WP5 First Turbojet Engine
The WP5 engine was produced according to Russian technical documents of the VK-1F. It was a single-shaft engine with a centrifugal compressor and afterburner. The maximum dry thrust was about 26 kN (2,650 kgf) and wet thrust 37 kN (3,800 kgf). The engine net weight was of 989 kg and was installed in the J-5 aircraft. According to the First Five-year Plan, the Shenyang Aeroengine Factory (SEF) (hereinafter called the New Factory) was set up on the basis of the Shenyang Aeroengine Overhaul Factory (SEOF) (hereinafter called the Old Factory) from the first half of 1954 to the end of 1957 under the guidance of the principle "Carrying out the construction while starting the trial production." It was also required that the trial production of WP5 engine should be successfully completed before the National Day of 1957, at which time series production could begin in the New Factory.
Many high strength materials and high temperature alloys are used in the manufacture of the gas turbine engine which are difficult for machining. This difficulty is compounded by the high precision of nozzles, the complexity of blade profiles, and many thin wall welding parts in the combustion afterburner systems. Therefore, apart from precision machining and advanced heat and surface treatment technologies, they are also needed to set up precision casting and precision forging production lines which can make parts with little or no machining allowances, as well as various welding production lines such as seam welding, butter welding, DC electrode welding, hydrogen atom welding, high frequency brazing, manual and automatic argon arc welding, etc. Many of them at that time were of advanced technology and very difficult.
In order to fulfill the tasks of the construction of the New Factory and the trial production of the new engine at the same time, according to the principle of "The Old Factory is responsible for the construction of the New Factory" and "One director for two factories", Mo Wenxiang, Director of the Old Factory, Xu Xizan, the Chief Engineer, and the heads of each functional section and office and workshop, were given responsibility for the activities of both factories. Thus, it was possible to make full use of the conditions of the Old Factory for the construction of the New Factory and trial production. They made it possible for the factory to pick up equipment from reserved warehouses, and timely assigned nearly 9,000 staff members and workers to the New Factory. All these moves enabled the large construction project to be complete for trial and series production ahead of time.
In the meantime, preparation for the trial production of the WP5 engine was under way in the Old Factory which, with the assistance of the Soviet experts, trained a strong team in all necessary specialities through the overhaul, assembly and test of more than 3,000 jet engines in 4 different aircraft types as well as the production of nearly 3,000 part and component items in 2 years. They had a good handling of the manufacturing technology. The complete manufacturing documents of WP5 engines started to be translated and copied in April 1954 at the Old Factory. Through the joint efforts of both the New and Old Factories, about 12,000 toolings and equipments necessary for the trial production were produced in March 1956 and the trial production of parts also proceeded quickly.
To guarantee product quality in the trial production, the factory undertook a series of technical management measures including: organizing leading cadres, engineers and technicians concerned to attend the technical seminars; using cheaper dummy blanks for practice in the trial production instead of materials difficult for machining, expensive and used for long lead time parts. These were called the "Pilot Batch" . Groups of parts were tested successively in order to expose and solve the problems at an earlier stage; In March 1956, after all parts and components were made, the full life ground test was carried out to expose and solve problems once again. These measurements were very helpful and effective to the success of the trial production of the new engine.
The first batch of trial produced WP5 engines passed the approval test and turned into series production in June 1956, one year and four months ahead of schedule. 40 engines were produced in the same year. At the end of September that year, the construction of the New Factory also passed the State's acceptance approval, eighteen months in advance of the original plan and the quality was regarded as "Superb" . This showed that SEF had achieved two goals of factory construction and new engine trial production with good quality and at high speed. On the 10th September 1956, the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party and the State Council sent a congratulatory message to all the staff and workers of the SEF. In February 1958, Chairman Mao Zedong paid an inspection tour to the factory and viewed the jet engine produced by China.
The success of the WP5 trial production was a milestone, which marked that China' s aircraft industry had stepped from the production of the piston engine to the jet engine and now it entered the era of jet. China became one of the very few countries in the world at that time who were able to produce jet engines in batches.
On the basis of the WP5 engine, SEF successfully produced the VK-1A engine (68% parts and components were the same as WP5 engine) in 1957, which was designated the WP5A and used for the Russian-made 11-28 light bomber of our Air Force. In 1958, the factory produced the RD-45 engine for MiG-15 fighters and made 30 units that year.
In 1963, China started to produce H-5 light bomber, and there was an increased demand for WP5A engines. It was decided that WP5A and WP5 engines would be transferred to Xi'an Aeroengine Factory (XEF) for continued production.
The construction of XEF started in August 1958, which was originally designed to produce high thrust WP8 engines for H-6 medium bombers. In the latter half of 1961, the factory carried out the mission of providing some spare parts of WP5 engines which were urgently needed by the Air Force. Then the State decided that this Factory would produce both WP8 and WP5 engines, and start immediately for the trial production of WP5A engines transferred from SEF. The factory took the organizational and technical measurements, strengthened the trial production teams and started the technical practices on the critical parts for the production, assembly and test of the "Pilot batch" . Through the efforts of all the employees in the factory, the first batch of WP5A engines passed the acceptance tests in June 1965 six months ahead of schedule. In August, the Certification Committee of Aero Products proved the engine for series production. WP5A engine were used on both HJ-5 bomber-trainer and HZ-5 bomber-reconnaissance aircraft.
To work together with Chengdu Aircraft Factory (CAF) for the development of JJ-5 trainer, XEF modified and developed WP5D engine in 1965. In 1966, it successfully developed WP5B engines for the application to the Russian-made MiG-15bis fighter. In 1976, it complet¬ed the development of WP5C engines to be installed in the Russian-made all-weather fighter MiG-17. These engines were all turned into series production.
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