Shenyang J-8 ‘Finback’

Aircraft Profile

Key Facts

Main Role:
Single-seat multi-role fighter
Delta-winged jet
Current Status:
In Service, Out of Production

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Shenyang J-8-II
(photo, credit unknown)


The J-8 (Chinese name Jianjiji-8 (Fighter Aircraft 8 or Jian-8) was the subject of an advanced fighter programme that started in China in the late 1960s. The J-8 was the first PLAAF aircraft of domestic design. The overall configuration is a straightforward enlargement of the MiG-21/J-7 layout to accommodate two engines. Although it resembled Mikoyan’s experimental Ye-152A, contrary to some reports, it was not based on that aircraft. Production began in December 1979, with about 100 aircraft of the first configuration entering service.

The J-8 is a delta-wing aircraft with vertical tail surfaces similar to late-production MiG-21s. It also incorporates technology gleaned from the Soviet MiG-23 variable geometry aircraft.

Design work on the improved J-8-II began in 1980, with production beginning in the late 1980s. The J-8-II has a completely new front end with much larger radar and ventral inlets, along with other less obvious improvements. The improved aircraft was comparable in aerodynamic performance to the Soviet Su-15 “Flagon”.

The Jian-8-IIM upgrade was developed by both China and Russia, (“M” stands for export only aircraft), this model has now become a new-generation fighter. The first flight was on 31 March 1996. This aircraft has upgraded electronic systems, it is claimed to survive damage better that the single-engined F-16A/C and the Mirage 2000. The high-altitude high-speed performance of the J-8-IIM is superior to the F-16A/C, F/A-18 and Mirage 2000; and its radar and electronic equipment are better than the F-16A and similar to the F-16C, F/A-18 and Mirage 2000-5. New WP-13B engines power the aircraft and it has greatly improved low-altitude manoeuvrability.


Requirement Specification: Not known
Manufacturers Designation: Not known

Development History:
J-8 Finback-A Initial development version with small ranging radar in intake centrebody. Armed with single 30 mm cannon and four PL-2 missiles.
J-8-I Finback-A All weather fighter derivative with SR-4 radar in enlarged intake centrebody, small wing fences and relocated airbrakes. Cannon replaced by 23 mm twin-barrelled 23-III cannon.
J-8-II Finback-B Further development with large solid nose radome and MiG-23 type side intakes. Ventral strakes replaced by folding fin. 70% of the airframe changed with respect to the original J-8.
F-8B Projected (?) export version of J-8-II with WP-13B engines, pulse-Doppler look-down radar and digital avionics, with HUD and ‘glass’ cockpit.
J-8-IIM Revised export version with Russian rather than US avionics equipment.


Key Dates:
1964    PLAAF requirement for fighter superior to MiG-21
1965    J-8 project started
July 1968    First two prototypes completed
5 July 1969    First flight of first prototype
1979    Official certification of J-8
May 1980    First prototype J-8-I completed but destroyed in a fire
September 1980    PLAAF requirement for J-8-II development
24 April 1981    Second prototype J-8-I makes maiden flight
May 1981    Development of J-8-II version approved
12 June 1984    First flight of J-8-II prototype
July 1985    Official certification of J-8-I
5 August 1987    ‘Peace Pearl’ contract with Grumman in the USA for the supply of avionics systems upgrade kits for installation in the J-8-II
1989    ‘Peace Pearl’ cancelled by China following US sanctions over Tiananmen Square massacre.
31 March 1996    First flight of the J-8-IIM export variant


Military Operators

China PLAAF J-8, J-8-I, J-8-II

Government Agencies


Civilian Operators



Shenyang J-8-I
As J-8-II except for the following:
Engines: Two Liyang (LMC) Wopen 7B turbojets each rated at 9,700 lb st (43.15 kN) dry and 13,448 lb st (59.82 kN) with afterburning
Performance: Maximum rate of climb at sea level 39,370 ft/min (12,000 m/min); Service ceiling 59,050 ft (18,000 m); Combat radius 432 nm (497 miles, 800 km)
Shenyang J-8-II
Crew: One pilot
Dimensions: Length 70 ft 10 in (21.59 m) including probe; Height 17 ft 9 in (5.41 m); Wing Span 30 ft 7.875 in (9.34 m); Wing Area 454.25 sq ft (42.20 sq m)
Engines: Two Liyang (LMC) Wopen 13A-II turbojets each rated at 9,590 lb st (42.66 kN) dry and 14,815 lb st (65.90 kN) with afterburning
Weights: Empty Equipped 21,649 lb (9,820 kg); Normal Take-off 31,526 lb (14,300 kg); Maximum Take-off 39,242 lb (17,800 kg)
Armament: 6 under wing hard points for fuel, bombs, rockets or missiles: 4 PL-2 or PL-7 and one 800 lt. drop tank, 2 PL-2 or PL-7 and 2 x 480 lt. drop tanks and one 800 lt. drop tank.
Performance: Maximum level speed Mach 2.2 (1,453 mph, 2,338 kph) at 36,000 ft (10975 m); Cruising speed: 800 mph (1,300 kph); Maximum rate of climb at sea level 39,370 ft/min (12,000 m/min); Service ceiling 66,275 ft (20,200 m); Standard range 700 nm (1,300 km) at cruise speeds; Combat radius 432 nm (497 miles, 800 km); Ferry range 1,187 nm (1,367 miles, 2,200 km) with drop tanks


Design Centre

Head of Design Team: Not known
Design Office: Shenyang Aircraft Corporation, Shenyang.


Shenyang Aircraft Corporation
(PO Box 328, Shenyang, Liaoning 110034, People’s Republic of China)
Version Quantity Assembly Location Time Period
J-8 proto.   2 Shenyang 1965-July 1968
J-8 prodn. few# Shenyang 1979-1980
J-8-I proto.   2 Shenyang 1980-April 1981
J-8-I prodn. c.90* Shenyang July 1985-198?
J-8-II proto. 4 Shenyang May 1981-July 1984
J-8-II prodn. ? Shenyang 1988-19??
Total: ?    

# Some J-8 may have been converted to J-8-I standard.
* Total J-8/J-8-I production circa 100 a/c.

Total Produced: ? a/c

Production List

To be added.

More Information


‘Encyclopedia of World Military Aircraft’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by David Donald & Jon Lake
Published by Aerospace Publishing Ltd, 1996 ISBN: 1 874023 95 6
* Includes entries for J-8-I and J-8-II.

‘World Air Power Journal, Volume 3’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
Published by Aerospace Publishing Ltd, Nov 1990 ISBN: 1 87402 30 42
* Includes ‘air power briefing’ on the J-8.

‘World Air Power Journal, Volume 29’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
Published by Aerospace Publishing Ltd, May 1997 ISBN: 1 86184 00 39
* Includes ‘air power briefing’ on the J-8-IIM.


To be added.




Flight Simulator Models:
To be added.

Scale Models:
To be added.

Scale Drawings:
To be added.


To be added.

One thought on “Shenyang J-8 ‘Finback’

  1. Gentlemen,
    I’m trying to find out about small scale wood models That Precise Models Co Produced for Grumman of the Shenyang J-8 II / F-8 Finback . China was having Grumman make modifications of the Shenyang J-8 II / F-8 Finback to its Radar systems on these planes and the project was also confidential. The models were handed out to the workers on the project.

    Does anyone have any leads on any existing models? or a contact about the production of these models? I’m trying to find out about how many were made and a cost estimate , and if any still exist.

    Thank You Kindly for any interest in this matter.

    James Bello

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