Dongfeng 1 ("1059" Missile)
The Dongfeng 1 (DF-1), originally known as “1059” in its military code name, was a Chinese copy of the Russian R-2 (NATO designation: SS-2 Sibling) liquid-propellant short-range ballistic missile. The R-2 itself was an improved version of the German V-2 rocket manufactured by the Soviet Union in the early 1950s. The “1059” missile was the first Chinese-built rocket, but did not enter operational service.
China decided to pursue the rocket and missile technology in the mid-1950s, and asked its ally the Soviet Union for help. Moscow initially only agreed to supply examples of the obsolete R-1 (copy of the German V-2) rocket and accept 50 Chinese students to study in rocket technology in the Soviet Union. However, the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev subsequently changed his mind and decided to up his offer in order to gain political support of the Chinese Communist Party.
In September 1957, a Chinese government and military delegation visited Moscow to negotiate for help in the development of strategic weapons. After 35 days of negotiation, the Soviet leadership finally agreed a package that included licensed production of ballistic, anti-ship, and surface-to-air missiles in China, sending Russian rocket specialists to assist the Chinese missile development, directly assisting the missile development and the construction of a rocket test range, increasing the number of Chinese students studying in the Soviet Union, and supplying prototype atomic bomb and an experimental nuclear reactor.
In December 1957, the Soviet Strategic Rocket Forces (RVSN) delivered two R-2 missiles and the relevant ground equipment to China. In January 1958, the Soviet Union agreed to help the Fifth Academy of the Chinese military to establish a rocket design branch (1st Sub-Academy), a rocket engine test facility, an aerodynamic research branch, and a flight-control research branch (2nd Sub-Academy). Between June and October 1958, the Soviet Union also supplied six more examples of the R-2 missile, tools and equipment, and 10,151 volumes of relevant technical documentation. Soviet specialists also arrived in August to help China to build the rocket.
The Fifth Academy began the reverse-engineering of the R-1 rocket in early 1957. One of the two examples supplied by the Soviet Union was completely dissembled and then re-assembled. This allowed the Chinese engineers to gain initial understanding about the structure of the rocket. With the arrival of the more advanced R-2 rocket, the reverse-engineering of the R-1 stopped in late 1957.
The development of the first Chinese rocket began at the Fifth Academy in August 1958. Initially two development programmes were carried out in parallel: a reverse-engineered version of the R-2 known as “1059”, and an indigenous medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) designated Dongfeng 1. However, it soon became clear that the MRBM was too much of a challenge for the inexperienced Chinese engineers. The Dongfeng 1 programme was eventually scrapped and its designation given to the “1059” missile.
The Fifth Academy saw some significant expansion between 1958 and 1959. Over the two years, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) transferred over 3,000 officers and technical staff to the Fifth Academy. Thousands of decommissioned military servicemen were assigned to work for the Fifth Academy. At the same time, several thousand college graduates from across the country also joined the academy. Over 15,000 military and civilian labours were involved in the construction of relevant facilities.
The engineering development of the “1059” missile was carried out in a small aircraft maintenance factory (211 Plant) in the south suburb of Beijing. The development encountered some serious technical challenges, including a lack of necessary materials and machinery. These problems, coupled with an inexperienced workforce, resulted in poor quality in the fabrication of the rocket in the early years. As a result, the development was almost a year behind the original for the first launch in October 1959.
However, as the disputes between Moscow and Beijing over a range of issues began to emerge, the Soviet Union slowed down its assistance to China. Despite receiving a wide range to assistance from the Soviet Union and building its own industry after the Soviet model, the Chinese leadership remained vigilant to any potential interference from Moscow to its independence. The Soviets, on the other hand, was disappointed with the support it got from its Chinese ally. By 1960, these disputes became public and in August Moscow ordered to completely suspend its assistance to China and recalled all of its specialists working for the Chinese strategic weapon programmes.
Despite the difficulties caused by the withdrawn of Soviet support, China continued with its missile programme independently. As the Soviet Union cancelled its scheduled delivery of the liquid oxygen propellant, China managed to produce the propellant locally. On 10 September 1960, a Soviet-made R-2 missile fuelled with Chinese-made propellant was successfully launched from Base 20 (Shuang Cheng Tzu Missile Centre / Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre). On 17 October 1960, the Chinese-made rocket engine successfully passed a 90 seconds burn test.
The first launch of the indigenous missile was originally scheduled shortly before the 11th anniversary of the country’s founding on 1st October, but the delay in the development meant that the missile would not be ready for the first test launch until a month later. Three “1059” missiles (two operational missiles and a telemetry missile) were delivered to Base 20 on 19 October 1960. At 09:00 local time on 5 November, the first “1059” missile was successfully launched and the warhead hit the impact zone 550km away. Two further tests were conducted on 6 and 16 December, both of which were successful.
Initially the Fifth Academy planned to develop a MRBM designated Dongfeng 1 (DF-1) alongside the “1059” missile programme. Later the MRBM programme was cancelled due to technical difficulty, and the DF-1 designation was given to the “1059” missile as its official designation. Instead, a short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) designated DF-2 (NATO designation CSS-1) was introduced as China’s first indigenously developed ballistic missile. The original MRBM concept later evolved into the DF-3 (NATO designation: CSS-2). The DF-1 entered small batch production in the early 1960s and was tested again in 1963, but the missile had never entered operational service. The DF-1/”1059” missile production line was finally closed in 1966.
The DF-1 was a single-stage rocket powered by a 5D62 liquid rocket engine burning the liquid oxygen (LOX) / alcohol propellant. The engine had a sea-level thrust of 38t, an Isp of 214s, with a burn time of 90s. The engine was developed by the Liquid Rocket Engine Institute of the Fifth Academy, the Missile Assembly Plant (211 Plant) and the Fifth Sub-Plant of the Shenyang Liming Aero-Engine Plant. The development of the engine was completed in September 1960.
The DF-1 was a copy of the R-2 rocket, which itself was derived from the German V-2 but with doubled range. The missile was 17.7m in length and 1.65m in diameter, with four trapezoidal-shape stabilising fins attached to the bottom. The rocket had a launch weight of 20.5t, and a take-off thrust of 37t. The maximum flight range was 590km. The missile was transported on a truck-towed wheeled trailer, which also served as the launch platform during the missile launch.
The missile was designed to carry a single high-explosive (HE) warhead, though no combat warhead had ever been developed. The missile used an inertial guidance coupled with remote radio mid-course lateral correction. The later required a large antenna array to be deployed on both sides of the launch site, making the missile system highly vulnerable in the battlefield.
"1059" Missile / Dongfeng 1
|Overall length||17.7 m|
|Core stage diameter||1.65 m|
|Take-off mass||20,500 kg|
|Maximum range||590 km|
|Guidance||Inertial + radio|
Last updated: 26 May 2012