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One of the more difficult problems the PLAAF faced in the beginning was how to handle the aviation industry which in 1949 was composed mainly of 32 military aircraft maintenance facilities and 4,700 workers. The Air Force initially proposed that it would transfer to the Ministry of Heavy Industry those factories which had a manufacturing capability. It was soon evident that repair and maintenance functions could not be separated from manufacturing. The PLAAF eventually surrendered most of the factories with the understanding that it could take back some of them once the aviation industry began to develop. It did precisely that between 1955 and 1957 when it resumed control of six repair factories. 

Soviet civilian aeronautical assistance eventually led to the formation of the Third Ministry of Machine Industry (sanji bu or 3rd MMI). Its primary task was the manufacture of military aircraft, although in principle the 3rd MMI also proposed to make civilian aircraft. For many years, however, its only client was the PLAAF. Because of the early Soviet influence, coupled with China's political and economic position in the world during the 1960 and 1970s, virtually every aircraft in the PLAAF's inventory today is a copy of a Soviet aircraft. 


From the beginning of the People's Republic, the PLAAF and Ministry of Aviation Industry have had an intertwined relationship. For example, one of the Aviation Ministry Bureau's first Deputy Directors was PLAAF Deputy Commander Wang Bi, while another Deputy Commander, Xue Shaoqing, was a Vice Minister of the Ministry of Aviation Industry in the early 1960s. This trend continued in the 1980s, when former PLAAF test pilot and hero Wang Ang was a Vice Minister. Shown below is a short history of the Ministry of Aviation Industry's early years: 

- In April 1951, the Ministry of Heavy Industry established the Aviation Industry Bureau/4th Bureau (hangkong gongye ju/di 4 Ju) in Shenyang. This bureau moved to Beijing in April 1952. 

- In April 1952, the 2nd Ministry of Machinery Industry (erji bu) was established and the Aviation Industry Bureau/4th Bureau moved to this Ministry as the 4th Bureau. 

- In 1950, the PLAAF transferred 16 repair factories to the Aviation Industry Bureau. In September 1956, the decision was made to transfer the repair of all aircraft from the Aviation Industry Bureau back to the PLAAF. This was completed by 1958. 

- In February 1958, the 1st, 2nd, and Electronics Industry Ministries merged as the 1st Ministry of Machine Industry. The Aviation Industry Bureau/4th Bureau changed from the 2nd to the 1st Ministry.

- In December 1959, the National Defense Industry Commission (guogang gongye weiyuanhui) was established. 

- In September 1960, the 1 st Ministry of Machine Industry (yiji bu) split into the 1 st and 3rd Ministry of Machine Building. The Aviation Industry Bureau/4th Bureau moved from the 1st to the 3rd Ministry. 

- In September 1963, the 3rd Ministry of Machine Industry split into the 3rd, 5th, and 6th Ministries of Machine Industry. The 3rd Ministry (sanji bu) became the Ministry of Aviation Industry. This term is still commonly used in reference to the Aviation Ministry. 

- The aviation industry did not succeed in clarifying its subordination to the State Council rather than the Air Force until early 1972. 

- The 3rd Ministry of Machine Industry was renamed the Ministry of Aviation Industry (MAI/hangkong gongye bu) during the early economic reforms of the 1980s. The change reflected a shift from primarily producing military aircraft to a marketoriented interest in manufacturing civilian aircraft and products. 

- In July 1988, the Ministry of Aviation Industry and the Ministry of Astronautics (formerly the 7th Ministry of Machine Building) merged to become the 1Vlmauy of Aero-Space Industry (MAS/hangkong hangtian gongye bu). In reality, however, they remain two separate ministries except at the highest administrative levels. 


In the 1950s, the PLAAF loaned pilots to the Aviation Industry Bureau to test fly new aircraft. In June 1956, the Flight Research Academy (feixing yanjiuyuan) was established with support from the Soviet Union. In July 1961, it changed to a Flight Research Institute (feixing yanjiusuo). In the beginning, the Research Institute belonged to the First Ministry of Machine Industry. In September 1960, it was transferred to joint control by the Third Ministry of Machine Industry, the National Defense Science Commission (guofang kewei), and the PLAAF. From August 1969 to August 1973, the PLAAF took control as the PLAAF Test Flight Base (kongjun shifei jidi), and the PLAAF formed a Test Flight Regiment lshifei tuan). In August 1973, the Test Flight Base reverted to the Third Ministry of :Va 6i., :: ~ q. Industry and changed its name back to the Test Flight Research Institute (shifei yanjiusuo). The Test Flight Regiment became subordinate to the Research Institute leadership, but the structure remained under the PLAAF. 

Between 1973 to April 1974, the PLAAF formed test flight units at the following Ministry of Aviation Industry aircraft factories: 

- Test Flight Regiment at Shenyang (112 Factory), which later became the 1st Test Flight Group (diyi shifei dadui) 

- (Probable 2nd) Test Flight Group at Harbin (122 Factory) 

- 3rd Test Flight Group at Chengdu (132 Factory) 

- (Probable 4th) Test Flight Group at Nanchang (320 Factory) 

- (Probable 5th) Test Flight Group at Anshun (162 Factory)

- The 6th Test Flight Group was later formed at the Shaanxi Aircraft Factory (182 Factory) in Hanzhong, Sichuan Province, which makes the Yun-8 

- In the late 1980s, the PLAAF Test Flight Regiment was located at the Ministry of Aerospace Industry's Flight Test Center at Yanliang


The Soviet Union also had a tremendous impact on the development of China's aviation industry. In July 1950, China bought its first batch of MIG-15s and MIG-15BISs. In December 1953, the Soviet Union agreed to give China production rights to the MIG-15Bis and YAK-18 Trainers, and the Soviets would provide the assembly kits. However, in July 1960, the Soviet Union notified China it was withdrawing all of its specialists and canceling all of its contracts. At the same time Soviet aircraft were being copied during the 1950s and 1960s, China began designing its own aircraft. 

The first batch of aircraft produced in China were copies (fangzhi) of the Soviet YAK18, which the Chinese later called the CJ-5 (chujiao-5). These were produced at Nanchang after the contract was signed in July 1954. The first PLAAF CJ-Ss were assigned to the 6th Aviation School in October 1954. Following this, Nanchang designed the CJ-6, which entered the PLAAF Aviation School inventory in 1962. 

The PLAAF's first ground attack aircraft were copies of the Soviet-produced IL-10. In 1958, Nanchang began designing a new ground attack aircraft, which was initially. called the xiongying (STC 71601751) 302, but was later changed to the Qiang-5 (A-5). The first batch entered the PLAAF inventory in December 1969. On 7 January 1972, an A-5 dropped its first nuclear weapon. 

The PLAAF's first bomber was the Soviet-produced TU-2. The first Soviet-produced IL-28 light bomber entered the inventory in October 1952, and the first TU-4 medium bomber entered the inventory in March 1953. The first Soviet-produced TU-16 medium bomber entered the PLAAF in September 1959. Thereafter, China modified the IL-28's design and produced it in Harbin as the B-5, which entered the PLAAF in August 1967. The TU-16 was modified and produced in Xian as the B-6, which entered the inventory in February 1969. 

The F-6-3, Zhi-5, and A-5 were developed during the chaotic Cultural Revolution when quality control measures completely broke down. As a result, there were numerous problems. Therefore, in November 1975, the Military Commission ordered all of these aircraft to be returned to the factory for overhaul. 


The following list shows Chinese-produced aircraft and their status as of 1990, including their NATO designator and Chinese name: 





F-5/FRESCO qianjiji-5 (qian-5) 

The Soviet Union began designing the MIG-17 in 1948, and conducted the first test flight in 1949. The aircraft entered the Soviet inventory in 1951, and production ceased in 1958. In October 1954, China ceased test production of the MIG-15BIS in favor of the 1V1IG17F. The initial contract with China included all of the plans and a majority of the equipment to assemble, then produce the MIG-17. It also included two prototypes and 48 aircraft in different phases of assembly. In April 1955, the first MIG-17F using Soviet parts began assembly in Shenyang, and immediately entered the PLAAF inventory. In April 1956, the first aircraft using Chinese-produced parts was completed . This aircraft was initially named the Type 56 fighter, but was later renamed the F-5. This aircraft conducted its first flight in August 1956. On 17 December 1958, the MIG-17P conducted its first flight, and production was approved in April 1959. Design work on the F-SJia (F-5A), which began in 1961, was approved in December 1964 and production began immediately. It took an average of 481 days to produce a single aircraft. Production shifted to Chengdu when Shenyang began producing the MIG-19/F-6. The F-5 is no longer in production.


*Please note that the spoken version of the character for fighter (Qian) is used here instead of the written form (Jian, STC 3005).


F-6/FARMER qianjiji-6 (qian-6) 

Soviet development of the MIG-19 began in 1951, test' flights were completed in 1954, and the Soviet Air Force received its first aircraft in 1955. In September 1957, the Soviets agreed to transfer production rights for the MIG-19, TU-16, and four tactical missiles to China. In April 1959, Shenyang copied the MIG-19P, but did not formally produce any aircraft. Based on PLAAF requirements, production shifted to copying the MIG-19C, with the first one finishing production in December 1963. The aircraft immediately began entering the PLAAF inventory. In December 1963, the F-6 design was approved and series production began. The PLAAF ceased procuring more F-6s in the 1970s. The F-6 included several variants: the qianzhen-6 recce variant, whose production began when the design was approved in December 1976, entered the inventory in 1971; the qianjiao-6 (FT-6) trainer variant, whose design was approved in December 1973, conducted its first flight in November 1970 and entered the inventory in 1976; the F-6-3 conducted its first flight in August 1969, but this aircraft was produced without any quality control and caused numerous accidents over a four year period, which led to several hundred being recalled for a complete overhaul; and an all weather (quan tianhou ji) variant called the F-6Jia (jia/STC 3946 equates to "A"). This aircraft conducted its first flight in December 1975, had its design finalized and entered production in January 1977, and immediately entered the PLAAF inventory. In October 1977, the decision was made to replace the F-6 with the F-7. Although the F-6 is no longer in production at Shenyang, it was being produced at a high of 50 aircraft per month at one time. 

F-7/FISHBED qianjiji-7 (qian-7) 

The Soviets began designing the MIG-21 in 1953, conducted the first test flight in 1955, and began equipping the Air Force in. 1958. Based on a 1961 agreement, the Soviets were to provide the rights to China to produce the MIG-21F-13. Between 1961-1963, the Soviets provided technical material, as well as aircraft and engine assembly kits. However, because of the political strains between the two countries, the Soviets did not provide all of the necessary technical material or parts. As a result, China decided to reverse engineer the aircraft and design its own aircraft as the F-7. Prototype F-7 production began in Shenyang in 1964, and strength testing was completed in November 1965. Current Deputy Chief of Staff, Maj Gen Ge Wenyong, conducted the first flight at Shenyang on 17 January 1966. In June 1967, the F-7 design was approved and production began. Overall, the production development phase lasted 28 months (1964-1967), which was one year longer than planned. The decision was made in 1964 to produce the F-7 at Chengdu and the recently completed Guizhou Aircraft Production Base, and to have Shenyang provide technical support. At various times, development was conducted on the F-7-1, F-7-2, F-7-3, F-7-A, F-7-B, F-7-M, and FT-7. No information is available on the F-7-A and F-7-B. 


In 1975, Chengdu began work on modifying the F-7-1 as the F-7-2. In September 1979, the F-7-2 design was approved and entered production. The Guizhou Aircraft Corporation was responsible for the interior wing fuel tanks. 


In 1981, development began at the Chengdu Aircraft Design Research Institute, the Chengdu Aircraft Corporation, and the Guizhou Aircraft Corporation on the F-7-3. The Guizhou Aircraft Corporation was responsible for producing the wings and main landing gear. In April 1984, the F-7-3 conducted its first flight. The F-7-3 was scheduled to enter series production in 1989. 


Basic export model. 


Export model modified for Pakistan. 


Export model modified for Bangladesh 

F-8/FINBACK qianjiji-8 (qian-8) 

(See Appendix D) 

F-9 qianjiji-9 (qian-9) 

Development of the canard-configured F-9 began at the Ministry of Aviation's 611 Research Institute in Chengdu in 1970. As alterations in the performance targets occurred, the F-9 underwent three different design projects. Almost 16,000 wind tunnel tests were conducted and the prototype design was completed. However, the project was canceled in 1979. 



F-11 qianjiji-11 (qian-11) 

Fighter/Trainer developed at Shenyang in 1970s. No.ah'craft produced. 

F-12 qianjiji-12 (qian-12) 

Developed at Nanchang in 1970s. Six aircraft produced but not deployed. First flight at Nanchang 26 December 1970. Two of the aircraft are on display at the Aviation Museum near Shahezhen Airfield, located just north of Beijing. 

F-13 qianjiji-13 (qian-13) 

Aircraft developed in 1970s at Shenyang to compete with the F-9. No production aircraft produced. 

New fighter xinjian 

Swept-wing aircraft under development at an unidentified location. Wing settings of 25, 45, 68, degrees. Smaller than MIG-23. 

Sabre-II peidao er 

A proposed joint F-7 modification project at Chengdu with Pakistan and U.S. in the late 1980s. 

Super-7 chaoqian-7 

Follow-up to Sabre-II. 



A-5/FANTAN qiangjiji-5 (qiang-5) 

Initial design work on the A-5 began in 1958, during the Great Leap Forward. . Following many setbacks, the first flight was conducted at Nanchang on 4 June 1965. At various times, A-5 modifications have included the A-5-1, A-S-1A and A-5-3. In 1970, Nanchang completed several A-Ss equipped to drop nuclear weapons, and 7 January 1972, an A-5 dropped a nuclear weapon. This aircraft is on display at the Aviation Museum next to Beijing Shahezhen airfield. Development of a longer range A-5, the A-5-1, began in 1976, and the first flight was conducted in 1980. The A-5-1 design was finally approved on 31 December 1983. The A-S-IA had four further modifications to the A-5-1, and had its design approved in January 1985. The A-5-3 has 32 changes to the r'~ ~5-1. The basic A-S-3 contract was signed in April 1981, and the technical evaluation was completed in January 1983. Three prototypes were produced, and a total of 130 sorties and 102 hours were flown. 

A-5K qiangjiji-5 (K = kongjun/Air Force) 

Two PLAAF A-5-2s being modified with FrenclvCSF Thomson laser rangefinder/avionics for the PLAAF at Hangzhou Jianqiao airfield.


Basic export model. New modification with Aeritalia radar rangefinder and avionics. First aircraft crashed in October 1988.


FT-5 qianji jiaolianji-5 (qianjiao-5) 

The decision to produce the FT-5, which is a trainer variant of the F-5, was approved in January 1965. In December 1966, the FT-5's design was approved and production began. The aircraft is still in production at Chengdu. 

FT-7 qianji jiaolianji-7 (qianjiao-7) 

The FT-7 is based on the Guizhou Aircraft Corporation's work on the F-7-2. The theoretical evaluation began in 1979, and met the tactical and technical requirements in 1981. The design drawings were completed in 1983, and development production began. Strength testing was completed in June 1985, and the first test flight was on 5 July 1985. The aircraft is produced at Anshun, Guizhou Province. 

L-8/K-8 Trainer chuji penqi jiaolianji-8 

Trainer under development with Pakistan at Nanchang. The Chinese designator L-8 (Lian-8) means trainer. The Pakistani designator K-8 stands for the Karakoram Mountain range which lies between Pakistan and China. 


B-5/BEAGLE hongzhaji-5 (hong-5) 

The Soviets first flew the IL-28 in 1947, and began equipping the Air Force in 1950. In 1963, the Harbin Aircraft Corporation began developing the B-5, based on repair drawings of the IL-28. The first aircraft was completed in 1966, and the first flight took place on 25 September 1966. Series production began in April 1967. The B-5 is no longer in production but a total of 424 were produced at Harbin.

 B-6/BADGER hongzhaji-6 (hong-6)

 The Soviets began development of the TU-16 in 1950, conducted the first flight in 1952, and began equipping its forces in 1955. In 1956, the Soviets and Chinese signed a contract to build a medium bomber factory at Xian, and in September 1957, the Soviets gave China the rights to produce the TU-16. In February 1959, the Soviets turned over the plans for the TU-16, as well as two aircraft and one unassembled aircraft to Harbin, where the first flight took place in September 1959. The Xian production facility was completed in 1961, and the TU-16 production capability was transferred there from Harbin between 1962-1964. Strength tests of the first indigenously-produced B-6 were completed in October 1966, and the first test flight took place on 24 December 1968. The B-6 entered series production in 1969. Development of the B-6D (B-6 ding, STC 0002) began in 1975, and the first flight took place on 29 August 1981. On 6 December 1981, it conducted telemetered bomb tests at a bomb range, and conducted live testing at the end of 1983.

 B-7/FB-7 hongzhaji-7/qianjiji hongzhaji-7


 Fixed wing fighter-bomber under development at Xian Yanliang for the PLA Navy.

 SH-5 shuihong-5

 Four turboprop engine bomber amphibian produced at Harbin. In service with PLA Navy. 


Y-5/COLT yunshuji-5 (yun-5) 

In March 1958, the design for the Y-5, which is a reverse-engineered AN-2, was approved and series production began. A total of 949 were produced at Shijiazhuang from 1958 until production ceased in 1986.

 Y-5B yunshuji-5B (yun-5B)

 Under development at Shijiazhuang aircraft factory. Production was scheduled to begin in 1989. 

Y-6 yunshuji-6 (yun-6) 

24-32 seat transport developed but not produced in 1960s at Nanchang. 

Y-7/COKE yunshuji-7 (yun-7) 

Short range, twin turboprop, 52 passenger. Reverse engineered AN-24 in series production at Xian. First test flight on 25 December 1970. 

Y-8/CUB yunshuji-8 (yun-8) 

Y-8 development began in 1969. In December 1974, the Y-8 conducted its first flight at the Xian Aircraft Factory. In December 1975, the Y-8 conducted its first flight at the Shaanxi Aircraft Factory in Hanzhong, Sichuan Province. In February 1980, the Y-8 design was finalized and production began. In May 1984, the Y-8 conducted its first flight from Chengdu to Lhasa. The Y-8 is a medium range, four turboprop, passenger or cargo, which is a reverse engineered AN-12. 

Y-9 yunshuji-9 (yun-9) 

Large, military transport developed in late 1960s but not produced. 

Y-10 yunshuji-10 (yun-10) 

B707 look-alike at Shanghai. First flight on 26 September 1980. Project abandoned. 

Y-11 yunshuji-11 (yun-11) 

In July 1977, the Y-11 design was approved and production began at Harbin. It is a short range, twin turbo-prop, for 17 passengers. 

Y-12 yunshuji-12 (yun-12) 

Follow-on to Y-11. In December 1984, the yun-12-1 evaluation was completed. In series production at Harbin. 


Z-5/HOUND zhishengji-5 (zhi-5) 

In December 1958, the Z-5, which is a reverse-engineered MI-4, conducted its first flight at Harbin. In December 1959, the Z-5 entered production. 

Z-6 zhishengji-6 (zhi-6) 

The Z-6 was a reverse engineered MI-8, which was developed between 1966-1979. It conducted its first flight 1969, and its design was approved in January 1977. However, the project was abandoned. 

Z-7 zhishengji-7 (zhi-7) 

Medium helicopter developed in 1960s. None produced. 

Z-8 zhishengji-8 (zhi-8) 

The Changhe Aircraft Factory, AKA Jiangxi Aircraft Factory and the China Helicopter Design Research Institute/602 Institute (zhongguo zhishengji sheji yanjiusuo) developed the Z-8 helicopter, which is based on the French SA-321 Super Frelon. Z-8 number 01 conducted its first test flight in December 1984. Z-8 number 02 flew its first flight at the end of 1985, and adjustment flights had been completed in December 1986. Riveting on Z-8 number 03 was completed in June 1986, and Z-8 number 04 was being riveted in 1987. The Z-8 has three engines, each with 1,500 horsepower. It can carry 3,000 kilograms of cargo or can carry 5,000 kilograms suspended below the fuselage. It can also carry one Beijing-212 jeep and necessary personnel, such as 27 fully armed troops or 39 passengers; can carry 15 stretchers for wounded/sick personnel and one medical person; can suspend 5,000 kilograms of cargo; and can be used for maritime search, antisubmarine warfare, and mine deployment. With modifications, it can also be used during forest fires, maritime surveillance, geologic survey, and construction missions. It is 23 meters long; 6..6 meters high (fuselage); 5.2 Meters wide; rotor diameter is 18.9 Meters; empty weight is 6,980 kilograms; maximum takeoff weight is 13,000 kilograms; maximum speed is 270 km/hr; surveillance speed (xunhang sudu) is 232 km/hr; range is 800 to 1,100 km; maximum continuous flight time is 4.4 Hours; and operating ceiling is 3,050 meters. 

Z-9 zhishengji-9 (zhi-9) 

In October 1980, China and France signed a contract for SA-365 Dauphin production at Harbin.

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