J-8 (Family) - War Thunder Wiki (2024)


  • 1 Description
  • 2 Vehicles
    • 2.1 Rank VII
    • 2.2 Rank VIII
  • 3 History
    • 3.1 Prologue
    • 3.2 Inspiration
    • 3.3 Development
      • 3.3.1 J-8I (J-8 "Daytime"; J-8A and J-8E)
      • 3.3.2 J-8II (J-8II Block 1/2[B], J-8C, D, G, H, F and export F-8IIM)
    • 3.4 Variants
      • 3.4.1 J-8I 歼-8I (I pronounced as Yi, 一 in Chinese)
        • Specification of J-8I series (Daytime/A/E):
      • 3.4.2 J-8II 歼-8II (II, "Er" 二)
      • 3.4.3 I/II ACT
      • 3.4.4 Specification of J-8II series (B/C/D/G/H/F/IIM):


The Shenyang J-8 is a jet interceptor designed and developed by the People's Republic of China. The project started in the early 1960s as a low-risk initiative to create a larger and more powerful version of the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21F for air-defense missions against new US/Soviet bombers.

J-8 Nicknames
␗ SAC Designers烤鸭 (Roast duck; by Huang Zhiqian)
␗ Official空中美男子 (Handsome in Air; by PLAAF and comment of Singaporean pilot )
␗ Public八爷 (Grandpa Eight; by Chinese military enthusiasts)空中蔡国庆 (Cai Guoqing,a Chinese male actor known for his attractive appearance)


Rank VII

  • J-8B - Block 2 J-8II, the first serial production J-8II series


  • J-8F - Upgraded with Type 1493 radar and new FCS for advanced missiles, the last serial production J-8II series



Before the 1960s, the Chinese skies were still ruled by imported Soviet jets and their domestically produced (unlicensed) models: the J-4 through 7. While it was indeed an accomplishment for an agricultural country to manufacture some of the latest jets of the era, these aircraft were still of non-indigenous design. The aspiration of all Mainland Chinese aircraft designers was to create a completely indigenous Chinese jet in terms of overall design. However, this was quite challenging due to a lack of experience.

The inception of this idea can be traced back to an obsolete yet sufficient design, the JJ-1 歼教-1, which was created and built by Factory 112, now known as AVIC Shenyang. Inspired by this project, a team of designers led by Gu Songfen (顾诵芬), a legendary figure in China (member of both the CAS (Chinese Academy of Sciences) and CAE (Chinese Academy of Engineering), awarded the Highest Science and Technology Award (最高科学技术奖) in 2020 and the Touching China Award (感动中国) in 2021), would set out on a new venture: what would eventually become the J-8 (歼-8; NATO reporting name: Finback 长须鲸).


In 1962, the ROCAF collaborated with the CIA for high-altitude reconnaissance missions over Mainland China, primarily to gather intelligence on its defense facilities and, most importantly, its nuclear weapons program. This mission was undertaken by the infamous 34th "Black Cat" Squadron. While the PLAAF managed to down 5 U-2 reconnaissance aircraft with state-of-the-art SAMs, most of the time, they had to deploy the J-6 and newly introduced J-7 fighters for fruitless interceptions of these reconnaissance planes flying at altitudes of up to 20 kilometres.

As Gu Songfen once remarked, "The biggest flaw of the J-7 was its limited flight time; it could only remain at high altitudes for approximately 2-3 minutes and had a slow rate of climb." This frustrated Mainland Chinese aircraft designers, as they were unable to effectively counter the U-2s. Additionally, with the testing of the XB-70, which was intended for sudden strikes on Mainland China's nuclear facilities (as well as Soviet ones), the PLAAF urgently needed a new high-altitude interceptor.

Two of the chief designers of the JJ-1, Xu Shunshou and Huang Zhiqian, embarked on the design of a new interceptor. They considered 22 different proposals, including both single and twin-engine designs. At that time, the prevailing sentiment in China was, "If we can build an atomic bomb, how difficult could it be to develop a jet engine?" Consequently, the early design of the new interceptor featured a single engine, while Huang Zhiqian continued to work on an alternative twin-engine design in case engine development posed challenges.

During the theoretical discussions on the new interceptor, the pro-single engine designers couldn't guarantee the timeline for developing a new engine. As a result, Huang Zhiqian's model, known as the "Roast Duck 烤鸭" due to its twin WP-7 engines, became the preferred design for the interceptor, while the single-engine version remained unrealized.

On May 17, 1965, the Central Military Commission approved the development of the twin-engine version of the interceptor, which would become the J-8.


J-8I (J-8 "Daytime"; J-8A and J-8E)

The plan for the J-8 was to create a twin-engined jet with low aspect-ratio, delta wings and a nose intake, capable of flying at 20 kilometres at a speed of Mach 2.25. This design was based on earlier aerodynamic principles from the MiG-21F-13/J-7. Developing this aircraft required the production of thousands of new parts, many of which were entirely new components.

Surprisingly, the prototype for the J-8I was assembled in a single attempt, despite the inexperienced assembly crew. On June 23, 1968, the J-8I prototype rolled off the production line at SAC Dongling Airfield. Although there were some minor incidents during the process, the first prototype successfully made its maiden flight on July 5, 1969, while a second static test airframe was also constructed for ground tests.

A significant issue arose during the static tests of the second prototype. During a pressure test of the airframe, at 92% of the required overall structural pressure, the airframe broke into two halves. Sun Shaokong (孙绍孔), the chief test-flight manager, mentioned, "The passing standard was 95%, but when the gauge hit 92%, no one clapped for the 'success', and we felt rather sad for that." The second airframe suffered a total structural failure, while the airworthy first airframe also experienced severe vibrations during ground tests. The structural problem of the static test airframe was attributed to an installation error (3.5 mm bolts instead of the planned 4 mm bolts and fewer bolts installed than the required 64 at the rear airframe). The vibration in the airworthy prototype was related to the landing gear.

After addressing the manufacturing flaws, the maiden flight was delayed by a year until late June 1969. Cao Lihuai (曹里怀), the second-in-command of the PLAAF, was eventually persuaded that the J-8I design was safe for test flights. He granted permission for the maiden flight at midnight on July 5, 1969, with Yun Yuhuan (尹玉焕) serving as the chief test pilot. This specific airframe, J-8I 69705, is now on display at SAC's main factory in Shenyang.

During the 9th test flight, conducted by the vice test pilot 鹿鸣东 (Lu Mingdong), he reported, "At 8,000 m, Mach 0.86; my plane experienced severe vibration," which was quite unusual for a supersonic jet, described as "like riding on a fishing rod" by the test pilot. Faced with this problem, the J-8 team at Factory 112 diligently sought to identify the cause of the vibration. Gu Songfen used a rod and some ropes and determined that the rear part of the J-8 had aerodynamic flaws. A fairing was then installed, which resolved the vibration issue (resulting in the iconic long exhaust tail of the J-8 series, although it couldn't achieve supersonic speeds in this case). Jiang Zuofan (姜作范), another test flight manager of the J-8, mentioned, "It was an improvised idea to test flow separation at the rear, yet it did give him (Gu Songfen) an impression that the culprit was there, and it's severe during the ignition process."

Subsequently, the exhaust tail (the aforementioned fairing, or known as the "skirt" by the engineers) was reduced by 260 mm. At 10:00 am on March 10, 1970, the J-8 finally broke the supersonic barrier, reaching Mach 1.2 at precisely 10:04:05. The prototype was then transferred to Yanliang, Xi'an, for further tests on June 24, 1970. Due to political turmoil and economic reform, it wasn't until the late 1970s that the J-8 underwent extensive testing, during which it experienced engine stalls and fire alarms. Fortunately, both prototypes were saved from catastrophic loss, though the vibration issue at higher speeds persisted.

To address this, SAC brought in 100 kg of wool yarn for flow separation tests. Gu Songfen personally conducted tests by riding in a JJ-6 歼教-6 three times, concealing this from his wife, as they had made a promise not to fly due to the loss of Huang Zhiqian (who had died in a passenger air accident in 1965). He eventually identified the culprit as the triangular area formed by the vertical stabilizer and the fairing. The revised design in this area allowed the J-8 to break the Mach 2.0 barrier and meet the PLAAF's requirements.

The J-8I was finally certified on December 31, 1979, just before 1980.

J-8II (J-8II Block 1/2[B], J-8C, D, G, H, F and export F-8IIM)

After the pre-production J-8Is entered service with the PLAAF in the 1980s, a comparative test was conducted with the J-7. While the J-8I showcased impressive acceleration, it was found to be lacking in agility. Around this time, the PLAAF had set its sights on acquiring the MiG-23 as their new interceptor. Estimates suggested that the J-8I would not be able to compete with the MiG-23, given the latter's variable swept-wing design and advanced avionics, which outperformed the J-8I's nose-intake configuration.

Two options were considered: one was to reverse-engineer a MiG-23SM (No. 9501, obtained from Egypt, now housed in the Chinese Aviation Museum (中国航空博物馆)), and the other was to enhance the original J-8I airframe with a more aerodynamic design featuring side intakes. This marked the first time that Mainland China used composite materials in aircraft, resulting in the more nimble J-8II. Due to the extensive redesign, it was initially estimated to take six years before the maiden flight. However, the J-8II achieved its first flight within just 3 and a half years. The J-8II (J-8B Block 1) made its debut flight on June 12, 1984 (No. 84612, now stored at Shenyang Aerospace University (沈阳航空航天大学)), earning the nickname "Handsome in Air" (空中美男子) due to its revised airframe with side intakes and state-of-the-art monopulse radar.

Nevertheless, after the Israeli Air Force massacred the Lebanese Air Force, which flew MiG-23 Floggers, in 1983, SAC recognised the need for significant upgrades to keep the J-8II competitive with the latest 3rd generation jets. Fortunately, Sino-American relations were relatively stable in the early 1980s, and US pilots noted that the J-8II had impressive acceleration but lagged behind in avionics. Grumman was brought in to handle the development of the J-8II "Peace Pearl" (和平珍珠) with F-16 avionics. However, this program was halted due to the 1989 Beijing crackdown. SAC and Grumman resumed the program in the 1990s, but the Chinese eventually opted for Russian Su-27SK Flankers instead. They also encountered multiple crashes during tests. As a result, they developed an aerial-refueling variant (J-8D), a pulse-Doppler equipped one (J-8H), and the latest version with ARH missiles (J-8F). SAC also planned an export version called the F-8IIM with Russian avionics and weaponry but failed to secure any contracts.

Despite the relatively long time it took to become fully commissioned (not until 2002), the J-8II series became a cornerstone as a test platform for new technologies for PLAAF jets. It also played a role in post-Cold War regional disputes, including the Hainan Island incident. Only the JZ-8F reconnaissance variant remains in service, while the last combat variants of the J-8II were scheduled to be decommissioned by June 2022.


J-8I 歼-8I (I pronounced as Yi, 一 in Chinese)

NameChinese nameFixed armamentsIn-service upgradesRemarks
J-8 Daytime; J-8R歼-8白/日间型;歼侦-82 x Type 30-1YesThe first block of the J-8, manufactured by SAC with a pair WP-7B engines, a pair of Type 30-1 cannons, and a Marconi Model 226 rangefinder in its nose cone. Distinguish by a front-opened canopy. The reconnaissance version has a West German KA-112A recon pod installed.
J-8A歼-8A2 x Type 23-3YesArmed with Model 204 (SL-4 射雷-4) search radar and twin 23-3 cannons (GSh-23L); could be converted from the Daytime model, certified in 1985.
J-8E歼-8E1 x Type 23-3N/AArmed with SL-7A radar and countermeasures, RWR, new rails for PL-5 missiles. Certified in 1993; all J-8As were then upgraded under this standard.
Specification of J-8I series (Daytime/A/E):
  • Wingspan: 9.34 m
  • Length: 19.25 m w/o pitot tube
  • Height: 5.41 m
  • Powerplant: 2 x AECC Shenyang Liming WP-7A turbojet engine
    • Thrust w/o afterburner: 43.15kN
    • Thrust w/ afterburner: 56.3kN
  • Maximum Speed: M 2.18/ 2,693 km/h at >13,600 m
  • Service ceiling: 20,500 m
  • Climb Rate: >150 m/s
  • Crew: 1
  • Radar equipment: Marconi Model 226 (Daytime); SL-4 (A); SL-7A(E)
  • Fixed weaponry: 2 x Type 30-1 30mm autocannon (Daytime), 120 rounds or 2 x Type 23-3 autocannon, 2 x 200 rounds (GSh-23L; J-8A and beyond)
  • Other weaponry: 4 x rocket pods; 4 x PL-2B or PL-5B IR missiles

J-8II 歼-8II (II, "Er" 二)

NameChinese nameFixed armamentsIn-service upgradesRemarks
J-8II Block 1歼-8II1 x Type 23-3UnknownThe revised J-8II has new side intakes and a pair of WP-13B (upgraded R-13-300F), new Type 208 (SL-5) monopulse radar, intended to launch the new PL-4A SARH missile; certified but not commissioned in the PLAAF.
J-8II Block 2/B歼-8II 02批次 (歼-8B)To BHJ-8II airframes with SL-5A (Model 208A) monopulse radar with capabilities of using Aspide (aka A-missile A弹) or later PL-11 SARH missiles and new rails for PL-8 霹雳-8 (Israeli Rafael Python 3). Certified in 1995 and system tests were completed in 2003.
J-8II Project 8-2/Peace Pearl八二工程/和平珍珠N/AUpgraded with a modified F-16C HUD from Marconi Avionics, Honeywell MFD, and Westinghouse AN/APG-66V radar. A mock-up front section of the Peace Pearl is an exhibit at Forbes Field Combat Air Museum, Kansas, US but only the analogue mock-up gauges are intact. The only known modified airframe, numbered 0001 at the Chinese Aviation Museum, oddly retained the AN/APG-66V from Grumman, helping NIRET on radar production line and technological advances.
J-8C; J-8III歼-8C;八三工程;争气机N/ABefore entering into a joint development agreement with Grumman, SAC initiated a comprehensive upgrade of the J-8II. This upgrade involved the installation of new domestic powerplants and avionics, with the goal of improving the aircraft's speed, overload capacity, and payload. However, following the cancellation of Project 8-2 and the urgent need for a new jet to contend with more advanced aircraft of the era, the 03 and 04 prototypes of the J-8II were repurposed as test platforms for the J-8C. These conversions were completed by December of 1994 and 1995, respectively.

Unfortunately, the 04 prototype was written off in early 1997 due to a miscommunication regarding runway repairs at Yanliang, Xi'an (CFTE, Chinese Flight Test Establishment (中国飞行试验研究院)). In response, SAC proceeded to construct the No. 05 (513) prototype for further testing, alongside the remaining 03 prototype. However, the 05 prototype met a similar fate, as it crashed during a test flight in May 1995 due to an onboard fire.

As a result of these setbacks, coupled with the successful test flights of CAC's J-10 and the introduction of the Su-27SK for domestic production as the J-11, this project was ultimately abandoned in the early 2000s.

F-8IIM歼-8IIMN/AExport version with MiG-29-equivalent avionics; capable of launching R-27 and R-73. First shown in 1998's Zhuhai Airshow but received no orders.
J-8D歼-8DTo DH/DFAs part of Project 8911 (named after its intended test dates in November 1989), the J-8II was equipped with aerial refuelling capabilities. The development of an aerial-refuelling capable aircraft and tanker had been a long-standing concern for the PLAAF and PLANAF, especially given the emerging threat from US aviation forces in the South China Sea. In this region, only the J-8 had anywhere near the combat radius necessary (800 km), whereas the distance between the nearest PLANAF base and the Nationalist-controlled Taiping Island 太平島 was roughly 1,000 km.

Originally, the plan was to introduce British MK.32 refuelling pods, but this idea fell through due to the political turmoil of the late 1980s. Subsequently, both XAC and SAC began developing a domestic system that utilized the H-6 as the tanker, with the J-8II serving as the receiving aircraft. The installation of this system on their respective platforms was completed, and testing commenced by November 1991. However, the system encountered significant flaws, and it wasn't until December 19 that the factory delivered a revised probe for the J-8D. This revised probe was successfully tested at 11:30 am on December 23, 1991, with test pilot Chang Qingxian(常庆贤) at the helm.

Subsequently, aerial-refuelling demonstrations became a regular part of Mainland China's military parades, starting in 1999. In addition to the refuelling probes, the J-8D also replaced its RWR (Radar Warning Receiver) systems with an all-aspect system, featuring multiple sensors scattered around the airframe, including four on the vertical stabilizer and two each on the rear-aspect and front-aspect, along with additional avionics in the co*ckpit.

J-8H歼-8HN/AUpgraded J-8II with Type 1491 PD radar and new radar display; certified on January 20, 2004 with a dual-target test; could be upgraded from J-8B or J-8D.
J-8G歼-8GN/ACapable of launching KD-88 AGM or YJ-91 ASM; was not commissioned.
J-8F/J-8RF歼-8F/歼侦-8FN/ANew Type 1492 PD radar, WP-13B-II engines, and capable of launching the PL-12 ARH missile or other guided weaponry. Certified in 2005. J-8RF is the high-altitude reconnaissance variant based on the F series with removed guns and WP-14 engines (WP-13B-II was later reinstalled for reliability).


Fly-by-write test platform based on the J-8I and II as back-up for the CAC J-10. The former crashed during a test to a software bug; the latter survived as J-8II 99913 with a pair of canards, kept at the SAC Museum as outdoor exhibition item, right next to J-8I 69705.

Specification of J-8II series (B/C/D/G/H/F/IIM):

  • Wingspan: 9.34 m
  • Length: 21.6 m
  • Height: 5.41 m
  • Powerplant: 2 x AECC Shenyang Liming WP-13A-II turbojet engine (All but J-8C and J-8F[R]);2 x AECC Shenyang Liming WP-13B-II turbojet engine (J-8F[R]); 2 x AECC Shenyang Liming WP-14 "Kunlun" turbojet engine (J-8C; JZ-8F before refit)
    • Thrust w/o afterburner: 42.7 kN (WP-13B-II)/51.65 kN (WP-14)
    • Thrust w/ afterburner: 65.9 kN (WP-13B-II)/73.5 kN (WP-14)
  • Maximum Speed: M 2.2-2.4
  • Service ceiling: 20,500 m
  • Climb Rate: 200 m/s
  • Crew: 1
  • Radar equipment: Changhong SL-5(A) (J-8II; J-8B;J-8D); NRIET Type 1471 (J-8C); Type 1491 (J-8H/DH) / Type 1492 (J-8F/DF)-Monopulse-PD; Westinghouse AN/APG-66V (J-8II Project 8-2) PD; Phazotron-NIIR Zhuk-8II PD (F-8IIM)
  • Fixed weaponry: 1 x Type 23-3 autocannon (GSh-23L), 200 rounds
  • Other weaponry: IR AAMs: PL-5B/C/E, PL-8, R-73 (IIM); (S)ARH AAMs: Aspide-1A, PL-11, PL-12 (F), R-27 (IIM); 8 x 250-3 low-drag bombs; 4 x Type 90-1 or 57-1 rocket pods; ASh(G)M KD-88 (G), YJ-91 (G) (Note: J-8II to J-8D and their upgrades to later standards only supported 4 missiles at once due to limitations on main bus; new airframes of F-8IIM or beyond J-8H supported 6)
J-8 (Family) - War Thunder Wiki (2024)


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