Y8 Transport Aircraft
The Shaanxi Y-8 or Yunshuji-8 (Chinese: 运-8) aircraft is a medium size medium range transport aircraft produced by Shaanxi Aircraft Company in China, based on the Soviet Antonov An-12. It has become one of China's most popular military and civilian transport/cargo aircraft, with many variants produced and exported. Although the An-12 is no longer made in Ukraine, the Chinese Y-8 continues to be upgraded and produced. An estimated 75 Y-8 aircraft had been built by 2001. Vairations include KJ-200 AWACS aircraft.
In the 1960s, China purchased several An-12 aircraft from the Soviet Union, along with license to assemble the aircraft locally. However, due to the Sino-Soviet split, the Soviet Union withdrew its technical assistance. The Xi'an Aircraft Company and Xi'an Aircraft Design Institute worked to reverse engineer the An-12 for local production.
Design of the aircraft was completed by February 1972. Major features of the Y-8 included a similar fuselage to the H-6 bomber, the same bomber's nose and tail turret, a roller-type dropping device instead of conveyor belt, and a gaseous oxygen system as opposed to a liquid system. The original Y-8 inherited the An-12’s twin 23mm cannon tail turret, but this was removed on subsequent variants.
The Y-8 equipped with four turboprop engines mounted under the leading edges of non-swept wings. The wings are attached high on the fuselage, and the tricycle landing gear is equipped with low pressure tires. The earliest versions used for the transportation of freight or troops had two side-hinged doors, while later variants used a rearward-facing ramp to facilitate loading and unloading of the payload. Some specialized versions omit the cargo ramp entirely.
The Y-8 is capable of carrying troops, dropping supplies, parachute drops, and functioning as an air ambulance. It also can be used for commercial uses as a freighter. It is capable of hauling 20 tons of cargo, approximately 96 soldiers, or about 82 paratroopers in the cargo compartment which is 13.5 metres long, 3 metres wide and 2.4 metres high. It can also carry 60 severely wounded soldiers with their stretchers, 20 slightly injured soldiers and 3 medical attendants. Many variants for specialized roles have been built, but information on them can be vague or difficult to obtain due to the secretive nature of the Chinese military.
The Y-8 transport aircraft was put into trial production in the Xi'an Aircraft Factory in June 1972. By December 1974, the first Chinese-assembled Y-8 conducted its maiden flight. Following trial production of the first Y-8s, operations were transferred to the Shaanxi Aircraft Factory. The Shaanxi-produced Y-8s conducted their test flights in December 1975. After a regime of 66 test flights the Y-8 was officially certified for use by the Chinese government. By 1981, the Y-8 entered serial production.
In the late 1980s, Lockheed Martin, the American manufacturer of the C-130 Hercules, helped China to develop a pressurized cabin for the passenger version of Y-8, resulting in two versions: the first had half of the cabin pressurized and later, the second version in which the complete cabin was pressurized.
In 2001 and 2002, new consulting arrangements between Antonov and Shaanxi resulted in modernized redesigns to the Y-8's wing and fuselage. As a consequence the redesign allows the Y-8's fuel capacity to be increased by 50 percent.
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