Category Archives: Republic of China

1st AFAMF XP-0

republic of china flag Republic of China (1942)
Prototype Fighter Plane – 10 Built

The 1st AFAMF XP-0 was a prototype fighter designed by China during the early stages of World War 2. Based off of the American Curtiss Hawk-75’s (P-36 Hawk) design, the XP-0 was essentially an improvement with performance increases. Relatively obscure to the Western world, the XP-0 is a unique plane to study as it came from the Republic of China, a nation with relatively poor industrial capabilities and a heavy reliance on aid from other countries such as the USA and USSR.

XP-0 colorized by Michael J.

History

Prior to the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War, the ROCAF (Republic of China Air Force) was looking to modernize their equipment. Seeing an opportunity for economic gain, many American aviation companies such as Beechcraft, Consolidated, Ford, and Curtiss began to send out demonstration aircrafts and salesmen. On June 8th 1937, the first Curtiss H-75H (serial number 12327) made its way to Nanjing (Nanking) for demonstration flights. Flown by Curtiss representative pilot, Peter Brewster, in August,  Chinese air force officials were very impressed with the characteristics of the H-75H and immediately bought the demonstrator aircraft. After more test flights, the decision to import more H-75s was approved, and as such, thirty models of the H-75M (serial numbers 12625-12654) with non-retractable landing gears were bought and imported some time between May and August, 1938. The final H-75 to be bought by the ROCAF is a H-75Q (serial number 12898), which arrived in Rangoon (nowadays Yangon) in December, 1938, where it was test flown against various other aircrafts in service with the ROCAF such as the Soviet Polikarpov I-15 and I-16 and proved superior to them.

When the Second Sino-Japanese war began on July 7th, 1937, there became an obvious increase in demand for combat aircraft. In 1940, wanting to take advantage of the H-75’s advanced design, the executive of the 1st AFAMF (Air Force Aircraft Manufacturing Factory) Zhu Jia Ren (朱家仁) proposed the idea to design a fighter plane based on the H-75 – the H-75 itself was no longer provided to China as the US could no longer supply China with weapons without ruining their diplomatic relationship with Japan. Once Zhu was given the go-ahead by the Chinese government, work immediately began on designing a fighter based on the H-75. After a very lengthy design stage, the final draft of the design was completed, allowing for a prototype to be built in 1942. After the prototype was manufactured, it was ready for flight evaluations. As such, the prototype was transferred to Yanglin (杨林) Airfield located near Kunming (昆明). The test pilot chosen was Lieutenant Wang Zhong Xiao (王中校), an experienced pilot who had considerable flight time in H-75 Hawks. Xiao was able to take off successfully without any problems, and flew around the airfield before coming down to land. During the landing, Xiao noticed that the XP-0’s landing speed was considerably higher than the H-75’s, and this threw him off. The left gear leg of the XP-0 hit the ground first, and caused the plane to tumble and crash into the ground. The wings, rear fuselage and landing gear were all torn off, with the cockpit area smashing onto the ground and leaving the plane belly up. Miraculously, Xiao was able to climb out of the cockpit unharmed. The conclusion of this mishap was that it was caused by pilot error. Xiao, however, was not punished or berated for this. Instead, the design team was even more determined and encouraged to keep on improving and polishing the design seeing as according to Xiao, the XP-0 performed similar to the H-75 in some aspects, but superior in other aspects such as speed.

After further adjustments and improvements to the XP-0 design, two examples were produced some time in 1944, with two more following in early-mid 1945. There are many indications that more test flights were made which were met with no mishaps and positive results, but the details of these alleged flights is unknown. After the victory against Japan, the ROCAF began to demobilize in 1946. Due to this, the XP-0 was no longer seen as a top priority, and new materials were not supplied to the 1st AFAMF for production of more examples. However, the 1st AFAMF used materials in storage to produce five more XP-0 fighters before stopping production once and for all. In total, ten XP-0 fighters were produced including the first one from 1942 to 1946. Unfortunately, the fate of these other nine fighters produced is not known, much like many other indigenous Chinese planes designed during the war. It would be reasonable to assume that these were probably destroyed or scrapped by the Nationalists to prevent them from being captured by the Communists, or the Communists captured the prototypes but destroyed them soon afterwards.

Design 

As mentioned earlier, the XP-0’s design was based off of the Curtiss H-75’s design. It is not a direct copy of it, although they share many aesthetic characteristics. The first XP-0 prototype was constructed using parts from crashed H-75s, namely the landing gears, the cockpit’s instrumental gauges (airspeed, oil pressure, fuel load, etc.), and perhaps spars. It is unknown to what extent the XP-0 used recycled or salvaged parts from the crashed H-75s. The fuselage itself is indigenously made using a combination of metal and wood taken from the Outer Mongolia region of China. With regards to armament , many sources stated the armament would consist of a single .50 calibre (12.7x99mm) M2 Browning and a single .30 calibre (7.62x63mm) M1919 Browning. However, this is debated. (See the Common Misconceptions section below) The first XP-0 prototype was unarmed and it is unknown whether or not the other nine machines were armed. Unfortunately due to relatively scarce reliable sources available publicly, the finer details of the XP-0 are unknown. As for the other nine examples produced between 1944 and 1946, it is unknown whether or not they continued using salvaged H-75 parts or indigenously produced parts. Seeing as the war situation gradually improved in China’s favor, it is not unreasonable to assume that the quality of the other machines went up too.

Common Misconceptions

One of the most common mistakes people make is calling the XP-0 either the “Chu X-PO”, “X-PO” or anything similar. The official designation is “XP-0”, as the ROCAF structured their designation system similar to how the USAAF structured theirs. It would be illogical to have a such a name deviation for this project.

Another misconception is that the XP-0 was a stepping block to develop the XP-1, meaning that the XP-0 was some sort of a “prototype” to the XP-1. However, these two machines are not related in any way except for the fact that it is being manufactured by the same factory and both share the common “XP” (研驱) designation, which refers to a prototype plane.

The last notable dilemma to discuss is the armament of the XP-0. Many sources state that the XP-0 was to be armed with two or four 20mm Madsen cannons or Hispano-Suiza cannons while many other sources states that the intended armament was one 12.7mm M2 Browning and one 7.62mm M1919 Browning machine gun. While it is not impossible that  cannons were to be used, it is very unlikely, as the airframe of the XP-0 was based off of the H-75A, and the H-75A was designed and armed with machine guns. The most probable and reasonable armament would therefore be the single M2 Browning and M1919 Browning setup. With the deviation of these armament setups, it is possible that the nine machines produced from 1944 to 1946 may have been armed with different guns.

Operators

  • Republic of China – The XP-0 was going to be solely operated by the Republic of China Air Force.

1st AFAMF XP-0*

* – Estimated Dimensions and Statistics

Wingspan 37 ft 4.8 in / 11.4 m
Length 28 ft 8.1 in / 8.74 m
Height 9 ft 3.0 in / 2.82 m
Engine 1x Pratt & Whitney R-1830-S1C-G (1200 hp)
Empty Weight 4409 lb / 2000 kg
Maximum Weight 6283 lb / 2850 kg
Cruising Speed 280 mph / 450 kmh
Range 1143 mi / 1840 km
Maximum Service Ceiling 29527 ft / 9000 m
Crew 1x Pilot
Armament 1x 12.7x99mm Browning M2

1x 7.62x63mm Browning M1919

Sources

中國飛機和直升機製造家 – 朱家仁及他所研製的飛機和直升機. (n.d.). Retrieved April 07, 2018研驱-0/1/2. (n.d.). Retrieved April 07, 2018研驱零. (n.d.). Retrieved April 07, 2018Green, W., & Swanborough, G. (2004). The Complete Book of Fighters: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Every Fighter Aircraft Built and Flown. London: Greenwich Editions.Gang, W., Ming, C. Y., & Wei, Z. (2011). Zhong Guo Fei Ji Quan Shu /中国飞机全书 / [Encyclopedia of Chinese Aircrafts] (Vol. I). 北京: Hang kong gong ye chu ban she.,Colorized Images by Michael J.

 

3rd AFAMF XG-1

republic of china flag Republic of China (1946)
Prototype Glider Aircraft – 6 Built

The XG-1 was a glider developed by the 3rd Air Force Aircraft Manufacturing Factory Republic of China in 1943 with the intended purpose of transporting paratroopers and supplies behind enemy lines. It holds a special place in aviation history, as it was the first glider in the world to be built with bamboo. It would never see service, as the war ended and the air force was demobilized. It would meet an unknown fate after 1947. With the lack of information and documents detailing it, the XG-1 remains one of the world’s most obscure gliders.

History

Ever since gliders were introduced to China in the early 20th century, they were never as popular as powered planes. In early-mid 1943, the Chongqing Aeronautic Research Institution received Allied gliders (such as the Waco CG-4A) and realized the practicality of glider based transport. The ROCAF (Republic of China Air Force) then decided to develop their own transport glider. Due to this need, the vice president of the Chongqing Aeronautic Research Institute, Wang Zhu (王助), began closely studying the development of gliders.

During the mid 1940s, the Chinese established paratrooper schools in Kunming with assistance from America. The paratroopers went through 9 months of training and were kept in reserve. The Chinese did not prioritize paratroopers but saw their potential near the end of the war.

In late 1943, the glider project was well under way. The glider would be named 研滑-1 meaning “Experimental Glider”. The Latinized designation would be “XG-1”. Wang Zhu designed the glider to be built with wood and high quality Sichuan bamboo, a first in glider development history. Everything except the landing gear, cockpit instruments, and control sticks were made with bamboo. The XG-1 was specially designed to be able to glide behind enemy lines, to drop and supply paratroopers. Due to unknown complications, the XG-1’s production was delayed until 1946, when a single example was produced by the 3rd AFAMF.* The XG-1 would have been able to carry 30 fully equipped paratroopers with two pilots.

After the XG-1 was produced, Wang Zhu immediately pressed the Air Force to begin trials. However, due to the end of the war and a massive reform in the Air Force, the XG-1’s test flight was denied. Very angry that all his work was for nothing, he resigned from his position as vice president of the Research Institute and went back to his former job at CNAC**. Interestingly enough though, the XG-1 was rumored to have been test flown in 1947. This was likely due to the need of a transport aircraft during the Chinese Civil War. Another 5 examples of the XG-1 was produced between the years of 1945 to 1947.

The XG-1 would meet an unknown fate after 1947, much like many other domestically designed prototype planes. There are theories as to what could have happened to the prototype:

  • Theory One: The XG-1s was scrapped sometime during the Civil War by the Nationalist for materials.
  • Theory Two: The XG-1s was buried or hidden to prevent capture by the Communists.
  • Theory Three: The XG-1s was destroyed during a test flight, or in a firefight.

However in the end, these are all theories with no evidence to prove it.

* – Air Force Aircraft Manufacturing Factory
** – China National Aviation Corporation

Design

The XG-1 slightly resembled the Douglas DC-2, a relatively popular and common plane in service with the Chinese at the time in civilian airliners. As Wang Zhu used to work for CNAC, it could be assumed he used it as a base model during the development of the XG-1. The XG-1’s structure consisted mostly of bamboo and wood, but was painted over in metallic paint.

The landing gear and cockpit instruments were all American made, while everything else was domestically made. The landing gear was in a fixed position, meaning that it couldn’t be retracted. There were small windows installed on the side of the plane for the paratroopers to look out of. The glass that was installed was made domestically.

Operators

  • Republic of China – The XG-1 would have been used by the ROCAF to transport supplies and paratroopers.

Gallery

XG-1 Side View Illustration

Sources

Gang, W., Ming, C. Y., & Wei, Z. (2011). 中国飞机全书. Bei jing: Hang kong gong ye chu ban she., Lin, R. Z. (n.d.). 中國飛機外篇(之 四十二)., Images:  Side Profile Views by Ed Jackson – Artbyedo.comColorized Images by Michael of PE

 

2nd AFAMF Zhongyun

republic of china flag Republic of China (1943)
Prototype Transport Aircraft – 2 Built

The 2nd AFAMF Zhongyun was an indigenous designed Chinese passenger/cargo transport plane, which would see limited service within the Republic of China Air Force. In terms of speed, the Zhongyun series was evaluated by factory test pilots and deemed superior to the Douglas DC-2 the Chinese had in service at the time. Unfortunately, like many prototype planes of that time, the ones that were produced would meet an unknown fate as World War II ended and the Chinese Civil War began. However, a replica of the Zhongyun 1 can be seen in the Beijing Aviation Museum.

History

During the early stages of the Second Sino-Japanese War, the Nationalist Chinese government lacked an effective means of transporting supplies to the frontlines due to Japanese aerial superiority and the rapid loss of ground. Due to this, the Ministry of Aviation issued an order to Chinese factories to design an effective cargo plane suitable for Chinese airfields. Another requirement was to be capable of transporting a reasonable amount of cargo while having decent performance. The Second Air Force Aircraft Manufacturing Factory (AFAMF) in Chongqing proposed a cargo plane made out of quality Szechuan wood, and was approved.

The design of the new cargo plane began in 1941 with 林同骅 (Lin Tong Hua) as the Head Designer, 顾光复 (Gu Guang Fu) as Vice Head Director, and about 20 people as assistant directors. The name assigned to this project was “C-0101” (later renamed Zhongyun).  Due to the ongoing war, the factory wanted to complete the design as quick as possible, so they designed and manufactured at the same time. In the Autumn of 1942, the design was finalized, but the designers were faced with one big problem. They did not have a wind tunnel to use, making them oblivious as to whether or not the design was stable. All the performance estimations were calculated by hand and paper, which simply wasn’t safe enough due to possible defects the designers overlooked, or the designers calculated the performance wrong. Shortly after the design was completed, the project was temporarily halted for an unknown reason.

The project was revived in 1943, and the designers refined the C-0101 by reworking the ailerons and various other small things. Finally, in August of 1944, the C-0101 rolled out of the factory line, powered by two Wright R-975E-3 “Whirlwind” engines. The C-0101 stood by until the summer of 1944 when the Japanese launched Operation Ichi-Go, where it was evacuated along with the factory. The C-0101 was disassembled into smaller parts and loaded onto many trucks. It took a week for the convoy to reach the new factory in Chongqing. The convoy only travelled at night and hid during the day to avoid Japanese reconnaissance and fighter planes. When they finally arrived, the C-0101 was quickly reassembled.

In late October of 1944, the C-0101 would take off for the first time. It flew over the Chongqing Bashiyi airfield for 20 minutes before landing. The test flight was a success. Lin Tong Hua was thoroughly impressed with the performance, and opted to board the plane in its next test flight. The next test flight would be on November 18, 1944 from Bashiyi airfield to Chengdu. This time, the plane was piloted by 李新唐 (Li Xing Tang) with 彭成 (Peng Cheng), Lin Tong Hua and Gu Guang Fu as passengers. The test flight lasted around an hour without any problems. En route to Chengdu Airport, Li Xing Tang noted that the plane’s speed and handling was superior to the Douglas DC-2, the most popular cargo/passenger plane in China at the time. The C-0101’s landing was observed by members of the Institute of Aviation.

Shortly after landing in Chengdu, people wanted to see the C-0101 in action again, so a new pilot was assigned and 高作揖 (Gao Zuo Yi), a designer from the Institute of Aviation, boarded the plane with Lin Tong Hua again. The plane would then perform various flight tests before landing again. The plane performed exceptionally well and was met with positive feedback. In celebration of the successful testing, the C-0101 was renamed to “中运-1” (Zhongyun 1) meaning “China Transport 1”. However, with the abundant supply of American C-46 and C-47 transport planes, only one Zhongyun 1 model was built. The designers still worked on improving the design, however.

Sometime after the Zhongyun 1’s test flight, there was an idea to create a bomber variant of the Zhongyun 1. The bomber variant was still its very early design stages when the Japanese capitulated. The Chinese then cancelled all work on the Zhongyun bomber since there was no need for such a plane anymore. This was also due to the 2nd AFAMF already exceeding their budget.

In 1946, the Zhongyun 1 was given to the Republic of China Air Force to serve in a transport unit. The designers then began working on the Zhongyun 2. The Zhongyun 2’s construction was similar to the Zhongyun 1, with some minor improvements. For example, the Zhongyun 2’s landing gear was taken from a retired P-40B, the fluidity of the ailerons were improved, and the passenger cabin was made more comfy. The plane would once again be made out of a mix of wood and metal.

The Zhongyun 2 would be equipped with two Pratt & Whitney R-985 “Wasp Junior” engines, an improvement of the Zhongyun 1’s Wright R-975E-3 “Whirlwind” engines. The Zhongyun 2 would also be made completely out of metal. On December 19th of 1948, the Zhongyun 2 took off successfully for the first time. It is worth noting, however, the pilot reported slight shakiness during flight. The observers told the designers that the Zhongyun 2 looked beautiful in flight. With that in mind, the designers worked hard to improve the Zhongyun 2’s design.

In late 1949, the Nationalists lost the Chinese Civil War.  This forced them to flee to  Taiwan. During their evacuations, the Nationalists left behind the Zhongyun 2 in haste. As a result, the Zhongyun 2 was pressed into service by the Communists and performed a test flight by pilot 刘懊统 (Liu Au Tong). The flight path was intended to go from Nanchang airfield to Hanko. During the test flight, the Zhongyun 2 allegedly suffered from an engine malfunction mid way, and tried to return to Nanchang. The Zhongyun 2 would never make it back to Nanchang, and was assumed to have crashed.

Design

The Zhongyun was a domestically designed plane made from wood and metal. The design resembles a tubular cylinder with a rounded, pointed nose. The Zhongyun series used components taken from scrapped planes, and used American instruments in the cockpit. Zhongyun 1 had three windows on each side of the passenger’s compartment, followed by a door near the tail. This would later change to four windows in the Zhongyun 2, with the last window after the door.

Variants

  • Zhongyun 1 – Initial design powered by two Wright R-975E-3 “Whirlwind” engines. Made from a combination of metal and wood. The sole prototype met an unknown fate, but a replica can be seen in the Beijing Aviation Museum.
  • Zhongyun 2 – Improved design of the Zhongyun made completely out of metal. It was powered by two Pratt & Whitney R-985 “Wasp Junior” engines. The flaps, ailerons, passenger compartment and the tail wheel was all refined and improved. The landing gears were replaced by the P-40B’s landing gear. The Zhongyun 2 would meet an unknown fate during a test flight by Communist Chinese pilots.
  • Zhongyun Bomber – Shortly after testing the Zhongyun 1, the Chinese realized that this plane had great potential for being a light bomber. However, this never happened due to the Japanese capitulation and lack of funds.

 

Operators

  • Republic of China – The Republic of China Air Force was the primary operator of the Zhongyun series.
  • Communist Party of China – The Communist Party of China briefly operated the Zhongyun 2 before it supposedly crashed during a test flight.

 

 

Zhongyun 1

Wingspan 51.1 ft / 15.58 m
Length 39.2 ft / 11.95 m
Height 8.7 ft / 2.67 m
Engine 2x Wright R-975E-3 “Whirlwind” (450 hp)
Empty Weight 6660 lbs / 3021 kg
Cruising Speed 214 mph / 344 km/h
Maximum Weight 6940 lbs / 3148 kg
Max Altitude 17500 ft / 5334 m
Range 1054 miles / 1696 km
Crew 2x Pilots
Payload 8x Passengers or Cargo

Gallery

Sources

Gang, W., Ming, C. Y., & Wei, Z. (2011). 中国飞机全书. Bei jing: Hang kong gong ye chu ban she.,中國自行設計的第一種雙發運輸機—中運一號及中運二號. (n.d.). Retrieved September 30, 2017.Huang, X. (2012). 中華民國飛機百年尋根. Tai bei shi: Gao shou zhuan ye., Chen, Y., & Liu, W. (1991). Kang Ri zhan zheng shi qi Zhongguo kong jun fei ji. Taipei?: Zhongguo ji yi zhu ban she.

 

1st AFAMF XP-1

republic of china flag Republic of China (1942)
Prototype Fighter – 2 Built

The XP-1 can be considered one of the most obscure planes in World War 2. It is relatively unknown in the Western world, and the fact that it utilized a very unique design by a nation that was relatively inexperienced at designing and building planes. The XP-1 was a Chinese-designed plane that was first conceived in late 1940, and was finalized in 1944. The purpose of it would be to specifically counter the Japanese A6M Zero, and also try to regain aerial superiority in the Chinese skies. Two models were built, one of which would crash on its maiden flight, and the second model would meet an unknown fate.

History

Only known photo of the XP-1 – Colorized

The initial design of the XP-1 came from a man named Constantine L. Zakhartchenko. He was a Russian emigre in America who studied at MIT and received a master’s degree in aeronautics. In 1935, the Republic of China’s 1st AFAMF (Air Force Aircraft Manufacturing Factory) hired Zakhartchenko as a designer to work for them.

In the summer of 1940, the Republic of China Air Force faced the Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero for the first time, and it proved to be vastly superior over the Polikarpov I-16 and I-153 (which were supplied by the Soviet Union) the ROCAF currently had in service. This caused mass panic amongst the Chinese Air Force, and prompted the Chinese Air Force industry to make a plane that would be able to face the A6M2 on even (or better) terms. The project was officially approved in 1942 and Zakhartchenko was put in charge. The new project would start out designated as “D-2”, and later on be changed to “研驱-1” (meaning Experimental Machine) or “XP-1”. The XP stood for (Experimental Pursuit) as the Chinese was following the structure of the USAAF in an attempt to improve their own air force.

On January 9th of 1943, Zakhartchenko’s contract with the 1st AFAMF expired, but he voluntarily stayed until June (he would later return to the United States and join the McDonnell Douglas company). Due to this, the director of the 1st AFAMF Lei Zhao Hong (雷兆鸿) took over the responsibility of design. As the XP-1 was being finalized, there came the need to find a good engine to power it. Hong made a request to the Committee of Aviation for two fighter engines (although he did not specify which model), but was initially denied due to the lack of spare engines. However, the Committee of Aviation did commence a search for spare engines, and eventually found a single Wright SGR-1820 salvaged from a crashed USAAF C-47. The 1st AFAMF gladly took it in, but saw that the propeller would need to be replaced. An order was then placed to the 2nd AFAMF to produce a propeller. Once the propeller was fitted, the XP-1 prototype was almost ready. However, progress was hindered even further when the Japanese launched Operation Ichi-Go on April 14th of 1944, which forced the airfield to be relocated to Guiyang, in the Guizhou Province in Southwest China.

On January 18th 1945, the XP-1 would finally have its maiden flight. The pilot chosen for the flight was Tan Shou (谭寿), an experienced Chinese-American pilot who joined the Chinese Air Force in 1927. Before the test flight, observes noted that Tan Shou was in his most flashy flying gear, which included a leather jacket, a pair of aviator sunglasses, a leather flying cap, a polished pair of dress shoes and an American-made parachute. Usually when a prototype aircraft is about to have its maiden flight, there would be a massive celebration which would include a ribbon cutting ceremony and a tea party. As the Chinese wanted to keep the XP-1’s test flight a relative secret, only a small number of military officials were invited to observe. Tan Shou taxied the plane to the Southern end of the airstrip, and turned 180 degrees to face the North. Once the plane accelerated about 500m, it took off and was met by cheers and applause from the spectators. The plane climbed steadily until reaching 500m, where Tan Shou then began maneuver trials. He initially turned left of the airfield, which went fine. On the second turn, the plane experienced instability and went into a tail spin. This would ultimately end in with the plane crashing into a tree, then a house. The initial impact instantly killed Tan Shou, and completely destroyed the plane. Tan Shou was the only casualty of this incident.

Results and Aftermath

Shortly after the crash, the Lei Zhao Hong gave the blueprints to the Chongqing Aeronautics University and the Chengdu Aeronautics Research Facility to get their opinion on why the XP-1 failed. Chongqing University concluded that the design was not stable, and was thus the cause for the crash. Chengdu Aeronautics Research Facility did not give an answer. However, the local factory workers believed that the American engine they salvaged from the crashed C-47 was the reason why the plane crashed. As a result of the crash, the very obscure XP-2, still in the design stage, was cancelled.

There is debate as to why the XP-1 crashed amongst the history community. When Tan Shou turned left the first time after reaching 500m, the people spectating the plane were obstructed by trees, and thus could not get an accurate look at the incident leading up to the crash, meaning that eyewitnesses had little to contribute to the debate. The first theory speculates that once he reached 500m and turned successfully, he then tried to pull up but couldn’t due to the weight of the engine. He tried to pull up a second time, but to no avail. Tan Shou then tried to turn back to the airfield to land but the plane dove too fast, thus destroying both him and the plane. The second theory is that on the second turn, Tan Shou tried to pull up but the controls stiffened, thus not allowing Tan Shou to maneuver. Due to this, the XP-1 stalled and went into a flat spin and caused him to crash.

The crash of the XP-1 didn’t particularly affect the Chinese Air Force, as they were already receiving superior Lend-Lease planes from the USA (such as the P-51D, or the P-40) at the time which could fight the A6M Zero on equal terms.

Interestingly enough, the second XP-1 would be met with an unknown fate. There are some theories as to what possibly happened to it.(***) The first theory would be that during Operation Ichi-Go, the XP-1 was destroyed by Japanese bombing either in the factory or during transport. The second theory was that after the first XP-1 crashed, the second one was either scrapped or sent to either the Chongqing Aeronautics University or the Chengdu Aeronautics Research facility for evaluation, where it was eventually scrapped too. The third theory is the second XP-1 was hidden somewhere to prevent capture by the Communists during the Civil War. The fourth theory is that the Communists could have destroyed the XP-1 during the Civil War during a firefight.

(***) Please note that these are all theories and speculations, with no solid evidence to back it up.

Design

The XP-1 took inspiration from many foreign aircrafts, but also had unique features to it as well. Its engine cowling resembled that of the P-43 or the P-47. Its canopy was designed after the P-40’s canopy. Also, the tail structure was strongly influenced by the CW-21. Its wings were designed in a gull style, similar to the Ju 87 or F4U (but not inspired by them). The landing gears however, were a unique design. It was also fitted with American cockpit instruments (altimeter, speed gauge, fuel gauge, etc.). It was however, not fitted with a radio which would have made it more difficult to communicate, and is one of the reasons why the circumstances around the XP-1’s crash is unclear – the ground observers didn’t know what Tan Shou was trying to do.

For armaments, there are no credible sources which mention what weapons the XP-1 would have received. However, the most popular and agreed upon armament would be four Hispano Suiza 404 cannons. This is unlikely as the XP-1’s design would not have allowed such armaments if space and weight was considered. The M2 Browning or M1919 would have been more likely candidates. Ultimately, it is unknown precisely what the armament would have been as both XP-1 prototypes were solely to test the aerodynamic properties of the design.

Variants

    • XP-1 – Original model powered by a Wright R-1820F-3 Cyclone. Two models were made in 1944, none of which were armed. One crashed during its maiden test flight, and the second one met an unknown fate.
    • XP-2 – Nearly nothing is known about this design other than the fact that it was to be powered by an Pratt & Whitney R-1690 Hornet engine and was partly based on the XP-1. The XP-2 remained a paper project only and was cancelled after the crash of the XP-1.

Operators

  • Republic of China – The ROCAF was the only operator of the XP-1.

1st AFAMF XP-1

Wingspan 12.10 m
Length 8.72 m
Engine 1x Wright R-1820F-3 Cyclone (710 hp)
Range 1410 km
Maximum Speed 580 km/h
Crew 1x Pilot

Gallery

1st Air Force Aircraft Manufacturing Factory’s XP-1 Prototype

Sources

Ling, Z. (n.d.). 曇花一現 中國早期 XP-1 研驅一式機的故事.Li, S. (n.d.). XP-1 研驱一式机的故事., Gang, W., Ming, C. Y., & Wei, Z. (2011). 中国飞机全书. Bei jing: Hang kong gong ye chu ban she.,  Andersson, L. (2008). A history of Chinese aviation: encyclopedia of aircraft and aviation in China until 1949. Taibei: ; AHS of ROC., Images:  Side Profile Views by Ed Jackson – Artbyedo.com

XB-3 Side View

3rd AFAMF XB-3 Prototype

republic of china flag Republic of China (1944)
Prototype Bomber – 1 Built

The 3rd AFAMF XB-3 was a prototype medium bomber designed by the Republic of China in 1942. Although outdated for its time, the plane showed decent performance. It was lost in its third test flight and as a result, the project was abandoned and all documents concerning it were destroyed.

History

With the demands of the Republic of China Air Force in mind, the Institute of Aviation Studies and the Third Aviation Factory began designing a medium bomber. The designers were Zheng Baoyuan (郑葆源) from the Third Aviation Factory and Tang Xunyi (勋贻) from the Institute of Aviation Studies. The design was finalized in mid-1942, and was ready to be produced in September. However, due to constant Japanese harassment bombings, only one model was produced from between September of 1942 and January of 1944. The plane was produced at Dong Bu Sha He Bao (东部沙河堡).

The plane was disassembled at the factory in March of 1944 and shipped over to Taipingsi Airfield for flight tests. When the XB-3 arrived at the airfield, it was immediately reassembled and test flights began. Unfortunately, due to an engine malfunction, the pilot lost control during landing and destroyed the prototype. Luckily, the pilot survived but sustained serious head injuries.

As a result of the accident, the project was cancelled, and all information and documents concerning it were destroyed.

Design

The design of the XB-3 was heavily influenced by the SB-2M-103. The airframe was nearly identical other than the materials it was constructed with. The spars and airframe were created with quality Szechuan wood, while the skin of the plane was made with a mixture of bamboo and wood. The engine, flight instruments and landing gear were all taken from the SB-2M-103, which was outdated and inferior by 1944. The notable difference between the XB-3 and SB-2M-103 was the cockpit and nose of the plane which were copied from the Ilyushin DB-3. As a result, plane was nearly entirely based off of the DB-3 and SB-2M-103.

The defensive armament the plane would have had would also have been taken from the SB-2M-103, which would be ShKAS machine gun. However, some sources say that it may have been reequipped with American sourced guns.

Production

Only one XB-3 was made at the Third Aviation Factory in Dong Bu Sha He Bao (部沙河堡). This was all the Third Aviation Factory could produce under the constant harassment from Japanese bombers.

Tests

The XB-3 went through a total of 3 test flights before it’s accident.

On the first flight test, the XB-3 was piloted by Huang Rongxiang (黄荣想), although some sources claim that it was flown by Li Yangqin (李焱芹)*. The flight test was to test taxiing, take off and landing. The pilot claimed that the plane handled well, very much like the SB-2M.

On the second flight test, it was piloted by Tan Xunyi (勋贻), but once again other sources claim that it was piloted by Li Chen (李琛)*. The second test was to determine the maneuverability of the XB-3 at low altitude. It pulled many basic and advanced combat maneuvers, and the pilot once again complimented the plane on its performance.

On the third and final flight test, the plane was in the air for 30 minutes before heading back to base due to an engine malfunction. The plane made it back to base but upon landing, the pilot lost control of the plane and one of the wheels hit the runway, flipping the plane and breaking its wings. Miraculously, the plane didn’t catch fire and the pilot was able to be dragged out by the ground crew and rushed to the hospital with a major concussion and serious head injuries.

Due to the catastrophic failure on the third flight test, the flight data was not recorded. The designers finally put an end to the project due to the injuries of the test pilot and the fact that the design was simply outdated, as it was based on a 1934 design. To save themselves from embarrassment, the designers burnt all documents on the XB-3.

*The reason why there is confusion about the pilots was probably because there was mix up of the backup pilot and the official pilot. This is understandable as all the documents of the XB-3 were destroyed.

 

XB-3 Specifications
Engine: 2x Klimov M-103A (1,000 hp)
Crew: 1x Pilot

2x Gunners

Armament: 2-3x ShKAS 7.62 mm
Bomb Load: 1,500kg (at most)

Gallery

XB-3 Side View
XB-3 Side View
XB-3 at the Taipingsi Airfield
XB-3 at the Taipingsi Airfield

Sources

Wei, G., Cheng, Y., & Zhang, W. (2014). 研轰-3. 中国飞机全书., (2017), 研轰-3。百科, (2017), 研轰-3轰炸机.百科