[Would you like to see this in-game?]
TL;DR: The most recent development of the PLZ-45 equipped with a fully automatic loader and a lot of cosmetic drip.
Sometime during the 1970s, Gerald Bull, a Canadian-American weapons engineer, designed and produced the GC-45 155mm towed howitzer under his own company known as the Space Research Corporation. This weapon would attract the attention of Noricum, the arms division of the Austrian steel company Voest-Alpine. With Gerald’s help, Noricum would improve the design to allow it to be mass produced easier. This improved version would be called the GHN-45 and would soon enter service with the Iraqi military during the Persian Gulf War and used with great success as their range was superior to anything the Coalition could field. This, understandably, caught the attention of China who very much wanted to get their hands on this weapon system. This wouldn’t be possible for a little while, however, as Gerald Bull was currently serving a year in prison for exporting 30,000 155mm artillery shells, 2 gun barrels, and a radar tracking system to South Africa, which was a violation of the UN Arms Embargo on South Africa. His sentence would be suspended after 6 months, however, and Gerald soon received a call from China, who had been watching and detailing him thoroughly, having collected all of his academic papers dating back to the early 1950s. Through him, NORINCO would acquire the production rights to the GHN-45, which they would produce under the name of PLL-01, entering service in 1987. Immediately, a number of Chinese factories began looking into ways to better motorize the cannon, primarily for the export market. Their efforts would eventually be passed to NORINCO who would produce the PLZ-45, China’s first tracked NATO standard 155mm entry into the export market. To facilitate faster operation of the 155mm cannon, a semi automatic loader was installed, allowing for maximum fire-rate of 5 rounds per minute. Even though the PLZ-45 was mainly intended for the export market, a small number of them still managed to worm their way into Chinese service with troops in the Beijing Military District. This marked China’s first step toward switching to the 155mm NATO standard. In 2022, a new variant of the PLZ-45 would be displayed at the World Defense Show 2022 in Saudi Arabia under the name of PLZ-45A4. This version of the PLZ-45 would be equipped with a fully automatic loader capable of an estimated fire-rate of 8 rounds per minute. This version still features the old PLL-01 45 caliber 155mm howitzer, a cannon which is very outdated in 2022 as its range in inferior to most of its contemporaries. To combat this, a new modular charge system was developed and installed. This allowed the PLL-01 to have a similar range to longer and more powerful cannons. In addition to this, the PLZ-45A4 received an number of visually impressive cosmetic additions.
Now that you’re aware of the PLZ-45A4, you may be wondering where versions A1 through A3 went. Well, designations A1, A2, and A3 were actually assigned to the PLZ-45 purchased by Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Algeria respectively. As far as I can find, there were no differences between these models, however, they would make good direct premium equivalents to the standard PLZ-45 or could be added in another/other tree(s).
Place In War Thunder:
Direct-fire capable SPHs are slowly, but surely, becoming a well established vehicle class in War Thunder. These vehicles are often large and clumsy, however, their firepower is nothing to sneeze at. As every in-game nation has access to at least one of these vehicle, it is only logical that every in-game nation should have access to their unique playstyles. China has countless SPHs to choose from and the PLZ-45A4 would give China a pseudo-counterpart to the Swedish Bandkanon 1C and complement the standard PLZ-45 if it were to be added. This vehicle would also add some unique and indigenous Chinese spice to China’s rather boring tank destroyer line. That being said, unlike the PLZ-45, the PLZ-45A4 is currently not a Chinese service vehicle and likely won’t be since the PLA already has the PLZ-05. This means that it’s likely to come in as either a premium or squadron vehicle.
Armament: PLL-01 155mm howitzer and 1x 12.7mm HMG
Dimensions: 10.52m, 3.30m, 2.60m (L,W,H)
Armor: Proof against small arms fire and artillery splinters
Ammunition: HE, HE-FRAG, Smoke, and Illumination (As well as any NATO standard 155mm ammunition)
PLZ-45 - Wikipedia
Gerald Bull - Wikipedia
GC-45 howitzer - Wikipedia
SRS GC-45 / Noricum GHN-45