Harbin Z-5 Zhishengji
Single-Engine Transport Helicopter, China
Archive Photos 1
Harbin Z-5 (Mil Mi-4 Hound) on display (7/2/2006) at the Beijing Aviation Museum, Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Beijing, China
The Harbin Z-5 (Zhishengji - helicopter) is a Chinese copy of the Soviet Mil Mi-4 Hound piston engined helicopter. It was produced in the city of Harbin, China. The USSR provided China with blueprints in 1958, a few years before the Sino-Soviet split. The first flight was in 1959, but serial production was delayed and didn’t start until the mid-1960s. China has produced a number of unique variants, and the Z-5 was in use with the PLA, PLAAF and PLANAF in large numbers, although it might still be in reserve. China also exported a number of Z-5 to client states. About 545 were built. A few Z-5 helicopters were modified to carry machine-guns and rocket pods.
Harbin Z-6 (Zhi-6) is a Chinese development of the Z-5. The major difference is that the piston engine is replaced by a turboshaft engine, which is located atop of the cabin. Z-6 hence is the first Chinese helicopter powered by a turboshaft engine. Development began in 1966 at Harbin Airplane Factory, but two years later, the major developmental work was handed to the newly formed Helicopter Design Research Institute, but Harbin Airplane Factory still handled the production. On December 15, 1969, the Z-6 prototype test flight was successfully completed by test pilot Wang Peimin. On August 7, 1972, a Z-6 crashed in Princess Ridge in Jilin, killing all 6 people on board, including the pilot, Mr. Fu Guifa. It was discovered that the cause of the accident was due to the decelerator locking on the main axis of the engine, resulting in the jamming that stopped the engine, subsequently causing the crash. As a result, there were a total of 11 redesign changes to eliminate the problem, as well as those potential ones that had not appeared.
Fearing a massive Soviet attack after the Sino-Soviet border conflict, production and development were evacuated to two inland factories: Changzhou Airplane Factory and Changhe Airplane Factory in 1970. However, the political turmoil in China, namely, Cultural Revolution, took a great toll on the production and only eleven were built before the program was canceled because the single engine design was deemed unsafe and unsurvivable in combat. In fact, the political turmoil had such a negative impact on the program that in was not until 1977 when Z-6 received state certification, long after the production began.
Specifications (Z-6) 2
One Z-5 was re-engined with a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6T-6 Twin Pac turboshaft in 1979, during the Chinese-Western rapprochement. Some sources refer to this as the Z-6, but the experiment went no further.