NAMC (Nanchang)


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The NAMC J-12 was, if not the first, certainly one of the earliest, attempts by China to build a modern, indigenous jet fighter. A requirement for a lightweight fighter (literally, Small Fighter), similar in concept to the American Northrop F-5 Freedom Fighter, was issued by the People's Liberation Army Air Force in 1969. Three prototypes were built, the first of which flew late in 1970. Sources describe the performance of the J-12 as "indifferent;" consequently the design was re-vamped extensively. Either three or six additional aircraft were built and tested beginning in 1975. They featured an area-ruled fuselage, revised air intake, simplified wing control devices and lighter structure. The cannon armament was slightly relocated to a more rearward location as well. A total of 61 hours of flight time in 135 flights had occurred by early 1977, when the J-12 program was cancelled. Reasons for the end of the program included insufficient armament and engine power, and the fact that the locally-built J-7 version of the Soviet MiG-21F-13 was considered superior overall. Despite the length of the J-12 program, it only came to light in the open Western press in the late 1970's - early 1980's; at that, only little was known. The F-12 (Westernized designation) was erroneously believed to be a Mach 2 - class fighter powered by two license-built Rolls-Royce RB.168-25R Spey Mk 202M turbofans. It was not until more than a decade after its cancellation that more accurate details were revealed.


Specifications J-12
Designer(s) Lu Xiao-Pcheng (or Lou Xiaopeng, or Lu Xiao Peng)
Mission Type Lightweight STOL air-superiority fighter
Powerplant 1 x 5,512 lb (2,500 kg) s.t. Wopen WP-6Z turbojet, 8,929 lb (4,050 kg) reheated thrust, or
1 x 7,165 lb (3,250 kg) s.t. Wopen WP-6 turbojet
Span 23 ft 7.5 in (7.2 m)
Length 33 ft 9.5 (10.3 m)
Height 12 ft 3 in (3.73 m)
Wing area 172.2 sq ft (16.0 m2)
Empty 6,993 lb (3,172 kg)
Loaded 9,987 lb (4,530 kg)
Take-off --
Max --
Max speed (clean) 808 mph @ 36,090 ft (1,300 km/hr @ 11,000 m) (Mach 1.22)
Cruise speed --
Max climb rate 35,433 ft/min (180 m/sec)
Initial climb rate (sl) 35,425 ft/min (180 m/sec)
Initial climb rate (36,100 ft / 11,000 m) 12,800 ft/min (65 m/sec)
Service ceiling 55,350 - 55,675 ft (16,870 - 16,970 m)
Range (max internal fuel, 7% reserve) 427 miles (371 nm, 688 km)
Endurance --
  • 1 x 23 mm cannon in starboard wing root
  • 1 x 30 mm cannon in port wing root
  • 1 x centerline station for weapons or fuel
  • 2 x wing stations for weapons or fuel (usually two short-range AAMs)
  • Crew One
    User China (PLA Air Force, not operational)
    Number built Either six or nine (three prototypes and six pre-series, or six total)
    Construction Numbers ?
    Serial Numbers Unknown (known markings include '02,' '145,' '7012,' '7112')
    Unofficial Nickname 'Air Li Xiangyang' (Li Xiangyang apparently is a famous guerilla captain in a Chinese movie)

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    Additional Information:

    Web Links


    1. Green, William and Gordon Swanborough. The Complete Book of Fighters: An illustrated encyclopedia of every fighter aircraft built and flown. Salamander Books, London, 1994. ISBN 0-86101-643-2.
    2. Taylor, John W. R., ed. Jane's All the World's Aircraft 1980-81. ISBN 0-7106-0705-9.
    3. Taylor, John W. R., ed. Jane's All the World's Aircraft 1989-90. ISBN 0-7106-0896-9.

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    © 1997-2005, Robert Beechy
    Originally posted 28 June 1998
    Modified: 01/01/2005