Chinese miracle of the Soviet assembly

Chinese miracle of the Soviet assembly
Chinese miracle of the Soviet assembly

Well then load it up, exclaimed Zhou Enlai

The colossal assistance of the Soviet Union to China in the 50s made it possible to create an industrial, scientific, technical and personnel base, with which the country made a stunning breakthrough into the 21st century.

This fully applies to the nuclear industry, the creation of which allowed the PRC to enter the club of nuclear-missile powers - albeit not on an equal footing with the USSR and the USA, but nevertheless with a serious combat potential.

Today it is no longer a secret that up to the sharp deterioration in Soviet-Chinese relations at the turn of the 1950s and 1960s, Moscow provided Beijing with access to critical information. It began with the secondment of a group of specialists from Arzamas-16 to the Celestial Empire in June 1958. It was headed by one of the leading weapons scientists of the Ministry of Medium Machine Building, Evgeny Negin, who soon became the chief designer of nuclear warheads at KB-11. They decided to devote the Chinese to the wisdom of the device of the 1951 nuclear bomb - apparently, the plutonium type RDS-2 (power - about 40 kilotons), which was an improved version of the first domestic atomic RDS-1. It was a compromise solution. On the one hand, an attempt to "present" the outdated RDS-1 to Beijing could have turned into Mao Zedong's displeasure, and on the other hand, the secrets of bombs of more modern designs than the RDS-2 did not want to give even to such a seemingly reliable ally as the People's Republic of China.

True, the matter did not go further than oral, albeit very valuable, information provided by Soviet specialists sent to colleagues from the Third Ministry of Mechanical Engineering (Minsredmash in Peking). The dispatch to China of a model of a nuclear bomb, a set of documentation for it and samples of test equipment and technological equipment was canceled almost at the very last moment. But everything was loaded into sealed cars and was waiting in the wings in Arzamas-16 under guard. But here, already in June 1959, Khrushchev and Mao had a raised meeting, which decisively canceled plans to quickly equip the People's Liberation Army of China with Soviet-style nuclear weapons. However, the scientific and technical groundwork created in the PRC with our support (including training specialists in the best universities in the USSR) allowed the Chinese to independently create and test the first 22 kiloton uranium charge on October 16, 1964 (it was installed on a special tower). He was named "59-6" with an unambiguous allusion to the date of the failed meeting for Mao, when Nikita Sergeevich refused to provide his counterpart with nuclear weapons. Like, "China can do it by itself" (by analogy with one of the decryptions of the abbreviation RDS - "Russia makes itself").

Kilotons of "East Wind"

Chinese miracle of the Soviet assembly

If the Chinese did not receive the nuclear weapons themselves from the USSR, then the delivery vehicles were in time. First of all, we are talking about ground-to-ground ballistic missiles. In 1960, China began deploying the operational-tactical Dongfeng-1 (Dongfeng - East Wind), which were Chinese copies of the Soviet P-2, adopted by the Soviet army in 1952. A small number of samples were transferred to the PRC, after which they were mastered by the Chinese defense industry. The deployment of more advanced missiles of the same class, the R-11, began almost simultaneously. The R-11 batch was supplied from the USSR in an amount sufficient to equip several missile regiments.

If the P-2 were considered obsolete, then the P-11 were modern at that time.In the USSR, both conventional and nuclear equipment were provided for both the former and the latter. The experience gained during the operation of the R-2 and R-11 missiles, albeit without nuclear filling, allowed the Chinese to create in 1966 a new type of their armed forces - the Second Artillery, that is, the missile forces. The conspiracy title "Second Artillery" ("dier paobin") was invented by the Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China Zhou Enlai.

A particularly important role in the emergence of the "dier paobin" was played by the transfer of documentation to China for the first Soviet strategic medium-range missile R-5M. She served as a prototype for the "Dongfeng-2". This is the first example of a Chinese nuclear missile weapon. On October 27, 1966, a combat crew of the Second Artillery launched a nuclear-armed Dongfeng-2 missile, which, having flown 894 kilometers, hit a conventional areal target at a firing range near Lake Lop Nor. The explosion power was 12 kilotons. In the same year, the rocket was put into service, but the Second Artillery was able to start its operational deployment only in 1970. Serial missiles carried nuclear warheads with a yield of 15-25 kilotons. The Dongfeng-2 missiles were primarily intended to destroy targets in the Soviet Far East and American military bases in Japan. They served until the end of the 80s, after which they were removed from combat duty and stored.

There were Elas - steel "Huns"

In the 1950s, China received about 500 Il-28 front-line jet bombers from the USSR, and in 1967 began independent serial production of these by that time outdated, but simple and reliable aircraft. In China, they received the name "Hun-5" (H-5). The first Chinese Il-28 was built on the basis of Soviet documentation and with the help of equipment supplied by the USSR back in 1962, but the "cultural revolution" significantly delayed the introduction of machines into the series. Among several hundreds of "Hung-5" were carriers of nuclear weapons "Khun-5A" - analogs of our Il-28A. A 3-megaton hydrogen bomb was tested from the Hun-5A on December 27, 1968.

An even more serious Soviet contribution to the creation of Chinese nuclear power was the receipt in 1957 by China of a license for the production of the Tu-16 long-range bomber, which entered service with the Soviet Air Force in 1953. The aircraft was given the national name "Hun-6" (H-6). The first Chinese-assembled aircraft from Soviet parts was handed over to the army in 1959. It was he who dropped the first Chinese military nuclear aerial bomb with a 35 kiloton charge over the Lopnor test site on May 14, 1965. And on June 17, 1967, with the help of the Hung-6, a Chinese thermonuclear 3, 3-megaton aerial bomb was tested, which had a two-phase charge based on uranium-235, uranium-238, lithium-6 and deuterium. But the large-scale production of the Hun-6 bombers was only organized in 1968 due to the scrapes of the Cultural Revolution. And today these aircraft, having gone through a number of original upgrades and having received cruise missiles for equipping, make up 100 percent of the strategic fleet (up to 120 pieces of H-6H, H-6M and H-6K), as well as the naval missile-carrying (30 H-6G) aircraft of the PLA …

Chinese aircraft designers have contrived to turn into a carrier of nuclear weapons even the Soviet MiG-19 fighter, produced (moreover, in thousands) under license in the PRC. True, it "went" under the atomic bomb not in its original form, but as the Qiang-5 (Q-5) attack aircraft created on its basis. This aircraft was put into serial production at the end of 1969. The deliveries of the Qiang-5 attack aircraft to the troops began in 1970, and aviation units stationed near the border with the USSR began to receive them urgently. Among the "Qiang-5" were small-scale carriers of nuclear weapons "Qiang-5A" with the placement of a tactical nuclear bomb with a capacity of up to 20 kilotons in the bomb bay (in a semi-submerged state). Such a bomb in an eight-kiloton version was dropped at the Lopnorsk test site on January 7, 1972.

Where did the "wave" come from?

The transfer of submarines - carriers of ballistic missiles to the PRC looked quite exotic in the history of world military technical cooperation.We are talking about diesel submarines of Project 629 (according to NATO nomenclature - Golf), the documentation for which was donated to China in 1959. Relations between Moscow and Beijing were already “sparkling” with might and main, when, in 1960, the first Chinese submarine of this type received from the USSR was completed at a shipyard in Dalian (according to some sources, it sank in 1980). The second was also assembled from Soviet units and sections, entering service in 1964.

China received six combat missiles and one R-11FM surface-to-water training ballistic missile for these submarines. The R-11FM was a naval modification of the R-11 ground forces operational-tactical missile and was equipped with a 10 kiloton nuclear warhead in the USSR Navy. However, China never received nuclear warheads for these missiles.

Project 629 submarines were used in China to test submarine-launched ballistic missiles. The remaining submarine underwent a re-equipment in 1982, during which three mines under the R-11FM were replaced by two for the Juilan-1 (Juilan - Big Wave), and then - with one for the Juilan-2.

In the late 1950s, the possibility of transferring Project 659 nuclear submarines to China - our first atomarines with cruise missiles - was considered, and in parallel with their entry into the USSR Navy (the lead K-45 was taken over by the Pacific Fleet in 1961). However, this was no longer destined to come true, and the Chinese had to build their own nuclear submarines, which appeared much later, relying on French technology.

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