Type 59 Main Battle Tank : People's Republic of China

Accession Number REL/10941
Collection type Technology
Object type Vehicle
Physical description Rubber, Steel
Place made China
Conflict Period 1950-1959
Vietnam, 1962-1975

The Type 59 Main Battle Tank (Industrial Designator WZ120) is a Chinese copy of the Soviet T-54 MBT. The condition of the vehicle is very good overall, however, little of the original surface finish remains as the vehicle was re-furbished by Puckapunyal Area Workshops in the early 1980s. Surface corrosion caused by condensation is evident inside the hull. Canvas work on the turret has deteriorated, and the engine is firing on only 10 cylinders. The vehicle is currently on loan to the RAAC Tank Museum, Puckapunyal.

History / Summary

The vehicle type was manufactured between 1957 and 1983 and has seen extensive service with many countries including Nth Vietnam during the latter stages of the Vietnam conflict. This tank was procured by the Australian Technical Intelligence Officer in South Vietnam, Major Jim Ellis, from Military Region 1 in South Vietnam in August 1972. It had been previously captured by the 8th Battalion, 3rd Brigade, Airborne Division ARVN at Hai-Lang, Quang Tri Province on 4/7/72. It is known that the North Vietnamese 201st and 202nd Armoured Regiments were involved in operations in this area at the time. The Type 59, along with a YW531 APC, were transported to Da Nang, where they were formally presented to the Government of Australia in a ceremony on 1 September 1972, before being loaded aboard the Army Ship John Monash for transport back to Australia.