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Nanchang J-12 (Jianjiji-12)

Lightweight Supersonic Fighter Prototype [ 1975 ]

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.

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 08/06/2019 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

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.©MilitaryFactory.com
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Service Year

China national flag graphic

Development Ended.


Nanchang Aircraft Manufacturing Company (NAMC) - China
(View other Aviaton-Related Manufacturers)
National flag of China China (cancelled)
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Air-to-Air Combat, Fighter
General ability to actively engage other aircraft of similar form and function, typically through guns, missiles, and/or aerial rockets.
X-Plane (Developmental, Prototype, Technology Demonstrator)
Aircraft developed for the role of prototyping, technology demonstration, or research / data collection.

33.8 ft
(10.30 m)
23.6 ft
(7.20 m)
12.3 ft
(3.75 m)
Empty Wgt
7,000 lb
(3,175 kg)
9,998 lb
(4,535 kg)
Wgt Diff
+2,998 lb
(+1,360 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the base Nanchang J-12 (Jianjiji-12) production variant)
Installed: 1 x Wopen WP-6Z afterburning turbojet engine developing 5,515lb of thrust dry and 9,000lb of thrust with reheat.
Max Speed
808 mph
(1,300 kph | 702 kts)
55,774 ft
(17,000 m | 11 mi)
559 mi
(900 km | 1,667 nm)
35,435 ft/min
(10,801 m/min)

♦ MACH Regime (Sonic)
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030

(Showcased performance specifications pertain to the base Nanchang J-12 (Jianjiji-12) production variant. Performance specifications showcased above are subject to environmental factors as well as aircraft configuration. Estimates are made when Real Data not available. Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database or View aircraft by powerplant type)
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).

Supported Types

Graphical image of an aircraft automatic cannon
Graphical image of an air-to-air missile weapon
Graphical image of a short-range air-to-air missile

(Not all ordnance types may be represented in the showcase above)
Hardpoint Mountings: 3

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

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