

 

 

 

A three view drawing of a BTR-50 

Name:BTR-50
Type:APC
Crew:2 + 20 passengers
Vehicle Range:260 km
Max. Speed:44 km/h (land)/11 km/h (water)
Fording:Amphibious
Vertical Obstacle:1.1 m
Gap Crossing:2.8 m
Armament:1 x 7.62mm SGMB MMG
Armour:Glacis 11mm @ 80 Deg.; upperhull side 14mm @ 0 Deg.; hull rear 10mm
Notes:Developed from the PT-76 light tank, the BTR-50 saw limited service during the 1975 offensive and the 1979 invasion of Kampuchia. Ramps are provided on the rear decking for a 57mm, 76mm or 85mm AT guns which can be carried and fired from (even in the water).

BTR-50 APC in use by Soviet
troops

Soviet troops on exercise with BTR-50 APC's 

Soviet BTR-50 APC

Soviet BTR-50 APC 

3 view drawing of a a PT-76 Light
Tank

 

A three view drawing of a PT-76 (source Zaloga 1987)

Name:PT-76
Type:Light Tank
Crew:3
Vehicle Range:260 km
Max. Speed:44 km/h (land) / 10 km/h (water)
Fording:Amphibious
Vertical Obstacle:1.1 m
Gap Crossing:2.8 m
Armament:1 x 76.2mm D-56T/D56TM main gun,1 x 7.62mm SGMT MMG Co-axial.
Armour:Glacis - 11mm @ 80 Deg.;Lower bow plate - 14mm @ 45 Deg.; Upperhull side - 14mm @ 0 Deg.;Hull rear - 7mm @ 0 Deg.; Turret front - 16mm @ 33 Deg.; Turret sides - 11-16mm @ 33 Deg.; Turret rear - 11mm @ 33 Deg.; Mantlet 11mm @ 33 Deg.
Notes:Developed at the end of WWII as the new standard Soviet reconnaissance tank, the PT-76 has been widely exported to many countries. First used in Vietnam during the 1968 Tet Offensive at the Lang Vie Special Forces camp, near Khe Sahn.

Image of a Soviet Army PT-76

PT-76 in use with the Soviet Army (source Zaloga 1987)

3 view drawing of a Type 63 Light
Tank knocked out

 

Type 63 knocked out (source Caiti 1978)

Name:Type 60/63
Type:Light Tank
Crew:3
Armament:1 x 85mm Main gun, 12.7mm DSHK on loaders hatch, 7.62mm MMG co-axial.
Armour:Glacis plate 11mm @ 80 Deg.; hull side 14mm @ 0 Deg.; turret sides 20mm+.
Notes:Externally similar to the PT-76, the Type 60/63 has a different turret shaped like a T54's but made of rolled and welded plate, not cast. The hull, while the same shape as the PT-76's actually has deeper sides and is higher. Produced by the Chinese it was supplied to the North Vietnamese before the falling out over the invasion of Kampuchia. First Encountered during the 1972 "Easter Offensive".

Image of a Type 63 knocked out in
1972

Type 63 knocked out in fighting in SVN 1972 (source Caiti 1978)

Image of PAVN troops crossing river
on a Type 63

NVA Troops crossing a river onboard a Type 63 (source Dunstan 1982)

Type 62 Light Tank

PAVN Type 62 Lt.Tanks during a parade in Hanoi (source Caiti 1978)

Name:Type 62
Type:Light Tank
Crew:4
Armament:1 x 85mm Main gun, 12.7mm DSHK on loaders hatch,7.62mm MMG co-axial.
Armour:n/a (although being nearly 6,000kg heavier than the Type 60/63 it must be considered to have thicker armor).
Notes:The Type 62 resembles a scaled down T55 MBT in all respects. It is only upon close inspection that it is possible to discern that the vehicle is much smaller than an actual MBT. Supplied by the Chinese to the NVA before the falling out over the invasion of Kampuchia the Type 62 might have been available to take part in the final offensive in 1975 although the only reports of it at that time are during the victory parades.

Image of Type 62 in service with the Chinese PLA

A Type 62 in service with the Chinese PLA (source Zaloga 1983)

3 view drawing of a Chinese K63
APC

Three view drawing of a K-63 APC (source Handel 1979)

Name:K-63
Type:APC
Crew:2 + 10-12
Vehicle Range:n/a
Max. Speed:n/a
Fording:n/a
Vertical Obstacle:n/a
Gap Crossing:n/a
Armament:1 x DShK 12.7mm HMG on commander's pintle.
Armour:n/a
Notes:The K-63 was exported by the Chinese to the NVA and was first encountered during the 1972 "Easter Offensive". Essentially an armored box on tracks the K-63 is remarkably cramped, even by most Eastern Bloc standards.

Image of K63 APC Captured during
the 1972 Offensive

K-63 APC Captured in South Vietnam during the 1972 "Easter Offensive" (source Handel 1979)

4 view Image of K63 APC

Four views of the K-63 APC on display at the RAAC Museum, Puckapunya (source Handel, 1979)

2) Main Battle Tanks

t55_1.jpg (469739 bytes)

3 view drawing of a T55 MBT 

Name:T54/55/59
Type:Main Battle Tank
Crew:4
Vehicle Range:400 km (T54)/500 km (T55/59)
Max. Speed:48 km/h (T54)/ 50 km/h (T55/59)
Fording:1.4 m (5.48m w/schnorkel)
Vertical Obstacle:.8 m
Gap Crossing:2.7 m
Armament:1 x 100mm main gun,1 x 12.7mm on loader's hatch,1 x 7.62mm MMG co-axial (T54 only: 1 x 7.62mm MMG fixed in bow plate, fired by driver.)
Armour:Glacis plate - 100m @ 60 Deg.; Bow plate - 100 @ 55 Deg.; Hull sides - 80mm @ 0 Deg.; Hull rear - 60mm @ 17 Deg.; Turret Front - 210mm; Turret Sides - 95-130mm; Turret Rear - 60mm; Mantlet - 205-210mm.
Notes:The early versions of the T54 are characterized by a sharp cut out under the rear base of the turret, a feature the later T54/T55/59 lacks. Some of these vehicles are still to be seen in Cambodian service. The T59 is the Chinese copy of the T55. Surprisingly, most of the NVA's MBT's Were actually T55's, not T59's. T59's are characterized by, for even Eastern Bloc standards, shoddy workmanship.

Early T54 MBT in Syrian service

A Syrian T54 showing the earlier type of turret (source Zaloga 1987)

Image of T54 under test in
Australia

T59 captured in 1972 (source Caiti 1978)

Image of T54/59 knocked out during
the 1972 Offensive

T54/59 Knocked out in fighting, 1972 "Easter Offensive" (source Caiti 1978)

Image of a
post-war rebuilt T34/85 MBT

A post-war rebuilt T34/85
(source Zaloga 1987)

Name:T34/85
Type:Main Battle Tank
Crew:5
Vehicle Range:300 km
Max. Speed:50 km/h
Fording:1.32 m
Vertical Obstacle:.73 m
Gap Crossing:2.5 m
Armament:1 x 85mm main gun, 1 x 7.62mm MMG co-axial, 1 x 7.62mm hull MMG.
Armour:Glacis plate - 45-47mm @ 60 Deg.; Hull sides - 45-47mm @ 40 Deg.;& 90 Deg.; Hull rear - 47mm @ 50 Deg.; Mantlet - 90mm; Turret sides - 75mm; Turret rear - 60mm (note due to wartime manufacturing standards there were some differences between vehicles WRT to armor thickness).
Notes:The T34/85 was employed primarily as a training vehicle and rarely seen south of the DMZ. It was encountered though, during the 1972 "Easter Offensive".

Image of PAVN T34/85

PAVN Tank crew take a rest during training (source Dunstan 1982)

PAVN T34/85 tanks on parade

PAVN T34's on parade (source Zaloga 1987)

3) SP AA Vehicles

Image of 3 view drawing of
ZSU-57-2 AA Tank

3 view drawing of the ZSU-57-2
(source Zaloga 1987)

Name:ZSU-57-2
Type:SP AA gun
Crew:6
Vehicle Range:400 km
Max. Speed:48 km/h
Fording:1.4 m
Vertical Obstacle:.8 m
Gap Crossing:2.7 m
Armament:2 x 57mm S-68 AA guns
Armour:Glacis 15mm @ 60 Deg.; upper hull side 15mm at 0 Deg.; mantlet 15mm.
Notes:Developed from the T55 series, the ZSU-57-2 has one less road wheel per side. Lacking radar its ability to attack high-speed aircraft is limited. Encountered occasionally in the south during and after the 1972 "Easter Offensive" the vehicle was a formidable opponent for lightly armed forces.

Image of Soviet ZSU-57-2

A Soviet ZSU-57-2 at work (source Foss 1976)

Image of PAVN ZSU-57-2

ZSU-57-2 move south as part of the 1975 Offensive (source Dunstan 1982)

Image of PAVN ZSU-57-2 knocked
out, 1972

A ZSU-57-2 knocked out during the 1972 "Easter Offensive" (source Zaloga 1987)

Image of 3 view drawing of Type
63 AA Tank

Three view drawing of Type 63 SP AA Tank
(source AFVG2 1977)

Name:Type 63 AA Tank
Type:SP AA Gun
Crew:6
Vehicle Range:300 km
Max. Speed:50 km/h
Fording:1.32 m
Vertical Obstacle:.73 m
Gap Crossing:2.5 m
Armament:2 x 37mm Type 63 AA guns
Armour:Glacis plate - 45-47mm @ 60 Deg.; Hull sides - 45-47mm @ 40 Deg; and 90 Deg.; Hull rear - 47mm @ 50 Deg.; Mantlet - 15mm; Turret sides - 15mm; Turret rear - 15mm;
Notes:A Chinese or Vietnamese attempt (no one is quite sure) to prove a cheaper alternative to the ZSU-57-2 this vehicle was a rough conversion of a T34 hull with a new turret mounting twin 37mm AA guns added. One example was captured by ARVN troops during the 1972 "Easter Offensive".

Image of PAVN Type 37 AA Tank

Type 63 SPAA tank captured by ARVN troops 1972 (source AFVG2 1977)

 

Bibliography

 

`A Chinese Communist Anti-Aircraft Tank', AFV G2, Vol.5, No.12, May-June 1977.

Caiti, P., (Trans. Riccio, R.A.) Modern Armour: The World's battle tanks today, Arms & Armour Press, London, 1978.

Foss, C.F., Jane's World Armored Fighting Vehicles, McDonald & Jane's, London, 1976.

Handel, P., Balin, G., ` The Chi-Com K-63 Armored Personal Carrier', AFV News, Vol.14, No.2, 1979.

Royal Australian Armored Corps, An Illustrated Record of the Royal Australian Armored Corps Tank Museum Puckapunyal, Victoria, 1977.

Zaloga, S.J., Modern Soviet Armour, Arms and Armour Press, London, 1979.

Zaloga, S.J., `New Chinese AFV's Unveiled', AFV News, Vol.18, No.1, 1983.

Zaloga, S.J., & Grandsen, J., Soviet Tanks and Combat Vehicles of World War Two, Arms and Armour Press, London, 1984.

Zaloga, S.J., & Loop, J.W., Soviet Tanks and Combat Vehicles 1946 to the Present, Arms and Armour Press, London, 1987.

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