The Type 59 was fielded with a 100mm main gun with later models being seen with a laser rangefinder mounted atop the gun. Both commander and loader were given cupola positions with the loader operating the heavy caliber 12.7mm anti-aircraft gun mounted in the turret. The commander was also given a smaller caliber 7.62mm machine gun for anti-personnel use. Still another 7.62mm machine gun was mounted in a fixed forward coaxial position, this one operated by the gunner. The driver sat front left and some ready-to-use ammunition was sported to his right. Smoke could be generated by introducing raw diesel fuel into the exhaust, thusly no smoke grenades are mounted.
The Type 59 chassis produced a series of variants, showing off the versatility of the base system. Variants included improved Type 59 models, armored recovery vehicles and models featuring explosive reactive armor for added crew protection.