Shenyang J-8, The First Finback

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Shenyang J-8, The First Finback




In 1964, there was a growing need for a long-range interceptor that could effectively compete with the latest American and Soviet combat aircraft. Despite the J-7 being an exceptional tactical fighter, it fell short in terms of range and altitude performance required for long-range interception missions.

On October 25th, 1964, the Chinese Aeronautical Establishment organized a conference to address the development of high-performance fighters. During the conference, the No. 601 Research Institute in Shenyang proposed two concepts. One of these concepts involved constructing a twin-turbojet aircraft that essentially resembled a larger version of the MiG-21 F, incorporating its design features. This concept, designated as J-8, offered the advantage of lower technical risks and earlier service entry, thus receiving higher priority from Tang Yanjie, the President of the CAE. The desired performance specifications included a top speed of Mach 2.2, a service ceiling of at least 20,000 m, a maximum climb rate of 200 m/sec, a basic range of 1,500 km, and a maximum range of 2,000 km. The aircraft was intended to be capable of prolonged aerial combat at 19,000 m.

From its inception, the J-8 program acquired significant political significance and garnered close attention from numerous esteemed political and military figures, such as the former Prime Minister He Long and Defense Minister Marshal Nie Rongzhen. On May 17, 1965, General Luo Ruiqing, the PLA Chief of Staff, granted approval for the finalized operational requirements, thereby paving the path for meticulous design.

The J-8 was a relatively large aircraft with mid-set cropped-delta wings and a conventional swept tail unit that featured stabilators. Both the wings and stabilators had a leading-edge sweep of 60° and were positioned slightly lower compared to the J-7. The vertical tail was enhanced by twin canted ventral fins, which resembled the single ventral fin of the J-7. Two Liyang (LMC) WP-7B turbojets, capable of producing 6,100 kgf in full afterburner, were housed side by side in the rear fuselage. A MiG-19 style ‘pen nib’ fairing was placed between the nozzles. The fighter had an axisymmetric nose air intake with a small fully adjustable shock cone. Additionally, there were rectangular auxiliary blow-in doors located just ahead of the wings to prevent surge during take-off power. The rear fuselage could be detached for engine maintenance and replacement. Similar to the J-7 and J-7 I, the one-piece cockpit canopy was hinged at the front and served as a slipstream shield during ejection. The landing gear design was also borrowed entirely, with the nose unit retracting forward and the main units retracting inward. The wheels rotated to stow vertically beside the inlet ducts. Similar to the J-7, there were three ventral airbrakes positioned in the same manner (two ahead of the wings and one aft of them).

The J-8 aircraft was equipped with two Type 30-1 cannons, each containing 125 rounds per gun, which were concealed in the fuselage beneath the cockpit. Additionally, there were two external stores pylons located under the wings, as well as a third pylon on the centerline, capable of carrying up to 2,500 kg of external stores. The centerline and outermost pylons were designed to accommodate 1,400-liter and 800-liter drop tanks respectively. The air intake centerbody housed a radar rangefinder, while an SM-8 gunsight was installed. Although the J-8 shared some similarities with the Mikoyan Ye-152A experimental interceptor (known as Flipper in NATO reporting), its proportions differed significantly, featuring a slender, pencil-like fuselage.

Huang Zhiqian originally served as the chief designer of the J-8. However, his unfortunate demise in an aircraft crash in May 1965 led to Wang Nanshou taking over the position. Together with Ye Zhenda, they successfully completed the design work by September of the same year. In December, a full-size mock-up was constructed and reviewed. The Shenyang Aircraft Factory was assigned the task of completing the development by the end of 1966.

The ‘Cultural Revolution’ inevitably caused disruptions in the J-8 program. Following the passing of Gao Fangqi, the chief engineer of the Shenyang Aircraft Factory, his successor Liu Hongzhi continued with the preparations for prototype construction. However, he was unexpectedly removed from office in November 1966. As a result, the responsibility for the program was transferred to the ‘Joint J-8 Development Command,’ led by Wang Xin.

In August of 1967, the factory initiated the construction of two prototypes. The first prototype, ‘001 Red’, was finished in June 1968. Progress was slow due to the secretive nature of the aircraft’s development. On December 19th, the first prototype underwent taxi tests, but an accident occurred when the nose gear shimmied during a high-speed run, resulting in damage to the aircraft. After repairs, the J-8 successfully completed its first flight on July 5th, 1969, with Yin Yuhuan at the controls. However, shortly after, the flight test team and the Joint Flight Test Command were unexpectedly disbanded, along with the chief design office in Shenyang, as a consequence of the ‘Cultural Revolution’. This led to the programme coming to a near standstill.

Between 1969 and 1979, the two prototypes known as ‘001 Red’ and ‘002 Red’ completed a total of 1,025 flights, accumulating a combined flight time of 663 hours. The flight tests revealed significant issues. Initially, in 1969, the aircraft encountered severe Mach buffet at Mach 0.86, preventing it from surpassing the speed of sound. This problem was attributed to imperfections in the rear fuselage, which caused intense turbulence. Modifications were implemented to address the aerodynamic concerns. However, in 1977, the phenomenon resurfaced during transonic speeds, necessitating another round of redesign. Subsequently, Mach buffet was once again experienced at Mach 1.24. This time, the solution involved the development and installation of a yaw damper in the rudder control circuit.

Additionally, the rear section of the aircraft was susceptible to excessive heat buildup when flying at high speeds, particularly at high Mach numbers. This resulted in potential damage to the brake parachute situated at the base of the rudder, as well as the surrounding structure. This issue emerged in 1970 and was successfully addressed through a combination of enhanced air cooling, improved heat insulation, and the implementation of new, more durable materials in the aircraft’s structure.

Furthermore, the WP-7A engines exhibited a tendency to experience flameouts and were generally unreliable initially. Resolving this problem required a considerable amount of time and effort.

Lastly, during static tests, it became evident that certain areas of the airframe required reinforcement to ensure optimal structural integrity.

Test pilots Lu Mingdong, Hua Jun, Wang Ang, and Su Guohua played a significant role in rectifying the issues with the fighter aircraft. In September 1978, the Chief Designer Office at the Shenyang Aircraft Research Institute was reinstated, and Gu Songfen, who had been the Vice Chief Designer since the beginning of the J-8 program, was appointed as the Chief Designer. By 31st December 1979, the design of the J-8 was finalized, paving the way for its mass production. Finally, on 2nd March 1980, the aircraft was officially accepted for service. It was given the NATO reporting name Finback-A.

Technical Data


Crew - 1

Length - 19.25 (Without Pitot)

Height - 5.41 m

Wingspan - 9.344 m

Empty Weight - 9,285 kg

Gross Weight - 13,850 kg

Max Takeoff Weight - 16,800 kg

Powerplant - 2 x WP-7B Turbojet Engines (38.7 kN Dry, 59.8 kN Wet)

Max Speed - 1,296.4 km/h (at sea level)

Rate of Climb - 200 m/s

Range - 1,580 km

Service Ceiling - 21,000 m

Aircraft was later modified with a drogue shoot.


2 x 30-1 30mm Cannons (125 rpg)

4 x PL-2/2B

4 x HF-16B Rocket Pods (?)

1 x 800 Litre Drop Tank

2 x 480 Litre Drop Tank


Type 222 RO Radar

Ballistic Computer






J-8 (Left) and J-8A (Right)









(Book)China’s Navy Ships and Aircraft of the People’s Republic of China, 1955 - 2021 (Page B-9)

(Book) Encyclopedia of Chinese Aircraft, vol.3 (Page 90 - 93)

(Book) Chinese Aircraft China’s Aviation Industry Since 1951. - Page 75 - 77


Would you do a suggestion for the J-8C (J-8III)? I feel like whenever they introduce the PL-12/SD-10, and the J-8F gets them, it’ll move up and leave a void at where it once was; the J-8C might be able to fill that void.



In Chinese, this variant is often called 殲-8白 or short for 殲-8白天型 (J-8 daytime version) as it does not have a radar for night operations
also it allows PRC aircraft to split into two lines, one for light / medium planes (J-6 / 7 variants > J-10 variants) and the other for heavy planes (J-8 variants > J-11 variants)

Besides J-8C, below are other J-8 variants that do no have suggestion yet:
(I do not list the J-8D variants as in-flight fueling is not in the game)


Is this post for the whole J-8I series, or only 歼-8白(J-8 Daytime)? I’m sure this title is too big for this suggestion post

Simplified Chinese plz

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Maybe it could be a premium like Click-bait or any other C&P premium

wait… the data from this post is the front open canopy J-8 Daytime, but the second picture is a back open canopy J-8A or much later J-8I varient

The Mig-21 with cake factory.


As the post list the armament as 30mm guns, it should be the J-8 daytime only

Only for the first production J-8, which is literally just J-8

I’ll fix it

I assume J-8 could be 9.3 BR at rank 6 and located after Shenyang J-6A & Chengdu J-7II

suggestion fixed

Checked it, the J-8 is the name though i suggest you mention this post is just about the first production J-8
The naming rule of Chinese vehicles is really weird and they sometimes dont give a new name for small upgrades
And thanks for correcting the picture

I believe the J-8 Daytime and this J-8 are relatively the same, only one of my books really mentions there being a J-8 Daytime Fighter variant, but it is near identical to the J-8 suggestion i made.

yeah they are the same plane afaik
this J-8 was called J-8 Daytime because it only have a radar gunsight so it could only intercept enemy at daytime

oh so then it is the same thing, just misconception about designations.

Thanks for your time, feel free to correct me if im wrong

I heard some source said it’s Type 226