Type 69 is a Main Battle Tank /MBT/and a Chinese built, improved and developed copy of T-54 /Type 59/. As with their reverse-engineered MiG-21, Chinese added some improvements, which made the Russian version somewhat inferior, however the production came a little bit too late to be a competitive design. The improvements of Type 69 featured new rifled gun, which was more accurate than the smooth bore one, new FCS /Firing Control System/, improved NBC /Nuclear, Biological, Chemical/ protection, new laser rangefinder and ballistic computer. The engine was different too – more powerful, with better fuel injection and more reliable.
In the first Gulf War and in Iran-Iraq war before it, Iraqis used Type 69 II to extensively and some of those were modified in Enigma vehicles, which you might find described if you scroll down in my recent posts. It proved to be obsolete concept, but nevertheless it is still used in respectable numbers in other armies in the World.
Since 1982, when it entered service around 3000 were built, half of those being part of Iraqi army. Others went to Myanmar, some in Chinese army, Bangladesh, Sudan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Pakistan, Zimbabwe and Iran. Although in modest numbers, which was because it was already old design when released, Type 69 is very important subject for modelers for its unusual camouflage schemes, many battle-in improvements and various destruction pictures.
With all that said, it is exciting that Takom announced, just a week after the 25th Anniversary of the Gulf War end, that they are releasing Type 69 II in 35th scale. Many speculated that this would be their next hit, and many others asked about it. Well, it is a fact now!
It is not very clear when it will hit the shelves but it should be before the summer. Alongside with Type 69 II, Takom are releasing T-54B, which was also a missing kit with a decent tooling, and they obviously decided to fill the gap quickly, before Trumpeter release of their promised new toolings of T-54 and T-55 tanks. They most likely will include Type 59, Type 69 I and II and eventually Type 79. But that is still on paper, so we can only wait.
For me the release of Type 69 II is very exciting news, because I like to build destroyed soviet vehicles, especially those who fought in rather cynic wars as Afghanistan and Gulf War. I have plans for that Type 69 II, similar to my War Ghost project, but I haven’t yet finalized the idea. Not before I crack the box and see the minor details and the tracks. So far Takom gave us mostly goodies, and I bet that those T-55 series is gonna rock for the years to come!