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What Role Did Chinese Armor Play in the Korean War?

Originally published under Ask Mr. History. Published Online: May 06, 2014 
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Did the Red Chinese Army have any armor when it entered the Korean Conflict and, if so, what part did it play?


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Dear Albert,

Tanks generally played a support role throughout the Korea War, mainly as mobile artillery. The terrain seldom lent itself to tank battles. After North Korea lost most of the 400 T-34/85 tanks and SU-76 self-propelled guns with which it had started the war, China made it up with some Type 58s, as they called the T-34/85s they produced. They also claimed to have destroyed some American tanks late in the war. On the whole, however, the U.S. Army recorded only 119 tanks-versus-tank encounters and that 38 American tanks were lost to enemy armor in the course of the conflict. Both sides lost considerably more to rockets, artillery, mines or other means.

While tanks sometimes provided them with some useful gun support, they were a relative rarity in what was primarily a light infantry army.



Jon Guttman
Research Director
Weider History Group
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