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Nanchang J-12 (Jianjiji-12)

Lightweight Supersonic Fighter Prototype

Nanchang J-12 (Jianjiji-12)

Lightweight Supersonic Fighter Prototype


The Nanchang J-12 was a promising indigenous Chinese lightweight supersonic fighter design derailed by the arrival of the Chengdu J-7 - a local version of the Soviet MiG-21.
National Flag Graphic
YEAR: 1975
MANUFACTURER(S): Nanchang Aircraft Manufacturing Company (NAMC) - China
OPERATORS: China (cancelled)

Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Nanchang J-12 (Jianjiji-12) model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.
LENGTH: 33.79 feet (10.3 meters)
WIDTH: 23.62 feet (7.2 meters)
HEIGHT: 12.30 feet (3.75 meters)
WEIGHT (EMPTY): 7,000 pounds (3,175 kilograms)
WEIGHT (MTOW): 9,998 pounds (4,535 kilograms)
ENGINE: 1 x Wopen WP-6Z afterburning turbojet engine developing 5,515lb of thrust dry and 9,000lb of thrust with reheat.
SPEED (MAX): 808 miles-per-hour (1,300 kilometers-per-hour; 702 knots)
RANGE: 559 miles (900 kilometers; 486 nautical miles)
CEILING: 55,774 feet (17,000 meters; 10.56 miles)
RATE-OF-CLIMB: 35,435 feet-per-minute (10,801 meters-per-minute)

STANDARD (proposed):
1 x 30mm cannon in portside wing root mounting
1 x 23mm cannon in starboard wing root mounting

Assumed Air-to-Air Missiles (AAMs) across the three available hardpoints (two under-wing, one under-fuselage).
Graphical image of an aircrat automatic cannon
Graphical image of an air-to-air missile weapon
Graphical image of a short-range air-to-air missile

Series Model Variants
• J-12 - Base Series Designation; three prototypes and six pre-series aircraft completed.
• Jianjiji-12 - Alternative Designation (long form)


Detailing the development and operational history of the Nanchang J-12 (Jianjiji-12) Lightweight Supersonic Fighter Prototype.  Entry last updated on 5/19/2016. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©
The aircraft that was to become the J-12 ("Jianjiji-12") began as a requirement by the Chinese Air Force (PLAAF) in 1969 for a planned successor to the aging line of Soviet-originated Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-19 single-seat, jet-powered fighters. The service sought a compact, lightweight form to be powered by turbojet engines and capable of short-field operations while being economical to mass produce. The Nanchang Aircraft Manufacturing Company (NAMC) (with a design brought along by Lu Xiao-Pcheng) squared off against a submission by the Shenyang company and emerged the declared winner. Three prototypes were eventually completed in the early-going and a first-flight followed on December 26th, 1970.

The Soviet design influence on the J-12 was readily apparent as the new aircraft held a general resemblance to the Soviet MiG-21 "Fishbed" fighter introduced back in 1959. The cockpit was set aft of a nose-mounted circular intake (as in the MiG-21) though "true" swept wing mainplanes were used (unlike the MiG-21's delta planform) and these mounted low along the fuselage sides. The tail unit incorporated a single vertical fin and low-mounted horizontal planes with all of these surfaces swept as well. As in the MiG-21, the J-12 featured a raised fuselage spine which restricted views to the rear of the aircraft some.

Power was from a single Wopen WP-6Z turbojet engine offering 5,512lb thrust on dry and 9,000lb thrust with reheat. The unit was the most recent incarnation at the time of the original WP-6, itself based on the Soviet Tumansky R-9BF-811 series turbojet.

Installed armament included cannons as fixed, standard weapons for close-in work and support for Air-to-Air Missiles (AAMs) across three available hardpoints. The cannon armament was made up of a 30mm system fitted to the portside wing root and paired with a 23mm system mounted in the starboard wingroot. Two hardpoints were featured under the wings, one per wing, and a single hardpoint was found under the fuselage.

As with any ambitious program, particularly those related to combat warplanes, the J-12 was not an immediate success as overall performance was lacking so this led to series of progressive modifications of the base design - the armament fit moved further aft, the intake revised, a lightening of the fuselage, split flaps added, etc. From this work then emerged an aircraft which took to the skies for the first time during July 1975 and resulted in a further six aircraft constructed to a pre-series standard.

The project would eventually count nine J-12 aircraft to its name made up of three prototypes and six pre-series examples.

With the arrival of the competing (and superior) Chengdu J-7 (a local Chinese version of the Soviet MiG-21), development on the J-12 was ended in January of 1977. The completed aircraft collectively accounted for over 60 hours in the air across 135 flights. As finalized, the J-12 featured a maximum speed of 810 miles per hour, a range (combat) out to 430 miles and a service ceiling up to 55,675 feet. Rate-of-climb was 35,533 feet-per-minute.


Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

Image of collection of graph types

Relative Maximum Speed
Hi: 1000mph
Lo: 500mph
This entry's maximum listed speed (808mph).

Graph average of 750 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
Graph showcases the Nanchang J-12 (Jianjiji-12)'s operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production (9)
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.

Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Supported Roles
Ground Attack
Aerial Tanker
A2A=Air-to-Air; UAV=Unmanned; CAS=Close Support; ASW=Anti-Submarine; AEW=Airborne Early Warning; MEDEVAC=Medical Evac; EW=Electronic Warfare; SAR=Search-Rescue
Commitments / Honors
Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for pioneering aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur War
Military lapel ribbon for experimental x-plane aircraft
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.

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