The study of evolution in aircraft design can be as fascinating as Darwin's studies. The development of the Yakovlev Yak-18 and the Nanchang CJ-5/6 provide an example. A few important Chinese aircraft designers were involved in design task of CJ6, Jiahua Lin(Nanchang 320 Aircraft Factory designer, previously involved in CJ5's design project), Xunshou Xu(key member of J-7/J-8 fighter jet design team) and Zhiqian Huang(Chief designer of J-8 fighter jet).
Revisions of the Soviet Union's basic Yakovlev UT-2M trainer in 1943 included the enclosing of the tandem cockpits and the replacement of a tailskid with a tailwheel. The new variant, designated the UT-2MV, provided the basis for the Yak-18 prototype, first flown in 1945, when the dust of the last WWII battle had hardly settled.
Manufacture of the Yak-18 trainer was suspended in 1967 with 6,670 of all versions built, many for export. However, in that same year, production was begun on a significant redesign, the Yak-18T, which was virtually a new machine, a four-place sport/touring aircraft, with side-by-side seating for the pilot(s) and passengers. Production of the Yak-18T continued into the 1980's, with more than 1,000 built.
Built under license in China, the basic Yak-18 was known as the Nanchang CJ-5. Produced at the Nanchang Aircraft Factory from 1954 through 1958, the design showed deficiencies for jet pilot training that led the Chinese to independently revise the basic Yak-18 design to feature a retractable undercarriage, with the main gear folding inward toward the fuselage, and the nose wheel retracting backward into the fuselage. The wings were revised to have prominent dihedral, but, like the Soviet Yak-18A redesign, the CJ-6 retained the 145hp M-11ER radial engine with similarly disappointing results when it first flew in 1958.
Revised power, in the form of an Ivchenko AI-14R engine, didn't solve the problem, which called for further redesign of the aircraft. Finally, in 1961, an improved CJ-6A gained approval and was produced beginning in 1962 using a 285hp Quzhou Huosai HS6A engine. More than 1,800 CJ-6As were produced, including those exported to nations such as Albania, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Tanzania and Zambia under the designation BT-6. An armed version, the CJ-6B, was produced between 1964 and 1966, equipped with a 300-hp HS-6D engine, according to some sources.
As of 2007, the Nanchang Aircraft Manufacturing Company was still manufacturing the CJ-6G, a modernized version featuring such improvements as increased power, a strengthened fuselage structure, bigger fuel tanks, and other modifications.
More than 10,000 of all types are believed to have been produced. Both the Yak-18 and the Nanchang CJ-6 have become popular with pilots worldwide who appreciate the sturdy qualities, reliability and personality of these Chinese warbirds.
Number Built: 2,000+ (CJ-6/6A); 10,600+ (All models and variants)
Number Still Airworthy: 200+ in private ownership; Unknown number in active military service.
The variation of CJ-6 includes CJ-6A, CJ-6B and "Salangane" agro-plane. The CJ-6A came out to solve the big problem of the prototype, which suffered from the engine and fans. As a low speed airscrew plane, CJ-6 is not some kind of hi-tech thing, but it flys savely, has strong fuselage, easy to control. The takeoff range distance is just 280m and 350m landing. CJ-6`s operation costs very little money, which fits for a primary trainer and sports plane.
These countries imported CJ-6s: Albania, Bengal, Cambodia, North Korea, Tanzania, Zambia. Until the end of 1996, CJ-6 has got a 2000 output, 200 exported.