ZTZ 59G: Turning old into new

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Hello everyone and welcome to the suggestion for a Chinese tank, the ZTZ 59G, not to be confused with the more modern variant bearing the same name that was shown in 2019 (suggestion here).

The ZTZ59G is an extensive upgrade to widely used Type 59 tank. The latter having started production in 1959. As many nations have acquired the Type 59, the market for further upgrades of this type is also sizeable. After all, a wholly new MBT is a lot more expensive than modernizing an older one.
Thus the ZTZ59G was aimed entirely at the export market, China instead chose to invest in entirely new platforms like the ZTZ96 & 99.
The choice to develop entirely new platforms and technologies allows them to retroactively apply these to older vehicles, in an attempt to keep them relevant in the modern day, and that is exactly what happened in the case of the ZTZ59G. Development of the vehicle appears to have started somewhere in the early 2010s, with the first official announcements of the program being released in September of 2013. The first production vehicles appeared on a parade in Tanzania the same year, as the African country became the first user of the type.
The most prominent upgrade featured on the vehicle can be found in the turret. This is no longer the rounded cast turret that can be found on the earlier variants of the ZTZ59, instead it is a welded model. The turret is heavily inspired by modern Chinese MBTs such as the ZTZ96A or ZTZ99, featuring a similar arrowhead setup, covered by FY-4 ERA blocks. The main gun has also been upgraded to a 125mm smoothbore cannon, giving it a considerable boost in firepower. With the information I currently have, it seems to retains the fourth crew member as a loader, and thus not having an autoloader like the ZTZ96 & 99. The new turret also comes with upgraded fire control systems like those that can be found on the latest ZTZ96 variants.
Just like the turret, the hull has also received some upgrades, though these are nowhere near as extensive as the turret. New side-skirts with possibly integrated ERA have been fitted, and the armor protection on the front has also been improved with more ERA.
One part of the ZTZ59G whose upgrade is unclear to me is the engine. Several sources conflict over this topic to such a degree that I really have no idea which one to believe. According to some sources, the production versions of the ZTZ59G in service with Chad and Tanzania both retain the original 520 hp engine, giving the now 43 ton vehicle a rather appalling power-to-weight ration of <13 hp/ton. Other sources contradict this and say that the vehicles do have upgraded engines, mentioning that they have the 730 - 800 hp engine that can be found on the ZTZ96/96A, which would give the vehicle respectable performance.
(Opinion warning) I think that the engine on the vehicle has actually been upgraded to the same one as on the ZTZ96. I have based the opinion on the redesign of the rear hull. This looks entirely different than on earlier ZTZ59 models, and more importantly, it features the same exhaust system as the one found on the ZTZ96 tank.


The ZTZ59G did find a couple of users on the export market. The type seems to have been adopted by Chad and Tanzania, where they have been spotted sporadically. Bangladesh has also started an upgrade program to bring its existing fleet of ZTZ59 tanks to the 59G standard, though this standard differs a bit from the 59G as used by Tanzania and Chad.

General characteristics:

  • Crew: 3 (if the vehicle has an autoloader) or 4.
  • Length: 8.5 m
  • Width: 3.3 m
  • Height: 2.4 m
  • Weight: 41 - 43 tons
  • Powerplant: 520 hp engine or 730 hp engine
  • Power-to-weight: 12-17 hp/ton
  • Maximum speed: 50 km/h


  • Main armament: 1x 125mm smoothbore cannon (APFSDS, HE and HE-VT available as ammo types)
  • Coaxial armament: 1x 7.62 mm machine gun
  • Hatch-mounted armament: 1x 12.7 mm machine gun on commander’s hatch.

The ZTZ59G is a curious combination between old and new, featuring the bones of a 50s tank combined with very modern technologies, leading to very capable vehicle with very present shortcomings. Performance of this vehicle will depend a lot on the engine that it actually comes equipped with. If it is the 730 hp engine that I suspect, then the vehicle will be somewhat similar in mobility as the ZTZ96, if not, then it is a rather immobile tank that might struggle to get around the battlefield. Another department where the vehicle will probably struggle is armor. The turret with its composite and ERA armor will most likely hold up well, but the hull has its limits. Vehicles at its BR will probably have little to no issue going through it at most angles.
On the other hand, the ZTZ59G comes with a very potent armament in the 125mm smoothbore cannon. This cannon would most likely be coupled with the type 1985-I APFSDS shell, giving it 466mm of penetration. More than enough to deal with most tanks that can be found in the game. Additionally, the 59G comes equipped with a very modern FCS, which features high-resolution thermal sights alongside the usual laser rangefinder and automated ballistics computer.
All these items combined would most likely result in a vehicle that would benefit most from long-range engagements, where it can use its excellent FCS to spot and engage targets before they can respond. In close quarters combat, the vehicle might have to be played more carefully, resorting to support roles, as your outdated armor will make you vulnerable to being sent back to the hangar quickly.
I believe that this vehicle could make a great addition to a Chinese lineup in the 9.3-9.7 range. These lineups are currently very small, and could greatly benefit from receiving some extra vehicles.


Type 59 / WZ-120 Medium Tank - Variants
Type 59 main battle tank - Chiese pLA (1958)
Army Guide
ODIN - OE Data Integration Network
Chinese Tanks & AFVs of the cold war
聊一聊ZTZ-59主战坦克的后起之秀——59D、59P和59G - 哔哩哔哩
59식 전차 - 나무위키


+1 dawg think he a ZTZ-96 😭


I remember reading that none of the Type 59G 125mm cannon upgrade have autoloader due to smaller turret size
Also there is possibility that for the earlier variants of 59G liike the one you are suggesting, the turret may not have composite armor, but is just steel armor wrapped around the original cast turret (somewhat like the Jaguar MBT)

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这型是有复合装甲的, 虽然是外挂式但并非铁架加爆反
they have composite armor on turret and hull, and hull can carry the FY2 ERA on the side.


+1,in tech tree

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Yeah I’ve read those claims too, but I couldn’t really find anything substantial to back them up with, hence why I chose to just leave it undecided.

Our Type 59 upgrade gets a semi auto loader.

Pakistan’s Al Zarrar tank probably gets a similar semi auto loader.
We can expect this one to have a similar loading system as well.

Back in 2009 Bangladeshi upgraded Type59s had the same turret I think.




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Oh that’s curious, doesn’t match at all with the 2013 release date of the project I found.

Do you know why some websites called it Poly Type 59P?

Although the export of military products in China is mostly the business of NORINCO. But in fact, the Poly Technology also supplies military products, the tank with the poly upgrade kit was called 59P. In fact, many of the 59Gs we see are upgrades from Poly technology, and VT-3 actally was ZTZ99’s export verson.

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what do i name this boy now???

i think because its an in house bengali upgrade (in contrast to the vehicles shipped directly from china) ill call it the ZTZ-59GB?

Keep it as it is. It’s the best name for it.

So that means the VT-3 we see on the internet is actually a wrong tank? How did the export ZTZ99 look like? Same as the original one?

Is ZTZ 59G actually made by NORINCO or Poly?

Feels kinda wrong though but OK

The VT3 was an export-oriented ZTZ99 that never had good sales prospects so was never advertised or demonstrated and was immediately replaced by the VT4 in the catalogue.
The Type 59G that are commonly misidentified as VT3 are products of Polytech who don’t even have the right to use the “VT” trademark since it’s owned by Norinco.

In simple terms, Norinco provides tanks and Polytech provides upgrade kits.




I’ve removed the mentions of VT3 from the post. If there’s any other certainly wrong information, let me know so I can rectify it!
Thanks already for all the information and discussion guys!

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+1 to this immortal legend, I just hope it doesn’t retain the T-54A’s horrendously underpowered single axis stabilizer

Also found this footage that pretty much confirms the presence of a manual loader (I like how the gunner needs to sit on the turret roof because the T-54s don’t have a dedicated gunner’s hatch)

Edit: addendum

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