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Y-8 (Yunshu-8, or Yun-8)

The Y-8 is a medium size medium range tranport aircraft produced by Shanxi Aircraft Company. The Shaanxi Y-8 (Yunshu-8, or Yun-8) is a version of the Russian Antonov An-12 built in China. In 1960, China acquired a small number of AN-12 propeller aircraft. Development of a licensed copy of An-12, named Y-8, was undertaken by Xi'an Aircraft Company and Xi'an Aircraft Design Institute (for a time the first China Aviation Industry Corporation (AVICI) first aircraft Institute).

The prototype [built from Soviet manufactured spare parts] flew for the first time on 15 December 1974 [other accounts related that the Y-8 is unlicensed, and was designed off a handful of An-12 examples in 1968/69 during the height of the Sino-Soviet border wars]. Later on, the production was rescheduled Y-8 to Shanxi Hanzhong (Hanzhong) new aircraft manufacturing company. Manufactured in Hanzhong Y-8 (prototype # 2) in December 1975. Aircraft design was complete in 1980, and testing and batch production began in 1981. By 1986 a total of 25 Y-8s had been produced and delivered to the military Services and airlines and have become an important force in Chinese air transportation, and by 2010 at least 100 examples were believed to be in Chinese service, in civil and military roles.

The Y8 aircraft is a multi-purpose, middle-range and middle-sized transport. It is an aircraft of all-metal semi-monocoque structure with cantilever high wing, retractable nose wheel landing gear. The main landing gear is of quadricylce type with low-pressure tire and new disc brake mechanism to ensure flexible and safe retraction and extension of landing gear. The Y8 aircraft is equipped with four turboprop engines, which keep constant speed and can conduct feathering and unfeathering. The aircraft is also equipped with advanced instruments, communication system and navigation systen to ensure safe flight in all weathers day and night. It can safely take off and land on such unprepared fields as grass land, snow land and gravel land, etc. The Y8 aircraft can be widely used for air transport,air dropping, parachuting and so on.

Powered by 4 WJ6 turboprop engines, the Y-8 is capable of carrying troops, dropping supplies, parachute drops, and functioning as an air ambulance. It also can be used for commercial uses as a freighter. The Y-8 fore fuselage is a pressurized compartment for the air crew as is the rear section for the gunner. The central section is unpressurized and is designed to carry cargo. The Y-8's maximum speed is 662 km / h, has a service ceiling of 10.4 km, and a maximum range of 5,615 km. It is capable of hauling 20 tons off cargo, 96 soldiers, or 82 paratroopers. It can also carry 60 severely wounded soldiers with their stretchers, 20 slightly injured soldiers and 3 medical attendants.

Major features of the Y-8 included a fuselage in some respecst said to be similar to the H-6 bomber, the same bomber's nose radome and tail turret, a roller-type dropping device instead of conveyer belt, and a gaseous oxygen system as opposed to a liquid system. The wings are high-mounted with drooping outer wing panels, back-tapered leading edges, straight trailing edges, and blunt tips. Four turboprop engines are mounted under the wings' leading edges. The fuselage consists of a round, slender body with stepped cockpit and glassed-in nose. Landing gear pods bulge at lower body midsection. Upswept rear section. The tail flats are unequally tapered with blunt tips and mounted high on the fuselage. Fin is tapered with a blunt tip and a step in the leading edge. Two 23-mm guns in tail turret. It is a fully pressurized aircraft equipped with four turboprops and tricycle landing gears with low pressure tires and disc brake system. Its spacious cargo compartment can accommodate out-sized cargo.

The Y-8 is both a military and a commercial transport powered by 4 WJ6 turboprops. It is of an all-metal structure and a monoplane with a high-set wing. The fore fuselage and tail section are pressurized and the central fuselage is a cargo compartment with a volume of 123.3 cubic meters. The typical payload are as follows: bulk cargos 20,000 kg; containerized cargos 16,000 kg; 96 troops; 58 paratroops; 60 severely wounded and 20 slightly wounded troops and 3 attendants; two "Liberation" brand trucks.

The Air Force's transportation troops were successively set up since the founding of new China. But in the following ten years and more the equipment they used mainly were American transports captured during the Liberation War and purchased Soviet transports and they could neither meet the needs of the practical war and training nor the civil transportation and emergency and disaster relief uses. The need for a medium / large transport in national defence and economy was increasingly urgent.

Responding to the increasing demands of the military and the commercial sector, the Xi'an Aircraft Factory petitioned the Chinese government to begin trial production of a medium-sized, medium-range aircraft in 1967. The development of a medium / large transport was an important objective of the aviation industry's Third Five-year Plan. The task of developing the medium transport was assigned to the Xi'an Aircraft Factory by the MAI in December 1968, and it was designated the Y-8. The Factory organized a design team of 570 persons in early 1969 and part of them came from other aircraft factories and design institutes. The design team began their intense work immediately.

It took two years and four months to finish the design. A complete set of drawings, specifications and analysis reports were released in February 1972. The parts production and assembly activities began soon afterwards. The Y-8 transport aircraft was put into trial production in the Xi'an Aircraft Factory in June 1972. On December 10, 1974 the final assembly of first Y-8 was completed. Li Jingrui and his air crew flew the Y-8 for its first time on December 25. The flight lasted 26 minutes and the flying altitude was 6,000 m. It exhibited good controllability and normal functions of all the systems.

Following trial production of the first Y-8s, in 1972 the MAI decided to transfer the Y-8 production to the Shaanxi Aircraft Factory which was located in Shaannan (southern part of the Shaanxi province). The factory was constructed as a transport airplane production base in the "third line" ( inland ) area since the mid-1960s and had had certain capability of prototype production. On December 29, 1975 a Y-8 built by the Shaanxi Aircraft Factory also made its first flight with the help from the Xi'an Aircraft Factory. After 66 flights amounting to 100 flying hours, the Y-8 was officially certified for use by the Chinese government. The Y-8 full size static test was completed on September 25, 1976 and the type design was formally certificated for serial production in February 1980.

The Y-8 has the advantages of long range, high speed and low fuel consumption. On June 30, 1984 two fully loaded Y-8s successfully flew to Lhasa from Chengdu for its first time and exhibited its capability to withstand the severe plateau weather. On the eve of the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Tibet Autonomous Region in August 1985 the MAI sent 40,000 kg various commodity to Tibet by two Y-8s and it was warmly welcomed by the local government and people.

The safety of the Y-8 experienced a severe test when Xu Guocun and his crew successfully made a flight test with one engine inoperative in May 1985. It proved that the Y-8 could still takeoff and land normally when one of the engines was inoperative or damaged. The success of the flight test marked a breakthrough in flight test with one engine out for a heavy and multi-engines Chinese transport.



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