The China Aviation Museum, often referred to as Datangshan, is China’s biggest Aviation museum with a collection over 300 aircraft. The museum offers a great collection dating from the Korean- and Cold War, till current Chinese airpower. The museum is located 60 km north of Beijing, near the town of XiaoTangShan, and was once part of the Shahezhen airbase.
The museum opened November 11, 1989 on the 40th anniversary of the Founding of Air Force section of the Chinese People's Liberation Army. Its collection is unique, with a high number of indigenous Chinese and Soviet military aircraft, including some types not seen anywhere else.
The collection was neglected for years probably due to the lack of funds. But this changed in 2009 when the museum was renovated, expanded and reopened to the public. Photo’s shown in this report were made during a visit in 2005, years before the renovation.
The museum closed for a while heavily investing and touching up the collection. In 2009 it reopened in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the People’s Democratic Republic of China. A massive new exhibition hall was build and the collection was moved over the museum grounds. Besides the new building, the aircraft were renovated with most of them getting a new coat of paint.
Nowadays the museum consists of four parts. First the exhibition buildings, displaying the more recent aircraft like the J-10. Second part is the tunnel featuring more than 50 aircraft. Aircraft dating from World War II and the Korean War are displayed here.
The third part are the “Flightlines”, with lots of fighters, over 40, on display next to the tunnel and in front of the main exhibition hall. The fourth part are the aprons and grass fields. Most of the larger planes are located here. There’s even a small airstrip used by the flightclub. With lots of room on the museum terrain, they could expend the collections for years to come.
The museum’s collection is so massive, we split this report in several sections. We start off with the Fighters (minus the ones in the tunnel)
The museum has many rare fights, some of them are prototypes or special modifications. The collection gives a good overview of Chinese designed and build aircraft, with new types like the J-10, JH-7 and J-11 already added to the collection.
2424, J-5 radar testbed
As said before, there are lots of prototypes of Chinese developed aircraft in the museum.
(From left to right) The J6II, 40404 seen here in lizard camo (2005) was the prototype of the J-6II. This variant is fitted with 30mm cannons and air speed tubes. Its first flight was completed in March 1969. The JJ-6, 41483 is very rare. It is a Chinese designed aircraft with no Soviet equivalent. The JJ-6 was a trainer version based on the J-6. It has two cockpit seats and an extended fuselage section. The J-8II, 0001 looks a lot deferent than its predecessor the J-8I. During the Sino-US cooperation era, up to 50 J-8IIs were to be delivered to the US for upgrades and installation of AN/APG-66(v) radar and fire control system for US$500 million, under the Peace Pearl program. However, the project was canceled and only about 24 J-8II were produced.
(From left to right) The DongFeng-102, 5619, was a Chinese build predecessor to the J-6. It was based on the Russian MiG-19P. The DongFeng-102 took its maiden flight in September 1959. The production of DonFeng-102 was cancelled due to quality issues and unsatisfactory performance. Shenyang later began to develop a modern aircraft based on the MiG-19S in 1961, the J-6. The J-6IV, 20158 was an all-weather variant based on the J-6III and was equipped with two 30mm cannons and a local ranging radar. It’s first flight was completed in 1970. The J-12, 01, is a Chinese 1970s design for a lightweight supersonic fighter. Two are in the museum (the other in the tunnel) of the nine build. The program was stopped in 1977 when the J-7 appeared superior.
Bombers, Attack aircraft
A variation of bombers and ground attack aircraft can be seen all over the museum. The Tu-2 was first used in 1949 in China. The huge H-6 bomber is a Chinese build Tu-16 variant, still in use today. The museum now own two. The “4251” stands in the main exhibition hall and dropped the first Chinese H bomb in 1967. The Nanchang Q-5 is a Chinese designed and build attack aircraft based on the MiG-19. Several versions are on display.
91124, Q-5 radar testbed
10794, H-6 close up
Since our visit new helicopters were added to the collection. Around 20 helicopters now also include a CAAC Allouette III, PLAAF Mi-6 and a CH-47.
Read on in our next part: The Tunnel, Transport & Airliners. This includes the aces from the Korean War, as can be seen in the tunnel hangar beneath Datangshan mountain.