Home / Robert Farley / Retaliation


WuZhen-5 under the wing of an aircraft carrier - 2.jpg
“WuZhen-5 under the wing of an aircraft carrier – 2” by Flavio Mucia (AMB Brescia) – http://www.flickr.com/photos/ambbrescia/5943710801. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.


My latest at the Diplomat takes a look at the Obama administration’s executive order on retaliation against private Chinese actors:

But the Obama administration may be willing to take the risk of a hard stance on Chinese cyber-espionage. Industrial espionage isn’t the only, or even the most important, way for China to get technology from U.S. companies.  Ever since China began attracting more FDI, Chinese companies have focused on the potential for technology transfer, which many Western firms have been happy to oblige. And despite the tremendous advances that the Chinese tech sector has made, technology transfers still flow much more heavily from the United States to China than the other way around.


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  • James

    …What did they do to that poor B-29? I’m not wrong, am I? That thing began life as a B-29, right?

    • It’s not a B-29, it’s a TU-4.

      It was a reverse engineered copy of a B-29.

      That aircraft is one of 10 that were retrofitted with turboprops and given to China by the Soviets (I looked it up).

      • James

        I kinda suspected that part, the Tu-4 bit. What I’m really wondering is what those engines are — they look really odd on that airplane. Some kind of early turboprop?

        • Correct. A handful of them were converted to turboprops.

          The engine was a Ivchenko AI-20K (I had to look it up). It was a very common Soviet turboprop that was used on the AN-12 (C-130 equivalent) and IL-18 (P-3 equivalent).

  • David DiSabatino

    Could be wrong, but I think the point of the photo is that it’s a reverse-engineered Soviet copy of the US aircraft.

    • blowback

      According to wikipedia it’s a Tu-4, a copy of the B-29 that the Soviets rolled out within two years of “acquiring” three B-29s.

  • Note that reverse engineering the B-29 wasn’t nearly as easy as one would expect.

    Just because you know how something is built doesn’t mean you can build one.

    • I took all those frogs apart in biology class but I was never able to make my own.

    • Deggjr

      I remember a documentary on that project. One of the interviewed engineers had the strong impression that Stalin wanted the copied airplane flying before the specified deadline rather than after the deadline.

      • Jay C

        Also, though it may be an apocryphal tale, supposedly the Soviet engineers working on the Tu-4 project found some bit on the original B-29 that had broken, and been repaired; and rather than risk official displeasure (and in Stalin’s time, it was really displeasure!), they reproduced the part with the break and repair included.

        And presumably, that photo of the Tu-4 and its little friend is a recent one? Odd to think they’re still in service….

        • That picture is from a museum in China.

          I was amazed to read that the PLAAF operated the type as late as 1988. The Soviets retired theirs back in the 1960s.

          Of course we had KC-97s flying in the Air National Guard as late as 1978. There were a handful of old-timers in my tanker unit who had KC-97 time.

        • I’d say the tale is apocryphal. The Soviets had 3 complete B-29s plus the wreckage of a fourth. It’s doubtful that all of them had the same repair.

          I’ve also heard it said that they copied the battle damage from one of them, which is even less likely.

    • toberdog

      Somewhere I read that the cost of developing the B-29 was greater than the amount spent on the Manhattan Project.

      • That is correct. The B-29 was “bleeding edge” technology for its time.

        Engine fires were so common that it acquired the nickname of “Boeing tri-motor”.

        • I had heard the same nickname for the Boeing C-97, which used also used the Pratt & Whitney R-4360 Wasp Major. Engine fires were endemic with these engines until P&W and airframe manufacturers figured out how to cool 4 banks of air cooled cylinders with air that got hotter after every bank. In my mind the R-4360 is just about the most amazing internal combustion engine ever, although I can’t say I’d enjoy having to maintain one.

      • Barry_D

        I’ve seen some figures – the best way to put it is that the US spent quite heavily on four ‘wonder weapon’ programs during WWII:

        Nuclear weapons
        B-36 (which wasn’t ready by the end of the war).

  • C’mon, that had to be a Tu-4; what the hell’s a Beihang WuZhen-5 (WZ-5)?


    [A] jet-powered unmanned reconnaissance vehicle (URAV) that entered service with the PLAAF in 1981. It was based on the US AQM-34N Firebee and is shown here under the wing of its Tu-4 launch aircraft.

  • Who’s a cute little WuZhen-5? You are!

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