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.
Production 9 Units
Nanchang Aircraft Manufacturing Company (NAMC) - China
- X-Plane / Developmental
33.79 ft (10.3 m)
23.62 ft (7.2 m)
12.30 ft (3.75 m)
7,000 lb (3,175 kg)
9,998 lb (4,535 kg)
(Showcased weight values pertain to the Nanchang J-12 (Jianjiji-12) production model)
1 x Wopen WP-6Z afterburning turbojet engine developing 5,515lb of thrust dry and 9,000lb of thrust with reheat.
808 mph (1,300 kph; 702 kts)
55,774 feet (17,000 m; 10.56 miles)
559 miles (900 km; 486 nm)
35,435 ft/min (10,801 m/min)
(Showcased performance values pertain to the Nanchang J-12 (Jianjiji-12) production model; Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database)
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).
(Showcased armament details pertain to the Nanchang J-12 (Jianjiji-12) production model)
J-12 - Base Series Designation; three prototypes and six pre-series aircraft completed.
Jianjiji-12 - Alternative Designation (long form)
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