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J-5 (Jian-5 Fighter aircraft 5)

The beginnings of China's air force can be traced back to the Korean conflict, in which its pilots flew Soviet-made MiG-17s. China, during the same time period, began license-production of the MiG-17PF, and were redesignated the J-5. Overall, licence-production of the J-5 and its components helped develop the manufacturing and technological base of China's air force. Equipped with the WP5 engine, the J-5 had maximum speed of 1,145 km/h, a service ceiling of 16,600 m , and and maximum range 2,120 km. The J-5 fighters specialized in interception and was also capable of ground attack. A major characteristic of the J-5 was that its air-intake was located in the nose of the aircraft.

The J-5 fighter was a license production of a Soviet high subsonic fighter MiG-17F. The MiG-17F was mainly used to fight for air superiority, to air defense, and to close air support. Its design began in 1948 and its flight test in 1949. Its delivery to the Soviet services began in 1951 and production was completed in 1958. It was powered by one centrifugal-flow turbo-jet engine with an afterburner. The engine air entered through a pitot type intake in the aircraft nose. Maximum speed was 1,145 km / h, service ceiling 16,600 m, maximum range with auxiliary tanks 2,020 km and maximum endurance 3 hours. It used a sweptback wing and was one of the most advanced jet fighters in the world at that time.

The Chinese aviation industry began its fighter production with the J-5. This was a difficult point at which to start. The J-5 had 253,550 parts in 14,719 varieties and 228 vendor-furnished-equipment. Its manufacturing techniques were far more complicated than those of the primary trainers. To produce the aircraft in a short period of time was a severe test to the young Chinese aviation industry.

The manufacture of the J-5 was carried out in the Shenyang Aircraft Factory which was constructed as one of 156 major engineering projects assisted by the Soviet Union in the First Five-year Plan. In order to speed up production the factory decided to carry out aircraft production and personnel training while the factory was in construction.

The decision to produce jet fighter J-5 was made in October, 1954, soon after the first flight of the first aircraft made in new China. When the aircraft of CJ-5 primary trainer was batch produced in Nanchang in 1955, the trial production of J-5 and its engine was carried out in full swing in the Shenyang Aircraft Factory. The J-5 aircraft was a high subsonic jet fighter in service with the Soviet Air Force in the early 1950s, which was one of the advanced jet fighters in the world at that time. Manufacture of this type of aircraft was much more complicated than that of CJ-5 primary trainer.

China's Shenyang Aircraft Factory produced the J-5, mainly because of its experience and familiarity with MiG aircraft. It had already repaired 200 MiGs during the Korean War, and had already trial produced MiG-15 undercarriages, fuselages and other key components. The Shenyang Aircraft Factory had repaired 534 jet fighters from 1951 to 1953 and also manufactured more than 140 major items of aircraft wings, front and rear fuselages and empennage. The factory had basically mastered the manufacturing technology of MiG type aircraft. With Soviet guidance, trial production began in April 1955. The Shenyang Aero-engine Factory licence-produced the WP5 engine, which was certified in June 1956. The J-5 completed its test programs in August 1956 and was officially accepted on September 8.

The prototype production of the J-5 aircraft started in early 1955. Final assembly, sub-assembly, component assembly and parts manufacture were carried out in parallel in the factory using Soviet supplied subassemblies, assemblies and raw materials. The Soviet Union supplied a complete set of drawings, technical documents, manufacturing processes and most of the tooling. They also supplied 2 example aircraft, 15 complete kits, forgings and raw materials for 10 aircraft, vendor-furnished-equipment for 8 aircraft and standard parts for 15 aircraft. In order to reduce prototype aircraft manufacturing time and master manufacturing techniques as soon as possible, the factory accepted Soviet experts' proposal-to divide the work into four phases and to carry out all work in parallel and crisscross.

During the first phase five aircraft would be assembled with Soviet-furnished-components for the purpose of learning final assembly techniques. During the second phase, the components for four aircraft would be assembled with Soviet-furnished-sub-assemblies, then proceed to initial assembly and final assembly for a complete aircraft. Stress was put on learning initial assembly techniques. In the third phase the sub-assemblies for four aircraft would be assembled with Soviet furnished -parts and then the initial assembly and final assembly would be completed. Stress in this phase was put on mastering riveting assembly techniques. In the fourth phase the parts would first be produced with Soviet and domestic raw materials and then the aircraft would be assembled. All manufacturing techniques had to be mastered in this phase.

The later practice showed the obvious advantages of the Soviet proposal. The factory started prototype production on April 8, 1955 and the final assembly of the first aircraft with parts all made in China was completed on July 13, 1956. On July 26 a full size airframe passed its static test, in which 129 load cases were tested and the airframe showed that it met the requirements. The flight test was completed on August 2 and showed that both the aircraft performance and quality were up to standard. On September 8 the State Acceptance Committee declared the success of the manufacture of the J-5 aircraft and gave permission for mass production and delivery to the military services.

On September 10 a grand celebration for the successful trial production of the jet fighter was held at the Shenyang Aircraft Factory. Marshal Nie Rongzhen, vice chairman of the National Defence Committee, accompanied by Zhao Erlu, minister of the Second Ministry of Machine Building came to the ceremony, and cut the ribbon for the first J-5 fighter ( China 0101 ). The director test pilot Wu Keming, who shut down two enemy aircraft in Korean War, flew the aircraft and performed a brilliant demonstration. The good performance of the domestic aircraft won the acclamation of all the people who watched the flight. On the same day the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party and the State Council sent a congratulatory telegram to the staff and workers of the factory and encouraged all the staff and workers in the aviation industry to " make persistent efforts to further improve the aviation industry's state of the art, to ensure the quality of the aero-products and to obtain the experience of mass production."

In more than a half year, workers and engineers of each profession were tempered effectively in technology, production and management. Trial production time was shortened and the quality of trial production was ensured. With this situation, Vice Premier Bo Yibo, on November 30, 1955, reported to Premier Zhou Enlai, and suggested that the time of successful trial production of aircraft could be changed from originally the end of 1957 to the time before National Day of 1956. The aircraft with all Chinese made parts came to the final assembly shop in February 1956, just as it was predicted. Test flight of the first aircraft was witnessed on July 19 and finished on August 2. The State Certification Committee announced on September 8: " MiG-17 jet aircraft has been successfully manufactured in the Shenyang Aircraft Factory and the aircraft can be manufactured in batches for the service of the Air Force and Navy."

This was one year and five months ahead of the state specified schedule. WP5 jet engine trial manufactured in the Shenyang Aero Engine Factory passed acceptance test in June of the same year. On September 9, the "People's Daily" proclaimed to the world on the front page the successful manufacture of new type jet aircraft. The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council sent special telegraph of congratulations on September 10, 1956. On the same day, Marshal Nie Rongzhen, Vice Chairman of the National Defence Committee and Vice Premier of the State Council went to Shenyang and took part in the celebration.

On National Day of the year 1956, four J-5s produced by the Shenyang Aircraft Factory flew over the Tian An Men Square for a review. Chairman Mao Zedong happily told the foreign friends on the Tian An Men rostrum: "Our own aircraft just flew over."

Four hundred and eighty one days (approximately 1 year and 4 months) had past from the preparation of the prototype production to the completion of the flight test program. The reasons for the comparatively speedy development were: the correct leadership of the Chinese Communist Party and more particularly the arrangements and instructions on the aircraft production made by Zhou Enlai, Chen Yun, Li Fuchun and Nie Rongzhen; the strong support from various regions and ministries all over the country; the technical assistance from the Soviet experts and the hard struggle of the aviation industry constructors. The following factors played their important roles in the aircraft development in the area of administration and coordination:

  1. A correct policy for the transition from repair to manufacture was made. Repair formed a technical basis for manufacture. During the repair of thousands of aircraft, more emphasis was placed on manufacturing replacement parts and in the end manufacturing techniques were mastered.

  2. The division of the prototype production into four phases and the parallel and crisscross performance of the four phases gave the program impetus. This approach conformed to real Chinese conditions and, therefore, it not only cut down the prototype production period, ensured the quality of products and accelerated the establishment of various managerial systems, but also enabled engineers in different disciplines and workers in different types of work to practice in parallel and to master manufacturing techniques rapidly. There were many workers trained in this way in different types of the work and they became skilled. The number of workers trained by the Shenyang Aircraft Factory and skilled in prototype production reached 4,994, 80 per cent of the total production workers by early 1956.

  3. The license production of engines, airborne equipment and raw materials was carried out in advance or in parallel. It was the basis for the rapid success of prototype production and for the early commencement of the mass production of J-5 aircraft. The WP5 engines were available when the airframe of J-5 was completed. The vendor-furnished-equipment and accessories made in China for the J-5s had reached 48.3 per cent by 1957.

After successful prototype production, the J-5 was rapidly put into steady mass production. A total of 767 J-5s were produced from 1956 to 1959. They were delivered to equip the People's Air Force and Navy air force and to strengthen the national defense force. The heroic People's Air Force flew the domestic J-5 aircraft to defend the sacred territorial air space of the country. They shot down several intruder aircraft. In 1958 alone 2 F-84Gs, 6 F-86s and 1 aircraft equipped with Sidewinder air-to-air missiles were shot down in the coastal area of Fujian province. In 1957 the Navy air force J-5 shot down 1 RB-57 high altitude Reconnaissance airplane and in 1967 an Air Force J-5 shot down an F-4B. Thus the combat examples of using inferior equipment to defeat superior equipment in combat were set up.

The successes in prototype production and mass production of J-5 fighter and its delivery to the military services in large quantities helped the Chinese aviation industry leap forward into a jet age. China had become one of the few countries in the world, which had mastered jet technology and had written a splendid page in its history of fighter development.

The Chinese also developed variants of the J-5 fighter to fulfill other needs, such as the J-5A and the JJ-5 trainer. Equipped with the Shelei-1 radar, the J-5A served as a limited, all-weather fighter and adopted in December 1964, the J-5A had its modifications made by the Chengdu Aircraft Factory. Derived from the J-5A and also modified by the Chengdu Aircraft Factory, the two-tandem JJ-5 served as a fighter-trainer and was adopted in December 1966.


In the early 1960s a large number of fighters produced by the aviation industry were delivered to the military services, but the trainers were still the MiG-15 imported from the Soviet Union in the early days. The performance of this trainer could no longer meet the needs of training. Therefore, the Air Force required a new jet trainer urgently. The MAI decided in early 1965 to develop a fighter-trainer JJ-5 based on the J-5A in the Chengdu Aircraft Factory.

The JJ-5 was in a tandem configuration with a fuselage slightly longer than the J-5A. The equipment and the shape of the nose cowling and tail cowling were changed. One 23-1 gun was retained. The power plant was a WP5D centrifugal-flow jet engine.

The JJ-5 flew for the first time on May 8, 1966. Its performance was certified by the State Certification Group and it was certificated for mass production at the end of the year. A total of 1,061 JJ-5s had been produced by the end of 1986.

Operation in the military services showed that the overall performance of the JJ-5 was better than that of the UMiG-15. The JJ-5 could be used not only in flight training but also in combat training such as dog fight and ground attack. An Air Force Aerobatic Team flew a number of demonstrations with the JJ-5s for distinguished foreign guests. On National Day of 1984. 8 JJ-5s painted in red and guided by an H-6 flew over Tian An Men Square trailing colored smoke.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 02:44:38 ZULU