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Q-5 Development History

In March 1958, Air Force commander Liu Yalou proposed to the aviation industry department the need for an advanced attack plane, but actually had not given concrete tactics or technical specification. The responsibility was assigned to the Shenyang Aircraft factory, and the Shenyang Factory design office lauched a widespread investigation and study, evaluating the development situation of similar equipment in other countries. They formulated the new machines design guiding principles, and three months later, in June 1958, they proposed the overall concept.

The design of the Q-5 began during the "Great Leap Forward". Some comrades could not keep their brains "cool" under the influence of "Left" ideological trend. Some young designers were in extraordinary zeal but short of knowledge in aircraft development laws. They put forward not only a "left" but also a ridiculously childish slogan: "Work without a letup for one year to fly the aircraft before celebrating National Day". The development of the Q-5 was thus brought on to a rough and bumpy road since its very beginning.

Starting from the end of 1958 the Design Department of the Nanchang Aircraft Factory adjusted its design team and with the help of the teachers and students from NAI a complete set, 15,000 pages and more, of aircraft drawings were released by February 1959. It only took 75 days.

This design was often delayed by the limited human resources in Shenyang. Later #112 Factories must also research the East Wind 102, East Wind 107, East Wind 113, and afterward must copy the Mig-19S. Therefore the East Wind 106 was transferred to 320 factory for research and development, and simultaneously the Shenyang first aircraft design office Senior Engineer Lu Xiaopeng went to Nanchang to work. In August 1958 the Q-5 airplane project officially started at the Nanchang Airplane Manufacture Company, where Lu Xiaopeng was appointed chief design engineer. After moving to #320 Factory, the project was renamed Eagle 302, though it still used the side mounted air duct topology of the DF-106. Lu Xiaopeng made improvements to the initial design, such as using the area rule for the aircraft body, lengthened the nose cone, modified the type cockpit cover and so on. This resulted in the development of the famous Q-5 attack planes.

Some problems in the drawings were found immediately after the beginning of the prototype production. Some parts of the design were not matched; some new materials were not available in China; some airborne equipment such as the sight could not be developed in a short period of time and some problems in structure and manufacturing techniques were not solved. Some problems were found in the model when it was tested in a transonic wind tunnel. Therefore, the factory organized its designers to make major corrections to the drawings four times.

The corrected 20,000 pages and more drawings and 260 reports on aerodynamic behavior and structure stress analysis were released in May 1960. Through these corrective actions to the drawings the designers not only realized the arduous and complex nature of the aircraft development but also learned a lesson that they should consider the actual conditions and obey the scientific laws in their work. By May 1960 all the theoretical layout design was finished, and the experimental work launched.

While the factory was going to set up a leading group for the Q-5 prototype production and to begin the prototype production in an all-round way, it happened that the Chinese national economy encountered a temporary difficulty and the aviation industry had to cut its aircraft development activities and to rectify its product quality. Around this time the domestic situation was turbulent, the current economic condition worsened, and to guarantee that the "two bombs and one satellite" programs were successful, a lot of aircraft development programs were cancelled and among them was the Q-5 program. In 1961 the Q-5 development work was put aside, and scientific researchers were reassigned. The Q-5 prototype production was terminated temporarily, the leading group for the prototype production was dismissed, the production line of the prototype aircraft was dismantled and the Q-5 trial production faced a fate of prematured end.

Lu Xiaopeng, who had been appointed vice director of the Design Department of the Nanchang Aircraft Factory, representing in strong desire the staff and workers submitted written statements one after another to higher authorities for approval of continuing the Q-5 prototype production. Lu Xiaopeng proposed that individual scientific researchers who were not reassigned to continue to develop the work. The director of the factory Feng Anguo supported his opinion but only obtained a permission to use "bits of time and space available" for the Q-5 development. Higher authority authorized Lu Zongshi, who led 14 subordinates who were left over to continue to carry on the development. And only these 15 people out of 300 and more of the original prototype production team were left. At first, they completed a static test article.

It was not easy to develop a brand new aircraft by making use of bits of time. But, compared with the termination, it gave the chance to survive. Lu Xiaopeng and his colleagues felt their grave responsibilities and were determined to try their best to keep the Q-5 program alive. They utilized the conditions obtained with their efforts and worked very hard. They not only drew drawings, worked on computations and run the tests, but also went to find the workshops where the parts could be manufactured, the vendors which were willing to cooperate, the necessary materials and equipment which they would use or borrow. In addition they had to move the parts from workshop to workshop themselves and to operate the machines with workers. An aged worker Fan Jiebao was a versatile person in production and was proficient in riveting, benchworking and forging, etc. He solved a lot of difficult problems in the prototype production. They moved the people around them with their own actions and all the staff and workers offered help to them. After Xue Shaoqing, Vice Minister of the MAI, and Tang Yanjie, president of the CAE, paid a visit to the factory for a check on the Q-5 development and reported to higher authorities, the development program of the Q-5 was resumed. Since then the pace of the development was sped up. After using every bit of time for two years, a full size airframe for the static test was miraculously completed.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 02:46:48 ZULU