Category Archives: Republic of China

Gloster CXP-1001

Taiwan flag UK Union Jack Republic of China / United Kingdom (1947)
Jet Fighter – 1 Mockup Built

A modern interpretation of the Gloster CXP-1001 Blueprint (theblueprints.com)

The Gloster CXP-1001 jet fighter was the result of a joint Anglo-Chinese design venture initially conducted in 1946 to provide the Republic of China with a modern and efficient jet fighter. Based on the Gloster E.1/44, the CXP-1001 would have been the first jet aircraft to enter service in China. Plagued by slow development and lack of funding, the CXP-1001 was never fully completed, although a mockup was produced. Despite the fact that the Gloster CXP-1001 was one of the most important milestones of Chinese aviation, it is relatively unknown to both the Eastern and Western world due to its obscurity.

History

With the conclusion of the Second World War, both the Communist Chinese forces under Mao Zedong and Chinese Nationalist forces under Chiang Kai-Shek were preparing themselves for the inevitable continuation of the Chinese Civil War, a conflict between the two factions that had been going on since 1927. The American Lend-Lease programme greatly assisted the modernization of the Nationalist forces during the Second World War, equipping them with contemporary weapons and vehicles. The Communist forces, on the other hand, relied on mostly obsolete weapons from the Qing-era (pre-1912). Despite this, the Nationalists expected fierce resistance from the Communists, and the fact that members from the former Imperial Japanese Army Air Service and Manchukuo Imperial Air Force were helping the Communists build up an air force alarmed the Nationalist ranks. In order to gain an upper hand on the Communists, Chiang authorized a technical mission to the United Kingdom in early 1946 to investigate the possibility of a joint Anglo-Chinese program for a fighter, a bomber and a jet fighter. After extensive negotiating, the Gloster Aircraft Company agreed to initiate a collaborative jet fighter design with China. Following an agreement on July 18th of 1946, thirty Chinese designers and engineers were to be given facilities at the Design and Drawing Offices at Hucclecote, Gloucestershire for twelve months. A team of thirty-three British designers was to reside with the Chinese in order to mentor them on improving the Chinese aircraft industry. The Chinese team arrived sometime in September of the same year and they were brought to a section of the Brockworth factory where workshops and offices were set aside for the Chinese to study the British aircraft industry. Interestingly enough, each member of the Chinese delegation was gifted an Austin 8 car for the duration of their stay. Another term of the aforementioned agreement was that, after six months, the Nationalist government could send a list of specifications to Gloster and they would design and produce three jet prototypes for them within thirty months. The prototypes would then be shipped to mainland China, where the Nationalists could decide whether or not to acquire a manufacturing licence.

During the initial days, the Chinese designers were rarely allowed to see anything of value, as the Air Ministry had, quite expectedly, declared most of the projects that were being worked on as secret. Technology such as the Gloster Meteor fighter, the Rolls-Royce Nene Mk.2 and E.1/44 fighter were all hidden from the Chinese. Despite this, the Chinese were able to negotiate a Rolls Royce Nene Mk.1 jet engine manufacturing licence, but the British Ministry of Air secretly ordered Rolls-Royce to delay the contract as much as possible.

With the worsening situation back in China, the Chinese delegate in Britain reached out to Gloster and asked them to prepare a contract for the design of a single-seat fighter aircraft powered by either the Rolls-Royce Nene or de Havilland Ghost turbojet with assistance from the Chinese engineers. As such, Gloster representatives consulted the Ministry of Air for permission to adapt the Gloster E.1/44 jet fighter to the specifications set by the Chinese, but refrain from production. This request was granted and the new aircraft proposal was assigned the designation of “CXP-102” (Chinese Experimental Pursuit) on May 14th of 1947. During development, it was noted that the situation in China worsened every day for the Nationalists and a stable aircraft industry back home would take a considerable amount of time to set up. Colonel Wu, part of the military attache and negotiator with Gloster decided to once again contact the Gloster firm with the hopes of securing a more advanced design which could be immediately exported to China for use. This time, the Ministry of Air stepped in and voiced their objections to providing a foreign air force with a jet fighter whose performance would match or even surpass the latest British fighters fielded. To make matters worse for the Chinese, more and more Gloster staff were being reassigned to work on the Gloster F.43 and F.44/46 projects, as there was a limited design capacity in the United Kingdom at the time. The Foreign Office was also hesitant on supplying a future prototype to China due to the civil war China was facing. However, they did approve of a manufacturing license as they predicted that the design was still two or three years away from completion, and that the Civil War would be over by then.

With the proposal for an already completed design rejected, Gloster and the Chinese staff began to redesign the CXP-102 to meet higher standards. This new design would be based on the E.1/44 once again, but also incorporated many parts used on the Gloster Meteor (such as the landing gear) for simplicity and quicker design. Although considered to be a clean and efficient design by the designers, the CXP-1001 was unfortunately plagued with slow development and lack of funding. By early 1949, the design was almost completed and a preliminary plan for two prototypes was made. Only a mockup and a couple of components were made before Colonel Lin (another Chinese military attache member) contacted Gloster on February 3rd to halt all work on the CXP-1001 due to the string of defeats suffered by the Nationalists. Gloster received the confirmation to halt work on February 28th but agreed to complete all unfinished blueprints and ship them to Formosa (Taiwan) along with a scale model and the mockup of the CXP-1001. The Nationalists planned to finish the work by themselves, but this would never happen as on June 12st of 1949, the British freighter Anchises was inadvertently bombed by Nationalist aircraft whilst in Shanghai. The incident soured relations between the two countries, and the British decided to freeze the blueprint and mockup shipment in October of 1950. After two years in limbo, the CXP-1001 would finally meet its fate as on November 25th of 1952, the Gloster Aircraft Company decided to dispose of all the materials on the CXP-1001 without informing the Nationalist Chinese. The Ministry of Supply (MoS) commented on this saying that disposing of the materials was justified as this was an outdated design, but also stated that they were not responsible for the actions of Gloster.

No photos of the CXP-1001 mockup or scale model are known to exist to this day but the Jet Age Museum in Staverton, Gloucestershire appears to possess official sketches of the CXP-1001 which can be seen in Tony Butler’s book British Secret Projects: Jet Fighters Since 1950. Though ultimately not making it past the mockup stage, the CXP-1001 remains one of the most important milestones of Chinese aviation history, being the first jet fighter design in which Chinese engineers were involved and would have been the first jet to enter service with the Chinese.

Misconception – Meteor or E.1/44 Variant?

One of the biggest controversies that surrounds the CXP-1001 is the debate of whether it is a Gloster Meteor variant or E.1/44 variant. Most contemporary internet sources (such as the BAE Systems Website) states that the CXP-1001 is a Meteor variant, but does not cite any sources to substantiate their claims. As mentioned earlier, most of the British technology were kept secret to the Chinese and the British refused to supply a foreign air force with an aircraft comparable or superior to the ones fielded by the Royal Air Force. This adds on to the argument that the CXP-1001 was based on the E.1/44, as stated by many credible authors with a long history of published books on aircraft (ie. Tony Butler & Derek N. James). When the CXP-1001’s blueprints are examined, it is also quite obvious that the design resembles the E.1/44 more than it does the Meteor.

Design

The CXP-1001’s design was heavily influenced by the Gloster E.1/44, essentially being a redesigned and improved variant of it. The CXP-1001 was an all-metal stressed skin jet fighter powered by a single Rolls-Royce RB.41 Nene Mk.1 engine producing 5,000 lbs / 22.2 kN of thrust and armed with four 20x110mm Hispano Mk.V cannons. The cannons would have been mounted in pairs above and below the nose intake. Each cannon would have been fed with 180 rounds, making a total of 720 rounds. The CXP-1001 would also have been able to carry two 200 gal / 757 L Drop Tanks to extend their range. Due to a lack of information, the details of the CXP-1001’s design is quite unknown and may never be found.

Variants

  • CXP-102 – Initial design concept based on the Gloster E.1/44 with estimated higher performance. The CXP-102 was redesigned into the CXP-1001.
  • CXP-1001 – Improved design based on the CXP-102 / E.1/44 which featured parts from the Gloster Meteor. Armed with four 20x110mm Hispano Mk.V cannons and powered by a single Rolls-Royce RB.41 turbojet, the CXP-1001 would have been the first jet fighter to enter service with the Chinese if it were to see production.

Operators

  • Republic of China – The CXP-1001 was designed with the assistance of the Chinese, and would have been operated solely by the Republic of China Air Force in a military capacity.
  • United Kingdom – The Gloster Aircraft Company was the main designer of the CXP-1001, and would have operated it in a testing capacity before shipping the prototype to mainland China.

Gloster CXP-1001*

* – Data taken from British Secret Projects: Jet Fighters Since 1950 by Tony Butler and Gloster Aircraft since 1917 by Derek N. James

Wingspan 38 ft 0 in / 11.6 m
Length 41 ft 9 in / 12.8 m
Height 14 ft 10 in / 4.29 m
Wing Area 360 ft² / 33.5 m²
Thickness to Chord Ratio 0.011
Wings Sweepback 20 °
Engine 1x Rolls-Royce RB.41 Nene Mk.1 turbojet (5,000 lb / 22.2 kN of thrust)
Internal Fuel Load 470 gal / 1780 L
Empty Weight 8,960 lb / 4,060 kg
Normal Weight 13,900 lb / 6,305 kg
Maximum Overload Weight 18,700 lb / 5,700 kg
Climb Rate 6,000 ft/min / 1,830 m/min at Sea Level
Service Ceiling 40,000 ft / 12,200 m
Maximum Range 410 mi / 600 km – Standard

1,000 mi / 1,600 km – With Drop Tanks

Maximum Speed 600 mph / 965 kmh at 10,000 ft / 3,050 m
Crew 1x Pilot
Armament 4x 20x110mm Hispano Mk.V cannon (180 rpg)
External Load 2x 200 gal / 760 L Drop Tanks

Gallery

Illustrations by Haryo Panji https://www.deviantart.com/haryopanji

Artist conception of the CXP-1001 in a late 1950s ROCAF livery. (Illustration by Haryo Panji)
Artist conception of the CXP-1001 in a late 1940s ROCAF livery. (Illustration by Haryo Panji)

Sources

Hummingbird Yi (乙)

3rd AFAMF Hummingbird

republic of china flag Republic of China (1948)
Prototype Helicopter – 2 Built

The Hummingbird was a prototype helicopter developed by the Republic of China in 1944 to 1948. Inspiration for the Hummingbird was mostly from designs of other nations. The Hummingbird was to be used in a light reconnaissance role. The development ended when the Taiwanese lost the Civil War and evacuated to Taiwan.

History

The origins of the Hummingbird began in 1944, when the American 14th Air Force stationed in Kunming received a shipment of Sikorsky R-6As and R-4s. The Americans put up an airshow to boost morale amongst troops using the new R-4 helicopters. Amongst the spectators were Zhu Jiaren (朱家仁), one of the managers at the First Aviation Factory. He was fascinated by the R-4 and decided to design a helicopter of his own. He began sketches and basic designs of a helicopter in that same year. He successfully made a 1/10 windtunnel model for testing, but no data was recorded. Despite building a 1/10 model, Zhu didn’t understand the details of helicopter design and the project stagnated.

After the Second Sino-Japanese War ended in 1945, the American and European countries declassified their helicopter designs, and the Republic of China was able to receive some of these plans. Zhu studied them and gained valuable information, finalizing his designs in 1948 and personally overseeing the production of the first Hummingbird prototype. This was a great moment in Chinese aviation history as it was the first helicopter made by the Chinese.

The first Hummingbird prototype was completed in March of 1948 and was designated Jia (甲). Zhu was satisfied with the result, and ordered stationary tests to commence right away. Unfortunately, due to an accident, the sole prototype of the Hummingbird was destroyed. However, the pilot survived and gave valuable suggestions and ideas to improve the design. Then later in July, another prototype was produced and was designated Yi (乙). The new prototype had a redesigned cockpit with improved visibility, allowing the pilot to see the ground. It also had an improved aerodynamic design, which theoretically offered improved performance over the Jia model. The Yi model also partook in stationary tests, and experienced no mishaps. The Yi was later abandoned in mainland China as the Nationalists retreated to Taiwan. The fate of the Yi is unknown.

Design

The Hummingbird helicopter was a tailless lightweight helicopter meant for reconnaissance. It featured two helicopter blades on the same transmission, a uncommon design at that time. It was a single seater helicopter with the sides of the cockpit open.

The fuselage of the two Hummingbirds could be best described as an elongated teardrop shape. The shape of the helicopter was quite different compared to the helicopters of other nations at the time. It mainly used American sourced flight instrumentation (tachometer, altimeter, etc.).

Production

Only two prototypes were ever made. Variants Jia (甲) and Yi (乙 ). Jia was lost in a accident during flight tests and the fate of the Yi is unknown. Nothing else was produced due to the evacuation of the designers to Taiwan.

The Jia was produced in March of 1948, with the Yi being produced in July of 1948.

Tests

Testing of the Jia:

Shortly after the Jia was completed, the designers did not immediately want to commence flight tests. The engineers first wanted to test the helicopter blades at different throttle speeds. The landing gear of the Hummingbird was fastened to a steel anchor plate using ropes. The helicopter started up its engine and achieved an altitude of 1 meter. While testing the blade speed, a ground anchor was pulled loose from its mooring in the soft ground. The Hummingbird immediately tilted left and crashed on the ground, destroying the sole prototype. The pilot however, was relatively unharmed thanks to a seat belt.

Testing of the Yi:

Learning from the mistakes made during the Jia’s test, the designers reinforced the ground anchors. The helicopter successfully hovered at 1 meter and the blade speed was tested. The helicopter was scheduled for actual flight tests, but it was cancelled due to the pilot’s complaint that the helicopter’s equipment and flight instruments would shake and rattle uncontrollably at full throttle. This could have been due to the prototype’s crude motor, a rough running Kinner B-5 radial engine, a design dating back to the 1930s. The helicopter was then grounded until further improvements could be made.

Fate

The Hummingbird showed great potential at being an effective reconnaissance helicopter. The engineers and designers calculated that the helicopter’s performance would be equal to or greater than the performance of other helicopters developed at the time. In late 1948, the tide of the war turned against the favor of the Nationalists. Mass evacuation of equipment, troops, and strategic supplies was occurring and The First Aviation Factory was evacuated, along with Zhu.

After arriving in Taiwan, Zhu requested that the Hummingbird helicopter to be shipped over so he could continue developing it. However, the Republic of China Air Force denied his request due to an unfortunate technicality. The Hummingbird technically belonged to the Kunming Airfield, which was owned by the Air Force, and not to the First Aviation Factory. Due to this, the Hummingbird was never shipped over and met an unknown fate.

With the knowledge gained from the Hummingbird, Zhu later developed the CJC-3, another helicopter.

Variants

Jia (甲) aka Model A: This was the original model which began development in 1944. This model had poor visibility from the cockpit, and a large airframe. Powered by a Kinner B-5 engine.

Yi () aka Model B: Second prototype with a redesigned fuselage and better aerodynamic design. This version had a window in the lower front quarter of the cockpit, which allowed the pilot to observe the ground. It retained the same engine, equipment and helicopter blade layout.

Hummingbird Jia Specifications

Engine: 1x Kinner B-5 (125hp)
Maximum Speed (Level Flight): 136km/h
Propeller Length 7.62m
Empty Takeoff Weight: 589.5kg
Maximum Takeoff Weight: 725.5kg
Height: 2.63m
Length: 2.34m
Maximum Climb Rate: 910m
Maximum Range: 219km
Crew: 1x Pilot

Gallery

Hummingbird Jia (甲)
Hummingbird Jia (甲)
Hummingbird Yi (乙)
Hummingbird Yi (乙)
Chu Hummingbird Jia
Chu Hummingbird Jia
Chu Hummingbird Yi
Chu Hummingbird Yi

Sources

Wei G, Cheng Y, Zhang W (2014) [Hummingbird Jia/Yi] [Zhong Guo Fei Ji Quan Shu]Stargazer2006. (2011). The Chu « Hummingbird »: earliest Chinese/Taiwanese helicopter. Stingray’s List of Rotorcraft.Qing, L. (2017). Hummingbird., Images: Side Profile Views by Ed Jackson – Artbyedo.com