Compared to the previous ones, the scale of the National Day military parade of 1959 was larger and its preparation work started relatively earlier. At that time, Tiananmen Square had already been rebuilt and expanded by 2.5 times to a total size of 400,000 square meters. The grand Tiananmen Rostrum was at the north of the square, while the Museum of Chinese History and the Great Hall of the People were at the east and west respectively, while the Monument to the People's Heroes towered over the due south of the square, making the scenes of this parade more grandiose and magnificent. Mao Zedong personally examined and approved the parade plan. The divisions including a motor tricycle division, a ground artillery division and an anti-craft gun division with a caliber of less than 100mm were excluded from this parade, while the number of soldiers in each row in divisions on foot increased from 20 to 24, with the total reviewed soldiers increasing by one-third. The reviewed troops consisted of 15 divisions formed by various soldiers on foot, 14 vehicle divisions and 6 flight echelons. The divisions formed by soldiers on foot included those formed by military colleges such as the PLA Military College, Shijiazhuang Infantry School, Zhengzhou Artillery School, Nanjing Engineer School, No. 1 Tank School, Shijiazhuang Railway School, Shenyang Aviation School and Dalian Navy Commanding School. The divisions formed by soldiers on foot also included a marine division formed by soldiers from the navy Changshan fortress command, and an infantry division formed by soldiers from three field armies of Beijing Military Area Command.
The vehicle divisions included: two motorized infantry divisions formed by Beijing Military Area Command, one parachute division formed by the airborne force training division of the PLA air force, one division formed by 122mm and 152mm howitzers from the artillery of Beijing Military Area Command, one division formed by 100mm anti-craft guns as well as radar-guided searchlights from the anti-craft gun division and the radar-guided searchlight regiment of Beijing Military Area Command air force, one division formed by 122mm canons from the artillery of the Shenyang Military Area Command, one division formed by 130mm gun howitzers from the artillery of the Wuhan Military Area Command, one division formed by medium tanks, heavy tanks, and 152mm self-propelled guns from the independent tank regiment of Beijing Military Area Command, one division formed by 100mm self-propelled gun from a garrison division of Shenyang Military Area Command.
The flight echelons were formed by one bomber division, four fighter divisions and advanced aviation schools, with 155 planes in total. The reviewed flight altitude was lowered by between 100 meters and 150 meters.
The weapons and equipment in this parade were basically domestically-made. Of the six types of artillery, five were made in China. The Type 59 medium tanks equipped by the armor division were made in China, and this type of tank was the first generation of main battle tanks independently made in China. The design was approved, the production launched and the troops equipped with this type of tanks in the same year, ending China's history of being unable to produce tanks. The reviewed fighter division was an echelon formed by J-5 fighters. The latest type of automatic rifles used by the reviewed troops was also independently made in China. This meant that the modernization of the PLA's weapons and equipment had entered a new stage.
The National Day military parade of 1959 was the 11th National Day military parade of New China and was attended by 700,000 people from all walks of life - more than any of the previous National Day ceremonies. The number of reviewed officers and soldiers was 11,018. The scale of this ceremony was larger than that of previous ones, but it took just 58 minutes, indicating that the parade organization work was more careful, considerate and mature.
This parade happened to be held after the Lushan meeting when Lin Biao replaced Peng Dehuai as Minister of National Defense and was appointed as the parade Commander, while Yang Yong became the parade director.
In September, 1960, the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, following the principle of building the country through diligence and thrift, reformed the National Day celebration system and decided "to celebrate on a small scale every five years while celebrating on a large scale with military parades every ten years". Parade provisions appeared for the first time in the PLA Formation Regulations issued by the Ministry of National Defense in 1964. However, guided by left-leaning erroneous ideas, military parades were denounced as formalism, so not only were the National Day military parade cancelled, even internal PLA parades were revoked.
(Source: CCTV June 17, 2009)