CHINESE & POLISH MIG-17 PRODUCTION
Written by: Greg Gobel
The MiG-17 was license-built in both China and Poland. In the early 1950s,
the PLAAF obtained a number of Soviet-built MiG-17 Fresco-A day fighters,
designated "J-4" or, when passed on to other countries, "F-4". The Chinese
obtained plans for the MiG-17F Fresco-C day fighter in 1955, along with two
completed pattern aircraft, 15 knockdown kits, and parts for ten aircraft.
The first Chinese-built MiG-17F, produced by the Shenyang factory, performed
its initial flight on 19 July 1956 with test pilot Wu Keming at the controls.
The MiG-17F was known as the "J-5" in Chinese service, or "F-5" when it was
exported. One was actually trialed as a torpedo bomber, but not surprisingly
the concept never made it into formal service.
The Chinese then went on to produce the MiG-17PF interceptor as the "J-5A
(F-5A)". Plans were obtained in 1961, but the country was in turmoil in the
early 1960s and the first Chinese-built MiG-17PF, produced at the Chengdu
factory, didn't fly until 1964, when the type was basically obsolete. It was
given the designation of "J-5A (F-5A)". A total of 767 J-5s and J-5As were
built to end of production in 1969.
Somewhat more practically, the Chinese built a two-seat trainer version of
the MiG-17, designated the "JJ-5 (FT-5)". It was something of a hybrid,
featuring the cockpit system of the MiG-15UTI / JJ-2, the non-afterburning
VK-1A engine of the MiG-17 Fresco-A, and the larger airbrakes of the MiG-17F.
It also had a protruding upper intake lip resembling that of the MiG-17PF,
but the JJ-5 wasn't fitted with radar. All the nose armament was deleted,
with the aircraft carrying a single NR-23 cannon in a belly pack. First
flight was in 1968, with the type built at the Chengdu factory.
About 1,061 JJ-5s were built to end of production in 1986, with the type
exported to a number of countries. Some sources have referred to it as a
"MiG-17UTI", but formally speaking there never was an aircraft with that
The Polish WSK-PZL organization initiated licence production of the MiG-17F
Fresco-C and the VK-1F engine in the mid-1950s, with the first example
aircraft rolled out in late November 1956, MiG-15 / LIM-2 production being
terminated to make way for the new machine. The MiG-17F fighter, which was
built at the Mielec plant, was designated "LIM-5" and the VK-1F engine, which
was built at the Rzeszow plant, was designated "Lis-5"; oddly, there doesn't
appear to have been any "LIM-3 / LIS-3" or "LIM-4 / LIS-4". The first four
aircraft were assembled from Soviet-supplied knockdown kits, with full
production following in 1957.
The Mielec plant built a total of 477 LIM-5s. Unlike the LIM-2, which was
limited to Polish service, the LIM-5 was exported in some numbers,
particularly to East Germany, which obtained at least 120.
Although the Polish Air Force did obtain a dozen MiG-17PF Fresco-D
interceptors from the USSR in 1955, the service needed more, and so a license
was obtained for that variant as well. The first "LIM-5P", as it was
designated, was rolled out in 1959, and a total of 130 were built in all.
They were equivalent to late-production Soviet MiG-17PFs, with the better
RP-5 Izumrud-2 radar and other fixes. Some were exported, with 40 sent to
East Germany and much smaller batches sent elsewhere.
WSK-PZL built their own dedicated close-support variant of the MiG-17F, the
"LIM-5M", which featured large conformal fuel tanks under the wings near the
wing roots; twin-wheel main gear with low-pressure tires to handle high loads
and permit operation from rough forward airstrips, with the larger gear
assembling accommodated by bulged landing gear doors; and RATO capability to
permit takeoffs at high loads, plus a brake parachute to reduce landing roll.
It could carry twin rocket pods in addition to its standard MiG-17F built-in
cannon armament. Production began in 1960, with about 60 built into 1961.
The LIM-5M wasn't very popular since the tweaks and higher weight degraded
handling. There was some consideration given to a "LIM-5RM" tactical
reconnaissance variant, but it never got to prototype stage. Work was
performed on an improved variant of the LIM-5M, the "LIM-6", featuring a
"blown flaps" scheme improve takeoffs and landings and a number of other
tweaks. The LIM-6 turned out to be something of a step backward: the
enhancements didn't improve matters all that much and the blown flaps scheme
was mechanically unreliable, and though 40 LIM-6 aircraft were built, they
were never accepted into service.
After all this screwing around, WSK-PZL essentially backtracked and quit
trying to outsmart themselves, giving up on the twin-wheel main gear and the
conformal tanks, resulting in a close-support variant designated the
"LIM-6bis". It didn't look that much different from a stock LIM-5 except for
the fact that it had a fairing in the base of the tailfin for a brake
parachute and an extra stores pylon not far from the wing root like that of
the MiG-17AS, though it had a number of reinforcements and tweaks compared to
the LIM-5. The LIM-6bis did have RATO capability, but it was rarely used and
the fittings were eventually removed from aircraft in service.
The LIM-6bis began production in 1963, with about 70 built into 1964.
Surviving LIM-5M and LIM-6 machines were converted to the LIM-6bis standard.
A number of reconnaissance machines, known as "LIM-6M", were built, featuring
a camera either in the rear fuselage just behind the wing, or in the nose
just behind the cannon.
The Poles also performed a number of modifications of their MiG-17s,
- A number of target tug conversions, featuring a wind-driven winch unit
in a module on the belly just behind the nose cannon.
- A "LIM-5R" reconnaissance fighter, with either a camera in the rear
fuselage or in the nose, with about 35 conversions performed from LIM-5s.
- In the early 1970s a number of LIM-5P interceptors were converted to a
"LIM-6M" attack configuration. They were fitted with the inboard pylons
of the LIM-6bis as well as improved avionics, and their radar was removed,
though the antenna fairings remained in place. They were not fitted with
- In the same timeframe, a small batch of LIM-5Ps were converted to a
"LIM-6MR" tactical reconnaissance configuration. Their configuration was
much like that of the LIM-6M attack conversions, except that they featured
a camera fairing in the belly behind the wings.