Air Force

April 12, 2012

Desert Rats

Credit: Mark Wagner

The “Desert Rats” Warbird Demonstration Team makes a high-speed run past each other in their CJ-6A Chinese basic pilot trainer aircraft. The CJ-6 aircraft, designed in 1958, are still flown today by China’s People’s Liberation Army Air Force.

The CJ-6 is a Chinese version of the Yakovlev Yak-18A. Its predecessor, the Nanchang CJ-5, was a licence-built version of the Yak-18. However, advancements in pilot training brought a need for a new aircraft with improved performance and a tricycle landing gear. When the Soviet Union developed the Yak-18A, PLAAF engineers decided that its performance and design would not suit China’s needs. A few important Chinese aircraft designers were involved in design task of CJ-6, Lin Jiahua (Nanchang 320 Aircraft Factory designer, previously involved in CJ5’s design project), Xu Xunshou (key member of J-7/J-8 fighter jet design team in 1970s) and Zhiqian Huang (Chief designer of J-8 fighter jet).

During late 1957, aeronautical engineers Cheng Bushi and Lin Jiahua began work in Shenyang on a trainer design that addressed the shortcomings of the Yak-18A. The design they delivered featured an aluminum semi-monocoque fuselage, flush-riveted throughout, and introduced a modified Clark airfoil wing design with pronounced dihedral in the outer sections. Wind tunnel testing validated the design, and in May 1958 the program was transferred to the Nanchang Aircraft Manufacturing factory where Chief Engineer Goa Zhenning initiated production of the CJ-6. The first flight of the CJ-6 was completed on Aug. 27, 1958 by Lu Maofan and He Yinxi.

Power for the prototype was provided by a Czech-built horizontally-opposed piston engine, but flight testing revealed the need for more power, so a locally manufactured version of the Soviet AI-14P 260 hp radial, the Housai HS-6, was substituted along with a matching propeller, and with that change the CJ-6 was approved for mass production. In 1965 the HS-6 engine was upgraded to 285 hp. and re-designated the HS-6A, and the aircraft equipped with the new power plant were designated the CJ-6A.

Specifications (CJ-6A)

Data from Jane’s Aircraft Recognition Guide

General characteristics

Crew: Two (student & instructor)

Length: 8.46 m (27 ft 9 in)

Wingspan: 10.22 m (33 ft 6 in)

Height: 3.3 m (10 ft 8 in)

Empty weight: 1,095 kg (2,414 lb)

Max. takeoff weight: 1,400 kg (3,086 lb)

Powerplant: 1 × Zhouzhou (SMPMC) HS6A (different variants uses different types) radial engine, 213 kW (285 hp)

Performance

Maximum speed: 300 km/h (160 kts, 185 mph) diving speed 370 km/h (200 kt)

Range: 700 km (372 nm, 425 mi)

Service ceiling: >6,250+ m (20,500+ ft)

Armament

2 x 7.62mm machine guns

Weapons stations and hardpoints under the wings

Bombs

Rocket launchers




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