The PRC's efforts to acquire compact jet engines can be traced to 1965, when the Beijing Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics launched a project to copy the U.S. Teledyne-Ryan CAE J69-T-41A. The Teledyne engine powered the U.S. Air Force AQM-34N Firebee reconnaissance drone, a number of which were shot down over the PRC during the Vietnam conflict. The PRC's copy of the U.S. turbojet, dubbed WP-11, began ground testing in 1971 and currently powers the PLA's HY-4 "Sadsack," a short-range anti-ship cruise missile.
The WP11 was a low thrust engine installed on the WZ-5 high altitude pilotless reconnaissance aircraft. It could also be used as a powerplant of drones and short range cruising missiles. The development was carried out by BIAA, and Chen Daguang was nominated as the chief of the design team; ZEF and other organizations offered support to the development. The design started at the beginning of 1965 and with tremendous efforts, major progresses were made. However, the development work was halted by the "great cultural revolution". In 1967, about 30 teachers and students voluntarily formed a "continuing development team", and they further modified the inlet casing, compressor rotor, radial diffuser, etc. to increase the engine thrust by more that 8.3 kN (850 kgf). In 1969, the manufacturing of parts and components began.
The first WP11 engine started ground test in June 1971. During the trial production and test, technical problems came out one after another. First, the precision investment casting of the integral impeller was extremely difficult. After repeated tests, it was solved. Then the radial diffuser distorted and seized the rotor during the test, which damaged the impeller and other two major components, the reason was the improper material for the inlet cone of the flame tube. This problem was solved by using a GH18 high temperature alloy aged sheet, which was jointly developed by BAMI, the Shanghai Steel Research Institute (SSRI) and Shanghai No.3 Steel Works. Then with 6 prototypes, various tests were completed before the type certification test. After the assessment by the State, the engine was certified together with WZ-5 RPV in 1980. This filled a gap in low thrust turbojet engines in China. The production of the engine was then transferred to Hunan Province.
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