Nanchang CJ-6

Nanchang CJ-6 at Abbotsford Airport

The Nanchang CJ-6 is a Chinese-designed and manufactured airplane, originally used to train military pilots. The CJ-6 has pneumatically operated tricycle landing gear, partial gulled wings, a squared-off tail, and a large green house canopy for 2 pilots.

Key Stats

OriginPeoples’ Republic of China
First Flight27 August 1958
RoleTrainer / Light Ground Attack


Length :
8.46 m (27 ft 9 in)
Height :
3.3 m (10 ft 8 in)
10.22 m (33 ft 6 in)
Empty Weigtht:
1,095 kg (2,414 lb)
Takeoff Weight:
1,400 kg (3,086 lbs)


Guns :
7.62mm Machine Guns
Hardpoint weapon station : under the wings with the ability to carry a combination of bombs and rockets


Powerplant :
285 Horsepower Housai HS6A 9 Cylinder Radial Engine
Stall Speed :
112 km/h (61 kts)
Cruise Speed :
270 km/h (146 kts)
Max Speed :
370 km/h (200 kts)
Max Climb :
6.5 m/s (1280 fpm)
Range :
540 km (294 nm)
Ceiling :
6,250 m (20,500+ ft)

Fully aerobatic with +6G / -3G load rating

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History of the Nanchang CJ-6

In the early 1950s the Chinese Government licensed the right to build the Yakovlev Yak-18 tail dragger training plane from the Soviet Union. The Chinese version was built in the city of Nanchang in the Jiangxi Province by the Nanchang Aircraft Factory (now Hongdu Aviation Industry Group Ltd). The resulting airplane was called the Nanchang CJ-5 and several thousand were manufactured between 1954 and 1959.

The People’s Liberation Army Air Force quickly saw the need for an updated version of the Nanchang CJ-5 in order to train their jet pilots. China’s top aero engineers Bushi Cheng and Lin Jiahua were tasked with the redesign. The upgraded airplane was named Nanchang CJ-6. The CJ-6 rapidly went from the initial concept to the first test flight on August 27th, 1958.

This unprecedented achievement is known as the “Miracle of 72 days” in Chinese aviation history. The resulting aircraft design was rugged, reliable, easy to build and maintain and operate. It was an excellent match for the Chinese military’s needs and made it easy for student pilots to transition into the fighter aircraft of the time.

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The notable improvements were:

  • Aluminum semi-monocoque fuselage
  • Flush riveting
  • Retractable tricycle undercarriage
  • NACA airfoils
  • Pronounced wing dihedral in the outer sections
  • 285 hp Housai HS6A 9 Cylinder Radial Engine (from Soviet 260 hp AI014)

The Nanchang CJ-6 was originally designed as a military trainer, but it adopted and adapted by various air forces across Asia and the globe. CJ-6s have been used in many different roles including close air support, forward air control, and bombers by North Korea during the Korean War. The Bangladesh and Sri Lanka air forces still use Nanchang CJ-6s as trainers.

The Nanchang CJ-6 went into production in 1959 with over 2000 were built. They are beloved by military history buffs, warbird enthusiasts, and are often featured at airshows. CJ-6s have been adapted for agricultural crop dusting and sightseeing tours. There are believed to be 290 operating by private pilots.

History of our Nanchang CJ-6

Our Nanchang CJ-6A is lovingly named "Nancy". She started her service in the Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force in 1959 as a training aircraft. Her underbelly is armour-plated. Student military pilots learned primary and advanced flying skills with her such as aerobatic maneuvers, formation flying, and combat tactics. Nancy was rebuilt in 1989, retired from military service, dismantled, and placed in indefinite storage in a warehouse. In 2006, Nancy was purchased by a pair of Canadian pilots. After two years of restoration, she won the Red Star Association's "Best in Show" award at the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Nanchang CJ6 in Oshkosh. She also set the Nanchang CJ6 world record ground speed of 271.6 mph, 437.1km/h, or 236.0 knots.