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HS8 piston-type engine

HS8 was the first aeroengine successfully modified and developed in new China. It was used on 4 types of aeroplanes. In the 1950s, there were a great number of Russian Tu-2s, I1-14s, I1-12s and American C-46s used as bombers and transport aeroplanes in China. They used the Russian Ash-82FN, Ash-82T and American R-2800 piston engines respectively. These engines were in the same power class, but of different types and not interchangeable. In the long service of these aeroplanes, the engines needed several overhauls or replacement. There was demand in large numbers.

In 1959, the operators requested improvements in the high altitude performance of the Ash-82T engine in order to enable 11-14 transport to fly into Tibet. In the early 1960s, due to the need of preparing for war; the Air Force increased their need for the above engines. But the imported supplies for these engines were completely cut off thus causing the grounding of a large number of aeroplanes. It was a very urgent and pressing task to supply the engines for these aeroplanes.

Wang Zuhu and his colleagues of the Engine Production & Technology Department of the AIB held many repeated studies and analyses on the proposal of producing R-2800 engine spares and manufacturing both Ash-82FN and Ash-82T engines. They felt these were not feasible from both the technical and economical point of view. Therefore, they refuted the idea of tackling all problems individually and proposed a modification and design program which would use one engine for all applications. The people in HEF concurred, and in 1961 the actual program gradually came out, i.e. integrating HS7 engine main body and its supercharger with Ash-82T engine' s reduction gears. As a result a reliable new engine with a good altitude performance came out which could be used for the above-mentioned four aeroplanes, thus "killing four birds with one stone" . This program gained the support from the leaders of the Ministry of Defence Industry (MDI) and the Air Force. The decision was made immediately by the leading organization that HEF would be responsible for this task. In September 1961, a leading team was formed by HEF, Harbin Aircraft Factory (HAF) and people from the Air Force Flight School. The chief engineer of HEF, Ou Deshi was appointed the team leader, and the work started immediately.

The design work was carried out by Wang Xiurui, Xue Weihua, Wang Zengyan and others. After test, they increased the power of the HS7 from 1,250 kW (1,700 hp) to 1,360 kW (1,850 hp) by raising the inlet air pressure, which satisfied the requirements of the Tu-2 and other aeroplanes. For the engine, 94.3% of the parts were adopted from HS7 and the new ones amounted to only 5.7%. After production, assembly and test, it reached the design target and was designated the HS8.

Towards the end of the development, a test flight team was formed by the Air Force, CAAC and AIB with Jin Sheng, Deputy Director of AIB, as its head. The engine was installed on the aeroplane for test in August 1962. The results proved that the new engine satisfied the flight training programs of Tu-2 bomber, slightly improved the flight performance of C-46, increased the empty load ceiling of 11-14 from 6,500 m to 9,060 m and greatly improved the reliability of 11-12.

After the endurance approval test, the HS8 engine was approved by the Certification Commission of Aero Products for series production in October 1963. Up to 1980 when its production was stopped, there were about 1,300 units produced and out of them 195 provided for CAAC.

The success of the development of the HS8 engine enabled a large number of aircraft to fly again -particularly the 11-14 which could now fly into Tibet. The development period had been shortened, and at a relatively low cost - a considerable achievement for China for overcoming her temporary national economic difficulties. Furthermore, the development had earned China valuable experience whilst at the same time gaining support from end users, producing a practical technical program and enabling solid production.

At the end of 1963, Cao Lihuai, the Vice Commander-in-Chief of the PLA Air Force and Liu Ding, Vice Minister of MAI, attended a celebration meeting for HS8 engine. They all pointed out: "The modification and design of HS8 engine meets the principle of `Seeking truth from facts' , ' Advancing by regular steps' ".Its success marked that China's aeroengine had marched one step-from copying to designing. Vice Premier He Long during his inspection trip to HEF also highly appraised it and said: "The modification and design as such is along the right track."

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